Career Services Resume References

Who Should I Use As a Reference and
How Do I Format the Reference Page?

Who to Use?

  • They should all be individuals who have direct knowledge of your job abilities (supervisor, etc.) or a professor who teaches a major-related class.
  • We recommend between 3 and 7 references. Click here for a references worksheet.
  • Follow the employers directions to the letter. If they ask for 3 references and you have asked 5 people - choose the 3 references from your 5 who are best suited to discuss your suitability for this particular position. NEVER send more or less names than requested. If the employer doesn't specify a number, it is up to you how many to include.
  • Ask the references permission before you use them. Also ask them if they will give you a good reference. You don’t want to list folks who won’t sing your praises!
  • Once they consent to being a reference for you, ask where they would like to be contacted, i.e., home or work and get the correct contact information for each person. Afterward, follow up with your references by sending them a copy of your completed resume. This will help them if/when they get a call on you.

How to List/Format?

  • As stated earlier, reference names don’t go on the resume itself. They are a separate document, using the same header you did on your resume. Then list the reference names and contact information in block (envelope) style.
  • Include as much contact information as you are able to provide. Reference name, their job title, company, mailing address, phone number and email are all appropriate. We also recommend including a brief "how do they know me" phrase if that is not evident. Samples of this phrase might be "Professor" or "Advisor" or "Supervisor at McDonald's," etc.

When to Send?

  • Opinion is split on this question. Some believe you should always send references when you initially send your job search documents. Others recommend you only send if requested by the employer. Research your particular field to see if there is a 'norm' within your industry/job field and if so, follow it. If not, utilize any contacts you have within (or associated with) the organization to whom you are applying. If neither of these avenues yield any results - go with your 'gut' feeling.
  • Be sure to take copies of your references to all interviews. Most employers will request them at that time.


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