Who Should You Add as a Referee on Your Resume? [List References on a Resume Properly]

who should you add as a referee on your resume

Creating a strong resume is essential for job seekers in today’s competitive job market, and one crucial element often overlooked is the selection of appropriate referees. Referees have the power to endorse your work ethic, skills, and abilities to potential employers, thus playing a significant role in determining your success in landing the desired job. This article dives into the topic of choosing the right referees for your resume to increase your chances of making a positive impression on hiring managers.

When deciding on referees, it’s essential to consider their relationship with you, their industry credibility, and their ability to provide a well-rounded and honest account of your work experience. This is because hiring managers rely on referees to provide an unbiased evaluation of your performance and to validate the claims made in your application.

In selecting the ideal referees, candidates should prioritize those individuals who are familiar with their work and are able to confidently advocate for their ability to excel in the target role. The following sections will explore how to identify and approach referees most effectively and provide practical tips to optimize this aspect of your job search strategy.

Choosing the Right Referees

Current or Former Supervisors

When selecting referees for your resume, it’s essential to start with your current or former supervisors. Employers usually value the input of someone who has managed and worked closely with you. They can provide a clear perspective on your work ethic, performance, and how well you collaborated with your team. Be sure to choose a supervisor with whom you had a strong working relationship and can speak positively about your abilities.

Colleagues and Coworkers

Colleagues and coworkers can also be excellent choices for referees. They have firsthand experience of your teamwork abilities, communication skills, and how you handle challenges. When selecting colleagues as referees, ensure they have worked closely with you and can vouch for your skills and expertise. It’s a good idea to choose people from different positions, such as senior colleagues, team members, and even clients, to provide a well-rounded representation of your work relationships.

Professors and Teachers

If you’re a recent graduate or looking to enter a new field, professors and teachers can be valuable referees. They can speak to your academic performance, dedication, and passion for the subject matter. Be cautious, though – only include professors or teachers that had a close relationship with you during your studies and can genuinely attest to your character and abilities.

Character References

Including character references in your resume can be beneficial if you have limited work experience or are looking for a character-based position, such as a volunteer or community-related job. A character reference can come from various sources, like coaches, mentors, or community leaders. Ensure they can highlight your personal traits, commitment, and strengths relevant to the position you’re applying for.

When listing your referees, include the following information:

  • Full name
  • Company name (if applicable)
  • Position or relationship to you
  • Contact details (email and phone number)

Remember that choosing the right referees can make a significant difference in your job search. Select individuals who can confidently support your application and attest to your suitability for the desired role. Keep these categories in mind when selecting referees to make sure you present a comprehensive and credible list for potential employers.

Woman holding her resume up in the air with a big smile on her face

How Many References to Include

When creating your resume, one important aspect to consider is the number of references you plan on including. The typical recommendation for the number of references to include on your resume is three to five professional references. This number provides a sufficient range for the hiring manager to evaluate your work history and character without overwhelming them with too many contacts.

It’s crucial to choose your references wisely. Ensure that the people you list as references can speak to your relevant skills, accomplishments, and work ethic. A good reference should be someone who is familiar with your professional abilities and can provide a positive and honest evaluation of your performance in the workplace. Examples of suitable references include former supervisors, colleagues, clients, or even professors (if you are a recent graduate).

Try to tailor your references to the specific job or industry you are applying for, as this can help strengthen your connection to the desired position. If possible, select references who have worked with you in a similar role or who are knowledgeable about the job or industry you’re targeting. This will allow them to provide more relevant information to the hiring manager about your qualifications for the position.

Keep in mind that it’s important to ask for permission from your references before including them on your resume. This will not only give them a heads up that they may be contacted, but it will also allow you to confirm their current contact details and ensure they feel comfortable vouching for you in the hiring process.

In conclusion, having the right number and type of references on your resume is a crucial part of the job application process. By following these guidelines, you can provide the hiring manager with a strong selection of references that will reinforce your suitability for the position and increase your chances of landing the job.

Formatting Your Reference List

Contact Information and Job Title

When adding referees on your resume, it’s essential to include their full name, job title, and contact information. This information should be up-to-date, accurate, and easy to read. In addition, it should be presented in a consistent manner throughout the reference list.

  • Full Name: Use the referee’s full name instead of nicknames or initials.
  • Job Title: This should reflect the referee’s current position and not necessarily the job they held while you worked with them.
  • Contact Information: Provide the referee’s phone number and email address. Make sure to double-check these details for accuracy.
John Smith
Senior Project Manager

Organization and Layout

Organize your reference list to ensure it is clear and professional. Present the information consistently, with each referee’s details aligned and evenly spaced. A table, for example, can be used to separate each reference’s details.

Full NameJob TitleEmailPhone
John SmithSenior Project Managerjohnsmith@email.com(555)-123-4567
Jane DoeMarketing Directorjanedoe@email.com(555)-987-6543

Keep the layout clean and use the same font style and size as the rest of your resume. It’s a good idea to separate the reference sheet from your cover letter and resume to keep things organized. Present the reference sheet in the same format, such as a PDF or Word document file, as the other documents in your application. This will ensure that the recruiter can easily access all the files they need to evaluate your work history and professional references.

Getting Permission and Informing Your Referees

Before you add someone as a referee on your resume, it’s essential to get their permission. This not only ensures that they’re comfortable vouching for you but also provides an opportunity to update them on your current job search and share the job description.

To get permission, you can call or email your potential referees, depending on your existing relationship with them. For more formal relationships, such as former employers or teachers, an email might be more appropriate. When reaching out, be sure to mention the position and company you’re applying to, and ask if they’d be willing to serve as a reference.

