Including References Section in a Resume

It is no longer a common practice to include a References section on your resume, even one that states “References Available Upon Request.” Most employers today will assume you can provide references if they are requested. Therefore, you do not have to include references on your resume. 

If an employer is seriously considering you as a candidate, be sure to have a separate list of references ready to provide during the interview. Always ask permission of your references beforehand and discuss the kind of recommendation they will give.

Preparing a List of References

You should have a list of three to five references prepared, unless you are in a specialized field where a longer list may be required. Gather your list from any of the following contacts: 

–         Former Managers

–         Previous Supervisors

–         Department Heads

–         Members of the Executive Team

–         Business Colleagues

–         Professional Contacts

–         Customers

–         Professors or Advisors

–         Mentors

–         Community Leaders 

Insider Tip:  Be sure to add the contacts you would most prefer someone to contact at the top of your list.

Choosing the Right References 

Ideally, you will look for contacts that: 

–         Possess good communication skills

–         Know you fairly well

–         Will speak positively about you and your work

–         Will sell your experience, skills, knowledge, and ability

–         Can describe your performance and achievements

–         Can demonstrate your value to previous employers

–         Can describe your positive characteristics 

Insider Tip:  Always include several more references than were requested in case the hiring manager has difficulty reaching any of your contacts. 

Preparing Your References for Calls

You should always send a copy of your resume with a letter that lists the three to five key points that you would like your references to share with people who contact them. For example, you might ask one of your contacts to elaborate on your specific skills in a particular area, or another contact to discuss your unique characteristics or strengths, and yet another to describe your accomplishments or previous successes.

Insider Tip:  Help your contacts develop an example or story that reinforces your positive characteristics and provides a visual image of you in the role you are seeking.