Do References Belong on the Resume

One of the most asked questions I receive via my blog is about including references in the resume. Questions include:

Should I or shouldn’t I?

If I do decide to include the references where do I put them?

How many references should I include?

And the list goes on and on. It seems that everyone from a recent student or graduate to high flying executive are all asking themselves the same question.

Before we delve into the issue about putting references on the resume, lets first recap the aim of the resume. The resume is a marketing document with the aim of getting you to the interview. Everything that goes on the resume needs to be targeted towards the role you are applying for. In the limited space you have available on your resume you need to ensure that only the most relevant and important information is included. Focus on highlighting your achievements and the value added skills that you can bring to your next job. Remember that a hiring manager may have hundreds of job applications and therefore in order to stand out from the competition, you need to ensure that you provide only relevant and targeted-based information.

Will references help my resume application?

As mentioned above, the aim of the resume is to get you to the interview stage. The hiring manager is going to evaluate your skills and experiences and then decided if you are worth interviewing. It is highly unlikely that a hiring manager will even bother to read your references and if they do it is even more unlikely that they will make a hiring decision based on who your references are. What’s more is that at no stage during the initial selection process is a hiring manager going to contact your references. It just does not make sense. Why would someone contact your references before they have even met you?

Should I include something on the resume to show that I have references?

At the very end of the resume all you need to include on the resume is “References Available Upon Request.” This states to the reader that if they decide to take your application further, you are able to provide them with references upon being requested. These 4 simple words should be the last 4 words you write on your resume. Generally speaking, only once you pass the initial resume screening process and have completed interviews would a hiring manager be interested in speaking with your contacts. Only at this stage would you be required to provide the name and contact details of your references.

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