How to Create a Reference Sheet for Your Job Applications (with a Sample)

 In Job Search Tips

A reference sheet is an opportunity to give your potential employer additional information about you. Professional references may or may not be requested for every job application you prepare, but having them ready will give you an advantage. After all, your resume may be one of 200 applicants, and a reference check is likely at some point in the hiring process.

How do you stand out? Use a well-formatted reference sheet to follow up after the application or send it with the application, right away.

Contrary to the common idea that references simply include the names and contact information of your recommenders, your reference sheet can add value to your application in new ways.

1.      Choose your strongest, most supportive, and most recent references.

Let them know that you are revising your career documents and would like their permission to use their name. You may even ask them if they can provide a short quote about the work you did for them. If you have positive comments from past emails, ask if you may quote them on your reference page.

Use this opportunity to reconnect with your past colleagues and leaders and learn about their recent work. Share some recent successes of yours. Don’t send a dry email; start a collegial conversation and let them know about your aspirations at the moment.

2.      Format your job references as a separate sheet, using your resume header.

This would allow the hiring managers to quickly locate the references. It is also aesthetically coherent and shows you as a candidate who took the time to format your career documents with consistency.

3.      Use the space on your reference list to offer additional information about your references.

In what capacity did they know you? What specific skill sets of yours can they comment on?

Provide this information in 2-3 additional lines to help the hiring managers focus their inquiry. Instead of asking general questions about your employment, they can now discuss a specific project where you performed best. This can make you more memorable.

4.      Add one or two quotes from your performance reviews or recent recommendation letters at the end of your reference sheet.

You can use the full names of your recommenders (with their permission) or a first name followed by an initial. Use quotes from the references you listed on this sheet or from additional clients or colleagues. Quotes can give the hiring managers more information about your qualities and successes, as seen by your colleagues.

5.      Finally, make your reference sheet work for you. Use it to follow up.

While many candidates wait passively to hear back after they have applied, it is wise to follow up within 5 business days. In your follow-up email, focus on helping the hiring team select you. Offer to send additional examples of your work, mention your phone number and availabilities for an interview, and attach your employment references.

Your complete reference sheet adds credibility to your application. Here, you offer information other candidates make hiring managers search for. When you make the reference check easier for the hiring team, you increase your chances of being remembered—and hired.

Email me at if you would like this free references template.

About the author:

Tanya Mykhaylychenko provides resume writing and career strategy services for executives. Connect with her on LinkedIn for networking tips and ideas on executive career development.

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