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How to make a professional reference sheet

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How to make a professional reference sheet
October 11, 2018 1st Anniversary Wishes 4 comments

Many potential employers ask for a list of references in a job application to have multiple reference sheets, try to make each sheet appear full.

A resume reference list is a document that provides contact and background information on professional references. Recruiters and hiring managers may contact people on your reference list during the hiring process to learn more about your professional history, job performance and other details about the kind of employee you may be if hired.

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While some employers may ask you to submit resume references as part of the application process, others may ask after a phone screening, face-to-face interview or before the final step in the hiring process. No matter when an employer asks for references, it’s helpful to prepare a list of several reliable contacts who are able to communicate your best professional attributes.

Related: How to Email a Resume

How to write a resume reference list

As you begin putting together a list of references for employers to call on during the hiring process, ask yourself the following questions to guide your document.

Determine how many references to include

The number of references you list depends on your career level. For example, if you’re entering the job market for the first time, you may only need to list three references. However, if you’re applying for a more senior role, you will want to consider a longer reference list with contacts from different points in your professional history. Often, employers will provide instruction on how many references they’d like to hear from—in this case, follow any guidance you’re given during the hiring process.

Keep in mind that the recruiter may not contact all references on your list. In some cases, they may only call one or two. But having a selection of different types of references ensures they have plenty to choose from if one of your references is unavailable.

Select your resume references

When selecting resume references, consider people who can speak to your best qualities, skills and qualifications. If possible, choose people who can discuss talents specific to the job you’re applying for.

Generally, the best people to include as references are:

  • Current or former manager or direct supervisor
  • Current or former co-worker
  • Current or former employees/direct reports
  • Academic advisor
  • Professional mentor

When thinking through who to include on your reference list, make sure you are comfortable with these people knowing you are looking for a new job, especially if they are someone you currently work with.

Decide how to send your reference list

The only time you should send your reference list with your resume is if the job posting explicitly requests references with the application. Otherwise, wait until a recruiter or hiring manager makes the request. Save space on your resume by removing “references available upon request”—recruiters will request this list if and when they need it during the hiring process. If you’re looking for additional guidance while creating your resume, review Indeed’s list of resume samples.

Ask your contacts to be a reference

It’s important you ask your contacts to be a reference before you provide their names. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it also gives them time to prepare for a phone call or email from the employer. Giving your references plenty of notice also ensures they have time to recall specific examples that highlight why you’re the best candidate for the role.

Whether you call, email or ask your prospective reference in person, be sure it’s something they’re comfortable doing. Your best references will be people who enjoyed working with you and are excited to discuss your talents.

Related: How to Include a Referral in Your Cover Letter

How to List References

Here is an example of how you can format your resume list. Consider listing your references in chronological order, starting with the person you worked with most recently.

    Your name
    Your address
    Your phone number
    Your email address

    Reference name
    Reference position
    Reference company
    Reference address
    Reference phone number
    Reference email address

    Reference description including where you worked together, when you worked together and your working relationship.


Resume reference list examples

    Linda Martinez
    Director of Sales, North America
    ABC Company
    1234 Main St
    Austin, TX 78701
    [email protected]

    Linda was my direct manager while I worked as a regional sales manager for the ABC Company from 2013 to 2017.
    Joseph Smith
    Professor, McCombs School of Business
    The University of Texas at Austin
    2110 Speedway
    Austin, TX 78712
    [email protected]

    Joseph Smith was my professor through numerous courses I completed to earn my Masters of Business Administration.

Your resume list template should follow the same look and feel as your resume, with the same fonts and colors. This way, if you submit them together, it looks consistent and professional.

After completing the hiring process, be sure to thank your reference for assisting you in your effort to find a new job. Whether it’s a quick call, email or a thank you note, it’s important you show gratitude to these important connections. After all, their testimonial can go a long way in helping you land an interview and hopefully a new job.

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Sample job reference list for job seekers. When a prospective employer asks you for your list of references you should have one ready to give them.

Professional Reference Page

how to make a professional reference sheet

Sample Job Reference List

Sample job reference list for job seekers. When a prospective employer asks you for your list of references you should have one ready to give them.

These sample reference lists will help you organize your reference information in the proper format.

The first question a job seeker asks about employment references is:

Who should I include in my reference list?

You should organize about 3 to 5 references that can provide valid details about your job-related skills.

Think about people who will make the right sort of recommendations for you. These individuals are likely to be contacted directly by a potential employer and need to be ready to answer common reference check questions. Use these selection criteria for references to help you choose the right references.

Once you have decided on who you want to include in your reference list you need to obtain their permission. These individuals need to be prepared to answer questions about you and know what to expect.

