Sample Reference List for Employment

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When you need to provide references to a potential employer, the best way to do this is to create a reference page you can share with them. A reference page is a list of your references.

You don’t want to include the list on your resume. Create a separate list you can upload with your job application, if it’s requested, or have one ready to print out so you can give it to the hiring manager at your interview.

Before you write you up your reference list, you’ll need to figure out who will be your references. Be sure to ask them first!

If the interviewer does not specify the number of references needed, aim to share three to five. Put the people who you think will give the most glowing, positive references toward the top of the page. 

Here are tips for creating a reference list, along with a sample reference page.

What to Include on a Reference List

© The Balance, 2018

Typically, employers ask for three references, but that number can vary. Be sure to include full contact information for each of your references.

Include the reference's full contact information. List their full name, title, and company in addition to their street address, phone, and email. If the person prefers to use post-nominal letters (PhD, MD, CPA, etc.) or a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) it is appropriate to include it with their name.

Check for accuracy. Double-check to make sure the information is current, and that the names are spelled correctly. (LinkedIn can be a helpful resource for confirming job titles, spelling, and other details). Proofread your list as carefully as you proofread your resume and cover letter. You would not want to include an email address with a typo or a phone number that is missing a digit.

Add a title to the page. Give the document a title such as "References" or "References for Jane Doe" at the top of the page so that it’s clear what information is on the page. Be consistent with your formatting and make sure to include the same information for each reference (for example, don’t include a street address for some references, but not for others).

Include your contact information. Don’t forget to include your own name and contact information, just in case the list gets separated from your other application documents; it is a good strategy to use the same header with your contact information on your reference page that you used for the first page of your professional resume.

Sample Reference List

Your Name
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Cell Phone
Email

References

Karen Dolan
Human Resources Manager
XYZ Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

Georgette Browning
Administrative Manager
BDL Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

John Dunning
Personnel Administrator
123 Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

When to Send a Reference Page With a Job Application

When sending a resume and cover letter to apply for a job, it’s often not necessary, or even desirable, to send a reference page at the same time. Since including a reference list is no longer standard practice (many employers will not provide references for their employees because this opens them up to lawsuits), doing so might peg you as an older job seeker. You might also accidentally include someone as a reference who isn’t respected by the employer to whom you are applying.

Typically, companies check references near the end of the application process, so unless specifically requested, you shouldn’t initially include your reference list with your application materials.

Get Permission Prior to Including a Reference on the List

If you’re currently working, you might want to use your supervisor or a colleague as a reference, but you don't want them to be contacted prior to letting them know about your job search. If you're not ready to let your employer know you're job hunting, consider choosing alternate references for your list.

Make sure that you’ve requested permission from everyone you've asked to be on your reference list. Not only is this polite, but it’s also going to help them if they’re called upon to offer a recommendation. They’ll be better prepared to endorse you as a candidate if they know in advance that someone may contact them, as opposed to having to recommend you if they receive an unexpected phone call. 

Select references who are able to speak specifically about your qualifications for the job for which you are applying. Let them know about your job search and what types of jobs you are interested in so they will know which qualities to highlight.

If you know in advance that your references may be contacted by a specific company, you can share your resume and the job description with them. You may also ask your references to write you a letter of recommendation.

Thank Your References

Remember to thank your references when they agree to act on your behalf, and offer to reciprocate in the future. While your qualifications, experience, skills, resume, cover letter, and interview all play an important role in getting hired, your references can enhance the whole picture. Make sure they know you appreciate their taking the time to endorse you.  

Keep Your References Informed

In addition to thanking your references for endorsing your candidacy, be sure to follow up with them to advise them of the status of your application. They will love to hear when you get hired, but even when you didn't, keep them updated on your job search status.