How to List References on a Resume
21 December 20215 min read
Wisedoc Expert Team

There’s a lot to factor in when making sure that you have the right information available when applying for a job. When it’s a job that you want more than anything, having the right resume for that job application is going to be essential. Not sure quite how to list references on a resume?

Here are some example sources to help you get this all-too-important detail just right.

What to expect from your 5-minute read:
  1. What Are References
  2. Do You Need to List References
  3. Recommended Reference Format
  4. How to Put Together the Full References List
  5. Final Extra Take-Away Tips
What Are References on a Resume?

References are the people who can provide your recruiter with additional information regarding your professional skills, previous work experience, work characters.

Usually, recruiters will contact one or two of your contacts to learn more about your professional history, job performance and other details that they care about.

So, it is always a good idea to only list the people who can speak well for you. But, remember, they have to be your professional connections, not your family members.

Do You Need to List References?

Back in the day, references were as standard as putting your phone number and address on your resume. However, things have changed. Most recruiters agree that you should only include references on a resume or in a job application if specifically asked to do so.

Sometimes they will ask for references at an in-person interview, or won’t bother with them until they are in the third or fourth rounds of interviews. Some will never ask for references at all.

Read:Beginners Guide For Writing A Stunning Resume In 2022.

The bottom line: Offer references only if asked, but be ready with the information in case they ask for it later!

Make Sure You Are Using the Recommended Format

Before you start to format this section of your resume, you’ll want to double and triple-check that you have all of the information required for your references. This includes their full name and title, if applicable, their work address, their phone number, and their email (all typo-free). This is what the references should look like:

First Name Last Name
Professional Title
Work Address
Phone Number
Email Address

[fig2] ReferencesOnResume

Let’s Put All References Together!

Once that’s done, here are the steps to follow when it comes to putting together the full references list:

  • List your references consistently from one to the next: In this case, it’s more about the information given. If you don’t have a corporate address for one reference, you’ll need to adapt this with all of the references.
  • For example: give a city instead of a civic address.

    The entire point of including a civic address is to place the reference so that the recruiter can understand where you’ve worked.

  • Give a short explanation on why you included this reference: This will help your recruiter tailor their questions to the reference, which is going to be both helpful and a sign that you respect their time. Make sure you let the reference know that you are listing them and how you are explaining your connection to them so that they aren’t blindsided!
  • For example: “Bob was my direct manager during my time at Design Junky Productions and he can speak to my training and qualifications in website design, HTML code, and customer service”.

  • Aim for 3-5 unique references: It’s not enough to just have one or two anymore. You’ll want to have at least 3 and even up to 7 for those positions where there is a lot of competition. Of course, each of these references will need to be distinctive from each other so that the recruiter can understand why you included all of them.

  • Order is important: Just like your job experience, you’ll need to list references in order of relevance. Don’t worry if it’s out of order from your past job experience. Most recruiters will carefully screen the first 3 references, but may not contact options 4-7. If your “best” references are in those last 4 listings, you’re not doing yourself any favors!

  • Tailor your references for the job you are applying for: You’ve heard this one before and there’s a reason for it. Whenever you submit any kind of job application, your entire resume is an example of how much you want the job and how qualified you are for it. If you’re using a boilerplate of references each time that you are just literally copying and pasting without changing a single thing from one application to the next, they will be able to tell.

  • Don’t panic if you don’t have enough references to use unique ones each time. It’s not uncommon to only have 5-7 total, especially when you’re just getting into the professional workplace.

    Just make sure that you really think about the order that you list them and the details that you include as far as the explanation. Tailor that part o the skills and job experience that you are highlighting earlier in your resume and application. These will be buzzwords for the recruiter and will also impress them with the amount of detail that you’ve put into it!

    Last but Not Least

    When you have it, all put together on your resume or in the field on your job application such as the example shows, it looks so simple. But any professional recruiter is going to see just how much work you put into this list and its organization.

    Make no mistake: even the way that you format and design this section of your application or resume can make or break you as a candidate worth considering! The job hunter wants to know that you care enough about the job to dedicate time and attention to all of these not-so-little details.

    Put yourself at the top of your list

    If this is your dream job that you are applying for, or it’s one that you really want, taking the time to do this right is going to work in your favor. It’ll come through in a positive way and it will also make sure that you’ve done everything possible in your power to present yourself in the right professional light for the job position in question.

    Now that you’ve got the right tips to help your resume and job application look their absolute best, it’s up to you to put them into use and craft your final product into the best version possible!

    Even if it seems like it’s a lot of work, the explanations and the example will help you to see just how it all comes together for the right professional design.

    Good luck, and happy hunting!!!

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Wisedoc Expert Team
Wisedoc's team of experts organizes the key learnings of career growth from recruiter's point of view and help users to add right content in their career profiles.