Should You List References On your CV? - Include references in resume?

Should You List References On Your CV?

Should You List References On your CV? - Include references in resume?

A reference check may form a part of your application process. During reference check, usually more than one reference are requested. Having a reference is especially important in an industry where there are several well-qualified people hunting in the same position. In addition to your cover letter and resume, good references can make the difference in whether or not you get hired. It is not always asked, but you would need a reference once. Then it is good if you are prepared for this.

What Is A Reference?

On your CV you can give an image of yourself as an employee, this also applies to your cover letter. But with a reference you help the employer to see you in a different light. In this sense, a reference is a testimony or confirmation of your performance at a previous employer or at school. By checking your references, the employer knows what he can expect from you in the professional field as a new employee / colleague.

Think of it as a good word from someone (referent / referee) who has experienced you professionally.

Who Can Be A Referent?

To get the best out of this, you have to choose someone you’ve worked with. It must be someone who has actually experienced you in the area in which you are seeking a reference for and who can also say something positive about you. Such a person can give the best reference.

In addition to knowing how you work and how you are as a person, it is important that your reference is useful with words. It must be a person who can clearly convey information. Such a person can go into more details if questions are asked. If asked, it will also bring your less strong points in a way that you will still be seen in a positive light.

An old employer

An old employer can provide valuable information about your performance as an employee. He knows exactly what your responsibilities were and how you dealt with them. If you have worked for the same employer for a longer period of time, they also know how you have grown in your position over time. Your assessment interviews (if you have ever had them) will also provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses.


Over the years you have been allowed to work with different people. You have worked more closely with some than with others. These colleagues you have worked closely with, are also ideal candidates to provide as a referee. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a manager. But your old colleagues can also provide insight about you as a colleague and how you have worked together as a team. This is an indication of your value as a team member. Teamwork is an important feature that employers look for in new recruits.


Have you not really been employed but do you have experience with extra-curricular activities? Think of volunteer work etc. Then you probably have someone who functioned as a “supervisor”. Because you have the time spent with these individuals over time, they may be suitable witnesses of you as a person.

Lecturer / Professor

In your case, you may have recently graduated and have no work experience. The above points apply to people who already have some work experience. But what if you have just graduated? Shouldn’t you hand over a reference? If you are asked for a reference, it is advisable that you present one. But who could you give as a refee, while you just graduated? In your case, an old teacher or professor will make a good referee. They also know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are. They can give a good testimony of the skills you have picked up during their lessons.

Internship supervisor

During your studies you probably completed an internship at a company. During your internship (s) you have been able to grow strongly in your professional knowledge. Here you have had an internship supervisor who has helped you grow in your future field. An internship supervisor can be an excellent sponsor. They can tell you about your growth during your internship at their organization.

Who Should You Avoid To Give Up As A Referent/Referee?

Giving someone up as a referee is not something you just do. Above you have already seen that such a person must meet certain requirements and have certain qualities.  The intention is that someone can give an honest and neutral answer about your performance as a professional. People who will talk too positively about you will come across as questionable. Therefore, it is better if you avoid giving the following persons as a reference:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Wife / Husband
  • Current employer (if he is not aware that you are leaving your current employer)

How To Ask Someone As A Referee?

As far as possible, choose only individuals who can speak to you for your qualifications and skills relevant to your recent position. The chosen persons must be able to speak positively about you.

Now you know who you should or should not give up as a referee, but how do you approach these people to serve as a referee. Because one thing is clear, giving someone unsolicited as a reference is not done. Normally you should approach this person to ask if he or she agrees to be a reference for you.

Asking to Act as Reference / Referee

You can approach people in different ways to be your referee. Sending an email is in most cases an acceptable way to request for their help. It all depends on how your relationship with this person is. If it is someone you see regularly, for example at work, you can ask this person personally. If it is someone you have not spoken to for a long time, you will have to make a phone call first. This, unless you do not care to just come out of the blue with your question.

It is useful to test this person for his or her ability to act as a referee for you. You can do this by asking if he / she feels he / she can give a good reference.

If this is positive, you can then ask what image your referee will paint of you.


Always let this person know when they can expect a call from a recruiter / employer. This way, your referee is not surprised by the call. When they know when to expect a call, they will be better prepared to answer possible questions. Nothing is worse than your referee being ambushed with questions that he was not prepared to answer. This will not work to your advantage.

