How to Format a List of Professional References

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During the job application process, you will most likely be asked for references. Typically, this request either occurs when you initially submit your job application, or later in the application process, when the hiring manager is close to making the decision of which candidate will get the job. You will need to format your list of professional references to include with your application materials, or to email to the hiring manager later on in the hiring process.

As with all communication with a potential employer, from cover letters to thank you notes, your list of references should be formatted professionally, easy to read and understand, and free of any typos or errors.

Here is information on what to include on your list of references, and how to format the page.

What to Include on a Reference List

When you provide a list of professional references to an employer, you should include your name at the top of the page. Then list your references, including name, job title, company, and contact information, with a space in between each reference.

If it's not clear from your resume, you may also wish to include information about your relationship with the reference. For instance, you could write "Reference Name was my supervisor while I was an accountant at Smith Enterprises" or "Reference Name is my current employer."

The list should include at least three professional references who can attest to your ability to perform the job you are applying for.

See more information on who to ask for a reference and how to make the request.

Example of Professional References Format

Here's how to format a list of professional references for employment or business purposes.

References for Janet Dolan

John Killeny
Human Resources Director
Allston Industries
52 Milton Street
Allston, MA 12435
john.killeny@allstonindustries.com
(555) 123-4567

Janet Smithley
Manager
McGregor Company
1001 Route 20, Suite 210
Arlington, CA 55112
jsmithley@mcgregor.com
(555) 123-4567
Janet Smithley was my supervisor at McGregor Company.

Samantha Greening
Marketing Director
Samson Enterprises
108 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 11111
greenling@samson.com
(555) 123-4567
Samantha Greening was my colleague at Samson Enterprises.

A Few Tips Regarding References

Choosing who to ask for a reference is an important step in your application process. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you will want to tailor who you place on your reference list. When possible, utilize references with connections to the company you’re applying

to. It’s also helpful to use references who can attest to your qualifications for the particular job you’re applying to. It’s great if you can list people who have worked with you in a similar context to the position as well.

When you ask someone to give you a reference, it’s always a good idea to give them an opportunity to decline. While most people are happy to help colleagues out with references and recommendations, there may be personal circumstances preventing them from doing so at a particular time.

Remember that there are circumstances as well when you might want to submit a character or personal reference who might be better able to speak to your abilities to do the job you’re applying to.

This is especially true when you have limited work experience, or are branching into a new field.

Before You Submit Your References

Listing out your references on the page isn't your last step in this process. If you haven't already, ask permission from each of your references. It's important to only submit people who have agreed to serve as a reference.

Even if all of your references are happy to be on your list, it's a good idea to provide a heads-up that someone may be reaching out to ask about you. This is a great opportunity to share some information about the job you're applying for, provide some key points that you'd like them to emphasize, and generally remind them about you and your skills and accomplishments, especially if it's been awhile since you worked together.

Once you've done all that, review the references list one final time to make sure there are no typos and that all contact information is correct and up to date.

Here are some helpful proofreading tips for job seekers.

Reference Letter Samples
Sample reference letters and recommendation letters, letter samples for character references, and letters asking for a reference.