Does “References Available Upon Request” Belong on a CV?

Your references can make or break a recruiter’s decision, but should you write “References available upon request” on your CV?



What’s wrong with “references available upon request”?

There was a time when writing “References available upon request” on your CV was standard procedure. But now there are a number of reasons you should no longer do so. The most obvious is that recruiters and hiring managers will expect you to be able to provide references when they ask for them, so saying they’re “available” on your CV accomplishes little. Furthermore, stating that references are available upon request may make it seem like you are hesitant to simply provide a list of references with your CV. This may make the hiring manager wonder if you have a reason to avoid giving them. Finally, since your CV should be concise, all that valuable space in your document should be devoted to communicating what makes you the best candidate for any future employer. 

Should you include references on your CV?

Certainly, including written references in the body of your CV is a no-no, but if you’re submitting your CV over email, you can include them as a separate attachment in the same way you would a cover letter. Alternatively, you can keep written references on hand in case a hiring manager or prospective employer asks for them. If you have been given the promise of verbal references from previous supervisors or managers, you should have their contact information available in a separate document.

So what should you focus on instead in your CV?

If you want to impress a prospective employer and secure a job interview or job offer, you should focus on creating a clean, readable document to ensure your CV can be read by applicant tracking systems (ATS-friendly) that recruiters use to scan CV. Ensure that your contact information and phone number are easy to find, including professional social media profiles like your LinkedIn profile. More importantly, make sure you present the full details of relevant work experience and skills that match up with the job you want.
Extra Tip: Make sure your CV is in the right format. Depending on how much work experience you have, the best format for you will either be a chronological, functional or combination CV format. Each of these formats has its own features and benefits, and they each prioritize different CV sections. If you want inspiration for your CV writing process, you can use a CV builder such as the one offered by CVHelp to create an effective, editable CV, or consider example CV from people within your industry. 

FAQ: “references available upon request”

Q: Why are professional references important?

References are an important part of the hiring process because they allow potential employers to get information about a job seeker’s attitude, capabilities and skills from professionals who can vouch for them. When you apply for a new job, you can provide professional references in a number of ways. For example, you can provide written references as an attachment with a CV or give the contact information of people who are ready to supply you with verbal references.

Because of this, it is crucial that you line up professional references before you start your next job search. As long as you have a positive relationship with your current and previous employers, it should not be hard to secure a professional reference or two. Choose someone from your work history or previous educational positions who worked with you directly and can attest to your skills and attitude. Ask them to provide you with either a written reference or the promise of a verbal reference if they are contacted. Once you have professional references lined up, you can start your job search, but you should not put “References available upon request” anywhere on your CV. Just make sure you give them a heads-up before listing their contact information. It’s good etiquette to ask permission before listing someone as a reference.

Q: What can I say instead of “references available upon request”?

Nothing. Recruiters will ask for your references if they want them. You do not need to indicate their availability, and you should not because it is a waste of valuable space on your CV.

Q: What do I do if I don’t have any references?

If you have no professional references to bolster your job search, you can provide unbiased character references from individuals outside your family. For example, a past teacher or college professor can provide an unbiased reference. Depending on the type of job you are applying for, you can provide a written reference or simply include contact details for your referral contact. 

Q: Do I have to give references if they are requested?

While it is not a necessity to secure a new job, not being able to provide any references when they are requested, even a character reference, will hurt the viability of your job application.


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