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Including references on your resume
Have you ever wondered what the most commonly used line on a resume is? It would have to be the all time favorite, “References available upon request.” There is an ongoing debate among professionals about the inclusion of references on your resume. Some people will strongly encourage you to include the aforementioned line at the bottom of your resume. In a way, this lets your potential employer know that, if asked, you can name at least a couple of people that think you are a great asset to any company.

The opposing side will argue the validity of this line as it doesn’t provide any information with a call to action; we should operate under the assumption that every professional with a resume will be able to provide references from his previous employers. And yet another group of professionals will urge you not only to include this section in your resume, but list anywhere from three to five references, along with their titles, contact numbers and a description of your relationship to them. So, how do you know who to listen to?

We advocate mentioning references no matter what. It is proper resume etiquette that you include a section for your references at the bottom of your resume. This lets your potential employer know that you not only have professional references but you understand that checking references is an important part of your interview process. Additionally, you will want to have an employer request references from you so that you can let your references know they can expect to be contacted. Listing someone as your reference on your resume without letting them know, even if they have previously provided a reference for you, is not a good practice. You don’t want anyone on your reference list to be caught by surprise when they are contacted; you’ll want to let them know about the job you are applying for so that they know which qualifications they should highlight when they are contacted. 

If you are posting your resume on job search web sites, such as monster.com, or are working with a head hunter to find the best opportunities for you, it is best that you simple use the line, “References available upon request” at the end of your resume. As indicated above, you will want to let your references know ahead of time if they will be contacted by a potential employer. Listing references on your resume and making it available to multiple employers for review may result in calls to your references by employers you may not have even been in touch with directly. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid this kind of annoyance to people you are using as references. You don’t want to abuse your relationship with them; therefore don’t include a full listing of references on your resume if you are making it available to masses.

If you are sending a resume to a specific employer, after you have been in touch with the hiring manager or someone at the company that will refer you for the job you are interested in, we suggest including references on your resume. This allows your potential employer to have all the information necessary to consider you as a serious candidate for the job. The reference list should include the person’s name, their title and the company they are working for, their relationship to you and their day-time telephone number. As a best practice, before you submit the resume, let your references know about the job opportunity, and that you are passing along their contact information to the potential employer.

If you have already submitted a resume without references, but are going to meet with the employer for an interview, bring a printed copy of your resume that includes a list of references. Following a good interview, employers typically check references – as a best practice, you will want to provide the hiring manager with a one-stop-shop of your qualifications and your references, so you should always bring a printed copy of your cover letter, your resume and references with you to an interview. Your vigilance is sure to make a great impression and bring you one step closer to getting the job you want.


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