By Dr Eugene Brink
It is fairly standard procedure to include references in your CV as it is required by recruiters and lends credibility to your application for a job to boot.
Otherwise known as referees, they can vouch for your skills and work ethic and strengthen your chances of getting a job. The mere mention of their details on your CV (regardless of whether they will be contacted or not) could support your profile.
“A list of references includes people a prospective employer might contact to obtain more information about you. These people should be able to vouch for your qualifications for a job. Sometimes an employer will contact only one person on the list, and at other times an employer will contact everyone,” says Alison Doyle, career specialist at The Balance Careers. “A list of strong references can be a great way to demonstrate your qualifications for a position.”
Tips for listing references
Sobhan Mohmand, editorial manager at CV Plaza, says some questions that employers may ask your referees include the following:
- In what capacity do you know this person?
- What can you tell me about his skills, abilities, work ethic, punctuality, personal character, and conduct with other people?
- Is this person employable?
- Will he be a good fit for this job role and our organisation?
- Should we consider hiring him?
“It is recommended that you provide two references on your CV. One of your referees should be your current or former employer, and the second referee can be any person who knows you well,” he says.
Possible candidates include current employers, previous employers, managers, supervisors, teachers, colleagues, coaches and trainers. Ensure that your references can vouch for you in relation to the position you are applying for and give you a positive recommendation.
“When you give out someone’s name as a reference, be sure that you have permission to use him as a reference and let him know that he may be contacted. Provide some information about the job you have applied for so that your reference can relate your experience to the job and give you the best possible reference for the job. You also might provide the person with an updated resumé or list of your skills and qualifications,” Doyle says.
Mohmand lists some recommended details about listing your references. “Your references must include the following details about each of your referees: full name, job title, address, telephone number and email address. Do not disclose personal telephone numbers but instead, use your referee’s work telephone number (where possible). Also, use your most recent employer as a reference, as is common practice.”
It is also best to list your most promising reference near the top of the list. Busy recruiters are likely to only contact them.
When to leave them out
Sometimes it is prudent not to include references on your CV. The main reason for this is that references are often not required until the end of the recruitment process.
“As a job applicant, you may have one, two or even three interviews or assessments to go through. You then have to be made an offer and only after you accept an offer will references usually be requested. The simple fact is that the purpose of a CV is to get you a first interview, references are superfluous so early on,” says Neville Rose, director of CV Writers.
Time and space constraints are also at play. “Remember, an employer will spend less than 30 seconds on average reading a CV. Time and space are precious so don’t waste that space on unnecessary technical details such as references.”
However, if an employer has specific instructions regarding the listing of references, it is best to comply with his wishes.
Alison Doyle, 16 June 2019, “How to list references on a resumé”, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/should-you-include-references-on-your-resume-2062976.
Neville Rose, 22 January 2018, “Should I include references in my CV?”, https://jobs.theguardian.com/article/should-i-include-references-in-my-cv-/.
Sobhan Mohmand, 30 October 2019, “References on a CV: benefits, format and referee examples”, https://www.cvplaza.com/cv-references/how-to-write-references-on-a-cv/.