You can use this sample job reference letter to ask the person to act as a reference for you.

If they are happy to act as a reference make sure you get their correct and complete details for your list. These include:

  • full name
  • current job title
  • company name
  • street address
  • city, state, zip code
  • contact number
  • email address

Sample Job Reference List 1

Henry Roper
654 Eton Road
Rochester, New York 14663
584 665 3456
[email protected]


Mr Jack Liebenberg
Senior Sales Manage
National Equipment Inc
27 Crystal Place
Rochester, NY 14613
[email protected]

Ms Therese Mouton
General Manager
Sands Corporation
4 First Avenue
Rochester, NY 14610
[email protected]

Mr Andrew Bester
Customer Service Manager
Nolloth Insurance
234 State Road
Willamsville, NY 14221
[email protected]

Ms Justine Thomas
Sales Director
Abacus Corporation
41 Dunston Lane
Brentwood, NY 11717
[email protected]

Sample Job Reference List 2

It can be very useful to identify the reference's relationship to you. This helps the prospective employer decide which references to contact.

Sally Jones
65 Roux Road
Rochester, NY 14663
[email protected]


Ms Kerry Yale, Business Development Manager, HiTech Corporation
55 Greenside Plaza
Rochester, NY 14613
584 634 9034
[email protected]

Ms Yale was my direct supervisor from 2015 - 2019

Mr George Hunter, Marketing Manager, HiTech Corporation
55 Greenside Plaza
Rochester, NY 14613
584 634 9034
[email protected]

I worked closely with Mr Hunter on a number of projects from 2015 - 2018

Dr Don Gordon, Associate Professor, Lubin School of Business
Pace University
861 Bedford Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570
[email protected]

I was a student of Dr Gordon's from 2012 -2015

Mrs Linda Home, Store Manager, Macys Department Store
100 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601
583 946 5015
[email protected]

Mrs Home was my manager when I worked part-time at Macys 2013

When should I present my reference list?

Only give the list to a potential employer when you are asked for it.

Avoid submitting references with your resume, rather state "References available on request". Include the references list in your portfolio to hand over when requested during the job interview.

Most employers will only contact references after an initial screening of the job candidate. It is time-consuming and is generally used as part of the final hiring decision.

Should I include my reference list with my resume?

It is advisable to include a resume reference page only if you are specifically requested to send it with your resume or job application.

Professional Resume Reference List

How to email references after an interview

If the interviewer has asked you to forward a list of job references, it is important to do this as quickly as possible after your job interview. Your reference list should be included as an attachment with your interview follow up email

You can use the format provided in the sample job reference list above. Just insert your own details in the professional reference list template you choose.

Know what sort of employment background checks the employer is likely to conduct. Employment Screening

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References Sample: How To Create a Reference List Sheet for Job Interviews

how to make a professional reference sheet

Do you have a list of references ready to provide to prospective employers? If not, you should line up references who can speak to your credentials and qualifications for a job, so you’re prepared when you’re asked for them.

During the job application process, you will most likely be asked for references who can attest to your qualification for the job. Typically, this request either occurs when you initially submit your job application, or later in the application process, when the hiring manager is close to making the decision about which candidate will get the job. The employer will typically specify how many references to include on your list, as well as what contact information you need to provide for each reference.

You will need to format your list of professional references either to include with your application materials, or else to email to the hiring manager later on in the hiring process. The employer will typically advise you on how and when to provide references.

As with all communication with a potential employer, from cover letters to thank you notes, your list of references should be formatted professionally, easy to read and understand, and free of any typos or errors.

What to Include on a Reference List

When you provide a list of professional references to an employer, you should include your name at the top of the page. Then list your references, including their name, job title, company, and contact information, with a space in between each reference.

If it's not clear from your resume, you may also wish to include information about your relationship with the reference. For instance, you could write "Reference Name was my supervisor while I was an accountant at Smith Enterprises," or "Reference Name is my current employer."

When you’re emailing a reference list to an employer, name the file so it’s easy to identify and easy for the hiring manager to keep track of. For example: JaneApplicantReferences.docx.

Example of Professional References Format

Here's how to format a list of professional references for employment or business purposes.

References Example (Text Version)

References for Janet Dolan

John Killeny
Human Resources Director
Allston Industries
52 Milton Street
Allston, MA 12435
(555) 123-4567

Janet Smithley
McGregor Company
1001 Route 20, Suite 210
Arlington, CA 55112
(555) 123-4567
Janet Smithley was my supervisor at McGregor Company.

Samantha Greening
Marketing Director
Samson Enterprises
108 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 11111
(555) 123-4567
Samantha Greening was my colleague at Samson Enterprises.

