Resume references: Everything you need to know

Resume references: Everything you need to know
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 23 February, 2024
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Having a strong resume is essential in today's competitive job market. Many job seekers aren't aware of the importance of having people who can vouch for them to potential employers. You can list these people as personal or professional references on your resumé. They can tell employers about your skills, your work experience, and what kind of person you are. This can help you get the job you want.  

Explore why references are important and what you need to know about them. Here's what we'll cover in this article: 

What are resume references? 

Resume references, or referees, can provide information about your abilities, qualifications, and character to potential employers. They can verify and clarify the details mentioned in your resume and share their opinions on your work ethic. Some people can tell your employer about your job skills or academic abilities. Others can talk about your personality and character. 

You should choose professional references that are best for you and the job you want. Creating a reference list can help you pick which references to include in your resume. You can find three main types of references: 

Academic references 

These people can provide useful information about your academic abilities, such as group work, problem-solving skills, and study dedication. Academic referees include anyone who can speak about your performance and accomplishments in an educational setting. They may be your teachers, advisors, or a mentor. 

Character references 

A character reference knows you personally and can confirm your character and honesty. They can discuss your personal qualities, such as honesty, reliability, and ethical conduct. This group could include friends, neighbors, and community leaders. 

Professional references 

Professional references can give detailed information about your work experience, skills, and accomplishments in a work setting. They can give potential employers an idea of your work ethic, ability to meet deadlines, and how well you performed in a particular role. They're people who've worked with you in a professional capacity, such as former managers, colleagues, and supervisors. 

Character references focus on personal qualities and integrity, while professional or job references mainly focus on work skills and experiences. Character and academic references are helpful when you have little professional experience or when employers are looking for a well-rounded applicant. Professional references are more significant for roles that require specific skills and expertise. 

Do you still need to list references on a resume? 

Listing people who could speak about your skills, qualifications, and character when you applied for a job used to be common. Now, it's not always necessary. Some reasons to include a list of references are: 

  • It lets the people who might hire you know who they can talk to about you. 
  • It shows that you're ready to apply for jobs and have already considered who can speak about you. 

There are also reasons not to list references, such as: 

  • Your job application may not have enough room to include the list. 
  • The people who are hiring may not need the list right away. 
  • The information on the list may be outdated. 

How many references should you include on a resume? 

man typing on laptop

When you make a resume, you may want to list references who know you​ well​. These people can tell your hiring manager about your good qualities and skills. Aim ​for​ three to five professional or personal references. This can give your potential hiring manager enough information about you but doesn't look overwhelming. 

If you don't have many people who can be references for you, it might be a problem. Having too few references can make it look like you don't have much experience or aren't qualified for the job. On the other hand, having too many professional references can also be a problem. It might take up too much space on your resume and take away from the other information in your resume. 

It's important to ask permission from the people you want to use as references. You also want to make sure they're reliable and that they can say good things about you. 

How to format your reference list 

When making a list of people who can talk about your work, follow these steps to make it look professional and organized on your resume: 

  • Decide how many people you want to list. It's usually a good idea to list three to five people. This gives employers enough information about your work without giving them too much. 
  • Use a consistent format for each reference. Writing each person's name and job description in the same way makes your resume look organized. 
  • List the people who can talk about your work first. These should be people who have worked with you in a professional setting. 
  • Include details about each reference. For each person, include their name, job title, phone number, ​and ​email, ​as well as​ a short description of how they know you and what they can say about your work. 

Resume reference list examples 

Use the​se referee resume​ examples below to create your list of references. Make sure you have obtained permission from your professional references before including their information in your application materials. 

Example 1 

Jose Angeles 

Job Title: Senior Manager 

Email: [email protected] 

Phone: (632) 8855-0539 

Description: I worked closely with Jose for three years at XYZ Company, collaborating on multiple projects in the marketing department. He can speak to my leadership skills, strategic thinking, and ability to drive successful campaigns. 

Example 2 

Michelle Cruz 

Job Title: Professor of Economics 

Email: [email protected] 

Phone: (045) 3391-7702 

Description: Michelle was my professor in several economics courses during my undergraduate studies at ABC University. She can provide insights into my academic abilities, critical thinking, and analytical skills. 

Example 3 

Sarah Reyes 

Job Title: Project Manager 

Email: [email protected] 

Phone: (632) 7752-4967 

Description: Sarah was my direct supervisor at XYZ Corporation, where I worked as a project coordinator for two years. She can speak to my organizational skills, ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously, and attention to detail. 

When should you include references on a resume? 

Many people wonder if they should include references on their resumes. The answer is that it depends on the situation. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Include references if a job application asks for them. If it does, follow those instructions, and include the right number of references. 
  • Let people know you have references available if they ask. This saves space on your resume and lets you share references only with employers interested in your application.
  • Make a separate reference page. This document should have each referee's name, job title, contact information, and a short description of your relationship. You can give this separate document to potential employers when they ask for references or during interviews. 
  • Use social media to show off your professional network. There are platforms where you can connect with other professionals and show your skills and experience. This can be a good way to show people you have strong references without giving out their contact information. 

Best practices when listing references 

man looking at laptop for resume references

When you provide the names of people who can speak well about your work on your resume, you'll want to ensure everything goes smoothly and professionally. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Make sure you have the correct contact information for your references. Check their phone number, email, and any social media profiles they use for work to ensure they're correct and current. If they're not, it might take longer for employers to contact your references. 
  • Ask your referees for permission before including them on your resume. This is polite and ensures they know to expect a call or email from a potential employer. It also lets them prepare their answers to best fit the job you're applying for. 
  • Include your referee's full name and job title or position. This helps avoid confusion if your referee has a common name and makes their reference more credible. 
  • Provide some details about your relationship with the referee. This can help potential employers understand how you worked together and what skills you have. For example, you could mention a project you collaborated on. 
  • Keep your references updated throughout your job search. Inform them about the companies you've applied to and express your interest in specific positions. This helps them to be ready to talk about your skills and experiences if an employer contacts them. 

Conclusion 

It's important to have good references when applying for a job. A professional reference can help employers understand your skills, work ethic, and character, which can confirm the things you've written on your resume. To ensure your references are helpful, include the right number of references on your cover letter or reference sheet, and make sure all the information is easy to read and has vital details, such as the referee's name, job title, contact information, and a brief description. 

Always ask your references for permission before you include their information, and keep them informed about your job search. It's important to have a good relationship with your professional and academic references so they can speak well about you. Keep in touch with them and let them know how your job search is going. 

FAQs 

  1. How should I format a list of references? 
    ⁠To list references on a CV or resume, make a professional references section at the end of the document or on a separate references page. When you mention someone, list their full name, job title, and how to contact them. Also, describe how you know them or how they relate to your work. 
  2. How do you list someone as a reference? 
    ⁠Before you include someone as a reference, ask them if they're willing to be on your list. Ensure that you get their permission and contact information, including their full name, job title, phone number, and email address. When you list them, include these details and explain how you know them or why they would be a good reference for you. 
  3. How do you ask someone to be a referee? 
    ⁠When you ask someone to be a reference, be polite and professional. Explain why you value their opinion and how their reference would help you get a job. Tell them how long it can take and inform them about the position you're applying for. Ask them if they would be willing to be a professional reference, and if they agree, give them any information they might need. 
  4. Can you use a referee without notifying them? 
    ⁠Using someone as a reference without telling them first is impolite. Always inform your ​references​ before you give their contact information to potential employers or include them in your job application. Keep them informed about your job search, the positions you're applying for, and any updates or changes that may affect their role as a reference. This lets you maintain a good relationship with them and shows respect for their time and effort.

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