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How to List References on a Resume in 2024 (with Templates)

A carefully crafted reference page can give you a competitive edge over other job candidates. But do you know how to list references on a resume? You’re about to find out.

Olga Ber
Olga Ber
Career Expert
How to List References on a Resume in 2024 (with Templates)

Should I put references on my resume? Can I add my former colleague as a reference? Is there a reliable references template that I can use?

Those questions can give you a headache. But before you grab your favorite painkiller, remember that the answers are just a few scrolls (or swipes) away.

This guide will help you:

  • Decide whether you need to put professional references on your resume.
  • Avoid common mistakes that can make your resume references useless.
  • Select the right people for a reference page for your resume.
  • Format your resume references list like a pro.

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Done with crafting your resume—well, except for the references? If you need extra help with resume writing, check out these guides:

Should I Put References on My Resume?

What’s the similarity between coffee mugs and resume reference lists? Both pair well with a resume, but they shouldn’t be right on your resume.

Unless the job ad states explicitly that you need to include references on your resume, leave them out.

However, preparing a reference list and keeping it ready is a good idea. The recruiter may ask for references later in the recruitment process. Then, you’ll send it in as a separate page matching your resume and cover letter design.

Why Shouldn’t You Include References on Your Resume?

Remember that the standard length for a resume is one page. A two-page resume only makes sense if you’re a seasoned pro with decades of professional awards and achievements.

Once you realize that you’ve only got one page, space becomes a precious commodity. And a resume references list can easily take up half a page if you’re not careful!

So, don’t put them on your resume unless you're asked to.

Writing “References Available on Request” on a Resume: Yes or No?

Many people add “References available on request” to their resumes, but HR experts consider this an outdated practice. This extra sentence is just a cliché that takes up valuable space and doesn’t add any new information.

Expert Hint: Check out other common resume mistakes you could make without even knowing it. Also, discover our resume writing tips that will skyrocket your chances of getting that dream job by making your resume stand out from the crowd.

How to List References on a Resume

Let’s go through creating a references page for your resume step by step:

1. Select the Right Resume References

Your first step is to pick the right people for your resume references list.

Remember that you should only include professional references—personal references from family members and friends are usually irrelevant and heavily biased, so recruiters won’t take them seriously.

And how many references for a resume is enough? 

Unless specified otherwise, aim for 3–5 professional references. Anything above five references is too many, and anything under 3 makes it look like you couldn’t find anyone who can vouch for you.

Resume References: Good Examples
  • Manager or direct supervisor (current or former)
  • Co-worker (current or former)
  • Employee who reports directly to you
  • Academic advisor (current or former)
  • Academic or professional mentor

All of these people can vouch for your professional skills, work ethic, and personal qualities. And, unless they hold a grudge against you, they’ll be honest in their feedback.

It might sound obvious, but don’t invite someone who might hold a grudge against you to be your reference. They might tell nasty things about you out of sheer spite and sabotage your job-seeking efforts.

Resume References: Bad Examples
  • Family
  • Best friend
  • Neighbor
  • Manager or co-workers with who you didn’t get along
  • Professor whose single lecture you attended a while ago
  • Random LinkedIn contact who liked your post three years ago

Those people don’t make good resume references. Personal references from family and friends have zero value for recruiters, and references from strangers just don’t make sense.

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2. Give Your Contacts a Fair Heads-Up

Don’t you hate when your phone number somehow lands in a telemarketer database, and you’re bombarded with unsolicited calls?

Well, this is what your former boss or academic supervisor might feel like when, suddenly, they get a call from a recruiter and have to answer questions about you. Heck, they might not even remember who you are!

Don’t give anyone’s contact information without their explicit permission.

Before you include anyone on your references page, contact them and ask them if it would be OK to mention them on your resume as a reference. If they’re uncomfortable with your request, respect their decision.

3. Craft the Reference Page for Your Resume

Now, let’s put these references on your resume, Or, in most cases, into a separate document styled like your resume and cover letter.

The first thing to put on your reference page is a header. Format it like a cover letter header:

Resume References Template—Header Example

[Your Name]

[Street Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]


[Phone Number]

[Today’s Date]

[Hiring Manager’s Name]

[Their Professional Title]

[Company Name]

[Street Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

After that, add a heading. “Professional References” is your best choice. Now’s the time to list your 3–5 entries.

Here’s how to list each of your references on your resume reference sheet:

What to Include on Your References List

  • Reference’s First & Last Name
  • Their Professional Title
  • Name of Their Company
  • Company Street Address
  • Company City, State & Zip Code
  • Reference’s Work Phone Number
  • Reference’s Work Email Address

Let’s look at a real-life reference list example:


Jesse M. Sanders

Senior Project Manager

DeerSweater Inc.

1945 Raintree Boulevard

Minneapolis, MN, 55402


This is what great references on a resume look like.

Now let’s look at a different example:


Jesse M. Sanders


DeerSweater Inc.

651-263-5930 (please call in the evenings)

This one is wrong on quite a few levels. Can you spot all the mistakes?


  • Jesse’s job title probably isn’t “PM.”
  • The reference contains his personal phone number.
  • It also includes his very personal email address.

Expert Hint: Before creating an entry on your references page, do a quick LinkedIn search to check whether that person still works at the same place and has the same job title. If they’ve changed their job, provide the most recent contact information, so if someone was your boss at ABC Inc. but has since moved to DEF Inc., list DEF Inc. as their company.

4. Format Your Reference List

Format your professional references just like you would format your cover letter:

  • 1-inch resume margins on all sides
  • An easy-to-read resume font
  • All paragraphs aligned to the left
  • Double-spacing between entries
  • One page

To add that little extra, you can put your reference’s name in bold letters and their job title in italics.

These are the basics. But… let’s be honest, do you want a basic job application or a job application that stands out?

If you find the second option more exciting, opt for a professional resume builder and cover letter builder combo. Our great resume templates & cover letter templates will get the formatting exactly right, and all the documents in your job application will have a matching design.

To create your references list, just use the cover letter builder.

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Key Takeaways

Here’s what you should know about putting references on a resume:

  • Don’t put your professional references directly on your resume unless the job ad clearly says otherwise.
  • Create a separate document with resume references and only submit it if requested.
  • Aim for 3–5 references from people, such as managers, colleagues, or academic mentors.
  • Always ask your contacts for their permission to mention them on your resume.
  • Use a cover letter builder to ensure your references list matches your resume and cover letter.

Any questions on how to write a references page for your resume? Any tips or advice on how to make a reference list for a resume? Let’s chat about it in the comments below, and, as always, thanks for reading!

About ResumeLab’s Editorial Process

At ResumeLab, quality is at the crux of our values, supporting our commitment to delivering top-notch career resources. The editorial team of career experts carefully reviews every article in accordance with editorial guidelines, ensuring the high quality and reliability of our content. We actively conduct original research, shedding light on the job market's intricacies and earning recognition from numerous influential news outlets. Our dedication to delivering expert career advice attracts millions of readers to our blog each year.

Olga Ber
Written byOlga Ber

Olga is a career expert with a background in teaching. At ResumeLab, she writes actionable guides to help job-seekers highlight their unique strengths and unlock their career potential.

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