References on CV: When and How to Include Them (+ Examples)

Most job adverts don’t mention references at all these days. Does that mean it’s something we don’t do any more? Or maybe it’s such a key part of writing a CV that it goes without saying? The short answers are that no, we don’t so much, not any more, and no, it isn’t.


This article will put your mind at rest by showing how unnecessary references are on a CV and how detrimental including them can be.


Sometimes you’re required to include references on your CV, though. This article will show you how to list those references on your CV, how many to have and, perhaps most importantly, who to choose. You’ll also find some great examples as well as advice for keeping your referees happy and on your side.


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References on a CV sample


Yasmin Thomson

P: 077 8888 9999




Personal statement


Passionate and entrepreneurial marketing assistant with 3+ years’ experience in digital marketing and marketing. Excelled at both operational and creative aspects of marketing in previous roles. Organised and tagged over 3500 assets while at Curtainwall, ultimately reducing search times by at least 75% moving forward. In current role, co-wrote a radio script that has since been shortlisted for the Vedder Wilde Award. Seeking opportunity to leverage marketing and analysis skills in the role of Marketing Specialist at Newspeech Media.


Work experience


Marketing Assistant

Red Suits Ltd, Leeds

June 2019—present

  • Implemented automated moderation on three social media platforms to reduce workload by over 60% while increasing effectiveness.
  • Co-wrote 17 scripts for TV and radio, three radio scripts have been shortlisted for awards and another two were nominated for awards.
  • Organised several rounds of market research, directly gathering data from a total of over 2000 people.
  • Contributed to social media content, website copywriting and the content of over 150 presentations.


Digital Marketing Assistant

Curtainwall Design Ltd, Doncaster

February 2017—May 2019

  • Consistently produced at least 500 words of online content per day.
  • Launched an online campaign to increase brand awareness with follow-up surveys suggesting a 17% increase in reach afterwards.
  • Helped move the company website onto WordPress, increasing traffic fourfold.
  • Used tracking and analytical software to determine that two long-running campaigns were failing to break even in spite of acceptable surface-level metrics.




BA (Hons) Marketing (2:1), 2014–2016

Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield




  • Organisation: supported three marketing managers and coordinators while also taking responsibility for own campaigns and initiatives.
  • Communication: accurately deciphered client requests and briefs, pitched convincingly both orally and in writing.
  • Comfortable using CRM systems and email marketing platforms (e.g. Mailchimp): stayed abreast of multiple, parallel client bases and marketing funnels.
  • Analysis: accurately and creatively interpreted various metrics, data research, and software outputs.
  • Able to manage Google Ads and paid social campaigns: achieved solid increases in engagement levels through these and other PPC methods.
  • Social analytics tools: frequently used Keyhole, AgoraPulse, Reputology, and similar tools.




  • French – C1
  • German – B1




  • Mbata Siers scholarship awarded in 2014
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner for Abbottsvaleshire region, 2015




Ms Grace Vincent, Marketing Manager, Red Suits Ltd. Phone: 077 3333 4444. Email:


Dr Aäron Lieftink, Marketing Director, Curtainwall Design Ltd. Phone: 077 5555 6666. Email:


Should you put references on a CV?


No, you should not put references on a CV. The one exception here is if you’ve been explicitly asked to include references and include them on your CV. If you’ve been asked to provide references but not in your CV, then put them on a separate references page.


The reason for this is very simple: putting references on your CV won’t do any good. Recruiters don’t need to contact referees until towards the end of the recruitment process, or at the very least after an interview. When the time comes, they’ll ask. And that’s assuming they’ll want to contact your referees at all.


Putting references on a CV is not just unnecessary, it’s actually counterproductive in a few key ways. Firstly, you’ll be sending your CV out a lot—do your referees want their contact details doing the rounds?


Secondly, you really lock yourself in when you put references on a CV. Different referees will work better in different companies and on different people. By the time referees are asked for, you’ll have more of a feel for who to choose. Put them on your CV, though, and you’re locked in from the outset. 


Finally, references on your CV will take up valuable space that could be put to much better use. All putting references on your CV will do is put your referees’ privacy at risk, lock you into making a stab in the dark when choosing them, and needlessly take up precious space in your one- or two-page CV.


How to write references on a CV


If you’ve been asked to do so, then you’ll need to know how to put references on a CV. Rocket science it isn’t, but it’s worth keeping some ground rules in mind that aren’t always obvious:

  • Ask permission before adding anyone as a reference, the importance of this cannot be overstated.
  • Keep them well-informed as to whether and when they can expect to be contacted.
  • Check and double check which of their contact details your referees are comfortable having shared.


You’ll need the following details for each referee:

  • Their title and full name
  • Their position
  • The organisation for which they work
  • Their email address and phone number.


Don’t include postal addresses—space is at a premium and adding a postal address wouldn’t serve any purpose anyway.


Lay the above details out in a way that’s clear while using up as little space as possible. Something like this is more than adequate:


How to put references on a CV


Ms Grace Vincent, Marketing Manager, Red Suits Ltd. Phone: 077 3333 4444. Email:


Dr Aäron Lieftink, Marketing Director, Curtainwall Design Ltd. Phone: 077 5555 6666. Email:


The order you list your references in is really up to you. Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed choice:

  • If you’re listing referees from different, current and previous employers, then consider sticking to a reverse-chronological order, mirroring that of your CV.
  • If you’re listing referees from the same employer, then you could list them alphabetically by surname, or
  • You could list to them according to how closely you worked with them, starting with those that know you best as an employee.


How many references on a CV


You should include two professional references on your CV. This is what people were most often expected to include back when listing references on CVs was a more common practice. If required to list references at all, this is the number to which you should default in the absence of any other information.


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Who can be a reference on a CV


Above all, your referees need to be able to speak coherently about you as an employee. Friends and family are out of the question. Avoid colleagues if at all possible—your referee should be your superior or at least someone higher up in the hierarchy than you. Here are some options, in order of preference:

  • Current employer
  • Previous employer
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Supervisor
  • Mentor
  • Customer/client with whom you’ve dealt regularly
  • Lecturer
  • Teacher


Terms like ‘employer’ and ‘superior’ need not apply only to paid work. Volunteer and placement work contexts are perfectly valid—anything that shows what you’re like as an employee. Remember that employers aren’t obliged to give you a reference unless it’s in your contract, though.


There are also certain personal qualities that make for a good referee once the above criterium is satisfied. If you’re lucky enough to be spoilt for choice when it comes to referees, then prioritise those who:

  • Hold an impressive position or posses relevant expertise
  • Are good with people, charismatic
  • Are eloquent and authoritative


No references on CV—references available on request?


Let’s say you’re convinced that putting references on a CV is a bad idea. It might be tempting to hedge your bets by adding the words ‘references available on request’ somewhere on your CV. To put it bluntly, don’t do it. It’s not as bad as adding references but it still does no good and costs you space.


The reason writing that references are available on request doesn’t bring any particular benefits is that it’s assumed to be true anyway. It’s obvious to the recruiter that if they ask for references, then you’ll come up with something. Meanwhile, adding this phrase will cost you at least a line in your CV.


You don’t have to be a CV writing expert. In the LiveCareer CV builder you’ll find ready-made content for every industry and position, which you can then add with a single click.


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I hope this has answered your most pressing questions. Please let me know in the comments section below if there’s anything you’d like more information on. Feel free to leave any comments or feedback there as well, or share your reference experiences – good, bad, painful or funny.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team

LiveCareer Editorial Team

About the author

Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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