By: Sobhan Mohmand, Editorial manager Last updated: 28 Oct 2018
A conventional CV consists of a number of important parts, including the references section at the end of the CV. It has been a widespread practice to include at least one or two referees who know you well, have worked with you in one way or another and who can vouch for you to the prospective employer.
Your references are people, called referees, who can testify about your character, skills and abilities to prospective employers.
You could consider them as your personal advocates or ambassadors.
The employer might call them up or request in writing some information about you. They might ask your referees the following information about you:
It becomes clear from this that 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 person(s) who will aid not hamper your chances of securing a job.
The answer is both yes and no, depending on your circumstances and personal preference. Sometimes it may be useful and beneficial to include references on your CV and other times it may be best to leave it out completely.
Some employers may request your cover letter, CV, references and/or recommendation letters as part of the first stages of the job application process (i.e. before being invited for a job interview). If this is the case, you must provide your references to the employer, either through their job application form or by including it on your CV. Most employers will not ask for this information until the later stages of the selection process.
Your reference may be a respectable and well-known person which would impress the reader; an MP, Dean of a university, Director of a famous company or a person who has received an honorary award (e.g. MBE).
Including your referees on your CV makes life easier for some employers who may want to speak to your references before the interview stage. By providing this information beforehand, they can instantly ‘check you out’ at any stage of the selection process. They are under no obligation to only contact your referees after the interview stage.
Psychologically-speaking, adding references gives your CV a little more ‘weight’ and credibility because it demonstrates that you are confident at your own track-record and that you have people who will vouch for you whenever required.
It also gives the impression that you have nothing to hide (e.g. a bad track-record, having no referees at all or having been fired from your previous job).
Some applicants, particularly school leavers, college students or those without work experience, will notice that the length of their CV will come short of the 2 A4 pages length; leaving a large empty space at the end of the CV.
Given the various benefits of including your references on your CV and to improve the presentation of your CV, you may decide to include the references section to fill up the empty space, make your CV the full 2 pages and make your CV look “complete.”
Note: If you have more important information by which you can fill the empty space (e.g. additional qualifications or work experience), do so!
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!
However, the truth is that references on a CV are not a necessity; it’s entirely optional and in some cases, it is best to omit them from your CV.
The following are the arguments for not writing references on your CV:
The following candidates shouldn’t write their CV references section:
Those candidates that do not wish to add references to their CVs should write: “References are available upon request.” and not leave the section blank.
One of your referees should be your current or former employer, and the second referee can be any person who knows you well, including:
You have to be very careful with who you choose as your references. Not everyone who knows you well or who would like to vouch for you may be able to do so effectively and professionally. Your referees should be:
“My mum knows me really well, can she be my referee?”
The purpose of providing references is for the employer to get a professional and unbiased opinion about you and your abilities. Having family members as your references create a “conflict of interest” (bias) and defeat the whole purpose of trying to get an honest and unbiased view from an independent source.
The following are people you can’t use as your references:
In general, you need to provide two references, one being your former employer (if you have one) and the other someone who knows you well.
The number of references may vary, however, depending on the circumstances of the applicant. For example, it’s fine for school leavers to only include one referee, and for college students to include two academic staff (teacher, lecturer or tutor) instead of one academic staff and one employer.
Your references must include the following details about each of your referees:
Your references section can be written in many different formats.
The following are some good formats to follow:
Column format (long):
Sentence format (shorter):
Available upon request (shortest):
The references section of your CV is important and should not be omitted entirely. Depending on your current circumstances and personal preference, you should either include the full details of your referees in this section or simply write; “References are available upon request.”