Need help with creating or updating your reference sheet / list of referees?

Help with writing your own reference sheet

Check your list of professional references to make sure the contact information is current. This will ensure they will be easy to locate, should you find yourself unexpectedly looking for a new job and in need of an employment reference. Use the worksheets to help you get started. They are downloadable from the links below.

Download the References Worksheet (.doc)

Download the References Template (.doc)

Pro-CV Clients: Take a moment to fill it out and keep it in your files along with the CV that Pro-CV produced for you. If you no longer have your Pro-CV and reference sheet easily accessible, feel free to contact me, and I’ll email you the file.

Why do you need a list of referees/references?

The popularity of professional and social online networking means that it is easier than ever to keep in touch with your employment referees and gain new ones. With the credit crunch looming and mergers, downsizing, layoffs and a turbulent job market already here, it’s important to catch up with former co-workers and supervisors before you need to ask them for references.

Who makes a good referee?

  • If you are a recent school leaver, one referee can be from your school; one can be an older family friend; both can be from your present or previous jobs.
  • If you are employed or have been recently, one referee should ideally be your current or most recent employer. If you left your job under bad circumstances, consider asking a co-worker.
  • Ask someone who knows that you solved problems, increased sales or made a positive difference at work or in the community. Be sure that your referee is comfortable speaking and writing in the required language.
  • If you don’t or didn’t have a traditional ‘boss’ or supervisor, consider asking your bank manager, a member of a board of directors, a vendor, and/or a supplier. Perhaps you know a member of the licensing bureau or another regulatory agency to whom the operation is accountable.

What questions will a potential employer ask my referee?

  • The referee will be asked to verify portions of your CV or resume – so it is important that your referee has a copy of your CV. Most likely, they will be asked when you worked at the company, what you did, and how well you did it.
  • They could be asked about their position within the company and their relationship to you. For instance, they could be asked if they supervised you and/or were in a position to appraise your work.
  • They could be asked about your personality and how you work with others. For instance, are you hard working, a good team player, loyal? They could be asked about your strengths … and weaknesses.
  • Discuss your job-seeking plans with your referee and tell them about your target job criteria. Let them know your strengths (and weaknesses) relating to the target job.

What if I don’t have any prior experience?

  • Ask a family friend, preferably someone who has a responsible or professional position and/or a respectable standing in the community. Ask your teacher, a member of the clergy, or other professional who can vouch for your character.

What if I can’t find all of my previous supervisors?

  • You only need three referees at the most. If you direct supervisors cannot be contacted, try their supervisors, your co-workers, or the HR department.

How many references should I list?

  • Unless otherwise specified, two or three referees should suffice.

What type of information do I list?

  • Include the referee’s name, job title, their company’s/employer’s name, postal address, postcode / ZIP code, telephone number (landline and mobile/cellular), and email address. Fax numbers are rarely required these days.
  • Add extra value to your reference
    sheet by including a brief description of your working relationship with the reference and an overview of your responsibilities/performance results.

Should I list references directly on my CV or resume?

  • If you are a recent school leaver or graduate with virtually no work experience, you may consider including referees on your CV, especially if you include a brief description of what they can say about you. “Mr Jones was my football coach for five years. He nominated me for Player of the Year in 2014.”

Should I include “References available upon request” on my CV or resume?

  • This is not necessary because you are obliged to produce references when requested to do so. Use the space to add another accomplishment.

When do I send the references?

  • Unless specifically asked you may not want to disclose your referees until the

If I was fired from my last job, do I need to list the employer as a reference?

  • You could ask the HR department for a reference that indicates when you worked there and your job title(s). Consider asking a co-worker or supplier for a reference.
  • If you suspect that you will receive a bad employment reference from someone, don’t use them as a referee.

Do I need to ask permission to use someone as a reference?

  • Yes, you should choose referees that are willing to help you and who will enthusiastically recommend you to an employer.

How do I increase the chance that my referee will give me a good reference?

  • Check with them first. Tell them what type of job you are looking for and the
    qualities that would likely interest your potential employer.
  • Ask your referees for a convenient time to be contacted. Confirm their job title, address, postcode, and telephone, fax, and e-mail information. Give them your up-to-date CV.

Should I forward a copy of my CV or resume to all of my referees?

Why should I give my CV to my referees?

  • Yes, you should provide them with your CV or resume PLUS information about your target jobs.
  • Let the person know the job criteria and exactly how you qualify. This will help them to give you a relevant reference.

Why are references necessary?

  • Employers want to make sure you will be a good fit for their organisation.
  • They want to hear what others have to say about your character and performance at work.

Can I use a family member as a reference / referee?

  • It is best not to use a close family member since potential employers realise that they are under pressure to give you a good reference. Use family members as a last resort.

Can I use a friend as a reference / referee?

  • If your friend has worked with you and/or can vouch for your character, this should be fine. It is always best to use someone who has appraised your work performance – like a supervisor – but a work colleague, co-worker, or fellow team member can also be referee.

Do I include references on my CV or resume?

  • References are usually requested at the interview and/or when you are offered the position so it is usually not necessary to include them in your CV or resume.
  • For the same reason, it is usually not necessary to include your reference sheet when you submit your CV or resume.
  • Your reference sheet should be presented / printed or a separate document / page and should be on stationery that matches your CV or resume. Be sure to include your name and at least some of your contact details, such as email and phone number.

How do I ask someone to give me a reference?

  • Politely.
  • Express your gratitude and give them some hints about what to say about you.
  • After they agree to give you a reference, write a letter or email to them.
  • Tell them about your target job and why your qualify.
  • Remind them about how you demonstrated why you were qualified when working with or for them.
  • Also, send them a copy of your CV or resume.
  • Break the ice by asking for a LinkedIn recommendation first.
  • End your letter with a thank you and when you land your job, let them know.

What information do I need to include about my referee?

  • Reference pages are no longer just a list past employers’ names and addresses. A professionally written reference page tells the reader what the referee will be able to say about you.
  • Employers love a professionally written reference page because it makes their job faster and easier, and that puts you ahead of the competition.
  • Make your reference sheet more valuable to the reader – especially if your referees’ job titles do not make their relationship to you obvious – by including one or more of the following for each referee.
  • If you are using different types of referees – e.g., academic, work/employment, and personal – use section headers to indicate which type of reference.

If applicable, indicate the type of referee by using a section heading, such as Academic, Employment, or Personal.


Job Title

Company Name






A quote from the Referee (let me know the source of this – letter of reference,
work appraisal, spoken, etc.):

and/or a brief description of your working relationship:

and/or an overview of your responsibilities / performance results:

Should I include letters of commendation?

  • At an interview for client/customer service jobs, it is often a good idea to have a list of, or copies of, client/customer commendations ready to present.
  • This information could be a copy of the letter of commendation, a printout of the email, or selected remarks in an appraisal.
  • If you have this information, consider mentioning it in your CV/résumé in the profile or accomplishment section.