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. As most employers will not hire anyone without references, the line "references available upon request" can be left off your one-page resume.

What Employers Look for in a List of References

  1. Are Your References Familar with Your Work? Familiarity of References with You and Your Work

    Before listing anyone as a reference, contact him/her first to ensure that he/she is comfortable with the prospect. Consider contacting those people who know your most recent work history. At a 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), and a brief description of your professional career goals. This way, he/she will be well-versed on "you," as well as your suitability for the position. This can only help your reference 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’s who do not list any previous supervisors, and individuals who appear to "jump jobs" repeatedly within a relatively short timeframe. Please see the example below for the correct way to list a reference.

  3. Quality of print and paper:  References should be laser-printed on heavy bond-stock paper that matches that of your resume. 

  4. Easy-to-Read Format

    Place your name and contact information at the top of your document. Ideally, font size and title should match the information on your resume. List each reference on your page in the exact same manner. For example: 

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

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

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).