A Few Tips Regarding References

Choosing who to ask for a reference is an important step in your application process. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you will want to tailor who you place on your reference list. When possible, utilize references with connections to the company to which you are applying. It’s also helpful to use references who can attest to your qualifications for the particular job you’re applying to. It’s great if you can list people who have worked with you in a similar context to the position as well.

When you ask someone to give you a reference, it’s always a good idea to give them an opportunity to decline. While most people are happy to help colleagues out with references and recommendations, there may be personal circumstances preventing them from doing so at a particular time.

Remember that there are circumstances as well when you might want to submit a character or personal reference (as opposed to a professional reference) who might be better able to speak to your abilities to do the job you’re applying to.

This is especially true when you have limited work experience, or are branching into a new field.

Before You Submit Your References

Listing your references on the page isn't your last step in this process. If you haven't already, ask permission from each of your references. It's important to only submit people who have agreed to serve as a reference.

Even if all of your references are happy to be on your list, it's a good idea to provide a heads-up that someone may be reaching out to ask about you. This is a great opportunity to share some information about the job you're applying for, provide some key points that you'd like them to emphasize, and generally remind them about your skills and accomplishments, especially if it's been a while since you worked together.

Once you've done all that, review the list of references one final time to make sure there are no typos and that all contact information is correct and up-to-date. Here are some helpful proofreading tips for job seekers.

If you are looking for a job, then you will need references. Our Free References Page Creator will enable you to instantly create, print and download them at no.

How to Put Together a Reference Sheet for Interviews

how to make a professional reference sheet

You're about to learn about adding references on a resume, but first, think about this:


The functional resume format. Your entire work history in the experience section. References available upon request. What do these all have in common?


Well, they’re all resume-writing no-nos, generally speaking.


However, just like with the functional format and listing each and every single job you’ve had, there’s a time and a place. Professional references on resumes might just be what’s required in your situation. But, how will you know?


This resume references guide will teach you:


  • Whether or not you need to include a work reference sheet with your resume.
  • The best way to put references on a resume, including formatting and styling.
  • How to make a reference page for resumes and job applications.
  • How many references should be on your resume.


Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.


Resume and Reference Page Example—See more templates and create your resume here.

One of our users, Nikos, had this to say:


[I used] a nice template I found on Zety. My resume is now one page long, not three. With the same stuff.


Create your resume now



Do You Put References on a Resume?


Career consultants and hiring managers all but agree that references should not be put on a resume.


Back when I got my first job, adding references to resumes was commonplace. My advisor in high school even told me to do it.


But, just like with most peer-pressured decisions in high school, it is not what I would do now.


Is that a solid no, though? Well, there are special circumstances when you can include resume references, but you’ll know them when you see them. Generally, if the job listing or hiring manager specifically asks for a references page, then, by all means, include one!


For most of you, this should have answered your question, and you can continue on to learn how to tailor your resume, picking the best resume font, what to include on a cover letter, or how to email your resume.


If your mind’s made up, and you’ll be putting references in your resume, let’s continue.


Pro Tip: If you can’t decide whether to add references in your resume, then don’t include them. Stick with a resume without references.


Want to make sure your resume will hook every recruiter and get you that interview? Get our free checklist and learn what makes a job-winning resume: 46 Things You Need to Do Before You Send Your Resume



How to List References on a Resume


If you’ve decided that listing resume references can’t be avoided in your situation, it’s necessary to know how to list references on a resume the right way.


Here’s how to list professional references on a resume:


1. Add the Reference's First Name & Last Name

2. Mention their Professional Position / Title

3. List the Name of the Reference's Company

4. Include the Address of Company

5. Add the City, State, Zip of Company

6. Put The Phone Number of Reference

7. Include the Email Address of Reference


See this pratical example:


Joelle Smith

Head of Operations

134 Rightward Way

Portland, ME, 04019

(678) 757 9413

[email protected]


That’s how you format each entry of a resume reference list. Include as much of it as you can, and don’t add more than these items, unless requested. How many references on resumes? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in just a moment.


Pro Tip: Use LinkedIn as a resource to verify that you are stating the correct job titles.


Should references be on a separate page?


Definitely. Avoid the ubiquitous “Resume references available upon request” statement of the past. If you’re going to create a resume references section, use a dedicated resume references page, which you can add as the last page of your resume.


Should I put “references available upon request” on my resume?


No. Putting "references available upon request" at the end of your resume is one of the big resume mistakes. Not only are you preserving your resume’s valuable real estate for more important sections, but they know that your references are available upon request.


