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5 min read

What Not To Do If Including References On A CV

When applying for any job, a part of the process will be for you to provide references to a potential employer and while I have covered what you should be doing in a previous article, this short article summarises what not to do!
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
January 12, 2024

When applying for any job, a part of the process will be for you to provide references to a potential employer and while I have covered what you should be doing in a previous article, this short article summarises what not to do!

On your CV, there should be a space towards the end of the document where you put the contact details of people willing to give you a reference but many people are now excluding this in favour of waiting until the potential employer actually requests the details.

So,  it is really not necessary to include references as this is becoming increasingly outdated. However, if you wish to include them that's equally as acceptable at the moment. Never just put ‘references available upon request’ - either include them or leave them out until asked to provide them.

Avoid listing what is deemed as unsuitable references. This could be listing close friends or relatives that have not had any professional contact with you and will be inevitably biased if providing a reference!

If you do provide reference details at the end of your CV then two is sufficient. Choose the two that you consider to be the most professionally appropriate. Listing three or more is unnecessary as well as making your CV longer than it should be.

Ensure that your references can provide specific and detailed insights into your skills and accomplishments. List professionals who have worked with you within the last few years. If you list a person from years ago they may very well have forgotten you, especially if they had minimal input with you in your role. I was once asked to provide a reference for a lady who I worked with many years previously. In our roles, neither of which were supervisory at the time, we had extremely minimal interaction so I had to decline the request as I felt I was not in a position to give an accurate or up to date reference. In fact it took me a while to recall where I worked with her.

In today’s fast paced jobs market, professionals are able to gain promotion or move to different companies at a quicker rate than ever before so it is likely that someone may not be in the same role as several years ago.

Check that not only are the professionals willing to provide you with a reference but check they are still at the company which you have listed. It will not go in your favour if you list a person or company who are untraceable or no longer exist.

As the trend not to include references on a CV is becoming more accepted, you can instead focus on crafting a strong format of CV which highlights and showcases your skills, talents and experiences.

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