The “References Available Upon Request” Debate
Writing “References available upon request” is now a redundant practice; a hangover from the pre-desktop, pre cheap telephone calls era where people generally provided printed copies of their resumes. Since it was not easy to quickly print attested copies of reference letters, the preferred option would be to make it known that these are ready and will be made available on request but are not being included along with the CV.
It’s clearly a misconception that if you don’t mention it, the prospective employer will not know you can provide references. If an employer asks a prospective candidate for references then does the latter have a choice? The candidate will be expected to furnish the names and contact details, period. Not providing references when asked will usually result in the candidate being dropped off the shortlist.
So coming back to the point, should a candidate include references on the CV? Your CV is expected to highlight your qualifications, skills and experience. The quality or quantity of your references will not make a difference at this stage. The key differentiator between you and other candidates should be the value you can add to the business. Your references should only come at the next stage – usually the employer will ask you for these if they are interested in hiring you. The only departure from this rule would be if the prospective employer requests for it at the start of the process.
This doesn’t negate the importance of having good references. Many potential employers feel it’s necessary to gain an external perspective on your candidature and who better than people you have worked with in the past to provide that.
Below are some points to bear in mind:
- Keep a list of references and their contact details ready at all times.
- Make sure they are people you have worked with and how know you well; senior and experienced individuals are better references than junior colleagues.
- Most recruiters will generally ask for only two or three references but it’s good practice to keep a few extra ones handy.
- Ask for their permission before giving an individual’s name as a reference. Discuss with them what you want them to focus on when asked about you.
Inform your references that they may be receiving a call / email from prospective employers.