The Art of Listing References on Your CV: Essential Dos and Don'ts

The Art of Listing References on Your CV: Essential Dos and Don'ts


Mon Jan 15 2024

Guide to the essential dos and don'ts to ensure your reference listing becomes a valuable asset in your job-seeking journey.

In the intricate process of crafting a compelling CV, the section dedicated to references often finds itself relegated to the background. Yet, the manner in which you present your references can significantly impact your chances of landing that coveted job. 

Strategic Placement of References: 

Your CV is a concise snapshot of your professional journey, and every inch of it matters. Rather than dedicating precious space to listing numerous references, focus on showcasing your skills, qualifications, and achievements. Hiring managers are unlikely to contact references during the initial stages, so prioritize presenting your unique selling points.

Omit "References Available Upon Request": 

Refrain from cluttering your CV with unnecessary statements like "References available upon request." Employers understand that reference details will be provided when needed. Instead, utilize the limited space to highlight your qualifications, leaving the reference details for a later stage in the hiring process.

When to Submit Your References: 

Only include a list of references when explicitly instructed by the employer in the job posting. Alternatively, some employers may request references after an initial or subsequent interview. This signifies that you are advancing in the hiring process, allowing you to tailor your reference list to the specific needs of the potential employer.

Maintain an Updated Reference List: 

While references should not clutter your CV, having a well-prepared and updated reference list on hand is crucial. Notify your references of your job search, ensuring they are prepared for potential inquiries. This proactive approach demonstrates professionalism and readiness for the final stages of the hiring process.

Selecting the Right References: 

Craft a reference list comprising three to five individuals who can provide valuable insights into your work ethic and capabilities. Include former managers, current or past colleagues, and, if necessary, professors or clients. Keep a separate reference list for discreet job searches, ensuring confidentiality.

Excluding Inappropriate References: 

Family members, despite their knowledge of your skills, should not feature on your reference list, as their opinions may be perceived as biased. Similarly, avoid including individuals with whom you've had professional or personal conflicts, even if reconciliation has occurred.

Essential Information on the Reference List: 

Keep your reference list concise, including vital details such as name, job position, company, mobile number, and email address. Provide a brief description of your relationship with each reference, emphasizing the duration of your collaboration.

Proper Arrangement of the Reference List: 

Compile all reference information into a single sheet, both in hard and soft copy formats. Ensure uniformity in font style, size, and color to maintain a professional appearance consistent with your CV. Include your name, email, and phone number at the top for easy identification by the hiring manager.


Letter of Request for Reference from Previous employer: 


  • [Your Name]
  • [Your Address]
  • [City, State, Zip Code]
  • [Email Address]
  • [Phone Number]
  • [Date]


  • [Previous Employer's Name]
  • [Company Name]
  • [Company Address]
  • [City, State, Zip Code]


RE: Request for Employer Reference

Dear [Previous Employer's Name],

I trust this letter finds you well. I am reaching out to formally request your support in providing a letter of work reference for my professional endeavors. As I continue to progress in my career, I recognize the significance of presenting a comprehensive overview of my skills, work ethic, and contributions, and I believe your insights would greatly contribute to this.

I am currently in the process of pursuing new opportunities and am seeking to bolster my application with a reference that highlights my achievements and work performance during my tenure at [Company Name]. Your firsthand knowledge of my capabilities and dedication would undoubtedly offer valuable perspective to prospective employers.

To ensure the ease of your response, I have attached a document outlining the key details typically included in a professional reference letter. This includes my responsibilities during my time at [Company Name], key achievements, and any notable projects we collaborated on.

I understand the demands on your time and greatly appreciate your willingness to assist me in this matter. Should you require any additional information or clarification on specific aspects, please feel free to reach out. I am more than willing to provide any necessary details to facilitate the process.

If it aligns with your convenience, I kindly request that the reference letter be addressed to whom it may concern and be sent directly to my email address at [Your Email Address]. Your promptness in this matter would be immensely appreciated.

I genuinely value the professional relationship we cultivated during my time at [Company Name], and I am confident that your endorsement will significantly contribute to my pursuit of new opportunities.

Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to the possibility of working together again in the future.


  • [Your Full Name]
  • [Your Signature - if sending a hard copy]



By adhering to these dos and don'ts, you can seamlessly integrate your reference list into your job application strategy. Master the art of reference listing on your CV, presenting yourself as a consummate professional poised for success in any organization.

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Dr. Syed Masrur DBA, #HIRING
Dr. Syed Masrur | Founder










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