The Skinny on References

references sheet

Here’s the skinny on references. Yes, you need them. No, you don’t need to send your reference sheet with your resume. To delve deeper into the topic of references, read on:

Who you should list as references:

3-5 contacts should be sufficient. You should list at least 1 former supervisor from each job you’ve held who can comment on your overall work performance. Keep in mind that some employers may only verify your job title, dates of employment and salary history due to company policy. If you were a supervisor, you may also want to include an employee who can vouch for your leadership skills. If you’re in the service industry, you may want to list a former customer. You can also include a co-worker or peer who can speak to your teamwork skills. Last of all, you can include a personal reference, such as a close friend or relative, who knows you well and who can speak to your character. If you’re a recent graduate, you may want to include a teacher or professor.

Information to include for each contact:

Some employers will mail verification forms to your references, while others may call or email them. Most will want to speak with your references directly. You should always include the contact name, title and how you know them – eg. former supervisor at ABC Restaurant, etc., address, phone number and email address. You want to make it easy for employers to contact your references so that there are no delays in hiring you. Here’s an example of how to list your contacts on your reference sheet:

Anita Job
Former Supervisor at ABC Restaurant
1234 W. 56th Street
Good Eats, CA. 78901
[email protected]

One thing you should do before submitting your references:

Ask permission. Be sure to contact each one of your references, let them know that you’re applying for a job and ASK if you can list them as a reference. By doing this, it gives them time to think about what they may say and it doesn’t catch them off guard when your prospective employers call. It’s also a good time to reconnect with them and verify their current contact information in case things have changed. You should also let them know what type of job you’re applying for so that they can speak to your abilities in performing that job.

When to give employers your references:

If you read our “Ask CHOPS” tip on 10/6/17, you already know that the best time to give employers your references is when they ask for it. You don’t need to send your reference sheet out with your resume, as you don’t want everyone calling your references if they aren’t serious about hiring you.

How many pages should your reference sheet be?

One. If you have a lot of experience, then just list the most recent references from the past 5-10 years.


Pro Tip: Bring your reference sheet to your interviews in case they ask you to complete a written application form. You will have all of your reference contact information available to easily complete the application form.

For more job tips, check out our Job Seeker Resources page.