Writing a Professional Reference Page for Employment
In addition to a resume, employers may ask you to submit other documents during the hiring process. One of these documents might be a reference list. A reference list is a summary of people (usually anywhere from one to five) who can vouch for your skills and work styles. The list also includes their contact information.
In this article, we will provide information about what employers look for in your reference list and a sample reference list for employment.
Why do I need a reference page?
While your resume and interview are key components in the hiring process, a reference page is a supporting asset that may help employers learn more about you. Employers contact your references to get an understanding of how you work with others, your work style and your accomplishments. This provides them with a third-party account of why you are a good fit for the job.
You might be asked for a reference list at any time in the hiring process. It might also be either an optional or required part of your application—pay close attention to the job posting and the employer’s instructions around references during the hiring process.
Who should I choose as my references?
When choosing references, follow any guidelines the employer gives you. They may require a specific type or number of references. If you don’t have instructions from the employer, you should select three to five references. When deciding who to include, there are a few qualifiers you should keep in mind:
- Choose someone who knows you personally. While it might seem tempting to select references with a certain title or standing, you should choose someone who knows you personally. This way, they are able to provide more helpful information for the employer in a sincere, honest account of their working relationship with you.
- Select references who can support your claims. You should also choose someone who can speak to what you’ve included on your resume. If you list that you have strong interpersonal skills, for example, at least one of your references should be able to provide specific examples of times you contributed positively with your interpersonal skills.
- Pick contacts you’ve worked with in some capacity. Whether that be a colleague, manager, classmate or professor, you should select references that know how you work. While friends and family may know you well on a personal level, they may not be seen as reliable or relevant as references who can provide a testimony to how you work with others, you work style and your strengths. In fact, many employers will explicitly request references who are not family members.
Good options to consider including on your reference list are:
- Current or former manager or direct supervisor
- Current or former co-worker
- Current or former employees/direct reports
- Academic advisor
- Professional mentor
How to list references
Much like your resume and cover letter, your main objective when formatting your reference list is to make it as clear and easy to read as possible. This means selecting 1–1.5 inch margins, a simple, professional font and a font size between 10 and 12 points.
You should list out your references by starting with whom you believe can provide the most helpful and relevant information to the employer. For example, your direct manager should be placed above a coworker.
When writing your reference list, you should include a few pieces of information:
- Your name and contact information
- Reference name
- Reference position
- Reference company
- Reference address
- Reference phone number
- Reference email address
- A brief statement of your relationship with the reference
Reference Page Example
Crane & Jenkins
555 Rosewater Circle
Olivia was my direct supervisor at Crane & Jenkins where I trained to be an office manager with two direct reports.
Director of Human Resources
6500 Lily Lane
Henry and I worked closely on several employee initiative projects in my last office manager role at Cloud Clearwater.
Jr. Office Manager
6500 Lily Lane
Yolanda and I worked together as office managers during my time at Cloud Clearwater. We shared several tasks and worked closely together to accomplish our team goals.
Reference List Template
Here is a sample reference template you can use by filling in your own information:
Your address (optional)
Your phone number
Your email address
Reference phone number
Reference email address
Reference description including where you worked together, when you worked together and your working relationship.