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Do You Need References On A Resume

Avoid Provided Upon Request

Do You Put References On A Resume? How Many References Do I Need To Give The Hiring Manager?

Should you put references directly on your resume? YES. I hear this question a lot, and the answer is yes. Rather than printing out your references, you may be tempted to save resume space and paper by putting References provided upon request on your resume. This is a no-no because it indicates to hiring managers that you are hesitant to provide such information. When you write a resume, you should always include a list of professional references names and contact information when applying for a new position as it shows confidence and comfort in your previous work record.

The hiring process is also often long and tediousif a hiring manager is going through hundreds of resumes, dont make them take an extra step to reach out to you for more information. If they are already teetering on the edge of whether you are a candidate to move forward with, they just might opt not to reach out to you.

However, if an employer asks for a reference letter or written recommendation from your references, of course provide those instead of putting contact information for your references on your resume.

Additionally, on a modern resume you can also consider including brief quotes from your references as blurbs on your resume itself. If you opt for this route, still include your references contact information on the resume so that an employer can call to follow up and ask more questions and hear more great things about your achievements!

When Should You Include References On A Resume

The short answer is: never. References on your resume take up valuable space. Whether your resume is one page or two pages , itâs important to use that space to promote your qualifications. Moreover, considering that each job attracts more than 100 applicants and only 2 percent of applicants will be called to interview, itâs best to keep your referencesâ contact information private until youâre asked to share it.

Choose Those Who Speak Well

Though someone may have agreed to serve as one of your references, will they speak well of you, and are they able to do so? I have had people ask me to act as a reference for them when they have not performed well for me or I am unfamiliar with their work. Be sure that the people you add to your list of references can discuss your work, abilities, and personality with thoughtful confidence in a positive way to help your cause.

In addition, stay in contact with your references. Keep them apprised of your job search, what positions you are seeking, and the type of work you wish to do. This will allow them to best speak on your behalf to help you achieve your career goals. A recommendation from someone you havent spoken to in seven years except to ask them to be a professional reference for you isnt going to be as effective as one from someone who knows your current professional situation and has a clear memory of your qualifications, strengths, and value to an employer. Plus, its just good professional courtesy to stay in touch this way!

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Do You Really Need References

There are some situations that don’t always require references:

  • Jobs you were referred to

  • Certain entry-level positions

  • Companies with limited hiring resources

When you get recommended for a job by someone at the company, you sometimes bypass the reference requirement: someone has already vouched for you. Here is how to ask for a job referral, including templates to use for emails and LinkedIn messages.

Some companies hiring for entry-level jobs understand that entry-level candidates may not have any useful references. Sometimes you can identify these jobs by looking for a “no references required” note on the job description. Other times, you just won’t be asked for references at any point. In either case, it’s still a good idea to have a professional reference page available, just in case.

Finally, some companies simply don’t have the capacity to check references. This might be a startup, or a small business that has one person for hiring, HR, operations, and accounting.

Prove Your Impact In Roles

Do you REALLY need 6 references???? Buying a car is tricky ...

Another reason that candidates feel they need to include references, is to show potential employers that they made a difference in the workplace and have been noticed by their leaders.

If you use your role descriptions to prove the impact your work has had on your employer or customers, then its a great way of proving your value as an employee.

Your impact is the result of your actions in the workplace.

For example, if you are responsible for introducing new processes in your office, then your impact could be, saving the firm money, or saving your colleagues time.

So, when writing your role descriptions, dont just list your responsibilities expand to demonstrate your impact.

For example, dont just write:

Making outbound calls to potential clients

Expand to say

Making outbound calls to potential clients to generate quality leads for sales team to convert to orders

This way you demonstrate your impact and recruiters can quickly see the value you offer to employers.

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How Should You List Your References

Your reference sheet should contain three to four professional references. You should always give your references a heads up before you hand in your reference sheet.

The last thing you want is for your references to be caught off guard or even give an old number or email address. Ensure that the contact number and email are up to date for each of your references.

When To Put References On A Resume

So, if it is typically not expected to have references included on an initial resume, when is the best time to include references on a resume?

