The answer is no, you should never include “references” or “reference available upon request” on a resume. This is one of the most common questions job seekers have and including it on your resume may be harming your chances at an interview.
Adding references on a resume is outdated and unprofessional. An employer expects you to have references if they ask for them, they don’t need your reassurance that you have them.
The employer will usually ask for references later in the interview stage or before they make an offer. You should always have a list of references available should the employer ask for it.
Another reason you shouldn’t list references is because most companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS ) to scan your resume. Some ATS are programmed to email your references automatically and your application stays invalid until they respond.
If this happens and your references don’t respond, your resume won’t ever be seen and you’d never know. Check out this guide to ensure your resume gets past the Applicant Tracking Systems over 90% of employers use.
You should never really include references on a cover letter. It should be a separate page which is a reference page. The only time you should include a reference page with your resume is if the employer or listing asks for one. You will usually find that most jobs don’t, however, always double check the instructions as to what the employer wants you to submit.
Your reference sheet should contain around 3-4 professional references. You should always give your references a heads up before you hand in your reference sheet.
The last thing you want is for your references to be caught off guard or even give an old number or email address. Ensure that the contact number and email is up to date for each of your references.
(We wrote a great post on how a resume reference page should look like).
No, you should never include references in a cover letter. If the employer asks for references, include them on a separate references page.
There is no way to know whether an employer will reach out to your references. Just be sure that your references are aware that they may be contacted. Figure that there is a 50/50 chance that the employer will actually call.
We wrote a good post here on exactly what they ask your references when they do call.
So to sum it up – under no circumstance should you include references or “references available upon request” on a cover letter or resume. Have a reference sheet ready if the employer asks for one and always give your references a heads up that they may receive a call.