Ask an Expert: How to Write a Reference List

Job seekers frequently ask me where they should list references on their resume. The answer is that you shouldn't list references anywhere on your resume. References belong on a separate sheet of paper that you can offer to the employer when they ask.

While many employers will ask for your references on the job application, few will call them unless you are a final candidate for the job or are offered a position. At that point in time, you may need to offer them your reference list. Here is what that list should include.

  1. Reference name and job title
  2. Company where you worked together
  3. Company address (if reference is still employed there)
  4. Phone and/or cell number
  5. E-mail address
  6. Relationship to applicant

It is acceptable to use a reference of someone who is no longer employed by the company where you worked together. The most important factor in a strong reference is that they can vouch for your character and job performance.

Once you know that your references may be contacted, it's important to contact each reference as soon as possible and let them know that they will receive a call from a human resources representative or from a hiring manager. Inform your references of the following:

  • The name of the company considering you for hire
  • The title of the position for which you are under consideration
  • The primary requirements of the position
  • Your skills and accomplishments that make you a fit for the position
  • Key statements you would like your references to offer in the reference interview

Be sure to send a thank you letter to your reference contacts after they have provided the reference to a potential hiring manager.

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