To Reference Or Not To Reference, Let’s Finish This

This would have to be one of the more contentious issues when preparing a CV. At Aced It, we see all the extremes. From no references to 10 references. But what should you include? What are employers expecting to see? How can you stand out from the crowd?

The answer is simple from our Here’s why:

Understand your audience

At first pass, your CV is going into the mix with hundreds probably thousands of other CV’s to be reviewed for a few key and critical criteria. Recruiters are VERY unlikely to call in references. They need to read through them all and then begin the process of shortlisting.


For campus hires, only those truly exceptional candidates will have references worth calling after the first round. That is, those students who have targeted, relevant and in-depth work experiences with notable employers or even clients of employers. Your boss at the pub or manager at Coles, will be unlikely to get the dial up!


Putting references on your resume will inevitably expose you to criticism from people if they are called and unable to answer a question on you, in the desired manner. If your references are busy, don’t really understand why they are being called or don’t really want to give you the glowing references you expected, it’s all over before it’s even begun, unfortunately.

Hack the system

If you’re like one of the many candidates we coach, you’ll likely be applying for multiple company’s come application season. Keeping it simple with a line in your CV that says ‘References available upon request’ will position you nicely as the recruiters will ask you for these references if you’ve progressed to the next round, giving you a nice heads up and indirect validation that you’re CV and profile tick the right boxes.

Our final section of advice here is really the result of countless hours of reviewing candidates' CVs, which have lead us to the following 2 overarching conclusions:

Don't tell the recruiter that “Quality” references will be provided

For some reason we see this a lot, unless you were expecting employers to be satisfied with sub-par references...all recruiters will expect what you provide them to be quality. While we’re on the topic, two, no more and no less. Two relevant references is the desired number to include on your CV in our opinion.

Prepare them

Please don’t put names on your CV until you have explicitly spoken to them and they are aware of how important this process is to both you and them. Trust us, the last thing you want is for an employer to call your references and be greeted with, “ohh I had no idea!” it won’t end up well for you.

At the end of the day, your CV will ultimately speak for itself. If you have the required experiences, academic performance and extracurricular activities listed on your CV, your references will simply attest to your good character and achievements.