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How Many References Should You Include In Your Resume

Decide How To Send Your Reference List

Should You Include References on Your Resume? | Resume Tips

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.

Who Should You Ask To Be A Reference

Most companies will ask for two or three references from a candidate, so its always best to have at least three ready to go. Some prospective employers may request a certain mix of types of references, but generally you want to list former managers and former or current colleagues if youre earlier in your career and dont have many former managers, you could list professors you worked closely with. If youd be leading a team, you may be asked for a reference from a former direct report. For some client-facing roles, like account management, companies might want to hear from a former client or customer, so be sure to read up on the norms for your industry.

Why Are References On A Resume No Longer Used

Sort of like video killed the radio star, we can thank the internet for killing the idea of references on a resume. The short answer is: references on a resume are usually sensitive information and should not be widely distributed due to privacy concerns. Theres also the idea of digital etiquette, which dictates you shouldnt mention people will-nilly, opening them up to unexpected calls and messages. Such frivolous use of references on a resume can get you a very bad rep in many professional circles.

Before the 1990s, when you couldnt send mail without licking a stamp, resumes were relatively private documents that were printed on paper, enclosed in an envelope and dropped in a mailbox. Sure, a resume might be passed around an office, hand to hand, but this didnt make the references names, addresses or phone numbers accessible to millions.

That all changed with the electronic revolution, which turned resumes into digital documents that actually could be accessible to millions. Today you can post your resume on LinkedIn or any number of other totally public job-search websites. So do you think your old boss would be thrilled to know that youve put his name, title, employer, phone number and email address in front of potentially billions of people? Probably not.

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When Shouldnt I Include References On A Cv

Since the inception of CVs, it has become a common practice for job seekers to include their references on their CVs. In fact, some careers advisors have gone so far to declare that including references on a CV is highly recommended!

In reality, references on a CV are not a necessity its entirely optional, and in some cases, it is best to omit them from your CV.

Lets explore the disadvantages of adding references on your CV:

  • References at this early stage of the application process are not required and completely irrelevant.
  • It takes up valuable space which can be better utilised by adding more important information to ones CV.
  • It could raise more questions or suspicions if a candidate cannot or does not include their current/previous employer.
  • References can be provided upon request hence, it is sufficient to write, Available upon request.
  • It can take up a lot of time to find two suitable referees, ask their personal details and ask their permission to be used as references. Why not spend this valuable time in looking and applying for jobs?

These are all valid arguments. Therefore, the following candidates shouldnt write references on their CVs:

Those candidates that do not wish to add references to their CVs should write: References are available upon request.

List Your References In Order Of Importance

How To List Your Resume References [With Formatting Examples]

You need to choose your references wisely. Most employers will only ask for three to five references. Thus, you carefully select your most important references. These people should be those who can discuss your skills and abilities for the position you are applying for.

List the reference who will likely give you great recommendations at the top of your reference list. It is also best to choose references who work in the same industry as the job position you are applying for.

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Where To Put References On A Cv

The references section should be located at the bottom of your CV. If you decide to include your references on your CV, you should provide the personal details of your two referees here. If, on the other hand, you do not wish to include references on your CV, you can simply write: References are available upon request.

How To Put References On Resume

Having a reference in the hiring company can prove to be a real differentiator while comparing you with your competition. However, you should refrain from listing your references in your resume. Ideally, your resume should include your qualifications, work experience, and all other details to establish you as the ideal candidate for the position. Putting your references on the resume will look a little desperate and will do nothing to showcase your capabilities.

Employers value what the reference says about you and since they are the first point of contact, the picture they paint can have a lasting impression on the employer. However, the right way to pitch your references is not through the resume but rather through the HR round.

However, there are exceptions to this practice as well. In some industries, especially where research is involved its a common practice to share your reference details in the resume. If you have collaborated with someone from the industry to work on a case study, it is a good idea to put the details of the research, including the reference with whom you worked. In fact, at times, hiring companies themselves provide you with forms to fill in the details of your reference. Make sure to not miss out on any details regarding the reference in such cases. Apart from their contact information, mention your relationship with them and what position they currently hold in the hiring company.

