Should You Include References in Your Resume?

It’s a valid question. Depending on whom you ask, the answer can go either way.

Yes

There is the group that believes a resume is naked without listed authorities that can vouch for your professionalism, potential, and dependability. This group also points out that having references in your resume can make you stand out. Sure, when applying for a job at a software company, there is no denying that having Bill Gates as a reference will snag any hiring manager’s attention. If you are going to include references, use strong ones. Do not bother mentioning your high school science teacher or your last three supervisors. If their names aren’t prominently known, they will not impress anyone, let alone a hiring manager that’s going through hundreds of resumes.

You may need to include references to fill space in your resume if you have limited information to share. But that shouldn’t be a concern unless your resume takes up less than half a page. Still, it would be better to highlight more work and educational experiences.

Lastly, you should definitely include references in your resume if the job posting asks for them. Even then, list them on a separate sheet of paper, not on the resume.

No

Unless the reference has a direct and/or personal relationship with the hiring manager, to note them in a resume will likely have no impact on a decision to interview you. It might be advantageous to find a clever way to mention one or two references in your cover letter in connection with a project or accomplishment.

If a hiring manager takes a real interest, they will ask for your references eventually, especially during the application process. Having a printed copy of references would be smart. Take it with you to the interview and be ready to hand it out.

Last Note

Do not, under any circumstances, bother with a “References Available Upon Request” line on your resume. Hiring managers know this, so it’s basically a wasted notation. Also, and perhaps most importantly, before using anyone as a reference, get their permission.

We suggest you play it safe and leave references out of your resume unless the job description asks for them. Instead, use your resume to focus on why these references would recommend you for the job. If you need help putting an application together, consult our Resume Builder — it’s a tool that can walk you through the resume creation process from start to finish.


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