How To Include References on a Resume (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A resume is a tool you can use to show prospective employers your qualifications. References are necessary for the application process to support the claims that you made on your resume. Selecting the right person to give you a reference and structuring your reference sheet well in your resume can make you appear professional and competent. In this article, we explain how to include references on a resume effectively.

Related: What Is a References Check? (With Tips To Help You Prepare)

How to structure your references on a resume

Ensuring that the references on your a are professional and well structured is important to present yourself well in the job application process. Here are the steps you can take to help you:

1. Choose the right place for your references

Place your references after the main text of your resume on a separate and dedicated page. This makes your references as clear as possible to the hiring manager. Since recruiters only spend a few seconds scanning each resume, it's important to make your references stand out.

Related: What Are Professional References? (And How To Get One)

2. Consider data protection

Your references likely include personal information about your referees. Make sure to only send out this information as part of a specific application process and when a hiring manager or job application explicitly asks you to. This is to protect the privacy of your referees. Try not to include your references on a resume if you're handing it out to employers without a formal job application.

3. Know how many references to include

The number of references that you need for a job application depends on your career level and the seniority of the job. Entry-level jobs typically require around three references, whereas more senior jobs may require up to seven. If you're unsure how many references to include, contact the hiring manager. They can provide you with this specific information.

4. Choose the right referees

Selecting referees that are right for the job that you're applying for is important for making the right impression. If you have had many jobs in the past, only use the ones that are most relevant to the job or the ones that you feel that you have achieved the most in.

If you're a recent graduate and don't have as much work experience, it's often possible to include an academic reference as a referee. Make sure that the academic referee understands your work ethic and ability and can demonstrate this with examples. In higher education, a tutor or supervisor is often the best person to ask for a reference because they might have a better understanding of you than your other lecturers. Try to include only one educational reference. Having work based references over educational references can show that you're an experienced and successful professional.

5. Add a description of who the referee is

Including a description of your professional relationship with your referee could make it easier for a hiring manager to understand why you have chosen the referee and the questions to ask them. Also, include the position that you had in the company. The purpose of a resume is to show your qualifications and providing good, relevant references can help you.

Tips for choosing the right referee

Try to only include a referee in your references if you have asked them first and have their permission. It is considerate and professional to ask them in advance. Additionally, providing your referee with some forewarning could allow them to reflect on you as a professional and do some research if it has been a few years since you worked for them. Here are some useful tips for choosing the right referee:

Make sure your referee knows you well

Try to find a referee who immediately knows who you are. This could be a bonus when applying for a job. If they can recall you and your work, then they can provide a more detailed and accurate reference. Consider professionals acquaintances you've met who can speak in detail of your work and work ethic.

Related: How To Ask for a Reference Letter (With Tips and Examples)

Make sure your referee thinks positively of you

Having a positive working relationship with your referee is a good step towards having a good reference. Select referees who like you and appreciate your work. This can help them speak about your character and work ethic positively and productively.

Make sure they know the job you are applying for

When asking for a reference, inform the referee about the positions you're applying to. This way, the referee can tailor their reference to the job. Having a specific, well-considered and well-written reference can improve your chances of getting the job.

Choose someone superior

Make sure that the person you choose as your referee is more senior in the organisation than you. Selecting a colleague on the same level as you may give you a better reference overall, but the hiring manager may not respect the referee's authority as much as a supervisor or manager.

Consider contacting human resources

Different organisations could have different policies regarding who can complete a reference. If you're unsure, consider contacting human resources to get more information. Additionally, if you left the organisation with a poor working relationship with your manager or supervisor, it's possible that the human resources manager could write a reference for you.

Make sure to ask them

Once you have decided on your referees, contact them. This could be through an email, letter or phone conversation. Ask them if you can include them. Also, ask them the best way for the hiring manager to contact them. Choosing the most direct phone number or providing an extension number is better than the hiring manager being redirected through the company phone line. Contact your referees well in advance of when you need the reference as a professional courtesy and in case they say no.

Related: Job References: Who To Ask for One and How To Write One

Don't forget to thank them

If they agree to be a referee, they are providing a professional courtesy. Thanking your referees for taking time away from work or home life is considerate. Remember, you may have to use them as a referee again, so maintaining a positive working relationship is important.

Related: How to Write a Reference Letter (With Example)

How to format your references

There is a standard format for adding references to your resume. By following this order, you could make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to find all the information that they need, allowing them to contact your referees easily. The following guide demonstrates the order in which to include the information for your references:

1. Your contact details

In this section, include your full name, phone number and email address. If you're submitting this separately from your resume, it's important that the hiring manager has this information in case they would like to contact you again. If you're submitting your references as a part of your resume, it could make it easier for a hiring manager to have all of your information in one place.

Related: CV References: A Complete Guide With When To Include

2. The referee's contact details

Include the referee's name, the company that they work for or formerly worked for if they have moved on, their position in the company, the referee's contact address, the referee's phone number and their email address.

3. Relationship to you

Mention the professional relationship that the referee has with you. Try to be as brief as possible and avoid writing beyond three sentences. Aim to be informative and not too emotional. You can repeat the second and third steps for your other referees.

References template

The following is a template of how to structure your references:

[Your name]
[Your contact number]
[Your email address]

[Referee's name]
[Referee's company ]
[Referee's position]
[Referee's contact address]
[Referee's contact number]
[Referee's email address]
[Description of your professional relationship to the referee]

References Example

Here's an example of how to format your references in your resume:

Howard Chen
3357 4792

James Wang
123 Craft and Create
9 Wellington Street,
Central, Hong Kong,
3174 5913

Mr Wang was formerly my supervisor whilst I worked as a customer service assistant at 123 Craft and Create hardware store between May 2017 and September 2019.

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