Should You Include References on a CV? A Guide
Written by Mike Potter, Author • Last updated on 13 May 2024

Should You Include References on a CV? A Guide

References are a key part of the recruitment process. References are usually previous employers, who hiring managers can contact to check your credentials before offering you a job. There are various ways to present your references in your job application. In this article, we answer the question of whether you should include references in your CV, with tips and advice on how to present them in your application.

Are references required on your CV?

While in the UK, it’s not essential to put your references on your CV, there can be situations when it’s helpful. UK CVs tend to be short and concise documents. References, or any information that’s not essential at the initial stage of the recruitment process, are unnecessary. In the UK, hiring companies tend to check references as one of the last things before making a formal job offer. They may even follow up references after making you an offer. As such, it’s not usually necessary to include them at the application stage.

However, while it’s not usually essential to include your references on your CV, it can reflect well on you if you do. Taking the time to arrange references at the early stage of the application process shows you’re well-organised. It can also show you’re confident in your abilities and chances of success.

There are also some employers who may prefer you to include your references on CV, so they don’t have to chase you for them at a later date. Always check the job advert to see if the employer requests references as part of the application. If you can’t find this information, they probably don’t need them on your CV. If you’re not sure, contact the hiring company to ask, before you send your application.

The importance of references on your CV

If you decide to add references to your CV, they can have an impact on your chances of getting the job. For jobs where the hiring company asks you to include them as part of your application, their significance can be even greater. This means your decisions on whom to include as a referee, and the preparation of setting up references before you send your application, can have an impact on your chances of a successful application.

Employers use references to check and authenticate your credentials before hiring you. As long as you’re honest about your employment history, skills and achievements, references should be no more than a formality before you take up a new position. Employers often make job offers to candidates before they’ve even checked references. The references then become a final process to complete before you sign your contract.

However, there are instances where your references can make a difference to your chances of an employer offering a job, or even inviting you to an interview. If the job advert asks you to include references with your CV, or as part of your application, this increases their importance. As such, it’s crucial to take the time to select the most suitable referees, prepare them in advance and present them in the best way in your CV.

Expert Tip:

Check the job advert to see if the employer expects you to include references on your CV, or as part of your application. If it’s not listed on the job advert, you probably don’t need to include any references. The employer will most likely ask you to provide them at a later stage of the recruitment process.

How to add references

If you choose to add references to your CV, take care to add them in a way that doesn’t distract from the main content of your document (i.e. your work history, education and skills). Some people might add ‘references are available upon request’ to their CV instead of listing the referee themselves. This is unnecessary. If an employer wants to follow up on your references, and you haven’t included them in your CV, they’ll ask you.

So, either include your references in your CV or leave them out altogether and wait for the employer to ask you. If you’re adding references, include them at the bottom of your document. The ideal CV length is between one and two pages of A4. You’ll want the most critical information, including your personal statement, work experience, skills and education, to take the most prominent positions on the document. References are something the employer will look for if they’ve asked you to include them, so you don’t need to place them in an attention-grabbing position.

For each reference, include the first and last name of the referee, followed by their job title and the name of the employer. Include their phone number and email address, but don’t put their postal address. You can also add a brief sentence explaining your relationship to the referee.

Take a look at the example below for a recommended reference section structure:

Paul Handley
Commercial Director
Belfont Kitchens
Phone: 07354 856341
Relationship: Paul was my line manager for four years in my role as a senior sales associate.

"UK CVs tend to be short and concise documents. References, or any information that’s not essential at the initial stage of the recruitment process, are unnecessary."

Tips on adding references

Follow these tips to make sure you add your references to your CV in the most effective way:

  • Approach and prepare your referees in advance: Think about whom you would like to be your references in advance. Approach them to ask before you add them to any job application. You may also wish to give your referee some information about your job application. This prepares them for when the hiring company contacts them.
  • Don’t include a full reference: it used to be common to include full written references as part of your job application, but this is no longer necessary. If you need to include references in your CV, simply add the name, title, company names and contact details of the referee.
  • Add references to the bottom of your CV: if you’re including references in your CV, they should go at the bottom of the document. This ensures top billing for the most important sections, like work history, skills and education.
  • Don’t add the referee’s full postal address: it’s not necessary to include the referee’s postal address. Hiring companies almost certainly won’t contact your references by post. 
  • Use colleagues who you’ve worked closely with: the best references are likely to be ones you’ve worked closely with, even if these aren’t your favourite former colleagues. Use references who you had a close personal working relationship with. Previous managers are usually the ideal references.
  • Don’t include a references footnote: either add your references, or leave them out completely. Don’t include a line stating ‘references are available upon on request’.
  • Recent references are best: the more recent your references are, the more relevant they’re likely to be. Update your references over time and be sure to let any older references know if you’re using them for a job application.

Key Takeaways for Adding References to Your CV

In most situations, it’s not necessary to add references to your CV. They can take up valuable space, and most of the time employers will simply ask you if they want to contact your referees. However, if you decide to add references, include them at the end of your CV and provide basic information that enables the hiring company to reach out to your named referees.

Using a professional CV template can give your CV a well-defined structure and provide space to include your references. CVwizard has a range of beautiful CV templates to help you craft the perfect CV, as well as a wealth of CV articles and key tips. Sign up today and follow the simple process to create your winning CV.

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Mike Potter
Mike Potter
Mike Potter is an experienced copywriter specialising in careers and professional development. He uses extensive knowledge of workplace culture to create insightful and actionable articles on CV writing and career pathways.

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