How to list your CV references?

Jelena Lukic

Published 13th November , 2020

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CV references allow hiring managers or recruiters to get more information about a candidate’s previous professional experience. While there are no rules set in stone about whether or not a candidate should include their reference list within their resume, there are still some guidelines to look into. Without further ado, let’s talk about reference lists.

What are CV references and how necessary are they?

CV references are people from your previous job(s) who can and are willing to testify about your experience, character, skills and abilities. If your interviews go well, some hiring managers will want to do some additional checks. In other words, they will either call your referees and ask them about you or request a written statement.

Illustration of nine black and white portraits.
Here are our tips about reference lists!

Some job postings require a list of references, while others don’t, and this particular demand seems to be losing its popularity. Thus, the once common inclusion of references in a resume is less popular as well. The fact of the matter is, a modern resume is complete without a reference list. So much so that you will be advised whether or not to include them to fill the blank space at the end of your resume. Hence, we don’t recommend finishing your CV with one.

Best practices for CV references

If, however, the job posting (mostly in academia), or the employers themselves require one, here is how to include a reference list into your resume.

Where should references be listed?

The current most popular trend requires you to list your references on a separate page within your resume, and put it at the end of the document. The title should state your name and the function of the page itself: ”John Smith References”.

This is a good practice because it allows you to choose whether you want to include the reference list or not without needing to reformat the entire document to do so. Additionally, it leaves the rest of your resume clear and convenient for readers.

A man making a phone call and looking at a tablet.
If a posting requires references, they should be clearly stated.

Whom should you list as a reference?

If the job posting demands a reference list, or you have decided to include one anyway, you should be aware of the fact that you need to include at least three people on the list. Depending on the requirements and the nature of the job itself, here are some suggestions about whom to include:

  • An employer – current or former
  • A manager or supervisor
  • A teacher or professor
  • A coach or trainer
  • A colleague – current or former
  • A friend currently working at the company you are applying to

It is important to be realistic about your referees. A good work friend can be an obvious choice, but you will have to make sure they are able to describe you in a professional and clear way. Additionally, they need to have the ability to conduct the conversation with a dose of authority.

How should CV references be formatted?

While there are no explicit rules on the way you write your reference list, the page needs to be uniform and look professional.

Use the same formatting for each referee. In other words – provide all the same information for each person on the list, and present them in the same order for every entry. Here is one option you can use:

  • Name of the referee
  • Their position
  • Name of their company
  • Referee address
  • Their telephone number
  • Their email address

Then include an explanation of your work or academic relationship – when and where you have worked together as well as if they were your mentor, superior or boss. Another tip we can give you about formatting your reference list is to format a referee’s information in the same way you did yours on your resume.

A woman sitting in a job interview, and the interviewer reading her resume.
This is a great opportunity to showcase your organization skills too!

Some common mistakes

Don’t include friends or family as your references. Most recruiters and hiring managers see this as highly unprofessional. At the end of the day, these people will be unrealistic, and you can’ expect them to be highly professional either.

Don’t write ”References available upon request” or something similar. This is a staple of the past, it takes up space and adds no value to the document as a whole. Hiring managers know this,a nd will ask you for a list if and when they need one.

Don‘t include a reference list at all if the posting doesn‘t specifically ask for it. Whether you include your reference into the body of your CV or list them on a separate page, most recruiters nowadays find this practice redundant.


A reference list used to be a mandatory part of most resumes before. However, as different industries developed, and candidates started misrepresenting the people on their lists, this feature became less popular. It is still mandatory in some postings that demand more experience and where it is difficult to embelish the truth.

If the posting is asking for a reference list, it can be difficult to find a good example. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to provide one. We hope this article has helped you and wish you the best of luck in your job search!


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