Creating a reference section or page can be necessary depending on a number of situations, including:

  • If the employer has specifically requested for references to be included in the job description
  • If you have progressed further down the hiring process and have been asked to provide references before or after an interview
  • If you are applying to governmental or institutional position, such as a federal job, that will require strong references and a background check

Quick Tip: If you have impressive references, such as a company CEO or another recognizable figure, be sure to make these the most noticeable references and the first ones you list in your reference section.

Overall, the golden rule is to wait to provide references until they are requested.

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What Should A Resume Reference Page Look Like

A reference page for a resume should be an A4 page with the name and contact information of the candidate at the top, with a clear heading or title. To maintain a consistent structure it would be more professional to use the same style and layout as used on the resume for the name and basic details.

When it comes to listing references to present to a potential employer, you must ensure to order your list by descending significance. That means placing the most impressive reference at the top.

For the reference information, make sure you use all of the following:

  • Full name with corresponding title where appropriate
  • Job title or position
  • Name of company or organization
  • Contact phone number
  • Contact email address
  • Relation to you.

It is no longer necessary to include a physical contact address as references will no longer be contacted through traditional mail and it is inappropriate to share this personal information. We do recommend including a city or town name, simply to locate the business or association.

You can take a look at ResumeCoachs helpful guides to how to write a resume objective, work experience or other resume sections.

Also, you can find practical advice and examples on how to write a cover letter or an introduction to different resume templates for all types of jobseekers.

When Not To Include References

Resume Writing 101 – References NOT Required

If a job posting doesn’t request references, don’t list them on your resume or otherwise include with your job application. Including references was a more common practice in the past, so doing so when not asked for them might peg you as an older candidate. In recent years, it has become more common for companies to not provide references as a matter of practice in order to avoid potential lawsuits. Because of this, companies are less likely to expect applicants to provide references.

There also are risks to including references. Even if you trust your references to provide strong recommendations, they might not do so. As well, it’s also possible they could be known to your potential employers and not respectedhurting your chances by association.

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Have You Done Any Internships Volunteer Work Or Freelancing

Job seekers often overlook internships, volunteer work, and freelancing gigs when it comes to work experience! Not all good experience is full time, long term, or even paid. If you have these types of experience, you have supervisors, volunteer coordinators, or clients you can reach out to for a recommendation.

Ideally, people of this category will be both relevant and credible. For example, if you’re now trying to land an entry-level marketing job and your college internship reported to a Marketing Manager, that person would be a great reference option.

On the other hand, your neighbor you once did some yard work for won’t be as compelling to a hiring manager. Use that reference only as a last resort.

Here is what career expert Felicia advises:

Hiring managers want to know how well you work AND how you work with others. Getting references from a variety of sources can solidify who you are in the hiring process.

You want most of your references to be about your professional attributes. However, you don’t have to rule out references that can speak about your other abilities such as teamwork, organization, and hard and soft skills mentioned on your resume.

Its Unfair To Circulate Other Peoples Info Online

Whenever Ive seen candidates list references on their CV, they usually do so like this:

As you can see there is some key personal information on that person, sitting on a document that will be distributed online, uploaded to websites and possibly seen by hundreds of people.

This could potentially leave the individual at risk of receiving unsolicited calls from less scrupulous recruiters.


Because a small minority of recruiters will look at your CV and see those reference details as a person who could be in a position to hire staff, and view them as a potential new client.

They will then cold call them to pitch their services to them.

If you want to maintain good relationships with your previous managers, you probably wouldnt want to put them in a position where they are being cold called off the back of your CV.

Note: I stress that the vast majority of recruitment consultants do not use this tactic but during my time working in the industry I have seen it happen.

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What Are References In A Cv

Your references are people, called referees, who can testify about your character, skills and abilities to prospective employers. You could consider your referees as your personal advocates or ambassadors. The employer might call them or request in writing some information about you.

Some questions that employers might ask your referees include:

  • In what capacity do you know this person?
  • What can you tell me about their skills, abilities, work ethics, punctuality, personal character, and conduct with other people?
  • Is this person employable?
  • Will they be a good fit for this job role and our organisation?
  • Should we consider hiring them?

You have to be very careful with who you put down as your references. Read this article till the end to find out how to select the right persons who will aid and not hamper your chances of securing a job.

How To Format A Resume References Section

Why Put References On A Resume (from

Learning how to arrange a reference section is just as vital as other sections of your resume or cover letter.

