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Submitted by AppleJack on


BLUF: I'm wondering how others handle requests for references up front with the submission of the cover letter and resume. Do others think that it is appropriate not to include that information? or do you think it a must since the hiring organization has asked for it?

I don't like to give out a list of references until I am at a point where my references would actually get called and I can brief them on the specific job and where I am in the interview process within a week or less of when they might be contacted.  Since I tailor my resume to each job, I want my references to have that specific resume and the job description, as well as have a conversation with them about the specific job - before they are called.

While I assume that references are only being called if the organization is serious about hiring, my reference's time is precious, so I want to be careful not to distribute their names and contact information any more than absolutely necessary.

I've run across this before - depending upon the job, sometimes I've include the references and sometimes I left it out. Of course, if I was called for an interview I would provide a list knowing that they would most likely be called soon. What I'm wondering about is sending in references without knowing whether or not they will be called.

I'm curious to hear what other job seekers, as well as hiring managers and those in HR think.


mercuryblue's picture
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That is tricky. I'll start by saying that I agree with all your points about referees. However the hiring manager owns the process, not you, so you need to make a careful assessment of the pros and cons for YOU in THIS role.

For me, I would be considering:

How strong a candidate am I *really* for this job?

Am I putting it all out there and risking my relationship with my referees for something that is not likely to go anywhere?

If I can sell myself well enough the letter/resume, will I get away with not providing references at this stage?

How much will it kill me if I don't get an interview - and not that you'd ever know, but what if that was because I hadn't provided references?

How likely is it that the company will call the referee "too early"?

Is there a contact in the employing company I can call to "pre-sell" myself? I have found that if I do this well, they pull my resume out of the stack.

Can the risk be ameliorated by contacting your referees (I would suggest email at this stage) saying that you are applying, the ad asks for referees, would they mind etc, and that you will contact to discuss once you've had interviews etc?

For me, I would probably think twice about applying for a role with anyone who advertised this way. I suspect it is more likely to be associated with more junior roles.


AppleJack's picture
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Thanks Mercury,
I've been asking myself those very same questions and was wondering if others were having the same experience and how they were handling it. Of course, I prefer the organizations that don't require references up front, as I think they are probably saner, more realistic people to work with. However, I need to find a new job, so the potential employers get to decide the ground

These days all of the organizations I'm interested in, require that you apply online and inevitably there are required fields for references and/or for your supervisor's name for each position you've held. These online systems also require that you list your education, each position, dates started and ended. I've seen this for VP level positions down to maintenance crew workers. Some just require that you upload a word doc or PDF with a list of references, at least then I can include a note requesting that I be notified before they contact my references.

I just completed one online app in which almost none of the fields were long enough for my references full titles, it also would not accept the full name of my college or grad school. AND it required that you copy and paste  your cover letter and resume in to a plain text box, so there wasn't even the minimal formatting that Mark, Wendii, etal suggest.

I'm still curious to hear how others are handling similar situations.