Rather Than Putting References On Your Resume Type Them Up On A Separate Sheet Of Paper
Include the person’s first name and last name, current title and company name, email address, and phone number. Be sure to check with each of your references ahead of time to confirm that the person is willing to be your reference and to verify which phone number and email address they’d like you to share with employers.
It’s also helpful to add a line that explains to the reader how you’ve come to know this reference. For example, it could be as simple as mentioning that you worked together in Company XYZ’s marketing department from July 2015 to November 2017 or that another reference was your direct supervisor at ABC Institute between 2018 and 2019. You don’t have to write a paragraph explaining your relationship to a reference, but it’s nice to provide the employer with a little context.
When you type up your references, considering using the same header information and font style that was used for your resume so that the documents appear to be part of one overall package, even if they’re not attached to one another.
What Do References Do On A Resume
The references section on your resume contains a list of people who can vouch for you and provide your future employer with more information about your abilities.
These can include your teachers, advisors, coaches, colleagues, employers or your direct supervisors. They know how you used your skills in the past, can confirm any qualifications that you stated on your resume or vouch for your character.
References help your future employer find out how you performed in your previous jobs or throughout your academic career. They can get an idea about your professional attitude and competency before hiring you.
Employers usually only contact your references once they get to the last stage of the hiring process. Or sometimes, in case youre a freelancer, they may ask you to provide references in advance.
When Should You Put References On A Resume
Including references in your resume used to be more common in the past. Sure, its good to prepare a list of references in advance, but including it in your resume isnt always the best course of action.
But in some specific situations, its still okay to put them on your resume or together with your application. Its not customary but certainly acceptable if:
- The job listing asks for references from the get-go, you should include them without much hesitation.
- Your reference is someone well-known in the company or industry. Sometimes you dont want to wait until the last round of interviews to play your strongest card.
- Youre a fresh graduate. Probably you still dont have enough experience to fill an entire resume. Moreover, as a student, you have no authority yet. Let others do the bragging for you.
- Youre a freelancer. For companies its sometimes hard to find a dependable freelancer. Of course, your portfolio is still the most important of your application, but you should always be ready to provide a list of references from your past clients.
- Theres an employment gap on your resume. Including references on your resume is an effective way to balance out your work gap.
But If none of the above applies to you, dont do it. Its neither customary nor expected. There are several reasons for that:
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Dont Put References On Your Cv Do This Instead
Should you put your references on your CV?
I get asked this question a lot, and the short answer is No
Like many candidates, you may be tempted to include references within your CV in an attempt to be transparent, and provide recruiters with some early social proof of your abilities. And that is totally understandable.
However, the benefits of leaving your references out of your CV, far outweigh the benefits of including them.
In this post, I will explain the reasons why you shouldnt add your references when writing your CV, and what you can do instead to prove your value as an employee.
Asking Your Old Employer To Give A Good Reference Next Time
Think about if you can ask your old employer to give a better reference in future. You might be able to speak to someone else if you dont want to contact your manager directly – for example an HR department or another manager.
Explain what the problem is and how youd like them to help. Be as specific as you can and focus on the facts rather than how you feel.
For example, if youve lost a job offer because your old employer gave a bad reference, you could:
- tell your old employer you were offered a job but it was withdrawn because of the reference
- ask them to review the reference to make sure it was fair and accurate
- ask them to confirm theyll give a fair reference in future
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Dont Waste Valuable Space
My general rule of thumb is No. This is an outdated sentence, doesnt add value, and generally wastes space. The space on your resume is limited, usually only 2 pages.
You want to use this space wisely to highlight your skills and quantifiable accomplishments. Your resume is your way to get into the door. Later on, when the candidates have been whittled down, far down the line, references are requested.
The only scenario when you should include a reference page is when the company explicitly requests it.
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Ask Your Contacts To Be A Reference
Its important you ask your contacts to be a reference before you provide their names. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it also gives them time to prepare for a phone call or email from the employer. Giving your references plenty of notice also ensures they have time to recall specific examples that highlight why youre the best candidate for the role.
Whether you call, email or ask your prospective reference in person, be sure its something theyre comfortable doing. Your best references will be people who enjoyed working with you and are excited to discuss your talents.