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What If You Have No References For A Resume

Thats rare, like really rare.

It would be unfortunate, but dont despair.

Most people youve worked or done business with make decent references. This doesnt just apply to the professional work environment, it also works if youre a student or a new college graduate.

As a quick recap, this includes:

  • Clients
  • Professors

If you cant get one professional reference, personal references work too.

These are people who can vouch for your character, which is becoming more important in the workforce today.

Cant do that either?

Suggest a probation period or freelance work so you can prove yourself. This can be effective because youre offering potentially great performance at minimal risk to the employer.

Whatever you do, dont pay for someone to pose as your reference.

What Information To Include On Your Reference Sheet

Should You Include References On Your Resume?

On your reference sheet, you should list each reference with the following information:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Reference Description: Write one sentence explaining how you know or have worked with this person, where, when, and for how long.

Theres no need to include your references home or work addresscompanies arent going to be mailing them anything. And if a reference expresses a strong preference for a certain method of contact, its OK to put next to that line on your reference list.

To keep things easy for the hiring manager, its also a good idea to include your own name, phone number, and email at the top of the sheet .

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Can I Include References Without Their Permission

No way! Youre buying a one-way ticket to unemployment hell if you blindside former employers by listing them as references on a resume without even checking with them first.

A job search is a process, and you cant just skip a bunch of steps. If you used to be Bill and Melinda Gates nanny, you cant just put their private contact info on your resume without getting their permission first.

If you need character references on a resume, reach out to your most promising prospects. How do you ask someone to be your reference? Explain what youre up to, what kind of job youre currently seeking and why you need a reference. If you used to work for Warren Buffett, hes probably busy earning another $1 billion today, but he might have five minutes to dash off a note saying you were a great bookkeeper.

Speaking of which instead of seeking permission to publish their closely guarded contact info, why not ask former employers for a short testimonial about what an awesome employee you used to be? You can probably get far more mileage from a professional reference letter than from a phone number that Elon Musk doesnt answer anyway.

How Do I List References

You can list your references in a separate document from your resume and cover letter. Start the list with your strongest contact, which may be the professional who has the greatest knowledge of who you are as an employee. It also may be a contact who has known you for the longest or one with the closest proximity to your industry contributions. For example, if you’re applying for an entry-level marketing position, then your strongest reference may be your direct supervisor when you were a marketing intern.

Here are the details about your reference to include on your list:

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Who Should You Use As Professional References

Your best references will be the people that know you best professionally. Including family or friends isnât terrible but just keep in mind that the employer will know that they tend to be biased.

A former boss can be a great reference. However, many larger companies forbid them from acting as references. Remember that when putting together your reference page.

The best references come from professional peers and those for which you provided service. That includes former coworkers, clients or even professors .

Tips For Getting And Submitting References

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Who to Use as a Reference. Choosing who to ask for a reference is an important step in your application process. You will want to tailor your reference list, depending on the job for which you’re applying.

When possible, utilize references with connections to the company or industry to which you are applying.

Its also helpful to use references who can attest to your qualifications for the particular job youre applying to. With this in mind, its great if you can list people who have worked with you in a similar context.

How to Email a Reference List. When youre emailing a reference list to an employer, name the file so that its easy to identify and easy for the hiring manager to keep track of. You may want to send it as a PDF file, so it retains the original formatting. Here’s how:

  • For Word Documents: click File, Save As, PDF to save your documents as PDF files.
  • For Google Docs files: click File, Download, PDF document.
  • Save the files with your name, so they don’t get mixed up with other applicants’ materials, e.g., janeapplicant.pdf.

Give the Reference Giver an Opportunity to Decline. When you ask someone to give you a reference, its always a good idea to give them an opportunity to decline. While most people are happy to help colleagues out with references and recommendations, there may be personal circumstances or professional policies preventing them from doing so at a particular time.

