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Are job references really needed on a CV?

Published: Monday 5th October 2020

Knowing whether to include job references on your CV can be difficult at times. This can depend on the industry you are wishing to be part of, and the size of the potential organisation. Some employers may be particularly keen to study job application references, whereas others may be happy with their own opinion of a candidate. 

Of course, you should look to make sure that your CV is produced to a high standard as well. This is especially the case if you do not have too much experience to include, before deciding what references to use for a job. Ultimately, the decision on job references should be made easier in most cases by studying the application process. However, it should help your job search by knowing the basics of what you should and should not do. 

Do not ignore employer requests 

man working from home on laptop computer

The first rule of job application references is if a company requests them, make sure that you can provide them. Naturally, you should spend some time thinking about what references to use for a job. This can include people who you have known personally or professionally over a period of time. These job references can be particularly important if you are able to call upon someone who is linked to your industry. However, an employment reference might not necessarily be requested for some roles. This might not be a sign that you should not provide one, and an employer could be impressed if you are pro-active with obtaining references. 

Boost your credibility 

When applying for a new role, you should look to provide companies with as much positivity about your achievements and personality. Potential employers will know a lot more about your capabilities when they have job references at hand. This should help you to stand out and add some detail to the contents of your CV or cover letter. Furthermore, some organisations might be wary of candidates who bend the truth during the application process. Therefore, you can erase these fears by having someone to back you up. You should also make sure that you have not made any mistakes on your CV when it comes your referee’s contact details. 

Business concept about job references with Reference Checks with phrase on the sheet.

Provide references that are strong 

Getting the best possible job references is important. Referees need to know what you are capable of and the person you are. Of course, the information they provide has to back up what is stated in your CV. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you do not exaggerate, and that you also have a conversation with your referees beforehand. Finding the right credible referee who knows you better than others could be crucial. Therefore, you should consider every potential referee before making your decision.  

Remember the structure of a CV 

Whilst references are important, unless you are specifically told not to include one, you must not overdo it. Your achievements, experience, skills and education should always form the basis of a strong CV. Including referees too high up is not best practice, and this could distract organisations from your experience. However, when you have reached the point of inclusion, make sure that this part has been thought through carefully. 

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