How to Create a List of Professional References (with Examples)

Woman Writing A List Of Professional References

When job hunting, you may often be asked to present a list of professional references. While some employers only ask for one after an interview, others may expect it as a part of your job application. Either way, you should be ready to supply a list of professional references. To find out what professional references are and how to comprise a list of them, keep reading.

What are professional references?

Professional references are recommendations from acquaintances who can vouch for you. Essentially, these should be people who have worked with you and can confirm your skills. For a seasoned professional, this can be a former employer, a supervisor, colleague, or client who can review your work ethic and track record. For entry-level applicants, a reference may come from a professor or other college personnel. Most importantly, it is vital to pick someone who has worked with you and can vouch for your skills and capabilities.

Professional References Format

4 steps on how to create a list of professional references

1. Brainstorm potential references

First, think about as many potential references as you can. Remember, they may come from many various sources or past jobs. The more people you can think of, the better. Having a long list of references will enable you to choose the relevant ones for each position you apply to. If you’re not sure where to start, think of potential references from these sources:

  • Employers and colleagues
  • Professors and coaches
  • Clients and business partners
  • Leaders of projects and organizations
  • Career specialists and counselors
  • Professional acquaintances

2. Select relevant references

Now that you have a long list of potential references, you can start choosing the best ones. To do this, think about the position you are applying for and its main requirements. Then, find references that can best describe your capabilities in these critical areas. Think about who has seen you perform well in a position that required a similar skill set or qualifications.

3. Contact your references

Once you have chosen the relevant references, contact them to confirm they will vouch for you. Above all, verify your references’ contact information and ensure that they are willing to support you in your job search. Also, ask them for permission to be listed as a professional reference and notify them about the job you are applying to. Finally, emphasize the key areas and skills they should focus on in their reference. This will depend on the key requirements of the position you are applying to and the skills you want to highlight.

4. Write a list of professional references

Finally, create your list of professional references in a separate document. To do this, use the same header and style as you used on your resume and cover letter. Then, list each of your professional references and their contact information. For each reference, briefly explain your relationship to them.

Professional references example

Professional References Example

Remember that your references can make or break your chances of landing a job. So, choose carefully. To show gratitude, always thank your references for their time and support, regardless of your application’s outcome. An effective list of professional references should reinforce your resume and prove your ability to succeed.


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