Should You Include References on CVs? (The Complete Guide) – CV Nation

Should You Include References on CVs? (The Complete Guide)

Posted by Phillip Jewell on

References on your CV - yes or no? This helpful guide will answer all your questions about whether you should include references on your CV.

References on CVs – Yes or No? This is the question many job applicant’s find themselves asking when preparing their CV.

Our CV writing experts are here to provide you with the definitive answer. In this guide, we also provide advice from three recruitment and HR specialists on whether or not you should include references on your CV.

What are references?

References on CVs include the name, job title and contact details of individuals who will be asked to provide references of you to potential employers.

Referees – those who provide references – give evidence of your skills, competencies and character. They can be contacted by phone or they can be requested to provide information about you in writing.

Should you include references on your CV?

In most cases, you should not include references on your CV. Most people include the words ‘references are available on request’ at the end of their CV, but this is also not a requirement.

Recruiters do not request references until later in the job application process - usually after job interviews and before a formal offer of employment has been made. As such, references are redundant at the initial stage of the job application process.

When viewing your CV or resume, recruiters and hiring managers are not looking for references. They are simply interested in learning about your experiences, skills and achievements.

In short, don’t include references on your CV. They are not expected or necessary.

What are the negative aspects of references on CVs?

1. Hiring managers and recruiters do not expect to see references on CVs

Including references on your CV may come across as unprofessional, as it generally understood that they should not be included. Your CV is the first impression recruiters get of you; by including references on your CV, the first impression recruiters get of you may be a negative one.

2. References take up too much space

References take up valuable space on CVs that could be used to showcase your skills, achievements and experiences. In most cases, two-pages is the maximum recommended length for CVs. Including references means that you probably won’t have adequate space to articulate your ability to add value.

3. References include personal information

When you submit your CV, you lose control over the privacy of the information in the document. While the majority of recruiters and companies will treat the information in your CV with the utmost privacy, this can’t be guaranteed in all cases. This means the security of the contact information of your referees can not be guaranteed.

Privacy becomes an even bigger issue if you are uploading your CV online, to job boards for example. In this case, your referees’ personal information is readily available to a diverse audience.

For obvious reasons, it’s beneficial to maintain strong relationships with your referees. Releasing their personal information into the public domain is not a good way of doing this.

4. You lose control of when referees are contacted

By including references on your CV, you give up control of when the referees are contacted. If you don’t include referees on your CV, you can be sure that they will only be contacted if recruiters are serious about you as a candidate and ready to offer you employment.

If you include referees’ contact details on your CV, there is a chance that they could be contacted in the early stages of the job application process. Assuming your referees include your current employer, you could be left in an awkward position in which your current employer is asked to provide a reference without knowing of your intention to secure new employment.

We must stress, this won’t happen in most cases. Referees are usually contacted when an offer of employment has been made. However, we have known of cases where references have been requested in the earlier stages of the process.

What to do instead of including recommendations

State ‘references are available on request’

While this is not necessary or required, some people feel more comfortable including a line at the end of their CV that states ‘references are available on request’. Many prefer this approach as it indicates to recruiters that you have not neglected references and are not hiding a lack of options for references.

If you do decide to include this statement at the end of your CV, stick to the standard phrase: ‘references are available on request’. Avoid being creative and using more impressive statements.

We often see CVs and resumes that state more impressive statements, such as ‘Excellent references immediately available’. While you may well have excellent references, these types of statements might not have the expected effect on recruiters.

The image below shows how to include this statement at the end of your CV.

Show your results, which can act as great references

Many applicants are concerned that hiring managers won’t be able to learn of the value they have added throughout their career if they don’t include references. However, your CV itself should speak about your accomplishments and your ability to add value to employers.

But how can you demonstrate this effectively?

When describing your duties for each role, showcase your successes. By showing how you achieved success, you will show recruiters that you’re capable of adding value.

Use numbers and statistics to quantify your achievements, if possible.

Here is an example:

‘Generated a cost saving of $42k by eliminating redundant costs and streamlining processes’.

Note how, in this example, the applicants’ results and achievements provide evidence of his ability to achieve success, almost like a recommendation.

Obtain references on LinkedIn

Many recruiters and employers use LinkedIn to source new employees. In fact, over 95% of recruiters are estimated to use LinkedIn to meet their recruitment needs.

As such, it’s vital that you utilise the platform to ensure you stand the greatest chance of securing the job you want.

One of the best ways of optimising your LinkedIn profile is to obtain recommendations. Your recommendations will be featured on your profile and will be visible to those scanning your page.

Get in touch with your previous and current managers, colleagues and stakeholders. Ask them to leave you a glowing recommendation on LinkedIn, and you will significantly improve your job search.

Create a separate list of your references

One of the negative aspects of not including references on your CV is the fact that the job application process can be slowed down. This is because, rather than contacting the referees directly, hiring managers will be required to contact you first.

By creating a list of references – separate from your CV – you will be ready to swiftly provide hiring managers with your references when they are requested. Ensure this document is concise and easy to read.

Not only will this speed up the process, but you will impress hiring managers with your efficiency.

Hear from the experts

In order to get a varied response to the question of references on CVs, we reached out to several recruitment professionals on LinkedIn.

Simon, Recruitment Officer

'References aren’t necessary on CVs and resumes. References will be requested by recruiters at a later stage in the application.'

Helen, Recruitment Officer

'References aren’t required at this stage of the process and they take up too much valuable space, which could be used to show off your skills.'

Irina, Recruitment Executive

'Recruiters will request references before an offer of employment is made. They should not be included on CVs, unless you have been asked to include them.'

Is it really necessary to include ‘references are available on request’?

As touched on in this article, one of the most common methods of navigating the references on CVs question is to state ‘references are available on request’ at the end of the document.

While this is perfectly acceptable, it is not necessary. Recruiters will fully expect you to have references. Pointing out that you have references is redundant.

Adding ‘references are available on request’ may also take up valuable space, which could be used to demonstrate your abilities.

Can employers give bad references?

References can and should be accurate. Employers can give you a negative reference, but they must be accurate.

Some companies, for risk of encountering legal action, provide only basic information, such as date of hire, job title, wage and date of end of employment.


Don’t include references on your CV. Doing so can open the door to numerous problems. Furthermore, including references on your CV is simply not a requirement. Ignore the topic of references when writing your CV and wait for recruiters to request them, which they will do at a later stage of the job application process.

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