Include References

Resumes and cover letters can win interviews; excellent references can win job offers.

If you are being considered for a job, it is likely that the potential employer will speak with your references. Once you have gotten this far in your job search you must be certain that your references will provide a good recommendation. A less-than-enthusiastic references at a critical juncture can spell disaster, so select your references carefully.

Dr. Bob Debits (Professor for several finance courses) Include your relationship
Professor of Finance Include current job title
University of Kansas Include current workplace
School of Business
206 Summerfield
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-1234 (work) Ask your reference how they preferred to be contacted

To identify as many potential references as possible, consider current and former bosses, professors, advisors, volunteer coordinators, co-workers and subordinates who have first-hand knowledge of your work and abilities. Be sure to find references who know you well enough to speak on your behalf. Roommates, friends and family members do not make good professional references.


Call or meet with the people on your list who are likely to deliver a very positive report and have seen you perform well. Begin by explaining that you are in a job search, and then ask whether they would be willing to act as a reference for you. You might say something like: "Dr. Thomas, I will be graduating in May and will be seeking a full-time position. I realize how important references can be, and I was wondering if you would be comfortable serving as a reference?"

The answer will usually be positive. Be prepared to provide a brief idea of what you have been doing recently and the type of position you seek. With past co-workers or supervisors, you may want to state why you left that job because they are likely to be asked by the potential employers. Deliver a current copy of your resume to your references so they will be familiar with your experiences and what you have highlighted for employers.

How Many?

You will generally be asked to provide at least three references. It is a good idea to have a "backup" on the list in case one or more of your references is unavailable.


Do not include references on your resume. Names and contact information for references take up a lot of space and usually have little meaning to a potential employer at the "resume stage." Make a separate reference page. Be sure to include your name and contact information at the top. When delivered with your resume and cover letter, the three documents should be complementary and professional. It is a good idea to print all three on the same high-quality bond paper.

Include reference's name, current title, agency or organization with which they are currently affiliated, address, preferred phone number(s), and email address. In some cases, you may also want to note your relationship to the individual, such as a former supervisor at KU Library, particularly if your reference has moved to a new organization. Be certain everything is correct.


Provide your reference list to a potential employer only when requested.

Be sure to thank your references at the completion of your job search.


KU Career Connections is an online platform to connect KU job seekers and prospective employers.

Upcoming Career Events

1410 LEEP 2
1536 W. 15th St. 
Lawrence, KS 66045
Winter Break Hours:
Open Monday - Friday from 8 to noon & 1 to 5
Closed Jan. 15

Engineering Research Highlights

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Connect with KU Engineering

KU School of Engineering Facebook pageKU School of Engineering YouTube ChannelKU School of Engineering Twitter Feedinstagram icon

KU Today