Let's say you have a job interview that goes really well. At the end of the interview, the employer asks you for references. Uh oh! You forgot to bring your job reference sheet! No problem. You promise to send it as soon as you get home.
It would have been nice to have had the sheet ready to hand your interviewer on the spot but since you didn't, you need to:
- Write a cover letter email.
- Attach your job reference sheet to that email.
If you haven't already created your job reference sheet, please see my Template to Create a Job Reference Sheet.
Basic Cover Letter Template for Writing a Job Reference Sheet
You would have written a thank you letter after the job interview even if you hadn't forgotten your job reference sheet. Right? So, in this case, you can add a short paragraph to your thank you note to mention your attached job reference sheet. Here's a template to help you out.
Start your email by thanking your interviewer for the interview. This paragraph should be only two or three sentences long.
In the second paragraph, mention a few things from the interview that stood out for you and that you would like the interviewer to remember about you. This can be as short as two sentences or it can be longer if you have something relevant to say.
In the third paragraph, tell your reader that you have attached your job reference sheet. If there's anyone special on the list you want to point out, do that here.
Thank the interviewer again briefly.
Sincerely, (or some other closing that's professional and friendly)
Attached: Job reference sheet
Sample Reference List for Employment
When you need to provide references to a potential employer, the best way to do it is to create a list you can share with them. A reference page is a list of your references. Typically, employers ask for three references, but that number can vary.
Don't include the list on your resume. Create a separate list you can upload with your job application, if it is requested, or give to the hiring manager.
Below, you'll find a sample reference list to provide to employers upon their request for a reference list. As well, find information on getting permission to use a reference, when to provide an employer with references, and what to include on your reference list.
What to Include on a Reference List
Be sure to include full contact information for each of your references. List their full name, title, and company in addition to the street address, phone, and email. If the person prefers to use post-nominal letters (PhD, MD, CPA, etc.) or a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) it is appropriate to include it with their name.
Double check to make sure the information is current, and that the names are spelled correctly. (LinkedIn can be a helpful resource for confirming job titles, spelling, and other details.) Proofread your list as carefully as you proofread your resume and cover letter. You would not want to include an email address with a typo or a phone number that is missing a digit.
Be consistent with your formatting and make sure to include the same information for each reference. (That is, do not include a street address for some references, and skip it for others.) Include your own name and contact information at the top of the reference list. As well, include a title such as "References" or "References for Jane Doe" on the top of the page so that it is clear what information is on the page.
If the interviewer does not specify the number of references needed, aim to share three to five. Put the people who you think will give the most glowing, positive reference toward the top of the page.
Sample Reference List
City, State Zip
Human Resources Manager
City, State Zip
City, State Zip
City, State Zip
When to Send a Reference Page With a Job Application
When sending a resume and cover letter to apply for a job, it’s often not necessary, or desirable, to send a reference page at that time.
Unless specifically requested, you should not include your reference list with your application materials. You might want to use your current supervisor or a colleague as a reference, and you would not want them to be contacted prior to letting them know about your job search. Typically, companies check reference near the end of the application process.
Get Permission Prior to Including a Reference on the List
Also, before including a reference on your reference list, make sure that you have requested permission to use that person as a reference.
They will be better prepared to endorse you as a candidate if they know in advance that they may be contacted, rather than if they receive an unexpected phone call.
If you can, select references who are able to speak specifically about your qualifications for the job you are applying for. It’s helpful to let them know about your job search, and what types of jobs you are interested in, so they will know what qualities to highlight if they are contacted by a potential employer. If you know in advance that your reference may be contacted by a specific company, you can share your resume and the job description.
Thank You References
Remember to thank your references when they agree to act in your behalf, and offer to reciprocate in the future. While your qualifications, experience, skills, resume, cover letter, and interview all play an important role in getting hired, your references can enhance the whole picture.
Make sure they know you appreciate them taking the time to endorse you.
Reference Letter Samples
Sample reference letters and recommendation letters, letter samples for character references, and letters asking for a reference.