Hold Your Endorses


Even if you’ve concluded that you will be sending references with your resume, hold off for now. In the earliest stages of the hiring process, there isn’t a need to provide your chosen references for job applications just yet. Plus, you’ll be able to tailor your resume references sheet to the hiring manager’s and company’s needs as you learn more about them during the initial phases of the hiring process and interviews.


Pro Tip: When writing your list of references, make sure to keep them consistent. Locate and include the same info for each (e.g., phone number), and don’t include an entry otherwise.


Ugh! So many resume rules! Don’t worry, we’ve simplified them here: Resume Dos and Don'ts



How to Choose Professional Resume References & How to Request Them


You’re going to put a few references as a list to be included with your next resume.


But you’ve got to be picky, and you need to ask permission first, even if you’re sure they won’t mind.


How many references on a resume?


Three to five is the ideal number of references for a resume.


If the job description or the company have specifically requested that you include a list of references (and this should really be the only reason that you do), three to five strategically-chosen people are just right. Any more and you’re just wasting people’s time; any less and you’ll look like you don’t have too many people who can afford you a positive endorsement.


Who is a good reference for a resume?


The best references to add are working professionals related to the industry to which you are applying but unrelated to you in a familial sense. Try and get as diverse a group as possible (not all direct supervisors).


Here are eight types of people to include on your list of professional references:


  • Former employer
  • Former boss (can be your direct manager)
  • Supervisor (not necessarily your direct manager)
  • Colleague (coworker or teammate)
  • Mentor (can be your teacher or professor)
  • Advisor (including your academic advisors)
  • Business or project partner
  • Friend (but only when they currently work at a company you're applying to).


Just make sure to include people who can speak positively about your experience, skills and work ethic. Never list someone who is or was in any type of professional conflict with you.


How to ask someone to be your reference?


Don’t just jot down names on your resume references list as they pop into your thoughts. It is polite to ask first, but this gives you the additional perk of checking to make sure their contact information is correct. Give a call or send an email to be semi-formal.


Personal vs professional references


Personal references are generally not recommended when putting references on a resume. Why? Well, family’s family, so they wouldn’t place much weight if they realize a reference entry is related to you. Plus, it has the secondary disadvantage of making you look like you couldn’t find enough professional references. Stick with professional references if at all possible (unless you are writing a resume with no experience).


Following up


After you’ve requested your reference, it is a prudent practice to thank them for their help. Also, share with them a copy of the resume you are submitting so that they can be on the same page if and when the hiring manager calls them up. Finally, when you get the job, take them out for a nice dinner to pay them back!


Pro Tip: Be sure to thank your references by sending a quick follow-up email or note. Not only is this the courteous thing to do, but it will also remind them that they can expect a call in the near future from your prospective employer.



How to Format the Resume References Page


If you decided to list job references, do so on a separate reference page attached to your resume.


Use our cover letter builder to create your own resume reference page that matches your resume and cover letter!


This is how to write a professional resume references page for your resume:


Format your references page the same way you format your cover letter, and possibly your resume, too. If you have slight differences between your resume’s letterhead and the one on your cover letter, copy the cover letter.


Your name and address should go on the very top, and it can be left-, right-, or center-oriented (follow the same style as your other documents). Include your phone number and email address.


Follow that with the date, then the company address, left-aligned above your first reference entry: first the recruiter’s name (if you have it), then the company’s name, and then the company’s address.


Finally, add reference titles/subtitles such as “References” or “Professional References” before listing 3-5 entries of people who can vouch for your qualifications for a job. If you have both professional references and personal references, you can add both subtitles.


When formatting each entry, follow the same format for references on a resume we described in section 2 of this guide.


Want to make a great resume references sheet that matches your CV and cover letter like the resume references examples we have here? Our resume builder’s cover letter generator is just the tool for you. Or, check out our handy list of cover letter tips!


Key Takeaway


Job references should never be included on a resume.


Rarely, however, references may be included with a resume, but always put them on a separate references page.


This is how to write a professional list of references (a references page):


  • Choose wisely - You should pick between 3 to 5 references to include if you’ll include any at all. Pick professional references over personal ones, and select those that are closest to your line of work.
  • Ask first - Be sure to get permission before listing someone as a professional reference. Thank them afterward and remind them to expect a call.
  • Use the right formatting - There’s a right way to format the entries of a reference page, and there is a correct way to structure the reference sheet itself.


Now, just brush up on the STAR method and some interview tips and you'll be all set for your big meeting!


So, now that that’s sorted, do you have any questions on how to list references on a resume? Not sure if you should add a resume references page at all? Get at us in the comments below and we will answer your questions. Thanks for reading!

When in doubt, do NOT add a list of references on your resume. The space on How to Choose your Professional References. Your Options.

how to make a professional reference sheet
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