List of References

As you apply for positions, you will be asked for a list of references. This request may come at different stages of the process: some employers ask for it when they advertise a position; others may wait until the interview, or until they have narrowed their choices to a short list of candidates. 

What Employers Look for in a List of References

  1. Familiarity of References with You and Your Work

    Before listing anyone as a reference, make sure you contact them first to make sure that they feel comfortable serving as a reference first.

    At minimum, references should have a copy of your current resume, samples of your work (particularly if you are listing a professor or former supervisor as a reference), as well as a brief description of your professional career goals. This way, your reference will be well-versed on "you" as well as your suitability for the position which you seek. This can only help them in singing your praises when asked.

  2. Appropriateness of References

    The best reference list is not made up of your best friends. Instead, make sure you include faculty and/or supervisors. Employers may question a candidate who do not list any previous supervisors, and individuals who appear to "jump jobs" repeatedly within a relatively short time frame. Please see the example below for the correct way to list a reference.

  3. Complete Contact Information

    (Name:) Mortimer McGurkus
    (Position Title:) Senior Vice President Design Engineering
    (Current Employer:) Daimler Chrysler
    (Address:) 100 Chrysler Way
    (City, State Zip:) Auburn Hills, MI
    Phone:
    E-mail address:

    Note: Text enclosed in (parenthesis) does not need to be on list of references.

  4. Easy-to-Read Format

    Place your name and contact information at the top of your document. Everything from the font size, title and type of paper used should match that of your resume. List each reference in the same manner. (See above). Your list of references should not exceed one page.

When to Develop a Separate List of References (for Ph.D. and MS students only)

Students and professionals working in academia are frequently expected to develop a curriculum vitae—CV—instead of resumes. There are subtle differences between these and resumes: CV’s are known to violate the one-page resume rule, as brevity is not a primary objective for the academic job search. In addition, it is often expected to include your list of references within your CV (particularly if they are well-known for their contributions to your discipline).