The Smart Choice

What are References?

When applying for a job or internship, most employers will ask you for a list of references that they can contact to find out more about you, your work experience, your qualifications and skills. Therefore, it’s very important to choose your references carefully when making a list to include with your resume. Previous employers, supervisors, or coworkers, as well as professors, instructors, or university staff who know you well are all good choices to include on your references list.

Our example reference page can help you get started.

Making a List of References

Before you start making a list, be sure to ask your references if you can use them as a reference. Do not fall into the trap of using someone important who is well known in the community, unless that person knows you very well. Your references must be able to answer questions about you honestly. If a reference does not really know you and know your work, the employer will be able to quickly discount that reference, and it could be more harmful than helpful.

When making a list of references, make sure to:

  • Prepare page header to match your resume header and the header on your cover letter.
    • It is not necessary to put “References available upon request” on your resume. This is understood, and does not need to take up space on your resume.
  • List three to four references. While it isn’t mandatory to label the type of reference, it can be helpful for employers. There are three types of references:
    • Supervisory Reference – This is someone you have worked for, either in a professional, volunteer, or internship capacity. This is the most important type of reference to have on your resume.
    • Academic – College students and recent graduates may wish to use a college professor who knows you and knows your work ethic.
    • Personal or Character Reference – Someone who has known you for a long time and can vouch for your moral character. Avoid using relatives.
  • For each reference, list three methods of contact, including a physical address, email address, and telephone number.
    • This is important because employers have specific procedures in place for checking references. For example, if an employer has a good number of qualified applicants, and they wish to check references via regular mail, but you did not provide a mailing address, your application may be disregarded.
  • The reference page should be a separate file, with the file name, YOUR NAME_References. Employers ask for references at different points in the application process. 

Still need help writing your reference page? Make an appointment with the Career and Student Development Center today!