In addition to informing when the referee can expect a phone call, it is also good to provide additional more information. Information such as the position you applied for can help your referee build the best reference. It is also useful to send a recent copy of your resume, so that his / her story more closely matches your experience, qualifications and skills.

Which Questions Can You Expect As A Referent / Referee?

The purpose of checking reference is for an employer to find out more information about your performance. To do this, they will usually contact the person you provided as a reference, by phone. Just like in a job interview, you also have questions here that can be considered standard. Therefore, the aforementioned preparations are important. What questions can your referee expect from the prospect employer? Below are some examples of questions that are asked:

  • What is your relationship with the candidate?
  • In what period was the candidate employed by you?
  • How long have you worked together?
  • What were the candidate’s activities?
  • What are the candidate’s strengths?
  • Can you list some of the candidate’s development points?
  • What is the candidate’s reason for leaving?
  • Would you recruit the applicant if the opportunity existed? And why?
  • How does the candidate perform compared to the rest in the department?
  • Do you see the candidate in the role he / she is applying for?
  • Are there any more things we should know about the candidate?
  • How is the candidate’s interaction with colleagues?
  • How does the candidate perform under pressure?

Should You List A Reference On Your CV?

A reference consists of private data of the person you have provided as a reference. It may not be appreciated if you share the data of others with just anyone. For this reason, it is not wise to send your references with your CV as standard. Because you have no control over when, who will use this information. You generally only send references when this is requested.

If you are considered a serious candidate, the employer will ask for references himself if they find it necessary.

In some cases this is explicitly requested in the job ad. For example, if one asks for references in the vacancy text, you can include these in a separate document instead of on your CV.

How To Inform That You Have References?

In general, you want to keep your CV up to 1-2 A4 sheets, preferably 1 A4. Throwing references on it will make it too long. This, in addition to the fact that it is not advisable to place the data of your references on your CV as standard. It may be that the employer has not asked for references, but that you are very keen to let the employer know that you have references. Then you can place a heading “references” at the bottom of your CV with the text, available on request.

References: Available on request.

When you go to your job interview, bring a copy of your reference list along with a few copies of your resume. If asked then you can hand it over right away.

Where To List Reference On Your CV?

Do you still want to mention your references on your CV and not just a heading with references available on request? Then you can still place it at the bottom of your CV. However, this depends on the space you have left on your CV. In any case, I wouldn’t put it above other important headlines like, skills.

Under this heading you place your reference with name, job title, telephone number and organization.

Reference list

A reference list is a separate document, with a number of references in a row. You can send this to the employer, if necessary. The following applies when drawing up a reference list:

Include the full name, company details, position of your sponsor and their contact details in your references. Make clear when listing telephone numbers which are private and which work telephones. If it is not indicated how many references you have to submit, send your reference list with 3 references. So many references are normally requested.

Sample Reference list

Below you will find an example reference list that you can easily use for your own references. This is a good alternative to stating your references on your CV or letter.

Reference List

John L.B. Hodge
Front Street 23
Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten
+1 9876543
[email protected]


Mr. John Sambo
Marketing and Communications Manager
Be Happy B.V.
Band’s Mondiweg
Willemstad, Curaçao
+59999876543 (work)
[email protected]

Mrs. Susana Mitchell
Activities Supervisor
Volunteers United
Kaya Dun’un Man
Kralendijk, Bonaire
+5999 876543 (private)
+5999 876542 (work)
[email protected]

Mr. George Maduro
Executive Administrator
Easy Street 123 N.V.
Kaya Pariba Pabou
Oranjestad, Aruba
+297 9876543 (work)
[email protected]

What Else Should You Keep In Mind When Providing References?

In conclusion, it is advisable to provide your references separately. In any case, pay attention to the following points when using references during your application procedure:

  • Let your referent know if you have given him / her and when he can expect a call.
  • Check all contact details to see if they are up to date.
  • Thank your referent for his willingness to help you.
  • Send a recent copy of your CV to your referent.
  • Don’t try to give up family members.
  • Don’t let anyone lie for you (about your achievements etc. ) and don’t lie about your achievements yourself.
  • Only state your current boss as referee if he is aware of your plans to leave the company.

Were you ever asked to provide references? Or have you ever provided references on your cv?


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