Once your referees agree, ensure that you provide them with all the necessary information. This includes your up-to-date resume, the job description, and any other relevant details about the hiring process. You might also want to share specific examples of your performance that they can use when discussing your qualifications with prospective employers.

When choosing your referees, keep in mind that employers typically prefer professional references over personal ones, like friends or family members. Aim for a mix of former employers, supervisors, and teachers who can speak to your skills, experience, and character. A good rule of thumb is to include at least three professional references.

As you compile your reference sheet, collect each referee’s name, position, email address, phone number, and any relevant professional relationship they have with you. It’s also a good idea to have a few backup referees in case one of your primary choices becomes unavailable.

Finally, inform your referees about the possible outreach from hiring managers during the hiring process. Let them know the preferred method of contact, whether it’s phone or email, and the estimated timeline for interviews. This way, they’ll be prepared to respond promptly and professionally when contacted by employers.

By following these steps, you’ll ensure a smooth process for your referees and increase your chances of a successful job application.

Man asking someone to be a referee on his resume

Effective Communication with Your Referees

Establishing effective communication with referees is crucial when creating your resume. To begin, contact potential referees and request their permission to include their names and contact information on your reference sheet. This can be done through a phone call or email, providing an opportunity to briefly explain your intentions and the particular skills or performance aspects you would like them to emphasize.

Ensure that your referees are well-informed about your work history and have a strong understanding of your skills and capabilities. Former employers, professors, or coworkers who can speak positively about your performance and work-related attributes are ideal choices. When considering these individuals, focus on those with whom you have maintained a good relationship and can rely on their openness and responsiveness to a recruiter’s inquiries.

Once your referees have agreed to be included on your reference sheet, provide them with a copy of your updated resume. This will allow them to familiarize themselves with your current skills, experiences, and career objectives. Ensure that the contact information on your reference sheet is accurate, including phone numbers and email addresses, for effective communication between recruiters and referees.

Keep your referees in the loop throughout your job search, notifying them of any job offers or interview invitations you receive. This way, they can be prepared to provide relevant and timely feedback to potential recruiters or employers. Remember to express your gratitude for their support and keep them updated on the outcome of your job search.

By diligently selecting referees, actively engaging them in the process, and providing them with the necessary resources, you can be confident that the information they provide will be clear, knowledgeable, and beneficial in your job search. Maintaining open and clear communication will help strengthen your relationships, ensuring a positive and supportive network of professional contacts.

Best Practices and Tips

Updating Your Referees’ Information

Keeping your referees’ contact information up-to-date is essential. Regularly review your reference list and update any changes in contact details, including phone numbers and email addresses. If a referee has changed their company name or position, make sure to update that information as well. It is also a good practice to establish a habit of contacting your referees every six months to touch base and keep the relationship healthy.

Tailoring Your References per Job

Each job you apply for may require a different skillset or pose different challenges. To make your application stand out, consider tailoring your references to match the requirements of the position. For instance, if a job description emphasizes teamwork, include a reference who can specifically vouch for your teamwork skills. In contrast, if a role requires deep expertise in a specific domain, use a referee who has worked with you on relevant projects.

After preparing your tailored reference list, don’t forget to email your chosen referees to let them know they might be contacted by recruiters or hiring managers. Include details about the job application, such as the company name, position, job description, and the skills you’d like them to emphasize when speaking about your performance.

When providing contact information for your referees, include their full name, current position, company address, phone number, and email address. It’s essential to respect their preferred mode of communication.

Although your resume and cover letter should focus on your achievements, skills, and work history, the reference list can provide additional credibility and reinforce your case. Including a mix of referees such as managers, supervisors, clients, and teachers can provide a well-rounded perspective on your abilities and work ethics.

Lastly, remember to use a clear, confident, and knowledgeable tone while formatting your resume, cover letter, and reference list. By following these best practices and tips, you are more likely to impress potential employers and increase your chances of landing the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are references on a resume?

Resume references are people who can vouch for your qualifications for a job based on their insight into your work ethic and abilities. They can be from your work history, or personal references, and should have been asked for permission first.

When should I include references on my resume?

Generally, you should include references on your resume only if the prospective employer or the job description specifically requested for them. If not explicitly asked, then it is acceptable to include the phrase “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume.

How do I list references on my resume?

Typically, references are listed on a separate reference page rather than directly on the resume. This list should include the reference’s name, job title, company, contact information, and a brief description of your relationship with them.

What is the etiquette for including a previous employer as a reference?

The key etiquette when listing a previous employer as a reference is to ask their permission first. If they agree to be your reference, provide them with the job description and your current resume so they can be well-prepared should they be contacted.

Can I create a resume without references?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to create a resume without references, particularly if they were not specifically requested in the job description. Rather, you may state “references available upon request”.

Who makes an ideal professional reference for a resume?

Ideal professional references for a resume are people who have a good understanding of your abilities and work ethic, such as former employers, coworkers, clients, or even teachers or professors if you’re looking for a new job straight out of school.

What does “references available upon request” mean?

“References available upon request” indicates that you have references and are willing to provide them when asked to do so during the interview process. It’s generally used on a resume as a way to save space since complete reference information usually isn’t included until later in the hiring process.

Can I use a separate document for listing references?

Yes, it’s quite common to list references on a separate document rather than on your resume itself. This can be a simple document that matches your resume’s formatting and includes the reference’s contact information and your relationship with them.

When may I be asked to provide references during the job application process?

You may be asked to provide references either during or after your interview process. Often, employers request references once you are shortlisted for the position. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a list of references ready.

Are there any examples for listing resume references?

Yes, an example for listing resume references could be: Reference Name – Title, Company. Contact Details. Brief description of your professional relationship. Always ensure that you have the permission of the individuals before listing them as references in your resume or on a separate reference page.

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