How to Write a Reference Page

Hiring managers rely heavily on this part of your application.
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Individual sits at kitchen table looking at laptop with pencil in their hand

Throwing together some professional references seems simple enough, but there’s more to creating a reference page than you think. Let’s take a look.

Who to put as a reference

A reference is a person who speaks honestly and positively about you with your potential new boss. A pretty important person, right? A reference should be a “work friend,” colleague, former boss, or anyone who has worked closely with you. (A personal reference will do in a pinch, but a professional one is always better.) 

It's important that your references have strong history with you: closer to two years, not two weeks. They also need to be credible. That means speaking honestly about how great you are, without overselling it. So choose wisely!  

How many references do you need?

Ideally, you’ll have three or four (but your potential employer might have a specific number in mind). Pretty much every hiring manager will want to chat with multiple references, simply to confirm what the first one says. On the other hand, most hiring managers are unlikely to spend time calling and chatting with more than five, as that might require leaving a ton of voicemails and playing phone tag.

What information do you need from them?

You’ll need their full name, employer, job title, email, and phone number. It also helps to state your relationship with each reference. This way, your potential new boss understands the context in which the reference is discussing you. And don't forget about availability! Yes, you’ll need your references to answer their phone when possible, or at least call back promptly. Hiring managers want to – and are often required to – talk with references before making a decision.

How to list references on a resume.

This is the easiest part, we promise. Just list your references towards the end of your resume in their own clear section or on another page. Technically, they don’t have to be on their own page, but you’ll probably need the space. Make sure to include all of the info mentioned above, and proofread it just like you would the rest of your resume. After that, you’re good to go! See an example format below to help you get started.

Mike Browning
Administrative Assistant
XYZ Company
Work Phone Number
Email Address

How do you make your references’ jobs easier?

First, ask them if they’re OK being a reference. Second, thank them. Third, let them know the companies you’re applying to and the positions you’re applying for. Lastly, provide them with some friendly reminders that they could get a call at any moment. Beyond that, don’t coach them or make special requests. You want their conversations with the hiring managers to sound natural.

Feel better prepared? Confident you can find some terrific references and add them to your resume? We hope so. But remember, if you ever have any reference-related questions, we’re here to help. Really. Give us a ring!

Your references are set, you say? What about your online references? Check out the next article in our job search series – cleaning up your social media.

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