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Getting A Job Without A Reference From Your Employer
If you think your employer will give you a bad reference or wont give you one at all, you could ask someone else to give you a reference instead.
Look for jobs that dont need a reference from your most recent manager. Some jobs accept references from other people youve worked with – like a different manager or someone youve worked for before.
Try to choose someone youve worked with recently. It also helps if they have a senior position in the company. Check with them first to make sure theyll give you a good reference.
The new employer might ask why youre not giving your old employers details. Think about how youll explain this to them.
Youll need to give a reference from your old employer if a job application asks for it – but you might be able to give a reference from the other person as well.
How Do I Ask Someone To Be A Reference
The key here is to always make sure you ask someone if you can list them as a job reference, and check in each time you list them. Ensure they are comfortable accepting the role of being a reference.
Even if you asked them a while ago but are getting back into job searching again, give them a heads up youre searching again and they may be hearing from someone soon.
A good way to ask someone to be a reference is either by calling them or sending an email. Ask if they think they know you and/or your work well enough to speak about it, and if they feel comfortable doing so. Or, you could ask them if they feel comfortable giving a positive reference. By asking ahead of time, you give them the opportunity to turn it down if they dont believe they can or dont have the time to speak to someone.
Be sure to thank the person in advance for taking the time to talk to a potential employer, and update them on your job status if you get hired. You may also want to ask if they can remain a reference for you in the future should you ever need one. Again, dont forget to let them know each time you start up your search and list them so theyre aware they may be contacted.
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How To Ask For A Reference
Asking for professional references can be a bit nerve-wrecking, especially if your references are busy people.
The key to asking for references is to be polite and concise in your request. A direct phone call is preferred for asking for references, but a quick email can work in a pinch as well.
When asking someone to serve as a reference for you, it is important to be considerate of their potentially busy schedule and give them a good time frame for when to expect a call or email.
This is another reason why it is important to wait to provide references until requested, as it will give you a narrower window of time to give to your references of when they will need to be on the lookout a hiring manager to contact them.
Quick Tip: When you call or email to ask for a reference, this is a great time to confirm that the information you have is correct .
Most Employers Do Not Require References Up Front
Employers and recruiters are sorting and sifting through hundreds of resumes to determine which candidates make the first cut and get an interview. During this first pass, they are not likely to contact any references. It would not be efficient to contact references during this stage. They would only waste time. They will want to talk to you first before putting in the effort to reach out to anyone on your behalf. If after the interview the recruiter or hiring manager would like to contact any references, they will ask for them. At this time , it is appropriate to give a reference page.
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Use References Available Upon Request Sparingly
References and relevant experience give potential employers an accurate estimate of how well you operate in a real-life setting. If you have them, dont be shy to show them off.
Also, prospective employers will almost always ask for references, so you can save everyone some time and avoid unnecessary back and forth by indicating the contact info right from the get-go.
However, if you plan on indicating the references available upon request line on your resume to limit the people contacting your references, I suggest going with a different strategy.
Yes, you might not have bad intentions. Unfortunately, carelessly using references available upon request comes off negatively to most hiring specialists, plus you cant really explain the reason behind your choice, right?
A good alternative here is to use emails instead of contact numbers. The former is far less intrusive. This tip best suits individuals who feel uncomfortable about having multiple HR personnel bug their chosen references on background checks and such.
Dr. Talaya Waller
Founder, Waller & Company
Writing References Available Upon Request Can Even Harm Your Resume
Why? It is obvious, and recruiters already know that they can ask you for your references. Besides, it will also occupy a line on it that you can use for writing something that can make you stand out.
I received a resume a few days back that impressed me. The candidate paid attention to every little comma on that PDF. The references section came in the shape of a square with the names and a comment that said: Find out more!
The sentence linked to a shared document with all the references and contact details so simple! This creative way of including references surprised me, so we ended up in an interview.
Liz Hogan, CPRW
Community Manager, Find My Profession
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Dont Waste The Recruiters Time By Stating The Obvious
As a former public relations professional and as a recruiter, as well as in my role now as a PR professor/advisor, I have cautioned students and others over the years, Tell me why you believe you are qualified for this job. Dont waste my time stating the obvious like, for example, References available on request.’
Im going to ask you for references as a part of the interview process, so be ready to provide them then. Just give me the relevant facts so that I can make the initial decision on whether or not to call you for an interview.
