The value of references on a CV

The value of references on a CV

Friday 3rd September 2021
Jamie Hughes - Author and Career Coach at Your CV Consultant

About the Author
Jamie Hughes is a published author relating to CV Writing and also Career Coach and Senior CV Writer for Your CV Consultant. In his book, Marginal Gains: 88 Ways To Improve Your CV and Kick Start Your Career, he offers some great tips and advice which is a must read before you send off your next CV. Jamie also completes Video Call CV Packages, helping to propel your career to the next stage!

References are not critical for a good CV or a great CV.

Most employers do not check references until they have decided to offer you the job. However in terms of the overall recruitment process they are very easy to overlook leading to a monumental issue with the recruitment process.

I have seen many a great job offer sunk on the rocks of a disastrous referencing process.

My opinion is that if an employer is referencing you they have already decided to give you the job. Please don't fall at the final hurdle. Have contactable and willing references and the finish line will be in sight.

Writing references on your CV

A simple: 'References on request' will be fine. If you work in a service or sales based industry where you have worked with customers directly you may decide to use 'References and testimonials on request'.

If you are very confident about the quality of your referees you could also choose: 'Excellent written and verbal references on request'.

You will notice I never exceed one line on this section.

Never write the full details of your referees

Putting the full reference on your CV creates a couple of issues.

Firstly it takes up a lot of space on a CV.

Secondly you are revealing often confidential contract details of senior managers at organisations that can be used for a number of potentially insidious reasons on the Internet not least recruitment agents using them to sell their services.

Do them a favour and release those details when asked for them after the interview stage. It will not worry an employer at all that you don't declare them right away.

Always keep your references fresh

Always refresh your references as you approach each new job hunting drive.

Does your reference still work at that organisation? In the same position? With the same contact details?

Perhaps of more concern do they even remember you? Do they even want to be your reference?

It is greatly beneficial as well as polite to ask any reference you name to formally agree to the position. It may also be worth checking the position of the HR department of the organisation they work for as some HR departments do not allow individual staff to give out references.

Always make sure your referee remembers you and is happy to be contacted and will talk positively about you. It is illegal to give a bad reference but an employer can just give a position and dates if they choose to and those taking the references may draw their own conclusions if this happens.

What if you don't have any references?

Young people, the long term unemployed and the friendless sometimes struggle to find employer references. In this case you will be required to call on character references. It should go without saying that this cannot be your mum but I have seen it enough times to know it does need to be said.

A character reference should ideally be non-family and someone who has known you in some capacity for at least two years. Volunteering is a great way to get these.

For further help and advice in relation to your CV please email