A reference list helps you organize a list of acquaintances who can speak in your favor when you are applying for a job, submitting a rental application, or applying for a loan.
Before you compile your reference list, be sure to reach out to the contacts to ensure their details are up to date and that they are willing to speak positively about you.
Preparing a separate list for the hiring manager is essential to avoid including a list of your references on your resume. This way, you can upload the reference page with your job application if requested and have one ready to share with the hiring manager during or after your interview.
Types of Reference Lists
There are two types of reference lists, and while they both serve the same purpose, they target different kinds of relations:
- Personal reference – a character reference is a brief assessment of you as an individual provided by someone who knows you outside of work.
- Work reference – an assessment of you provided by a coworker, usually a direct supervisor.
What to Include in a Reference List
The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out the best candidates for this list. Each reference should have three essential elements:
- Full contact information – name, address, email, and/or phone number. If the person prefers to use post-nominal letters (Ph.D., MD, CPA, etc.) or a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.), including it with their name is appropriate.
- Their workplace and job title
- Specifics about your professional relationship with them
It would be best if you were consistent with the format of each reference so it would be easier to read and understand the information ( for example, including a street address for one and not for the other ).
Double-check all the information you will add to your reference list and ensure it’s up to date and has the proper formatting ( for example, the phone number has the correct country prefix ).
When asking for a reference list, please get permission from everyone you’ve requested to be on it.
This is not only polite but will also help them if they have to recommend you as a candidate. They’ll be better prepared to endorse you if they know in advance that someone may reach out to them, as opposed to having surprise phone calls.
How to List References on a Resume?
The best way to list references on a resume is to provide a structured and consistent list that clearly shows professional and personal connections with correct contact information. You can easily do this using a template.
Here’s how you should list references on your resume:
For professional references:
- Job title
- Phone number
For personal references:
- How many years you’ve known them for
- Phone number
Reference List Example
Below is an example of a reference list. You can download our free reference list template in PDF or Word format and fill it out on your own.
Tips for Writing a Reference List
Here are some tips for making sure your reference letter is informative and valuable to the employer:
Name your reference page – add a title at the top of your reference list, like “List of references” or “References for John Doe,” to make it easier for the employer to identify whose list it is.
Use relevant references – When compiling a list of professional contacts, use a person in a managerial position pertinent to the job you are applying for. Ideally, someone who was your direct supervisor, as that person has more knowledge of you and your work.
Between 3 to 5 references – The average number of connections usually asked by employers is three. But you should aim for five references to cover all your bases.
Don’t send it unrequested – Sending a cover letter and resume is not always necessary or even desired when applying for a job. Wait to provide references until the employer requests them.
Not having enough work references – Most employers require professional references, but personal references may be acceptable if you don’t have enough professional references or if the employer specifically requests one.
Because this might entail taking the time to talk with someone on the phone for 15-20 minutes, make sure they know you appreciate their taking the time to endorse you.