Should I Include References on My Resume?
Professional references are a list of contacts requested by employers to provide information about you on a professional level. Your references are people who can testify about your skills, character, experience, expertise, and abilities to prospective employers. They can be referred to as your advocate or ambassadors.
References are of value to hiring managers because they get to hear about you from a third party. Prospective employers can ask your references about your skills, abilities, work ethics, punctuality, personal character, and relationship with other workers. The hiring manager will also ask your referee to what extent or capacity they know you. If their testimony about you is to be considered, then they should have known you for a considerable amount of time. Also, they would want to know the relationship the referee had with you. This is to ascertain if they are capable of identifying your true capabilities.
A hiring manager would prefer to hear from your direct supervisor than some other manager in your previous company that is not directly in charge of you. Preparing a list of people who can vouch for your professional credibility is important when applying to a new company. But the question is how important is it to include those references on your resume? Checking of references is usually among the final step of recruitment for most recruiters. Is it necessary to occupy useful space on the resume with the reference section?. Although references are an important piece of information, it is best practice to leave them out of your resume. There is a lot more important information that needs to be included on your resume than the reference section.
Recruiters will be more interested in information that will quickly tell them how fit you are for the job role. This information might include your qualification section, work experience section, skill section, profile summary, certification, and training section. Remember the generally accepted resume should be about 2 to 3 pages. So every word that is on your resume should be sending a useful signal. Relevance and clarity is the key to a good resume. A piece of information might be important but is it relevant? A reference is usually requested after the interview to confirm your claims. It is more of an assurance package for the employer that you are the right choice. The truth is that no recruiter has the time and resources to call the references of all the hundreds of candidates that apply. The first batch of screening has to be done to reduce the load of work.
Here is why you should not include references on your resume
1) Including references on your resume will only occupy space
Before the internet era, resumes are usually printed and submitted in form of hard copies to recruiters. With the hundreds of candidates that apply for a job, imagine the pile of documents they will have. This was one of the constraints that led to the shortening of resumes. A typical resume should be one page. But if you have extensive work experience and would like to list all of them, then it can be extended to 2 to 3 pages, maximum of 4. The space you use to write the reference section can be used to add a few more skill sets or experiences that will make you outstanding.
2) Most Employers only request for reference at the later stage of the recruitment process
Although protocols defer from company to company, most recruiters only ask for references when they are ready to reach out to them. Which is usually at the end of the recruitment process, when you have made it through most of the interview rounds and among the final candidates. References are usually contacted to verify details of your work history and previous professional behavior. Most candidates can easily play the system and maneuver through behavioral or situational interview questions which are meant to ascertain your past behavior in a particular situation. But, the candidate’s previous supervisor will be in a Perfect position to verify your claims. This is why most recruiters will specifically ask to contact your previous employers even if you do not include them as your referees.
When to Include References On A Resume
1) Read the job description to ascertain what the employer wants
There are specific scenarios in which including a resume is acceptable. If you are applying to an industry that requires case studies or testimonials as part of your resume then it might be necessary to include references. A good example of such an industry is a consulting firm. Additionally, it is acceptable to include references on a resume if the job description explicitly states that they should be included directly on the resume. A good job description should inform the candidates of all they need to know about the application processes. Some companies can request for the references to be submitted in the online application process. If this is the case, simply include the contacts of your referees in the allocated space online.
2) To impress your employers
Some candidates choose to include their references on their resumes to impress the recruiter. This is the case when your reference is a respectable and well-known person. Example Directors of a famous company, owners of a well-known conglomerate, a professor from a well-known university.
3) To fill in blank space
You can choose to add the reference section to improve the presentation of your resume. This is particularly essential for school leavers or entry-level candidates who do not have extensive experience or skills to add to their resumes.
4) Create a separate reference list document
As stated above always follow the instruction on the job description. Unless you are asked to specifically add references on your resume, then ignore it. Some other times you can be asked to include your references but with no instruction on where to add them. In this case, you can create a separate reference list document and send it with your resume. Let the reference document format be the same as your resume format.
5) Select appropriate references
Not everyone is eligible to act as your referee. A referee should be a person who can speak positively of your work, attitude, skills, value, and work experience. Since the resume is for a professional purpose, your choice of referees should be from the professional level. This can include your direct supervisor or manager, colleagues, mentors, business partners, clients, or vendors. All the people listed here can testify of your competency in one way or the other. If the resume is for academic purposes, you can include your teacher, professors, academic mentors. It is not advisable to include your friends and family members as referees. This is because the hiring manager might view their opinion as biased.
6) Inform your referees about your decision
Before listing anyone as your referee you must ask for their permission first. Also, let them know that they will be contacted by a prospective employer. Provide them with detail of the job you are applying for and up to date resume to enlighten them on your skills and experience. It will be very disappointing to have gone through all the rigorous recruitment processes just to be rejected because of inappropriate references. If you do not inform your referee of your decision to include them as referees, the recruiter might call them asking about you and they might say they do not know anyone like that. This is not because they want to hurt your feelings, but they might sincerely not remember an Emmanuella or Peter from Surulere.
7) How to write references on a resume
If you have gone through the job description, selected, and inform appropriate referees about your decision to include them as your reference, the next step is to craft the reference section of the resume. There are important guidelines you should follow when writing your resume reference section
I) You must include your full name, job title, address, telephone number, and email address.
II) Do not include your referee’s personal phone number instead use their office phone number
III) Include your recent employer as a reference. Employers would always try to contact your previous employer to get information about you, also to ascertain the reason you left. That is to confirm whether you left on a good note or you were fired for misconduct.