You were probably taught that adding references to your curriculum vitae (CV) is an important thing to do but you were most likely not taught how and when to include these references in your CV. Many times, people tend to pay attention to every detail on their CV, from their job experiences to skills and qualifications but when it gets to the reference section, they just
put random names and phone numbers with the hope that recruiters wouldn't bother to call or confirm.
That is a huge mistake every job seeker should avoid, and if you've been doing this, now is the time to get it right. In this article we'll be teaching you all there is to know about CV references including
What are CV References?
You know how when someone wants to take a loan and they need a guarantor with a good social and financial standing to co-sign the document? Well, CV references perform a similar role. In this case, they are people with good social and economic standing who can vouch for your good character, skills and work ethic. When you provide the contact information of these high-profile individuals on your CV, recruiters who are interested in hiring you for your skill set will try to get in touch with your references to fact-check the claims you've made in your CV, as many candidates are good at lying on their application. So to sift the good from the bad, recruiters after going through your CV will proceed to call or email the references to find out more information about you such as:
Want to create the perfect CV? Try our CV builder
When Should You Include References on a CV?
Contrary to popular belief, it&'s not always necessary to include references in your CV. Sometimes it's better to delete the reference section from your CV and other times you
may need to add it. Here, we'll look at a list of occasions when you should include CV references and when you should leave them out.
You Should Include CV References When:
It is part of the job application requirements- Different companies have different requirements for job applications. For some, they will specifically state on the job ad that applicants are to submit two or three references alongside their CV and cover letter. If you find yourself applying for a job that comes with such criteria, then you should include the specified number of references in your CV.
It will benefit you during the recruitment process- When recruiters go through your CV, they expect to gather just enough information about you to help them decide whether you have the right skill set and qualities required for the role you're applying for. Now, if you don't have many academic qualifications or a specialised skill that will make you stand out on your CV, adding credible references, who can attest to your work ethic and personality is an easy way to sell yourself to your potential employer.
You want to impress your prospective employer- If you have a reference who holds a high position in the same industry you're applying for a job or someone who is well known and respected outside the industry, then you can include them in your CV. Seeing these kinds of high-profile personalities on your reference list will give recruiters the impression that you are worth their time. But first, make sure that you have some sort of relationship with them and that they know you well enough to give out meaningful and useful information about you when
contacted, or else you would be doing yourself more harm than good.
You've received accolades from the reference- If you were publicly acknowledged for your good behaviour, got promoted or maybe even received an award of excellence from previous employers or colleagues, you may consider adding their names to your reference list as a way of highlighting your achievements.
You want to add credibility to your CV- Adding references to your CV is a great way to add credibility to whatever you've written down. It's easy for people to lie about their work experience and character, in fact about 85% of employers said they've caught applicants lying on their CVs. So when recruiters see that you have included references, it gives the impression that you are being honest and have nothing to hide.
You have space left on your cv- If you are a recent graduate, you probably don't have enough qualifications or work experience to fill up your CV, so to cover up the extra space, you can add a reference section at the bottom to give it a more complete look.
Don't include CV references when:
The job requirements specifically state not to include references.
During the early stages of your application. References are typically not required during the early stages of your application, so you can keep them aside for later. You don't have enough references. The ideal number should be at least 2 or 3 references, if you have just one or none at all, you can skip this section.
The references you have are not relevant to the job you're applying for. You were fired from your previous job or your employment contract ended on bad terms.
You don't have enough space on your CV. Your work experience, skills and qualifications should be the top priority, so if after you've written these and have no space left, you can skip the references. Instead, you can write "references available upon request"
How to Choose the Right CV Reference?
When choosing references to include in your CV, always keep in mind that their contact information is not there for aesthetic appeal and recruiters will most likely check them to
confirm. This is why you need to be extremely careful when selecting who to put on your reference list. For instance, including high-profile individuals who are renowned in their profession or hold top positions in the industry you're applying for, might seem like the best thing to do, but it won't do you any good if they don't have any meaningful thing to say about you. So ensure that you at least have a personal relationship with whosoever you're adding to your reference, this way you can be sure that they know you well enough to attest to your personality. Now, while having a personal relationship with your reference is important, does this mean you can use your friends or family members? I mean, after all, these are people who know everything about you and can vouch for you in a heartbeat. Well, the answer is No. Sure they know you well enough, but in a professional setting, they are not considered reliable or credible references by recruiters. This means that whatever information they provide about you is biased because of their relationship with you.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a reference for your CV is that you need at least two. Typically, the first person should be your current or former employer, and the
second can be someone who knows you in a professional or academic setting. But in the case of recent graduates with no prior work experience, you can include two academic
references in place of professional ones. Also, if you are going to use a former employer as one of your references, you must include the most recent one. Not only is it more credible but using a former employer from years back might give recruiters the impression that you do not have a good working relationship with your recent employer.
Here are some examples of good references to include in your CV.
Lastly, make sure that whoever you decide to use as a reference on your CV should be well-spoken, authoritative and friendly. They should be able to communicate your qualities without fumbling over words.
How to Include References on a CV?
Now that you understand what CV references are and when to include them, let's take a look at how exactly to include these references on your CV to give you the best results.
The first thing you need to do before putting pen to paper is to seek approval or permission. Courtesy demands that before you give out someone's contact information,
you must first check if they're okay with being used as a reference. Remember that they will be receiving calls and emails from employers on your behalf, and they might not
give you the best character recommendation if they're caught unawares.
Once you have gotten their permission to use their names and contact information in your CV, then it's time to focus on the formatting as this can make or mar your efforts of
achieving an outstanding Cv.
Here are the steps to take to ensure proper formatting for your reference section.
Dr Moses Akarume
Director of Research - Kencrest Hospital
24 Admiralty Way, Okpanam Road, Asaba.
Relationship: Direct supervisor at previous internship.
Prof. Sidney Arubayi
Professor of Geology - Novena University
Kwale, Delta State.
Relationship: Professor in Geology
Things to avoid when writing your reference list
Writing a CV reference is simple but the trick is to know when and how to include references to give your CV that extra boost of credibility. Here are three things to remember. First, only include references when necessary or if requested by the employer. Secondly, choose your professional references and avoid using family members, and lastly follow the steps we've provided in the article to correctly format the reference section of your CV.