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When To Add References On My Resume?

Most of the time, you will not need to include your professional references on your resume. Here are a few situations where you should include your references.

  • If the job listing requests it specifically: When your potential employer asks for references, you should absolutely provide them. If there is room, you can put them right on your resume. Otherwise, you can provide them in a separate document.
  • If you have the reference’s permission: Before you list down anybody on your references, be sure you have their permission to do so.
  • If your reference in well respected in the industry or at the company: Sometimes, a reference may be somebody from within the company you are applying to or someone well-known in the industry. In this case, you should include them on your list of references.
  • If you are putting testimonials on your resume: In some industries, it is normal to add testimonials from previous employers or clients on your resume. For most fields, this is not typical.

When To Leave References Off Your Resume

In general, you should only include references if they are specifically requested. When they are requested, you should put them in a separate document, not directly on the resume. There are a few reasons why you should not put your references on your resume.

  • If you have already said when you will provide them: You may have mentioned in your cover letter that you would provide references upon request. In this case, there is no reason to bring them up in your resume. Keep your references in a separate document so you are prepared if the employer does ask for them.
  • If there is not a lot of space on your resume: Your resume should not be longer than one page. That limited space is better used on listing experience and skills rather than on references.
  • If they are not requested: Read the job listing very carefully to see if you need to include references at all. If they are not necessary, you may choose to mention that they are available upon request in your cover letter.

How To Seek A Reference

Choose a professional contact who can provide information that is relevant to your new job. Try to find someone who can speak on the qualifications and skills that make you the perfect candidate for your new job. Also, it may go without saying, you should only provide the contact information of someone you know will give you a favorable recommendation. You can choose a past employer, coworker, business contact, professor, or even a past customer or client.

Before you forward someone’s phone number or email to a potential employer, it is polite to get their permission. Let them know that you plan on using them as a reference and let them know that they might be contacted. This way they can be plan ahead and be ready to give a glowing recommendation for you.

You should also give them some information about the position you applied for and the company you applied to. This will let them provide the best possible recommendation. They will be able to relate your past experience, special skills, and strengths to the new job. Your reference may also find it useful to receive a copy of your up to date resume.

Say Thanks

It is always a good idea to send your references thank you notes or emails. This is a nice thing to do and it will show your reference that you really appreciate their assistance. A handwritten note provides more of a personal touch, but emails generally work just as well.

References are a great way for hiring managers to hear firsthand about what kind of a worker you are. Your reference can vouch for your professionalism, aptitude, and trustworthiness. However, since they only provide a limited amount of detail, they are generally not valuable enough to include on your resume. As a rule, you should not offer up references unless they are specifically asked for.

My name is Joost and I have been active as a recruiter for the past 5 years. At, I share my experience, tips and the "secret" tricks to help you get a job. Do you have questions? Please send me an email via the contact form.