Why you shouldn't list your referees on your resume

Success written in the sand

It is not in your best interest to list your referees on your resume. Here's why.

Job adverts ask for them. Some hiring managers expect them to be listed, but it is not in your best interest to list your referees on your resume…Want to know why???

Your referee list will comprise ex-supervisors, managers or colleagues. They have a perspective of you based on the role you were doing when you worked with them. It is probable that the application you require a reference check, is different to the role you held when you worked with the referee.

Before passing on a list of referees, consider this;

  • Will the feedback given by your referee be relevant? Can they comment on your ability to lead people, troubleshoot, manage change, or any of the responsibilities and challenges of the potential role you have just been interviewed for? 
  • Can your referee comment on your technical capability with the particular commodity, mine, process, or project?
  • Your referee can provide more relevant information if they have an awareness of the role and the responsibilities. They can relate their knowledge of your capabilities, skills, experience and qualifications relate to the position. Just like an application, you are tailoring your referees list to suit the role.
  • You control which referees the hiring manager contacts and ensure the referees you provide, are the ones that can best comment on your suitability for the role you have applied to.
  • You can ensure your referees are available to complete a reference check and gain their permission to pass on their details.
  • You control how often referees are contacted by only providing their details when there is a high probability you are the preferred applicant.

What about if a recruiter wants to present you on a shortlist and wants to do reference checks first? In this instance, it is acceptable to decline and explain that you would prefer to only provide referees when the company wants to interview you. another option is to explain that you can provide a referee for a generic reference and you have other referees that you can provide for specific feedback relevant to the role.

You are then able to advise your referees about the role, let them know of the role requirements and responsibilities from the information you gained in the interview and provide them a copy of your resume.  Your referee is then able provide an informed, relevant and hopefully supportive reference check, thus assisting you secure the role.