how to list references on a resume

How to List References on a Resume (Examples & Template)

Your references are one of the most important assets in terms of securing a job. They’re often the final hurdle in the job process, and it’s an area people get wrong a lot of the time. References aren’t always required by all HR managers. However, it is a good idea to keep them on hand just in case you are asked to provide them. In this guide, you will find out how to list references on a resume the right way.

What is the Resume References List For?

Hiring managers do not always ask job seekers to provide a list of references. But when they do, it is important to have it ready so that your future employer has a way to confirm the skills and job experience you have listed on your resume.

But what is it for? And why do you need one? 

The list of references is mostly required for federal job positions. Government agencies require all candidates to provide references to ensure that they are thoroughly vetted. If this applies to you, it is important to provide a detailed description of every job position you have held. 

Providing a list of references is not always necessary. Make sure to review the job description to determine if the hiring managers require one. If not specifically stated, don’t include references in your resume. 

ways to list resume references

How to List References on a Resume: Template

If you are required by a hiring manager to provide a reference list along with your resume during a job application, it is important to know how to do it. The ideal way to list the references is to do that in a chronological order. You need to list the person you’ve most recently worked with and then make your way back to the past.

The information on the references list must include the following information in this particular order:

[Your Name]

[Your Phone Number]

[Email Address]

[Name of Reference]



[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

[Reference Description]

The Reference Description section is where you provide a short summary of the working relationship with the reference. 

Examples of How to List References on a Resume

Using the template above, you will be able to create a reference list for your job application. Here are a few examples of how you can write your reference list using the above template.

References for John Smith


Monica Schwartzmann

Sales Manager

ABC Company


Monica was the director of the sales department while I worked for ABC Company from 2010-2015. 

You can follow the above example and format when listing references, no matter how many references you add. When listing them, you need to maintain the same look and feel. Keep the font style and color consistent. It’s optional to add your name, phone and email first, and this step can often be omitted when you already have these details listed at the top of your resume.

Best Practices When Listing References

Knowing the purpose and the template of a resume reference list, it is now time to look closely at how to list references on a resume. There are general principles that you need to follow in order to do it professionally.

How many references to include?

When listing references on your resume, it is important to know how many to add. You should add enough references to give the HR manager enough to validate your skill set and educational background. At the same time, you cannot list too many that would make your resume look unprofessional.

The safest number is to keep it at a minimum of three. Ideally, your references should represent different points in your professional history to provide the HR managers a more broad assessment of your skills and experience. 

How do you choose your references?

You cannot simply list down names in your resume as your references. Ideally, these names should be of people who are former direct superior to you in position, such as a manager or supervisor. It could also be a former co-worker, who can validate your work experience and work ethic. 

Meanwhile, you can also add your college professors or former academic advisors in your resume. The latter is applicable for fresh graduates who are seeking employment. If you do not have adequate work experience to list in your resume, they can provide recommendations based on your academic performance. 

The most important thing to note about choosing your references is that these people must know you personally or professionally. They should be in a position of authority to speak on your skills and experience. Otherwise, their opinion will be regarded as invaluable or irrelevant to your job application.

How to ask someone to be your reference?

The most important thing to remember when you list references on a resume is to ask permission from the person first. You should not list their names among your references until they agree to it. A surprise call from a recruiter out of the blue is not an ideal way to ensure you get the best reference from someone, so speak with them in advance.

You need to think about the fact that you will be requiring their time and effort to speak to the HR manager. You need to value and respect their time to ask permission if they would be fine about receiving this type of phone calls or inquiries in relation to your job application. This is just as important as sending them a ‘thank you’ note, especially after you have been successfully hired for the job. 

 references list on a resume

Final step after the Interview

Once you have completed the interview and other aspects of the hiring process, calling the references is the final step of the process. When that is done, do the polite thing and call the people you’ve listed as reference to thank them. You can call them or send an email as a show of gratitude. 

After all, their positive words about your skills and competence can boost your application. With this information on how to list references on a resume, you will have the final piece of the puzzle in an effort to land the job you want.  

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