References on a CV

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References are used by recruiters to aid in the hiring process and find out further whether candidates are suitable for the job position. Regardless as to whether you are applying for your first job or looking for the next step in your career, you may find that recruiters require a reference from your job application.

The brief conclusion of references on a CV is that unless they have been specifically demanded by recruiters in a job description or job application process, it’s not worth using precious space on your CV template for a references section.

Although references are often left out on CVs and are usually requested (if requested at all) by recruiters later on in the job application process, if you do have to include references in your CV. the standard amount of references to include in a CV is two references.

A referee is a person with whom you have worked or knows you well in a professional environment who is happy to be contacted by recruiters and answer any questions relating to previous jobs or places you may have worked.

Although references are a standard protocol for job applications, the norm seems to be changing and often references are not included on a CV, unless specifically requested by a hiring manager.

The recommended length of a CV is 1 A4 page (though it can be 2 A4 pages long maximum) which can result in summarising many aspects of your CV in a mission to pack everything in on one page. Seeing as there is a limited amount of space, it seems more reasonable to use the space you would use for your references for more important parts of a CV. After all, your CV is a personal profile presentation for recruiters, who won’t be interested in references until you’ve had an interview or begun the job application process.

References on a CV: when to include or exclude

So when should you include a reference on your CV? Are they always necessary to include and how do you know if recruiters are interested in your references?

In the case that you are not sure whether or not to include references in a CV, it’s better to not include them and use the space on your CV more productively. E.g. by listing your skills which coincide with those required for the job position, therefore boosting your job application.

TOP TIP: if you choose not to include your references on a CV, don’t write “references available upon request”. If recruiters wish to have one or two references, they will request them despite your choice to include a sentence which could have been used for more influential aspects regarding your job application.

Ensure that you read the job specification and application instructions carefully, as you may find that recruiters specify the kind of information they wish to receive, i.e., one or two references.

In most cases, recruiters who are interested in contacting applicant’s referees will do so once they have shortlisted applicants. This saves time during the hiring process.

Professional platforms such as LinkedIn give users the possibility to receive recommendations and comments from colleagues and superiors with whom they have worked. This functions as a modern-day reference system and can be useful to recruiters who use online platforms to find or research applicants.

You can use an online CV creator to find a suitable template design and use it to guide you in the process of writing your CV.

How to write references on a CV

The references sections on a CV should be listed at the very end. The reason for this is that your references are not part of your presentation as a job applicant and are an optional element which may be completely overlooked by a recruiter. You don’t want them to get in the way of a strong combination of skills, qualifications and work history which contribute to your compatibility with the job specification.

You should include no more than two references on a CV. The following details should be listed when writing references on a CV:

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Company
  • Number or email

You should list your references in a clear format which follows the same structure as the other sections on your CV.

In the event that you find your references are taking up a lot of room on your CV, try a different CV layout or template before deleting your references entirely. Alternatively, decide not to include any references on your CV, at all.

You won’t get marked down for not including references on your CV unless they have been specifically requested. In the case that they have been requested and you are short for space, consider deleting other CV content which might not be as relevant or important. For example, if you have listed all of your academic background when you could simply list your degree or highest academic qualification instead.

Who do you list as a reference?

There are a number of things to consider when you choose who to use as a referee for your job application.

You should choose two referees, preferably with whom you have worked in a professional environment to list as references. Usually, it is someone who has worked in a superior role to you, such as a supervisor or manager.

If you are applying for your first job and therefore have possible referees, you can list an academic referee, such as your tutor or school teacher.

Don’t forget: it’s absolutely vital to remember to ask your referees for permission. They should know you well and feel that they can speak highly of your strengths and characteristics. It will not look professional if a recruiter calls your referee to find out that you never notified them nor asked them for permission!

It may also be wise to let your referees know about the types of jobs for which you are applying. This way they are prepared and ready to speak to hiring managers with an idea about the type of job, company and work sector.

CV reference examples

As mentioned above in the how to write references on a CV section of this CV writing guide, when writing a referee’s details on a CV, you should list the following details:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Number or email

For example:

Emma Cordial
Catering Manager
University of Leicester Catering Services
07 # # # # # # # #

James Thomas
Hospitality Supervisor
Yum Yum Bakery

Last modified on 22 October 2020

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