Should You Remove Referees From Your Resume?

Make a positive impression on recruiters.

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Arielle Executive - Sydney, Melbourne, New York

Last updated: December 19th, 2023

referees on resume
Arielle Executive - Sydney, Melbourne, New York

Last updated: December 19th, 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Solid referees are vital for a successful job application. You must have a list of references who can verify to a potential employer your capabilities and skills while offering a constructive perspective on your strengths and weaknesses.

However, job seekers experience a great deal of confusion when faced with the question of whether to include referees on the last page of their resume.

Let me put this issue to rest.

Should you provide contact details of your referees or simply write “references available upon request“?

Why You Must Not Include Referees On Your Resume.

Professional recruiters and hiring managers are very familiar with job search protocols.

They will request your references when they’re close to making a job offer. They are not expecting you to provide the names of your references before, or during, the interview stage.

(Related: Should You Include Your Date Of Birth On Your Resume?)

While some “career experts” argue that you have nothing to lose (and perhaps something to gain) by including references early in the process, let me provide you with two reasons why they’re wrong:

  • Your resume has a length limit. Use the precious real estate to demonstrate why you’re the best person for this role. Put your personal brand proudly on display.
  • If you’re currently employed, you will not want to let your employer know that you’re in the job market. This means you won’t include this employer on your reference list (thus rendering it redundant, anyway).
resume references and referees on your resume

By the way, do you want to be absolutely certain that your resume hits all of the right chords? Consider using my:

You May Cause Privacy Issues For Your Referees.

As you can imagine, personal details of high-powered, high-achieving managers have commercial value – and can tempt unscrupulous recruiters, who may be behind on their sales targets, to use your reference list in more “creative” ways.

(Related: How To Write An Excellent Resume).

Over-zealous recruiters have been known to cold call reference lists in an attempt to make sales.

You can mitigate this risk by sending the names of your referees only to select recruiters who have demonstrated a real interest in your job application.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing Your Referees.

Now that we’ve established that you don’t need to list your referees on your resume, let’s talk about who to choose, and how to prepare them.

My uncle raised me and knows me very well. Can I list him as a referee?

Nice try, but no. Family members pose a conflict of interest. Any employer worth their salt will not take such a reference seriously.

Important!

Your mates from school and ex-husbands don’t count as referees, either.

What contact details do I need to provide?

Provide the referee’s name, job title, phone number and email address. Add context with a 1-2 sentence summary of your relationship with the person.

For example, “Mary was my MD at Aquent between 2014 and 2016“.

Listing a mobile number is acceptable – with permission.

Do I need to notify the person I’m listing as a referee?

Yes. Apart from this being a courteous practice, it prepares your referee to be mentally ready for the call.

I also suggest that you make the request either in person or via a telephone call – rather than email – and mention to them the roles you’re interviewing for.

(Related Article: Why Resume Templates Hurt Your Job Search). 

Who should I nominate as a referee?

The best thing you can do is offer names of people who respect you and can speak to your strengths. Make sure at least one of these is a person that you reported to.

However, the company you’re interviewing with may have specific requests.

For example, they may ask to speak with a stakeholder in a project that you’ve led. This is normal.

Ensure that the people you nominate are well-spoken, eloquent and professional. And always aim to nominate people with the most clout.

Do references even get checked?

Yes, if you get to the interview stage, your referees will likely be contacted.

Expert Tip.

Savvy employers will treat the reference check as an opportunity to conduct a mini-interview, probing for your weaknesses and fleshing out any concerns they may have about your competence.

What else do I need to be aware of?

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.

(Related Article: 7 Best Resume Builders In Australia).

Final Thoughts About Referees On Your Resume.

Including your LinkedIn profile in the contact section of your resume is a wonderfully stealthy 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.

Applying from overseas? Check out my post on how to make your resume Aussie-friendly. Best of luck in your job search!

Irene

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