When it comes to job hunting, the resume references page is one of the biggest areas of confusion. Should you include a references page? If you do, how should it look? How many references is too many? Who should you use as references? We'll show you a good resume reference page template to follow as well as some awesome tips.
BUT, what if your employer asks for references specifically? Of course, in that case, you’re going to need to provide them.
Reminder: You should always have a references page ready to go. BUT, you should never provide it to anyone unless specifically asked.
Should you include references on your resume?
No, not unless you’re specifically asked to do so. Even in the case that you’re asked for references, they should never be included on your resume itself.
You want to create a separate references page. We cannot stress this enough. This references page should NOT be included with every resume submission.
Build an awesome references page and keep it on hand. That way, when you're asked for references, you can provide them immediately and confidently without stumbling.
How many references should you include on the page?
Generally, you want to be able to provide three to four references. At the executive level, you want to provide a few more. Five to seven will do the trick at the highest level.
It is important, however, to have more references available than those you will submit to the employer. That way, you’ll always be able to choose the most relevant references to the job you’re applying for.
It is very unlikely the employer will reach out to all your references. For that reason, it’s incredibly important to list the strongest and most relevant references first.
Who should you use as professional references?
Your best references will be the people that know you best professionally. Including family or friends isn’t terrible but just keep in mind that the employer will know that they tend to be biased.
A former boss can be a great reference. However, many larger companies forbid them from acting as references. Remember that when putting together your reference page.
The best references come from professional peers and those for which you provided service. That includes former coworkers, clients or even professors (if you're new to the workforce).
How to attain professional references
Your references aren’t just words on a reference page. They are real people. If you want to use a person as a reference, you must build some sort of relationship with them.
This means reaching out and asking them if it's OK to use them as a reference. It also means you should be thanking them and keeping them in tune with your job search.
You want your references to be ready for a call. If they are not expecting it, they may be caught off guard. Worse yet, they may just ignore the calls.
Even after you’ve landed a job, keep in touch with your references. Chances are you’re going to need them sometime in the future. After all, networking is the most important aspect of a successful job search.
Resume References Page Template
First, let’s go over what information you should include on your resume references page.
In addition to these basic details, it is great to provide a short description of your relationship with the reference. For example, a short description of a project you worked on together or a skill set that you’ve worked together to improve.
Reference Page Example
Here is a generic resume references page template. You can use this as a template. But remember, your references page should very closely resemble the style of your resume. Don’t forget to make any necessary style adjustments.
Sarah JohnsonNew York, NY 10006(212) email@example.com
Forrest GumpManager, Pong Champ LLC.Anywhere, Mississippi 38600(601) firstname.lastname@example.orgMr. Gump was my direct manager during my time at Pong Champ.
George W. BushFormer President, USARanchland, Texas(214) email@example.comMr. Bush was my democratically elected leader for 8 years.
Charles KellyCustodial Artist, Various PubsPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania 19116(267) firstname.lastname@example.orgMr. Kelly was a coworker during my early career.
YodaJedi Master, Distant Galaxy(999) email@example.comYoda was my professor and tutor for many years.
Stylistically, your reference page should strongly resemble your resume. That means same font, same text-size, and same margins. It can also mean using bold or italic lettering in a similar fashion.
Resume references are an important part of any job search. However, unlike a resume or cover letter, references should only be released upon request.
So, build relationships and build up your references. But do not share them until someone asks you to. Bring a reference page to every interview. That way, if you're asked you will be prepared.
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Jeffrey is one of ZipJob's co-founders and has been a blog contributor since 2016.