A messy, carelessly formatted reference page will lose your employer’s interest.

So how do you write one thats eye-catching and professional?

First, put your references on a . Add an exclusive reference page, as the last page of your resume.

Keep the same format for your reference sheet as your resume and cover letter, meaning use the same font, margins, and color scheme.

  • Start off at the very top with your name, address, and phone number. You should place this information on that side of the page that fits the look of your cover letter and resume. .
  • Next, write the date. Then start with your employer’s information in this specific order: name, job position, company name, and company address.
  • Finally, follow up with a preferred title/subtitle: name the section References or Professional References.
  • If youve included personal references as well, you could also add Personal References as a subtitle.

    Use the formatting we discussed in the previous section to list your references.

    Ditch the common References available upon request.

    This is a frequent mistake. Employers formerly know this and its an overworked phrase. The general rule of thumb is to keep your resume as brief as possible. Why misuse the space?

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    When An Employer Requests References

    In some cases, an employer will request references in a job posting. Specifically, they might ask for a list of three professional references with telephone numbers and email addresses. Follow the instructions when you submit your references. Unless instructed to do so, do not include the list on your resume rather, create it as a separate list to send to the company.

    This list should include each references name, job title, company, address, phone number, and email address. If the job listing asks you to submit a list of references but does not tell you how many you need, include three on the list. This is the typical number of references that employers want for each candidate.

    Examples Of References On Resumes

    Letâs take a look at a few examples of references on resumes to learn more about common mistakes made when crafting a reference and how to correct them.

    It is highly important to include the necessary information to contact a reference â just a name and company is not enough. You should always include at least an official business number and an official business email in your references.


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    Determine How Many References To Include

    The number of references you list depends on your career level. For example, if youre entering the job market for the first time, you may only need to list three references. However, if youre applying for a more senior role, you will want to consider a longer reference list with contacts from different points in your professional history. Often, employers will provide instruction on how many references theyd like to hear fromin this case, follow any guidance youre given during the hiring process.

    Keep in mind that the recruiter may not contact all references on your list. In some cases, they may only call one or two. But having a selection of different types of references ensures they have plenty to choose from if one of your references is unavailable.

    Can People You Have A Personal Relationship With Be A Reference

    References: Are You Making a Resume Mistake?

    It is generally advised against to include references that have a strong personal relationship with you outside of work as this can result in a biased recommendation from the reference.

    However, exceptions can be made in certain instances, such as if you worked within a family-owned business or if the reference worked directly with you for a long period of time.

    In general, however, try to avoid including references that are too personally related to you.

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    Start With Your Personal Details

    Provide your personal information.

    Start your reference list with your name, phone number, and email address, just as it appears on your resume and cover letter.

    Add a simple line under your contact information to clearly separate it from the rest of the information on the page.

    Below your personal information, add a title such as “references” or “professional references.”

    Select your most relevant references.

    Most employers, if they ask for references, will limit you to three, so you will need to carefully and wisely select the most relevant references. This should include people who can discuss your talents that are specific to the job you are applying for. Therefore, consider:

    • Whether the reference works in the same industry as the one you are applying for.
    • Which reference can best highlight your skills applicable to the job you are applying for.
    • Which references are not suitable to give you a reference for the particular job you are applying for.

    Arrange your references to your advantage.

    List those references that are most likely to give you a great recommendation at the top. If you are adding references for different fields of work, you can sub-divide your references into different sections to make it easier for the recruiter to read.

    The best way to list your references would be to use the following format:

    Do not list your reference’s personal address to protect their privacy, and because hiring companies no longer contact references by mail.

    Job References Show Employers The Real You

    Everyone tries to sound smart and professional on their resume with fancy words. Most companies use an applicant tracking system to sort through the large pool of available resumes, so including the right keywords in the body of your resume can help open the door. But to make it to the next step of the hiring process requires more than just a good employment history.

    Employers want to make sure they find candidates that match their companys work ethic and culture. Instead of reading bluff, the hiring manager would rather talk to your past or current employers to get to know the real you. A professional job reference list can help them sort this out.

    Putting Provided Upon Request on the reference column of your resume implies that you are hesitant to provide that information in some context. You should feel confident and comfortable to provide the hiring manager your references. Dont hide it.

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