References on a CV: Pros and Cons

Warehouse Logistics


Years ago everyone would put the contact details of a reference on their CV – or at least state that ‘references available on request.’

But these days recruiters don’t need to see references until much later in the process. Here’s how to tackle references on your CV.

Should you put references on your CV?

The consensus today is that there’s no need to include references on your CV. The purpose of your CV is to present you as a potential candidate for a job, listing the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the role.

While references are important, they aren’t of interest at this early stage of the job application process. Not including them will give you more space to focus on your expertise and how you meet the role requirements.

Can recommendations add context to your CV?

If you know that past employers and other contacts would have positive things to say about you, you could ask them for a recommendation and use short quotes on your CV.

Many people have these commendations on their LinkedIn profiles, as it helps would-be employers get a sense of your strengths and personality. You could consider including some short quotes like this in the margin of your CV – if you have suitably impressive comments. This is a useful approach if your CV is fairly light on past experience.

While you needn’t mention references on your CV if you prefer not to, you should certainly line up two or three potential referees for later in the process.

Who should I choose for a job reference?

Good employers will always check your references before giving you a contract to sign. The purpose is to check that you have been honest about your past employment or studies, and that you have been a good employee.

The employer may call them, write to them requesting information about you or ask them to complete a form. They will typically ask about your performance, whether you are reliable, punctual and if there are any reasons why you might not suit the role.

Typical people to ask for a reference are a previous manager, a colleague, a client or customer, a coach or mentor or a teacher/lecturer.

What’s the process to get a reference?

Once you have thought of two or few potential referees, it’s good practice to get in touch with them and ask if they’re happy for you to use their name.

Not only does this forewarn the person that they may be contacted, it’s also a good way to check that you still have the correct contact details for them. If your potential employer is unable to get hold of your referee it can delay or even halt your appointment to the job.

Even more importantly, getting in touch helps you retain contact – it is always helpful to keep up a relationship with people you have worked with in the past.

What details do I need for a reference?

If you’re not including references on your CV, you will need to provide the details later on in the recruitment journey. You will typically be asked for your referee’s full name, where they work, their job title, their phone number and email address.

Also consider that it can be helpful to share further details with your referee about the job you’re applying for and anything you would like them to highlight in the reference.

So while they are very important in securing you a job, there’s no need to include references on your CV. For more CV tips see What employers need to see on your CV – and this article on what not to include on your CV.

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