Professional References

During the interview process, it is likely that you will be asked to provide a list of references. Plan ahead so that you are prepared to offer this list when requested.

References should not be included on your resume, nor should you include "references available upon request". Interviewers or an HR professional will contact you afterward to obtain your references if desired.

What Is a Reference?

A reference is someone who can verify and elaborate on your skills and experience for a potential employer. Common references are past employers, professors, advisers—anyone who knows you well and can speak about your qualifications and accomplishments.

Choose your references wisely. These people will be speaking to your potential future employer on your behalf. Be sure that they will speak highly of you and can clearly and articulately explain your character and relevant skill-sets.

Keep in mind that these references should be of a professional nature—parents and friends are not acceptable references.

How Do I Ask Someone to Serve as a Reference?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is providing a potential employer with a list of references without checking with that person first.

It is customary and courteous to ask someone to be a reference—don't assume their participation. It will also provide that person with the necessary information  to prepare them for the eventual reference check. 

Review the Right (and Wrong) Way to Ask Someone to Be a Reference.

What Should a Reference Sheet Look Like?

Reference sheets should include your name and contact information at the top. Match the formatting to the heading of your resume to provide consistency throughout your professional documents.

Include the name, title, and contact information for each of your references. You may also want to include a brief statement regarding your connection to this person, such as if they are a colleague or former supervisor.


Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement

E103 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 865-4509