Should I Include References on My Resume?

Should I Include References on My Resume? | Tips & FAQs |

Quick Navigation

Writing an impressive resume involves many decisions about what to include. Besides the core sections of a resume, you may wonder if it is necessary to include references when you’re limited on space. This article discusses frequently asked questions about including references on a resume.

Should I include references on a resume?

In most cases, no. You should not waste space on your resume by including references. The exception is when the job listing specifically asks that you include references on your resume. Typically, job applications have form fields designated for listing references if the employer wants them. Instead of listing references on a resume, use that space for accomplishments, additional skills, or a creative introduction.

Why do employers request references?

When employers request references, they typically do so because they want to confirm that candidates have included honest information in their applications and have answered interview questions truthfully. Reference checks also provide employers with the chance to learn more about a candidate’s skills and past job performance. If employers are checking your references, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the final candidates. This doesn’t mean that you’ve got the job. It just means that you’ve made a strong impression and may soon be hired. 

How to request a reference

To ensure that your references are fully prepared to grant your request, here are few things to keep in mind.

1. First, let your references know that you’re applying for jobs

You should always make contact with the person you’d like to use as a reference before you list them as a reference. This helps them know what to expect when the employer calls them. Provide them with as much information as you can about the job and let them know about any key skills or achievements they might include when speaking with the hiring manager.

2. Second, ask permission to include their information on your resume

Don’t forget to ask for your references’ permission to include them on a resume after you’ve let them know about the jobs you’re applying for. Hearing that it’s okay to include them validates the submission.

3. Third, thank them for letting you include their information

Before you end the call or email, thank them for allowing you to include them on your resume. Offer to do the same for them in the future when they decide to pursue new job opportunities.

Should references be listed on a separate page?

Yes, references should be listed on a separate page. Create a resume references page and add it as the last page of your resume, which allows you to include important contact information about your references. It is better to follow this format than to write references available upon request at the end of your resume since employers assume you’ll provide references if asked.

How to format a resume references page

Here are some guidelines to follow when setting up your resume references page.

1. First, list your name, address, phone and email at the very top

It doesn’t matter if this information appears on the right, left, or center of the document. Just make sure that it follows the same style as your cover letter and resume. 

2. Second, follow with the date, recruiter’s name, and company address

Left align the current date and the recruiter’s name if you know it. Then list the company’s full name and address.

3. Finally, list your references

Title this section Professional References before listing your three to five references. Leave a space between each reference for easier readability. Remember to include the reference’s full name, title, company information, phone, and email address.

What information should be included for a reference?

Here are some guidelines to consider when listing references on your resume.

Full details for a reference

If an employer asks for a list of references, they will usually expect a list of details that include contact information and how you know the individual.

Example of full details to include:

  • Your reference’s first and last name
  • Their current job title
  • Name of their current company
  • Company address
  • Your reference’s preferred phone number
  • Your reference’s email address
  • Brief statement to clarify how this reference knows you

Basic details for a reference

In the event that you’re short on space or to simplify the details, you can just include the basic contact information of your reference.

Example of basic details:

  • Your reference’s first and last name
  • Their current job title
  • Name of their current company
  • Your reference’s preferred phone number
  • Your reference’s email address

What if I can’t decide whether or not to include references?

If you can’t decide, then understand that it is not required to include references with your resume. Most resumes don’t have them, and employers don’t typically need them. Save some space and wait for the employer to request your references later in the interview process.

How many references should I include on a resume?

When including references on a resume, you should have at least three but no more than five. Remember that you only want to include these references if the job listing or hiring manager specifically requests them. Otherwise, it is not necessary to include references on a resume. 

Who makes a good reference on a resume?

Here are some contacts you may consider using as a reference:

  • Previous employer(s)
  • Former managers
  • Supervisors
  • Coworkers
  • Mentors (professors or teachers)
  • Academic advisors
  • Business partners
  • Work friends

Whether you’ve had a long work history or a short one, there are specific individuals who make better references than others. Include people who are working professionals in your industry, if possible. When considering your choices, think about who would provide the best information about you. Only include people who know you well and who can speak highly of you.

What is the difference between a personal and professional reference?

Personal references include people like your friends and family members. Professional references are working professionals you’ve met in a formal setting, like at school or work. Generally, you’ll want to choose professional references over personal references on a resume for two reasons. First, professional references give you credibility because they have seen how you perform at work or school. Second, they are less likely to be biased. Only include personal references if you have no work experience and have no other options. Even then, you should choose your references wisely.

Does the employer call every reference?

It depends on the employer and how much time they have. If they were able to get enough information about you from the first two or three references to make a hiring decision, they likely won’t call the rest. List your references by order of preference, meaning that if you want them to call a specific individual first, you should put them at the top of the list. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee employers will start calling at the top and go down the list. 

Do hiring managers call previous employers if they’re not listed as references?

They may, but it’s not likely. Typically, employers only call the references you have listed because they don’t wish to disrespect your job search and because they are limited on time. If you choose to list a previous employer, only include people from the company whom you trust to speak highly of you.

If you need help writing a resume, use our data-backed resume builder.