When it comes to hiring or filling positions, the hiring manager wants to know what you're capable of, which generally means what you've done in the past. If you're applying to a particular job and want to show that you have contacts who will back up your capabilities and send glowing recommendations about you, it can be tempting to put references in your resume. However, there are certain times when references should go in your resume, and times when they should stay out.
When to Include References in Your Resume
In general, references don't go in resumes. Indeed, many employers, whether past or current, seek to avoid potential defamation lawsuits by not saying anything about a past employee aside from confirming that you worked there and when. There are a few instances, however, when you can include references in your resume.
- When the application requests references: if an application requests references, then by all means, you should include them. You may choose to put them directly on your resume if there's room, but many people prefer to put them on a separate document of their own.
- When including testimonials in your resume: in certain industries, it is common for applicants to include testimonials from past clients or employers in their resume. This is not standards, but if you choose to put testimonials in your resume, be sure to include a name and contact information for verification.
- When the reference is someone well-known at the company or in the industry: if the reference is coming from an industry expert or someone within the company you're applying to, and it's otherwise not inappropriate to include the reference, you can list their name as a reference.
- When you have permission from the reference: make sure you ask anyone you're putting down as a reference if they mind getting calls from prospective employers.
When to Exclude References in Your Resume
There are many reasons not to include references in your resume. Generally, references are furnished only upon request, and when they are, they're added in a separate document. Here are occasions in which you should not provide references in your resume.
- When you're short on space: typically, your resume should be one page or less, unless you've been in the industry for a long time. If your resume has a lot of information, that real estate is better suited for competencies than references.
- When they're not requested: if references are not requested as part of the application (and the application will be very explicit on whether they require them), you should simply mention in your cover letter that you will provide the references upon request. Have a list of previously-vetted references in case they follow up asking for them.
- When you've already addressed when you will furnish them: if you've mentioned in your cover letter, as above, that you will provide references on request, there's no need to mention them in your resume. Save them on a separate document for when you're actually asked for them.
References are a good way for others to vouch for your credibility, competency, and professionalism. Hiring managers want to hear how you work with other people and if you're recommended for the job. However, due to the lack of detail they provide, references have limited value in terms of your resume. In general, unless asked, don't put references on your resume. For more information, check out LiveCareer's Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder.