Should I include “references available upon request” in my CV?

By Robert Half on 4 September 2018

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect description of your work experience within your resume whilst trying to avoid the usual, cliché buzzwords.

But there, at the bottom of the page is the blank space where your references usually go.

Should you detail your references in full, should you just state “References Available Upon Request”, or leave out any mention of your references altogether?

Why your CV should include the phrase “references available upon request”

An alternative to including full references is to add the text “references available upon request”. Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to include this phrase in your CV:

1. For privacy reasons – Is your CV being uploaded to job matching sites and being emailed to numerous prospective suppliers? If so, the person providing you with a reference may not want you to share their contact information with the world. Simply including the text “references available upon request” on your CV in this scenario would be a more viable better solution.

2. To have more leverage – Including this phrase can allow you to have more control over when and who your nominated references can be to support your job application. This leverage gives you the opportunity to speak with your references first, to let them know that someone may get in touch with them and brief them on any key points they should be aware of. You can update them about the company, the role itself, and the business. Your reference will then know what to expect (and not be caught unaware) and be able to tailor their responses to fit the role.

Why not to include “references available upon request” in your CV

Whilst including the text “references available upon request” won’t damage your application, there are some important things to consider before adding it in:

1. Lengthens the hiring process – While including this phrase can extend more control to you, it’s important to take into account that this creates more work for the hiring manger who now has to get in touch with you for the full details. If hiring managers are in a rush to hire a new candidate, they may go with applicant who already has all their details ready and available.

2. It’s irrelevant - Many people may include “references available upon request” to highlight that they have references at the ready. However, every hiring manager will expect a candidate to have references. It would be better to remove this unnecessary sentence and maximise the limited space you have available in your CV.

3. It’s not a strong way to close your “sales pitch” – You want to set your CV apart from other candidates and finish it on a high point to be remembered. Adding such a phrase isn’t going to help you achieve that. Instead, having information that is useful to the hiring manager, such as the contact details of the references who can vouch for the skills and experience you have listed in your resume can be more beneficial.

Alternative ideas for utilising references

If you’ve gathered some great references, you will want to show them off. But if you’re not including them on your CV, what is the best way to get them seen by recruiters? Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Reference list - Create a reference list in a separate, professional document. This way, once you are asked by a potential employer for references, you can send them across quickly in a clear, easy to understand document. Don’t forget to ask permission of anyone you plan to include first.

2. Use LinkedIn - Don’t forget to ensure your LinkedIn profile is as up-to-date as possible and ask for endorsements and recommendations. As “the world's largest professional network”, you can guarantee that a hiring manager will review your profile, so while not adding references on your CV at the application stage may be the correct etiquette to follow, having an active LinkedIn profile full of testimonials is the most up-to-date way to showcase your work experience.

Proceed with caution if you do decide to use “references available upon request”. Ultimately, you want to make every word in your CV count and ensure you have relevant and up-to-date references available when required.

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