People often ask me the question, should I put my referees on my CV? Or should I leave them as Available on request. Like the answer to many questions in life, the best answer is, “it depends.”  

To examine the question more closely and work out what is best for you, it’s important to know what the referees are used for and what stage of the process they are contacted. Many people seem to have the idea that a potential employer or recruiter will call a referee as a first point of call in the recruitment process, before meeting with you for an interview. This is highly unlikely. A standard recruitment process will involve checking referees as one of the last, if not the last stage in the process. Referees will be checked for the shortlist of candidates for the job, typically the last 1- 4 candidates, usually immediately before a hiring decision is made.

This means that by the time you get to the point when the employer or recruiter is contacting your referees you will probably have an idea this is going to happen. If you haven’t listed referees they will ask for them when they are ready to make contact. Therefore there isn’t any need to include your list of referees on your original CV.

It may however be an advantage to you not to include referees on your original CV. If the employer asks you for a list you will know that you are on the shortlist. And you will also have a chance to contact your referees, tell them to expect a call and brief them on the job.

But is there any risk that your referees will be contacted early in the process without you having an idea that this will happen? I would say no. It would be highly unlikely that your referees will be contacted before you have an interview and before you have some inkling that you have been shortlisted for a role. If this is the case then, why would you include your referees on your original CV? The main reason I can think of is that you may have good referees who are known in the industry or are in senior positions, who you are proud to be associated with. If I was a rugby player, I’d want to have Graham Henry listed as one of my referees.

As you can see there are pros and cons, but few risks in either strategy. The answer to this question, as I said before, just depends.