Especially in todays chaotic reality, hiring managers are swamped with responses to job announcements. I recall once, many years ago, when the economy was, at best, iffy, applying for a position. It turned out that the human resources person and I had worked at the same company in the past.
I asked her, How many resumes did you get for this position?Her response? More than two hundred.
The company actually had to hire a couple of temporary HR pros to help deal with the avalanche! Yep, youre just one of the herd, and your challenge is to tell and sell your story quickly, completely, and convincingly.
My question: How do you deal with the hundreds of resumes that come across your desk?Her response: Easy. First typo trashcan.
Owner and Recruiting Manager, Green Lion Search Group
Decide How To Send Your Reference List
The only time you should send your reference list with your resume is if the job posting explicitly requests references with the application. Otherwise, wait until a recruiter or hiring manager makes the request. Save space on your resume by removing references available upon requestrecruiters will request this list if and when they need it during the hiring process. If youre looking for additional guidance while creating your resume, review Indeeds list of resume samples.
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Who To Ask For References
As you are creating your list of potential references to contact, there are a number of different types of people you can consider including.
It is important to keep in consideration how a reference can relate back to the job you are applying for, and whether their testimony of your work ethic and skills will be relevant enough for the desired position.
Here are some common examples of who to include as references:
- Former employer or manager
- Coworker, colleague, or team member
- College professor
- Internship supervisor
- Community member
- Business partners
How Many References On Your Resume Are Good
If possible, five. However, three references are the minimum.
Most jobs require one to three for a resume. But, its better if you had five to seven references, especially if youre after executive or senior roles.
Whichever the number, the list of your references need to be in the order of relevance.
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Mistake #: Listing Someone As A Reference Without Asking The Person For Permission First
Asking if someone will be a reference for you might sound like a basic step, but Kay says youd be surprised how many job seekers forget to do it.
A lot of people just dont ask for permission, Kay says. They just assume that the person is happy to do it. Hence, youll want to touch base with references before providing their contact information to a prospective employer. Its simply common courtesy.
Determine Who Should Be A Reference On Your Resume
How do you decide? Well, it depends on the circumstances.
Do you currently have a job? Maybe youre interested in finding a more rewarding position or just seeing whats out there.
In this case, dont list your boss as a reference.
Doing so might put you at risk.
Although potential employers should request permission beforehand, you dont want to take the chance of your employer knowing about your plans.
Are you in between jobs?
Then its fine if you list a previous employer as a reference. Only if youre certain theyll give you a glowing testimonial, though.
Either way, pick referees that put you in the best light possible.
For example, If youre not on good terms with a previous supervisor, pick a coworker that would speak highly of you.
Avoid personal references as their opinions of you are biased. Go for professional references such as your current or former managers, colleagues, professors, and even customers. List the most recent, relevant references.
Normally, the hiring managers arent interested in referees youve worked with 15 years ago.
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How To Put References On A Resume
This is highly unusual. But wait, that doesnt mean you should never do it. Sometimes unusual is good. Very good.
Especially when you want someone to take notice of you.
Anyway, to cut to the chase: references normally dont belong on a resume. Instead, theyre something that you normally attach to it when requested.
That is, unless you know what youre doing. This guide should help you with that.
This guide will answer these pressing questions:
- When should you put references on a resume?
- Who to ask for a reference?
- if youre a student or fresh graduate?
- if youre a seasoned professional?
- How to ask for a reference?
- How to include references on a resume?
- Should you put them directly on your resume?
- Can LinkedIns recommendations make your life easier?
- Is there more?
Employers Will Search For References
Potential employers get in touch with past employers, teachers, and personal contacts to verify your character, abilities, and qualifications.
When youre interested in making a big purchase, like a car or a house, you ask other people whove purchased something similar for their opinion. You talk to the past owners to get an honest personal review of the product, which goes beyond specification digits and all the fabulous things the salesperson told you.
Similarly, when an organization is looking to hire a new employee, they run a reference check to understand how they perform.
Almost all job applications require you to put a list of references they can get in contact with on a resume.
In theory, job references are entirely out of your control. You cannot force your last boss to sing praises of your work, nor should you!
However, there are still ways to avoid a negative reference and get one to secure the job. Here we point out some of them.
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