Should you include references in your CV?

Should you put referees on your CV? Well, the short answer is no. Here's the reason. Applying for a job is a process. And that process consists of many steps.

  • First, you read the ad, and you apply with your CV and cover letter.
  • You may then wish to promote yourself by connecting with the recruiter or employer on LinkedIn. Good choice.
  • After this, you prepare for the phone screening call and you ACE it. So you're invited for an interview.
  • You then do your interview preparation and it's time for the interview. And after this, perhaps there is a second interview.
  • There may also be skills testing, behavioral profiling, or even psychometric profiling.
  • Now it becomes exciting, and the offer is on the table subject to reference checks.

That's the recruitment process. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes it is shorter. But notice, your CV is primarily used at the beginning of the process and reference checks are always at the end.

The simple fact is that the purpose of a CV is to land you a phone screening call and that's it. So you should only put information on your CV that improves chance of getting that call, nothing more.

Including references in your CV will not enhance your chance of getting that call. Let me illustrate this by saying an employer or recruiter will spend about 30-60 seconds on average reading your CV. Time and space are precious, so you don't want to waste space on unnecessary details.

As stated in an article by Indeed, "Every word on your resume should be packed with value. Typically, you have one to two pages to explain why you’re qualified and well-positioned for the job, and hiring managers only have a short time to read it. Because references are not always a part of the interview process, you are taking up limited resume space to provide what may end up being irrelevant to employers in this phase."

Everyone needs to provide references at some point. So you're not creating any advantages over other applicants by including them. It's better to use the space in your CV and in your cover letter to convince the employer to progress you to the next stage - the phone screening call.

Should you put references on your CV?

References available upon request

Finally, there's one more thing I need to address - some people state "references available upon request" on their CV. So, should you write this?

No. You're stating the obvious. The employer will simply assume that they are available upon request, as it's a prerequisite for a final offer of employment. In an article, Indeed explains "Even including the phrase references upon request on your resume can be unimportant. If their interview process includes references, employers will ask you to provide them."

If an employers asks for your references or wants to do a reference check upfront, then you need to decide what to do. My advice is to be prepared for this question.

So, what should you say?

Well, I'd probably phrase it something like this: "I'll be happy to provide you with relevant referees that you can call, not a problem. You're more than welcome to contact them when we get to the point that you're ready to provide me with an offer of employment, subject to reference checks. I also know that they're busy and they would appreciate the call when you're ready to make that final decision so they can assist you filling in any gaps."

If you'd like some more tips on how to write your CV, click the button below to access our free e-book.

References available upon request

Christian Madsen - Managing Director at 11 Recruitment
Christian Madsen
Managing Director
11 Recruitment

Job hunting tips & advice


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>