4 words to remove from your resume

“References available upon request.”

Do you have this line on the bottom of your resume?

If you do, go delete it.

Believe me, no one is concerned that you might refuse to provide references upon request. It’s assumed that you will. It’s like saying “phone calls returned upon request.”

You have that line there because at some point long ago you learned that it was the thing to do. But it’s 100% unnecessary, it’s a tiny bit dated in feel, and it’s taking up valuable space that you could use for something with more of an impact. Go take it out! It’ll be liberating, like cutting those scary “PENALTY OF LAW” tags off your mattress.

{ 26 comments… read them below }

    1. Henning Makholm*

      If we assume for a moment that there are employers crazy enough to reject applications because they include those words, then they are not likely to be someone you’ll want to work for anyway. So the worst possible result is that you just dodged a bullet!

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I should be clear, no one is going to reject you for saying it. It’s just unnecessary, that’s all. People somehow got the idea it was practically required — but it’s not. You can free yourself from it in future letters, but you don’t need to be worried that you’ve been including it (at least 50% of job seekers seem to).

  2. Long Time Admin*

    I seem to remember being told to use that sentence instead of listing the references on the resume, which is the way it was done back then. We were even advised to list our hobbies and information about our families. The interviewers would ask what religion you were, if you were supporting your parents or were being supported by your parents, and if you were a young woman, if you were planning to have children. Sometimes they would ask about your political views as well.

    Not politically correct, but in their defense, they were looking for people who would be responsible, stable employees, and who would fit into their corporate culture.

    1. Dawn*

      In my opinion, absolutely none of those things have anything to do with being a stable, responsible person.

      1. Esra*

        Oh, I don’t know. We women are notoriously irresponsible and unstable, what with our political views and choice of religion and procreating all over the place.

    2. Anonymous*

      Re: Hobbies – I just had a CV advisor tell me to put those back on my CV about three months ago! Admittedly i did tailor them to be more work related than actually a hobbies list but its still annoying.

  3. Joey*

    I think the majority of references candidates offer up are a wahaven’t time. Most have limited knowledge of actual performance so they’re not much value. You can argue that if that’s the best reference you give that actually does more harm than good. Usually they’re either buddy co workers or someone who just saw snippets of your actual work. I want to talk to previous supervisors or a major client who’s seen first hand a substantial amount of your work. If you’re not giving me those believe me I’ll be hunting for them on my own.

    1. Anonymous*

      Interestingly I have never given someone as a reference who has NOT been my manager, line manager or department head. It doesn’t occur to me that that is even suitable to do although On one I had to give a HR department due to staff changes.

    2. Long Time Admin*

      Joey, Most of my former supervisors, managers, and directors are either dead or not with the companies any more. Some of those companies don’t even exist any more. And I temped for a couple of years, so the agency staffers I knew are long gone. If you can find my former executives, more power to you! (Actually, I think you’d need psychic powers to find most of them.)

  4. Joey*

    Waste of time is what I meant to say in the first sentence. I hate that autocorrect sometimes.

  5. Joanna Reichert*

    It never made sense to me to not include your references right away. Assuming they’re references who have nothing but glowing reports regarding your work ethic and abilities, making an employer ask for them is just one more hiccup in the hiring process. Since it’s a drawn-out, nail-biting process anyways, why not be transparent up front?

    1. Anonymous*


      You should guard your references like you do your Social Security number! Even if you only apply to one opening, it would be rude to give out your references’ contact information without warning them about who’ll be contacting them and why.

      Most likely you’re applying to multiple openings, and there are still employers out there who call references without telling the candidate – do you really think your references will have glowing reports about you after getting called out of the blue by ten different companies?

  6. Annr*

    I have issues getting everything I want to include on, so words that canbe eliminated free up real estate for better things.

  7. Louis*

    A lot of people waste space on their resume. Personally I have always wanted to put something like this :

    Hobbies: Hunting, Fencing, Karate (black belt)

    Biggest weakness: I get angry when I’m rejected

  8. C1ndyluhu*

    Actually, all of these things were the norm 20 years ago. I used to work in Human Resources, and we were told to reject out of hand any resume that did not contain at least three *personal* references. Not managers or work-related — *personal*. They wanted to know what kind of friend/family member you were, because if you can’t even get along with your friends and family, then you certainly can’t work well with others. We also tossed out the applications of anyone who came in wearing too much perfume because it shows a lack of consideration for others — many people are allergic to it. Things have changed. It’s true that most employers don’t care if you list your personal references, and you certainly don’t want 10 different potential employers to call your peeps or former co-workers, but you need to realize that a lot of companies out there still have the same old people doing the hiring, and they may be doing it the same way they’ve done it for 20 years….

  9. Anonymous*

    AccountTemps would not submit my resume to their client for a temp job unless I gave them my references FIRST, before an interview was ever granted. AccountTemps already had written letters I gave them from previous bosses recommending me and my work. But no list of references, no resume gets passed on to their client. They’ve got jobseekers by the balls and they know it.

    1. Wayne Schofield*

      Dear Anonymous,
      The reason agencies ask for your references is two fold. First, is so they can have them on file should the company they are submitting you to be interested and want to move forward. Mostly, they want a list of your references so they can try to make them candidates or clients.

      Regards, Wayne

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Mostly, they want to have them on file so that they don’t need to go back and ask you for them if they move forward and get to that stage. It’s pretty uncommon (though not unheard of) for them to use them as a poaching list.

  10. Wayne Schofield*

    I suggest leaving this one line simply to let companies know it is the end of your resume. I have seen too many resumes that seem to just stop in the middle of a page and I can’t tell if it is the end of their resume or the printer stopped working. Yes, if it bumps your resume onto another page…take it off, but I can manipulate a resume in so many ways that I have never had to take it off.

    I think this stems from my journalism background…I was always taught to put ######’s across the bottom of my scripts so people would know that’s the end of the story (for radio). References furnished upon request is my resume ######’s! :)
    Regards, Wayne
    Founder – Night and Day Resume

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