It's that age old question - should you include “references available upon request” in your CV or not?

You've spent hours perfecting your CV. You're really pleased with the layout and the content seems relevant to whatever role you're seeking in the job market. Your achievements stand out and you've carefully chosen active verbs and wording that reflects your impact and your key skills. Your education section is complete, as well as the IT proficiency part, and you've kept it to the optimum 2 pages. So how to end the CV? Should you include “references available upon request” in your CV? And what about actual referees with their names and contact details?

Before we tackle that conundrum, let's consider and clear up what references actually are.

What exactly are references?

The reference section has traditionally been at the end of a CV, with the names and contact details of past employers or personal acquaintances who are willing to send in a reference. This is a written statement that confirms your key skills and states why you're perfect for this next role. It can be as short as a couple of lines or more verbose with a few paragraphs. If you've lost your job or got fired, it's going to be a bit more tricky to select which referees you eventually want to use when the time comes, so you'll need to think this through carefully.

For those of you with a shorter or non-existent career history, you can choose leaders and teachers you've had who've been influential and guided you along the way, such as your tutor, your football coach, or someone you've done volunteer work for. Don't pick a family member though, as this won't be seen as making a good impression.

What is a referee?

No, it's not the person in black who blows the whistle when you're offside during your pub footie match. Well… not in this scenario anyway! A referee is the person who's going to, hopefully, sing your praises about how great you were during your employment with them. It's so whoever is reading your CV can ascertain your strengths and decide whether you're a good fit for the job. By contacting a third party, it also shows that you did actually work where you say you did and when you say you did.

The importance of job references

Compiling and sending off your CV when applying for a job is usually the first stage of the recruitment process. Once you've nailed an interview, this is when references come into their own. They're normally required when a candidate has been invited for an interview and offered the job. The firm, which is about to take you on board, wants to check your credibility with a third party who knows you.

Should you include “references available upon request” in your CV?

Nowadays it's a common mistake to add “references available on request” at the bottom of your CV. So the answer to the question is a resounding “no”! Quite simply, it's a waste of space. As a tightly written document fitting onto two pages, a CV is effectively a place to show off. It's the one time in your life when you can boast about your achievements without feeling arrogant or embarrassed. If you want to land a great job, you need to make the most of the space on your CV to fit in all relevant details and achievements. References just aren't needed at this stage of the hiring process.

When considering “Should I include “references available upon request” in my CV?”, think about the actual referees themselves. Would you want them to be pestered unnecessarily by time wasters? Presuming the answer to this is “no”, then you can see why it's a “no” when you're considering adding their contact details to your CV. 

It's also obvious. Within the recruitment industry, everyone knows that references will be needed at some stage. That makes it rather superfluous to add on “references upon request” at the end of your CV as it's a given anyway.

The exceptions to the rule

There are always exceptions to the rule, aren't there? If a recruitment agency or employer specifically requests details of referees as part of your initial application, then they must be included. But as you will have spent time perfecting the layout and look of your CV, you can provide this type of information on a separate sheet of paper - one that mirrors your CV in style and format, of course.

Additionally, some medical applications require references right from the start of the process, so be sure to include them.

The key takeaway

Fill your CV with relevant content. So when you say to yourself, “Should I include “references available upon request” in my CV?”, remember not to put it on there. Maximise the space you have by using it for relevant and informative content that showcases your talents.

Every word counts on a CV. To make sure all of yours do, and that they also make an impact, get in touch today for a free CV review. The experts at TopCV can then make all of your words make an impact without wasting space. 

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