step 9: references.

  • resumes
  • June 22, 2017

Your references may make the difference between getting hired and missing your opportunity. All else being equal, your prospective employer will take the word of other professionals to make a decision. It is important to obtain the best references who can speak to your abilities and character.

formatting your reference section.

  • Modern resume format does not usually have a reference section within the resume itself. 
  • At the bottom of your page within a one inch margin, include the line: References available upon request.

presenting your references to a prospective employer.

  • Place your references on the same letterhead as your resume for continuity. 
  • List three to five people, unless your prospective employer asks for a specific number. Ensure all fields are consistent and complete. If you don’t have information in a certain area for a certain reference, delete it from all of your references. 

Fields to include:

  • Full name – Make sure that you include the full name of each reference with title and suffix (Dr., J.D., etc.). 
  • Phone number 
  • Email address 
  • Years known 
  • Relationship – Give a short description (no longer than a sentence) of your association with each reference (mentor, employer, colleague, professor, etc.).

how to ask for a reference.

  • Think of colleagues, former bosses, professors, etc. with whom you’ve had a good relationship and might say favorable things about your experience and work ethic. 
  • Call or personally speak with your potential reference about the kind of employment that you are seeking and why you feel that their word would be relevant to the job search. 
  • Follow professional phone etiquette when asking for a reference, even if you have a friendly relationship with the person. Identify yourself at the beginning of your conversation to ensure that your prospective reference remembers you. 
  • If you do not connect with the person, leave a short message detailing your intention to include the person as a reference. Do not call more than twice. If a person does not return your call within a week, you can safely assume that person would rather not be included as a reference.

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Step 10: proofreading