When I am applying for jobs, I usually send out my resumé to a lot of companies (about 10 or more). I always have personal references on my resumé. That being said, I don’t want each and every recruiter to call and hassle this reference. I could’ve solved this issue by writing “References available on request” on my resumé. However, the thing is, I want to include his name on my resumé, because it makes a good first impression on hiring managers. He is the principal of my university and a well respected person in our country. One of his books is used as the standard book for operating systems in a good foreign university.

It has worked, too. I get an interview call from each and every company I apply to. The thing is, I don’t want to hassle the guy. Should I use his reference at a later stage?

So is it okay to include someone’s name on your resumé for reference but write “Available on request” for his phone number?

Note: I have obtained his permission to list him as a personal reference on my resumé. I am not doing anything without his permission. He also used to teach at our university and I was his student.

  • @SpikyBlue - I think you give people's objectivity too much credit.
    – user8365
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:15

4 Answers 4


Unless it's directly relevant to work you did (e.g., "served as editor for A Field Guide to Big Toes by Joe Schmoe"), mentioning someone else's name on your own resume as a way to impress a candidate company is name dropping. Your resume is about you and should be able to stand on its own if you and the person reading it were the only two people on the planet. I'm hiring you, not the people you're bragging about having worked with.

Some write "References available on request" on their resumes, and I think it's an acceptable practice. I don't do it because I assume that if a company wants references, they'll ask. If you have an excellent resume and are really, really good at what you do, a company that does a thorough job interviewing you won't need to ask.

You should protect the privacy of your references by only giving the list to those who actually have a need for it. You don't want your colleagues to be ticked off with you because they've had to burn valuable time fielding calls from companies who are just doing screening or, worse, some headhunter who fished their contact information from your resume. My usual policy is that a company doesn't get the reference list until they're serious, which means having interviewed me and need that last bit of information in deciding whether or not to extend an offer.

  • @JoeStrazzere: If someone has an association with a candidate company and is willing to send them your resume, that's one thing. I just think dropping a name as a way to get one's foot in the door is tacky.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 13:04
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere: Yes, I am saying that. It's not universal, but I've maintained a list of references (three professional and three personal) for nearly all of my 25-year career and can count on one hand the number of times any of them have been called. Maybe that has a lot to do with the kind of companies where I choose to send my resume, but I'm much more impressed by those that can fully vet me with a minimum of outside help. At any rate, references are self-selected, and nobody's going to put one on their list that isn't going to say positive things.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 13:06
  • Isn't it the references that provide more credibility to what is listed on a resume? All of the facts cannot be substantiated in a personal interview or other type of investigation.
    – user8365
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:16
  • @JeffO: I'm not saying references are useless or that I object to the practice of having them, just that the well-selected ones tend to have a bias toward saying positive things about the candidate.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 21:04

Although I understand that you are engaging in a bit of name-dropping, it seems rather silly to me. I'm not sure how I'd feel as a hiring manager if I saw a famous name with no number attached to a resume. I suspect I'd feel you were playing games.

Personally, I'd prefer to get the references only later in the process.

That said, I suspect your approach isn't fatal to your job search, and may help in some circumstances.

Anything is "OK", if you have the individual's permission. It's hard to say if it will be "effective" or not.


Why not talk to your reference and ask him?

If he's getting a lot of annoying contacts that seem to come from your reference of him on your resume, then remove him. If he's not getting bothered, then you know he's not getting bothered.

Personally, I'm saddened to think that you get more promo out of a contact than you do out of your own merit. One thing I'd ask you to consider is whether the majority of the interviews you go to turn out the way you want - if they have little interest in you and just want to hear about your contact, then is going on interviews like that a good use of your time? Getting a large hit rate is not the same thing as finding a job that suits you.


Ask your references for a Letter of Reference. That's a good way to capture someone's clear statement about your skills and accomplishments. A letter of reference will have the name, title and contact information of the reference on the stationery of the company. It's not just for a full employment; if you complete a big project for someone and move on to a new project or manager, get a letter of reference for that project.

A letter of reference is evergreen. You are spared the trouble of keeping in touch with old contacts. Sometimes those old managers retire, drop off the grid or die. They aren't available to take a phone call, but the letter is always ready.

When a potential employers asks for references, send them copies of your letters.

Frequently when I've asked for those letters, my reference will have me write the letter and just sign it. That allows me to tailor the language and point out accomplishments that the manager or co-worker might not know about.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .