Using 'References Available Upon Request' On a Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Writing your resume is a chance to make a good impression on a hiring manager, so it's important to think about what you include. One phrase that candidates frequently include on their resumes is 'references available upon request'. Understanding what this phrase means and why people use it can help you write a better and more effective resume. In this article, we explain what 'references available upon request' means, give advice on using this particular phrase and provide tips on the language to use on your resume more generally.

What does 'references available upon request' mean?

The phrase 'references available upon request' informs hiring managers that a candidate is able to provide professional references to validate the claims that they make in their application. This is a common application phrase that some candidates use to show that they have professional contacts who can speak about their abilities. Some may feel that this shows initiative as a candidate.

Candidates might also say that references are available upon request on their resume so that they know when an employer wants to contact their references. This gives them the opportunity to inform their contacts of an employer potentially approaching them. Although this is sound reasoning, it's actually unnecessary to include this phrase. Hiring managers already know that they can request references. Including this phrase can take up precious space on your resume, especially if an employer hasn't requested references yet.

Related: What Is a Professional Reference? Definition and Templates

Tips on using the phrase

Here are some tips that you might consider when considering mentioning references during the application process:

Leave it out of your resume

It's often better to exclude this term from your resume. Since it's common practice for hiring managers to contact professional references for a candidate anyway, the phrase is redundant. It's also common for online applications to prompt candidates to provide references when submitting their application, so the phrase can also appear repetitive on your resume.

Provide a list of references

Show hiring managers you're a prepared candidate by creating a separate professional document for your references. You may choose to send this list right away or have it ready for when they ask. When preparing your references, let your contacts know that you're actively applying for jobs and that they can expect a call or email any day. When creating a list of references, make sure you include the following information for each reference:

  • full name

  • position

  • company

  • company address

  • phone number

  • email address

  • relationship to you

Read more: How to Write a Resume Reference List (With Examples)

Offer references during the interview

Another tactic that you can use to demonstrate your initiative as a candidate is to offer your references during an interview. Although some companies choose to contact references before the interview stage, if you left your references out of your application, you may consider asking the interviewer whether they want them.

Bring a list of your professional contacts to offer to the interviewer near the very beginning or end of the meeting. Since interviewers often ask whether you have any questions, this can be a good opportunity to ask about references and provide your list.

Be mindful of resume space

Remember that your resume is a short document that gives hiring managers a summary of your relevant experiences, skills and credentials. Rather than taking up an entire line to include this phrase, use it for something that shows that you're a qualified candidate. For example, you can use this space instead to list relevant certifications or your technical or transferable skills.

When deciding what to include on your resume, carefully read through the job description. Try to identify different phrases and keywords that you can incorporate on your resume. By tailoring your resume to the job that you want and using space wisely, you can give yourself an advantage over other candidates.

Related: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

Other language to avoid

Since the phrase 'references available upon request' is a common but inadvisable practice, you may wonder about other terms and phrases that you might leave off your resume. Consider this list of phrases to revise when drafting your application:

Idioms

Using idioms and other types of figurative language on your resume can cause confusion and may seem unprofessional. Replace any idioms on your resume with a better description of what you mean to say. This can also help you create a more detailed and thoughtful resume. It can also help eliminate confusion, as some professionals may be unfamiliar with the idiom you use or have a different perception of it from you.

Clichés

Try to avoid clichéd phrases like ‘hard worker' on your resume. Clichés are phrases that have lost some meaning because they're in common use. Instead of using phrases that other candidates are likely to use, consider more precise ways to convey your traits or skills. For example, instead of saying that you're a 'hard-working professional', you might instead describe yourself as dedicated or reliable. This is more concise and provides a better representation of your work ethic.

Unspecific phrases

Re-read your resume to find any vague phrases that you can revise. This allows you to elaborate on each phrase on your resume and ensure that it's accurate and of high value. High-value phrases can share more about your qualifications and characteristics as a professional. Specificity can ensure that you convey exactly what you want to, instead of leaving room for interpretation by the reader.

Related: 175 Good Words for a Resume and When to Include Them

Tips on writing your resume

Consider this advice when writing your resume:

Be original

Rather than depending on clichés, try to think of more interesting ways to present your information. Hiring managers may look through a number of applications, making it important for you to be original. After learning about the job that you're applying for, think of ways in which you might earn their attention. Consider how you can incorporate elements of your personality into your application. If you're applying for a job within an artistic field, you might consider what aesthetic choices you can make to improve your resume.

Find and use the keywords

Some companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to narrow down candidates for their job openings. Essentially, this tool scans your resume for relevant phrases and keywords, deciding whether your resume is relevant enough to move forward in the hiring process. By including the job description's keywords on your resume, you might improve your chances of having a professional see your resume. To pass through the ATS, it's also important to ensure that your resume follows a distinct format.

Read more: ATS Resume Format Guide (With Template and Example)

Include data

Give hiring managers concrete examples of the work you're capable of. By including quantitative data like statistics, numbers and percentages, you can help them gain a better understanding of your achievements. Focus on past accomplishments that show you're capable of growth and success. This can help you provide more details on your resume and proof of your skills. For example, you may write that as a salesperson, you averaged four major sales per day.

Narrow your word choice

You only get one or two pages to make a good impression. Use this space wisely by being intentional about the words you're including. Rather than being vague or using buzzwords that lack any real meaning, be specific about what you share. Also, carefully scan your resume to make sure you're varying the words you use. This can help you create a document that's concise and features effective language.

Add power adjectives

These are unique words you can use to describe yourself as a professional. Whenever you pick an adjective, make sure you're using it properly. Consider looking up the definition to make sure you're choosing the right words. Since power adjectives are words that many candidates overlook, using them can help you make an impression as a candidate.

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