Do You Include References on a Resume? The Right Approach

Updated December 9, 2021
Man offering resume with references

Job postings often direct candidates to submit their resumes and a list of references in order to be considered for the position. The wording in these postings can be phrased in a way that makes it seem like you should list your references directly on your resume, but that is not the case. Your resume should focus on providing an overview of your skills, qualifications, and work history. You should provide a separate document that lists your references when an employer requests a resume and references.

Preparing a Reference List for Your Job Search

When you're looking for a new job, you will definitely be asked to provide employers with contact details for several references, but this information does not belong on your resume. You may need to enter your references directly into a job application form, or you may be asked to submit references with your resume or in connection to a job interview (either at the time of the interview or after it is over). In either case, preparing a detailed reference list will be helpful.

Printable Template for a Reference List

Use the customizable template below as a general guide for preparing your reference list. Just click the image and the template will open as an editable PDF. Click anywhere in the document to make changes. Replace the text that is in the template with information about your references and you'll have exactly what you need. Use this guide to printables if you need help with the document.

How to Use Your Printable Reference List

Once you have your reference list put together, follow these tips to use it properly.

  • Proofread your reference list carefully, checking the spelling of each name as well as the accuracy of each person's contact details. It's up to you to make sure that employers can easily contact your references.
  • When asked to submit a resume and references to apply for a job, simply mail, email, or upload a copy of your completed reference list with your current resume. If you send printed documents, use high-quality paper.
  • When you go to a job interview, be sure to take at least one clean copy of your reference list with you. If the interviewer asks you to submit a reference list, the fact that you have one with you will make a positive impression.
  • Some employers may want you to provide references in a specific format rather than sharing your list. In that case, just use your reference list as a resource to use for transferring information over to the employer's form.
  • Keep a copy of your reference list within easy reach at home, especially when you are applying for jobs. That way, you'll have easy access to all the information you need about your references when filling out online job applications.
  • Keep your reference list current. It's a good idea to check in with your references every month or so during your active job search to find out if their contact information is still current, making changes to your reference list as needed.

Ask Before Putting Anyone on a Reference List

Employers ask for references because they intend to call and talk to some or all of the people on the list as part of the application screening process. For this reason, it's very important to only include people on your reference list who have agreed to be contacted in this way. Once you decide who you'd like to ask to provide a job reference for you, reach out to those individuals and ask. For those who agree, verify their contact details so you'll have all the information needed to create a reference list to share with prospective employers.

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Do You Include References on a Resume? The Right Approach