Everything You Need to Know About CV References

Having CV references is a great way to impress a hiring manager, but you should not include them on your job application.



When To Provide Your CV References

When To Provide Your CV References

When submitting a job application there are a number of key features to include. A strong CV, a unique cover letter, and up-to-date contact information are a must, of course. But what about references? The matter of CV references is a little less clear-cut than the inclusion of details like your full name and phone number. Many recruiters do like to check a job seeker’s references, but that doesn’t mean you need them on your resume. In fact, you should generally leave your references for a later stage in the application process. 

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What Are CV References?

CV references are the details of people your potential employers can contact in order to verify your employment dates, skills and performance. In short, your referees are people who can vouch for your ability to hold the job title you have applied for. Recruitment professionals may ask your referees questions about:

  • How long you worked for the company
  • Why you left
  • What their relationship with you is/was like
  • Whether you would be a good fit for the job description you have applied for
  • Your work ethic 
  • Your professional title and responsibilities

Should References Be Listed on a CV?

While it is generally a good idea to have professional references on hand, it is not recommended to include them on your CV as a matter of course. Your professional CV should be concise and contain as much information about your work history and skills as possible. Not only do references take up valuable space, but they’re not needed in the early stages of the hiring process. References are most often checked after the initial interview stage. However, you will find CV templates that include spaces for professional references. This is because there are situations in which it is necessary or appropriate to include references in your curriculum vitae, such as:

  • When a potential employer requests that you do so
  • When your referees can vouch for awards and honours you have gained
  • When your referee is well-known or renowned in your industry

If you decide to include your references in a CV format for your next job application process, you should place a list of references at the bottom of your CV. Create a dedicated references section to hold this information.

How To Choose the Right References

Choosing the right professional references is as much a skill as CV writing. It’s all about considering which of your previous employers, teachers or professional acquaintances will be most appealing to a recruiter. Good references should be recent, high value and relevant to the job title. For example, if you worked for a prestigious company, listing a reference from this former employer could be useful even if the role is a little further back in your employment history. If your previous employers have been relatively run-of-the-mill, however, you should provide a reference from your most recent role. A great reference from your current employer will also be of interest.

To choose a good referee you should consider:

  • Their role 
  • Their experience level 
  • When you worked with them

To impress a prospective employer, you should choose a recent and qualified referee.

How to Format a Professional Reference

Once you have identified good referees to help you make a good impression during the recruitment process, you need to know how to list their details properly. Before you do this, however, you should ask permission from your selected references to ensure they are willing to speak on your behalf. If they agree, you should list their details as follows:

  • Referee’s full name and job title
  • The company name and work address
  • Referee’s work phone number and work email address
  • Brief description of your relationship with the referee and why they can give reliable information 

FAQ: CV References

Q: How many references should I have on my CV?

Traditionally speaking, the references section of your CV should include at least two referees. One of these should be your current employer, the second should be an appropriate individual of your choosing. This can be a former employer or even a teacher. You can provide more than two references if you have several qualified options, but remember that a hiring manager will only make one or two phone calls. 

Q: How can I get references if I have no previous work experience?

If you are a recent graduate or you have just left school, you can provide academic or character references. Ideally, you should ask a teacher or professor that taught you directly and a professional person who knows you well to attest to your good character. However, most entry-level roles do not put a lot of emphasis on references.

Q: What are the three types of references?

The three types of references that you can include on a CV are professional, academic and character. Professional references or employment references are referees that can attest to your work history. Academic references are referees who have taught you in the past. Character references are referees who know you on a personal basis and who can speak about your values and character. Ideally, you should be able to provide at least one professional or work reference. But if you have none, an academic or character reference can suffice for non-senior roles.


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