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What About References Available Upon Request

So, you know now not to put actual references on a resume, but

What about that oft-quoted phrase resume references available upon request?

This is a notoriously common line many people add to their resume footer.

Dont add this phrase, because:

  • It is already impliedOf course your professional references will be made available to the employer upon their request.
  • It looks awfully terribleLike back in school if everyone copied the same wrong answer for their assignment. Dont copy this ill-advised line onto your resume.
  • It takes unnecessary spaceEvery square inch of your resume is valuable. Save room by using this to add an infinitely more relevant certification or language to your resume.

In our resume writing tips, this is one of the foremost mistakes to avoid.

Speaking of mistakes on resumesanother no-no is confusing personal references with the professional ones:

Personal References Vs Professional References On Resume

Personal references are friends, family, or others you havent worked with, so their vouching for you is not valuable to the prospective employer. Not only does their relationship with you insist on a glowing endorsement, but they also cant speak for how well you work.

Professional references are your former supervisors or colleagues who are willing to be contacted by the recruiter to vouch for your positive traits as an employee .

For a complete reference list, just imagine that entry above multiplied three to five times.

Just leave a space between them and add other entries in the same job references format again.

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The Right Way To Provide Your References To An Employer

Once you know who your references will be, you want to make it easy to submit them to employers when asked. So you should compile everything you need into a reference sheet, one handyand well-formatteddocument that can expedite the hiring process in the final stages.

When the time comes, you can attach your reference sheet to an email as a Word document or PDF file, or you can simply copy and paste the information into the body of the email.

Resume Reference Page Example

Should You Include References on Your Resume?

Check out this properly formatted resume references example to see what a references list looks like in practice:

Note that in this example, the candidate matches the style of her reference page to her resume design.

If you need to include a list of references with your resume, be sure to match the formatting to the rest of your application.

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How To Choose Your References

Just because references arent typically needed at the start of the application process, that doesnt mean you should forget about it until a prospective employer starts asking for your references. Be proactive and select your top references before you start applying for jobs.

Its good to get a variety of references that can speak to different aspects of your exemplary personal and professional qualities. Start brainstorming people who fit into any of the categories below:

  • Current/former boss

  • Current/former teacher/professor

  • Current/former mentor/advisor

Ideally, you should choose references who will be able to tout your talents that relate directly to the job for which youre applying. When contemplating whether or not to use someone from your current job, make sure that they know youre looking for a new job. Obviously, if youre sending out applications on the sly, dont put your current boss down as a reference.

Offer Them During The Interview

It can be helpful to prepare reference information for your interview. Consider asking when scheduling the interview if the hiring manager is interested in your references. If not, it’s not always necessary to mention them in your interview. You may also specify during your interview’s close that you can provide references on their request in case they have more questions about you. This can assert your confidence and show the hiring manager you are prepared and have a strong desire for the position.

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What To Include On A Reference List

When you provide a list of professional references to an employer, you should include:

  • Your name at the top of the page.
  • List your references, including their name, job title, company, and contact information, with a space in between each reference.
  • Include at least three professional references who can attest to your ability to perform the job you are applying for.
  • If it’s not clear from your resume, you may also wish to include information about your relationship with the reference.

For instance, you could write, “Reference Name was my supervisor while I was an accountant at Smith Enterprises,” or “Reference Name is my current employer.”

Dont Put References On Your Cv Do This Instead

Resume tips how many references

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.

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Done With Mistakes Do This Next

The job search doesn’t have to trip you up at every turnbut there are a whole lot of turns to contend with. Prevent unnecessary headaches by starting off on the right foot. Meaning, get your resume in shape. Not only will a strong resume impress hiring managers, it’ll also show your potential references what you’ve accomplished so far in your career. Need some help making sure you’re giving them something to talk about? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter’s first impression. It’s a quick and easy way to avoid the little mistakes that can have a big impact.


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