Resume Help/References


Hi Ralph,

In resumes I have looked at for samples, some have references listed, some don't, and a lot of them say "References Available On Request."  What is the correct way to do this?

Hi Jenny,

Good question.  There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about this floating around, so allow me to give you the information that HR departments and hiring specialists have given me.

Often the job application document itself will have spaces reserved for you to supply references.  If that is the case, you don't necessarily need to have them on your resume.  It doesn't hurt to have them both places, but it's just redundant.  Sometimes though the employer may request that you simply send a resume and letter first,  with the job app to be done at a later time (by candidates, for example, who the employer wants to explore further).  One caution here, however: be sure the references and the contact information that goes with them is identical if you submit them in both the app and the resume.

Also, don't assume that just because you have three references listed, the employer is restricted to those.  The employer can call anyone they want and search for things about you anywhere they like.  So, clean up your internet profile if you can and do your best to stay on good terms with everyone possible.  You can never tell who an employer may call to ask about you.  

The consensus seems to be that you should put references as the last entry on your resume; you can always delete them if you think it necessary, but have them on at least one document.  

The one thing you should NEVER do, however, is the "References Available" option.  Years ago that was very common, but employers today hate it and I don't blame them.  Here is what that statement at the end of a resume really means: "Yes, I have references, but I'm not going to give them to you unless you ask me for them."  Does that sound like what you want to tell a prospective employer?  Really?  I cannot imagine that there was ever a very good reason for this practice, but today you need to either list your references or not.  But don't tell the employer he or she has to go to a lot more trouble to get them.

One final note here.  Be aware that, with the internet being what it is, the chances are about 50/50 that any employer today will search for you on the web and will make some judgements about you based on what they find.  It is public information, after all, so be careful what you put out there.  My general rule to clients is "if you wouldn't want your mother to see it, don't put it on the web."  In my most recent research,  47% of employers told me that they have disqualified someone as a potential employee based solely on derogatory information they found about a candidate on the internet.  

Hope this helps; best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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