References form a vital part of your job application. A list of references serves the purpose of providing potential employers with names of credible individuals who can verify your capabilities and offer glowing recommendations.
However, there’s a great deal of confusion surrounding the question of whether to have written references included in your resume.
Specifically, the question is – should you list contact details of your referees on the last page of your resume or simply write “references available upon request“?
While some career experts argue that you have nothing to lose (and perhaps something to gain) by including references at the application stage, let me provide you with three more reasons why that’s not a sound argument:
References are irrelevant at the early stage of the job application process.
Valuable real estate of your resume can be used to communicate more vital aspects of your personal brand.
If you’re currently employed, it’s likely that you will not want to alert your current employer to the fact that you’re job hunting, which means you won’t include this employer on your reference list (thus rendering the list redundant, anyway).
There have been reported instances of referees being contacted by over-zealous recruiters for purposes other than a reference check.
As you can imagine, personal details of high-powered, high-achieving managers have commercial value and can tempt unscrupulous recruiters, who may be a little behind on their targets, to use the information in more “creative” ways.
The most common practice is to provide names of people to whom you reported during your previous roles.
However, the company that you apply to can also designate the types of referees they’d like to contact. For example, they may ask to speak with a stakeholder in a project that you’ve led.
Ensure that the people you nominate are well-spoken, eloquent and professional. And always aim to nominate people with the most clout.
“Do references actually get checked?”
Yes, if you got to the interview stage it’s likely that your referees will be contacted. I recommend that you fully expect your referees to be checked.
What’s more, the savvier employers will treat the reference check as an opportunity to conduct a mini-interview of your referees, probing for your weaknesses and fleshing out any concerns they may have about your application.
After you’ve landed the role (and even if you didn’t) don’t forget to show your appreciation to your referees by calling them and thanking them for their time.
Including your LinkedIn profile in the contact section of your resume is a wonderfully stealth way to expose your recruiter to some of your hand-picked references—without listing them out on your resume.
Make sure your LinkedIn references and endorsements are up-to-date and relevant to the role for which you’re applying.
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