Choosing References

Whether you are planning to enter the job market or continue your education, references are part of the application process. Plan ahead and identify those who can speak convincingly to your performance. A tip to the wise: always ask before listing someone as a reference or sharing their contact information.

Define and Manage Your References

Whom should I list?

Sample Reference Letter

A list of references typically includes three or four individuals who can speak to your character, academic work or experience and extracurricular achievements. They may include:

  • Current or former professors
  • University administrators
  • Current or former work supervisors from a job or internship
  • Community members you worked with through a volunteer experience or extracurricular activity
  • Athletic coaches

For employment references, consider those who can speak to particular skill sets.

Share your plans.

Once a person has agreed to be a reference, help them speak on your behalf by giving them background information about your goals.

  • Power their reference. Mention the skills being sought for the position.
  • Share your documents. Provide them with a copy of your resume.
  • Offer examples. Detail a few of your accomplishments they might share.

Draft your document.

Employers may ask for references at any point during the recruitment process, but it is helpful to have your reference list handy when completing applications.

  • Prep your list. Separate them from your resume and cover letter, with the heading "References." Your name and contact information must be at the top.
  • Provide full details. List names, exact titles, place of employment, work address, phone numbers, email and the context of their relationship with you. 
  • Be consistent. Duplicate the format of your resume. Use the same paper. This will make all of your application documents appear more polished.