University of Vermont

Reference FAQs

When do I need a list of references?

  • Most potential employers will ask for references who they can contact before or after your interview.
  • It is always a good idea to bring a list of references with you to an interview or when going to fill out an application for employment.
  • If an employer asks you for letters of recommendation, you will want to provide actual written letters as opposed to a list of references. Take a look at our Letters of Recommendation FAQs for more information.

Who should I ask to serve as references?

  • Your references should be a mix of people who have known you in different contexts. For example, you could ask a professor who knows you well, employers from several jobs, or someone who knew you in your capacity as a volunteer with a local organization. Listing three to five references is acceptable. “Personal” references are not necessary in a professional job search.
  • It is preferable to have references who know you or have known you in a context related to the job to which you are applying.
  • People who serve as your references should be willing to say positive things about your skills and strengths. Be sure to ask your references if they are comfortable providing a positive reference for you.
  • Always ask permission before you list someone as a reference and be sure to get accurate contact information for them including; full name and title, organization/company name they work for, address, phone number and email address.

How should I ask people to serve as references?

  • If at all possible, you should make your request in person. Doing this will allow your reference to ask clarifying questions and for you to make yet another personal connection with your reference.
  • If you are not able to make your request in person, it is appropriate to make your request over email or by phone.
  • It is always a good idea to stay in regular contact with your references. You never know when you will need to call on them again!

How can I help my references?

  • Provide your resume and a description of the job to which you are applying as well as any particular information that you would like them to highlight.
  • It is also a good idea to provide your reference with information about why you are interested in the job for which you are applying.

Should I follow up with my references?

  • Yes! You should definitely send your references a thank you note - a written card is always nice and tends to be appreciated more than an email. Be sure to stay in touch with your references because you never know when you might need their assistance in the future.

How should I format my reference list?

  • Your references should not be listed on your resume. They should be listed on a separate document upon which “References for Your Name” is written at the top.
  • For each reference that you list you should include their full name, exact title, company/organization name, work address, phone number, email address. It may also be helpful to identify their relation to you.

Last modified June 20 2016 04:00 PM