Professional References


Your references page is what you provide to a potential employer so they can contact people who can provide additional information about you—typically, information beyond that provided in your cover letter, resume, and interview.

Usually the best references are current or past employers, previous supervisors, and those people who can describe your work habits, skill development potential, ability to get along with others, ability to show up to work on time, ability to work well independently without supervision, your enthusiasm for work, your attention to detail, and your ability to complete projects right the first time.

I suggest you do not use family members, relatives, friends, classmates, or other people who would not be able to objectively evaluate you. Potential employers want honest, work related, opinions of you and your abilities—they don’t want to hear what a good grandchild you are.

Suggested Guidelines

  • 8.5” x 11”, single sided, same paper and layout/design as your resume
  • Be sure your name, address, phone, and e-mail appear on the references page. (Use your header from your resume so they look the same—brand yourself)
  • Ask permission from the person before you list them as your reference.
  • Discuss with your references what they will say about you when a potential employer calls. Will it be positive? What areas will they say are your strong points? What are your weak points?
  • If the reference is a Western employee, be sure to complete and file a Reference Release form, so they can speak to a potential employer about you. Forms are found in the Student Employment Services office - Welcome Center.
  • Make sure all of your reference’s contact information is current and accurate.
  • You should have three references. Your bosses/supervisors from current and past jobs are best. Two bosses and one instructor is okay.


References Sample

Use this sample to see what information you need to provide for each reference. For most references there is no need to have their home address. But if it is helpful, be sure to include it.


References Sample 1

references 1

Download a PDF of this Reference Sample Page: references.pdf (23K)