By Debbie Holden 07 Oct 2019 6 min read

Why you don’t need to add references to your CV


For years, people have been including references unnecessarily to their CV, taking up vital space and wasting time worrying about who to ask to be a reference or checking that their contact details are still up to date. 

It may come as a surprise to some, but there is absolutely no need to add references to your CV – and it will not affect your application in the slightest!

Here is why those references are surplus to requirements:


They are not required at this stage of job application

The only time that references come into play is when you have been interviewed and have impressed the recruiter enough to offer you the job.

Recruiters do not contact the references on your CV before interview stage for several reasons; but primarily because people don’t want their current employer to find out they are applying for jobs


It’s not good to share personal information online

When you upload your CV to a website and you include other people’s personal information, you open up the possibility of them receiving unsolicited calls or emails.

Your uploaded CV could be seen by hundreds of people, with your referee potentially getting bombarded with unwanted calls from recruiters who don’t operate ‘by the book’ and use their details to try and recruit them for roles or sell them services.


They’re just a waste of space

References take up a lot of space on your CV. The finished document should be no longer than two pages long, so every line must be used wisely. 

So, the space that you would use for references can be put to much better use, by packing in relevant keywords and providing important details about your most sought-after skills and experience.



How to put that space to better use

With that extra section of space that you are saving, you can win the recruiter over by doing the following:


Include plenty of achievements

Achievements really impress recruiters, so include any achievements which have delivered positive outcomes for the business you worked for and back them up with figures where possible.

Examples of where you were able to diagnose and fix issues quickly under pressure to keep customers happy, are also good to include.


Display LinkedIn recommendations

Recruiters want to know that you come highly recommended, and LinkedIn recommendations are the modern-day alternative to references.

Take a screenshot of a couple of your LinkedIn recommendations and add them at the end of your CV for extra impact, the same way websites display customer testimonials.


Demonstrate your reporting lines

People sometimes want to include their references to show their level of seniority or the relationships they have established with people in important roles. If you want to refer to your level of seniority within your CV, you can still mention your reporting line or how many people you have been managing, for example.

References are generally considered to be an outdated inclusion in a CV and when you also consider the dangers of sharing personal information online, the three suggestions above are much more powerful ways to utilise your CV space.



Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.