Are references necessary on a CV? Including references used to be standard practice, but recently the thinking on this topic has changed, and many candidates are choosing to leave them off. Writing “references available on request” can seem like a natural alternative to either including the full referee details or omitting referees from the document altogether, but there has been some debate about whether or not this is the best way to round out a CV.
Whilst there isn’t necessarily a right answer, it’s important to have all the facts when making a decision. To help you identify the best approach for your Accounting job application in Sydney, here are some of the major advantages and disadvantages of including “references available on request” on a CV.
Including the referee's full details on your CV is often viewed as outdated. Companies want to be certain they are interviewing candidates who are up to date on the latest market trends, and who know how to present their skills most effectively. Usually, references aren’t obtained until after interviews are complete, making it the last step before a position is offered, so they are often irrelevant at the application stage anyway. Omitting references and replacing them with the phrase “references available on request” allows a CV to focus on what’s most important – why you’re qualified for the job.
Including referee details on your resume means you’re committing to using these people for references. A job offer could eventually hinge on these recommendations, so it’s important to be certain their feedback will be insightful, constructive and relevant to the role. Using “references available on request” in place of the full referee details gives you more options – it allows you to change your mind later on if you realise someone else might be more valuable as a referee for the job. It also provides the opportunity to speak to referees first, giving them a heads-up and briefing them on the role. Knowing the details about the specific job would enable them to provide more targeted responses if they feel you’d be a great fit for the position.
The privacy of your referees is important and this option allows you to respect that, keeping their details to yourself before they’re needed.
Although using “references available on request” is significantly shorter than giving your referees full details, it still takes up valuable real estate on a CV. This space could be reserved for highlighting achievements and strengths pertinent to the role and encouraging the company to schedule an interview.
Using “references available on request” adds an extra step to the hiring process – the employer then has to ask you for the referee details before they can go further. This could be a disadvantage with roles that need to be filled in a hurry. If you are up against someone who has references included and time is of the essence (particularly relevant for temp recruitment), this may be a deterrent for the employer.
Finishing off your CV with “references available upon request” isn’t particularly memorable. The entire goal of a CV is to leave a strong impression, and it could be more impactful to close with a relevant accomplishment or another detail that will make the reader want to find out more about you.
There are other alternatives to including “references available on request.” Asking referees to post recommendations on your LinkedIn profile and then referring the employer to your page could save time and precious CV space. However, if taking this route, it’s important these are up-to-date and high quality. Another option is to create a separate document on which to provide referee details once an employer asks for references. Depending on how long it has been since you asked the referees if they could provide a reference, I would still give them a call to let them know to double-check their details - the last thing you want is for your future employer to ring an old number!
So, should you include “references available on request” on your CV? In the end, the right approach will depend on the needs of the candidate and the requirements of the role. The ultimate goal is to make each word on that CV sing your praise, giving you the best possible chance at landing your dream Accounting job.