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Career Development Center

» References & Recommendations

When you are applying to jobs and internships, you will want to have a list of personal and professional references readily available to provide upon an employer’s request. Typically, an employer will request a list of your references after you have interviewed and are being considered for the position in a final round of candidates.

+ - Choosing and Reaching Out to References

Employers will usually ask for an average of three professional references and one or two personal references.

A professional reference would be someone who has worked with you in a professional capacity, such as a former supervisor, coworker, or professor.

A personal reference would be someone other than a family member who has interacted with you outside of the workplace and can speak to your character, such as a coach, minister, leader from an organization where you volunteered, school counselor, or long-time neighbor.  

Before you provide your references’ contact information to an employer, it is imperative that you contact them to request whether they are willing to provide you a recommendation and ask what contact information of theirs you may provide. To avoid any confusion for the employer, make sure that the email addresses and/or phone numbers on your reference page are all up to date.

 You will also want to share some information about the job or internship you are applying to and may even want to send them a copy of your resume as a quick reference.

Be sure to thank your references and update them on the progress of your application.

Quick Tip: If you are not applying to jobs or graduate programs just yet but plan to in the near future, you may want to consider asking professors who know you well if they would write you a letter of recommendation or be willing to be a reference for you in the future. If they say yes, then be sure to stay in contact with them and let them know as you apply to positions so they will be prepared for any calls they may receive from your potential employers.

+ - Creating Your Reference Page

Once you have created your resume and cover letter, you should have a standard format for your page header as well as a certain font type and margin size. You will use this same format for your reference page to ensure consistency.

You can add a heading that reads “References” followed by all of your personal and professional references in the following format:

Name of Reference
Reference’s Title at Company/Organization
Name of Company/Organization
Street Address of Company/Organization
City, State and Zip
Email Address

Work Phone
Home Phone (personal reference)
Relationship to you/ the capacity in which they know you (optional: how long they have known you)

You may choose to list your professional references first and then your personal references, beginning with those whom you feel know you best and will give you the strongest recommendation.

+ - Recommendation Letters

If you are applying to a graduate program (and even some jobs, internships, or scholarships), you may be asked to provide letters of recommendation. Each program will typically have guidelines regarding the formatting, deadlines, and method of submission.

You should follow the tips above for reaching out to references in addition to sending them the information provided by the graduate program. If the submission process requires that their letters of recommendation be mailed, also provide each recommendation writer with a stamped envelope addressed to the appropriate department.

Allow your recommendation writers several weeks’ notice before the deadline so they have time to write you a wonderful letter without any pressure.

Be sure to express your appreciation to those who have written you a recommendation letter with a thank-you note and an update on the progress of your application.

+ - Frequently Asked Questions

What if the job application asks for me to include references?

If the application requests that you list references on the application, then feel free to provide their contact information at that time (as long as you have requested permission from your references beforehand).


Should I list my references on my resume?

No. If you would like, it is common to mention in your cover letter that you can provide references upon request. However, you do not want to take up space on your resume with any lines regarding your references.


When should I provide an employer with my list of references?

If the application does not request that you provide references, you may bring a list of your references to your interview in the event that they may ask for them at that time.


Quite often, an employer will ask for your references after you have left the interview, so you may email them your reference page in a PDF format at that time.


Do not provide a list of references if the application or employer does not request it.

+ - Questions?

If you have any other questions, please feel free to visit the Career Development Center during our Quick Questions hours or contact us at