Sample Reference List for Employment

Businessman meeting with client

Before you write you up your reference list, you’ll need to figure out who will be your references. Be sure to ask them first!

What to Include on a Reference List

Typically, employers ask for three references, but that number can vary. Be sure to include full contact information for each of your references. List their full name, title, and company in addition to the street address, phone, and email. If the person prefers to use post-nominal letters (PhD, MD, CPA, etc.) or a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) it is appropriate to include it with their name.

Double check to make sure the information is current, and that the names are spelled correctly. (LinkedIn can be a helpful resource for confirming job titles, spelling, and other details.) Proofread your list as carefully as you proofread your resume and cover letter. You would not want to include an email address with a typo or a phone number that is missing a digit.

Give the document a title such as “References” or “References for Jane Doe” at the top of the page so that it’s clear what information is on the page. Be consistent with your formatting and make sure to include the same information for each reference. (For example, don’t include a street address for some references, but not for others.) Don’t forget to include your own name and contact information, just in case the list gets separated from your other application documents.

If the interviewer does not specify the number of references needed, aim to share three to five. Put the people who you think will give the most glowing, positive references toward the top of the page.

Sample Reference List

Your Name
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Cell Phone
Email

References

Karen Dolan
Human Resources Manager
XYZ Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

Georgette Browning
Administrative Manager
BDL Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

John Dunning
Personnel Administrator
123 Company
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
Email

When to Send a Reference Page With a Job Application

When sending a resume and cover letter to apply for a job, it’s often not necessary, or even desirable, to send a reference page at the same time. Typically, companies check references near the end of the application process, so unless specifically requested, you shouldn’t include your reference list with your application materials.

Get Permission Prior to Including a Reference on the List

If you’re currently working, you might want to use your supervisor or a colleague as a reference, but you don’t want them to be contacted prior to letting them know about your job search. If you’re not ready to let your employer know you’re job hunting, consider choosing alternate references for your list.

Make sure that you’ve requested permission from everyone you’ve asked to be on your reference list. Not only is it polite, it’s going to help them if they’re called upon for making a recommendation. They’ll be better prepared to endorse you as a candidate if they know in advance that someone may contact them, rather than if they receive an unexpected phone call. 
Select references who are able to speak specifically about your qualifications for the job for which you are applying. Let them know about your job search and what types of jobs you are interested in so they will know what qualities to highlight.

If you know in advance that your reference may be contacted by a specific company, you can share your resume and the job description with your references. You may also ask your reference to write you a letter of recommendation.

Thank Your References

Remember to thank your references when they agree to act on your behalf, and offer to reciprocate in the future. While your qualifications, experience, skills, resume, cover letter, and interview all play an important role in getting hired, your references can enhance the whole picture. Make sure they know you appreciate them taking the time to endorse you.

Updated October 29, 2018
By Christina Moreschi
Christina Moreschi Assistant Director of Career Development Christina Moreschi