If you're not supposed to put it in your resume, what's the alternative phrase to be used?
There is no alternative "phrase", the correct alternative is to drop it entirely.
The popular advice to not put "references available upon request" in your resume does not have an issue with the wording of the phrase, but with the inclusion of the phrase itself. If a company wants references, they will ask regardless of whether the candidate mentions the phrase in the resume. Hence, in the resume, that statement is just wasting space.
Your resume serves to advertise you. Your resume should highlight your most important skills, experience and achievements which would compel them to invite you to an interview. Any fluff only takes up space where your could have advertised yourself instead.
In the resume, "references available upon request" falls in the same category as "will attend interview if invited", "will do job if offered", "all statements in this resume are correct to the best of my knowledge and belief", etc.
You should say that in your cover letter, if you insist on saying it. That said, it’s usually considered frivolous because the assumption is of course your references will be available by request. If the job listing does not mention references, neither should you. It’s akin to making a statement and following it up with, “I have people who will agree with me if you don’t believe me.” If the employer doesn’t ask for your references, you should just submit what was asked for and not reinvent the wheel.
Other answers mention that the phrase "references available upon request" is undesirable, and mention why, and indicate there are no alternatives. Well, I tend to disagree with that.
I do agree, there is no good alternative way to say "references available upon request". That is like saying, "there is no good alternative way to say, 'I am a lazy person who needs active supervision to do what I should have proactively done myself.'" Well, I fully agree there's no good alternative way to say that awful statement. However, why in the world would you say that awful statement?
So, the proper approach is to say something entirely different than that awful statement. Rather than figuring out the best way to phrase a concept that I agree should never be communicated, let's just focus on just what should be said instead.
Instead, just provide the references. Furthermore, it's even better to provide even more useful details. Here is an example of some different phrasing that will go over much better than trying to say "references available upon request":
Letters of recommendation are readily available at [ActualURL]
In other words, don't waste the potential employer's time by communicating, "If you want me to do work, you're going to have to ask for it. Then you will need to wait for me to provide the information. (There's a pretty high probability that I don't bother going through the effort of making standard information readily available, unless you go through the effort of letting me know something I should probably already know.)" Bah! What a terrible thing to communicate!
Instead, go through the work to collect the information for available references. Then, do one of the following:
- include them within your resume/work history, listing each reference by the employer (this is what I've typically done)
- Group all your references together, listed in a separate section. (This could be on a separate page, and possibly be considered a separate document.)
(In my opinion, which of those approaches to use will be a matter of style, so the which approach works better may vary depending on the opinions of who read the resume. For me, I place the available contact information at the same location of each section that describes an individual job I've had. Such consistency helps someone quickly find one bit of contact information after another.)
For electronic resumes, the references can be on later pages, while letters of recommendation may be additional document files that look like they are just a click away. (Actually, if they do follow the hyperlink, they will find a list of multiple letters to choose from, so a second click ends up being required.) However, typically I just include those letters along with my resume, so they've probably already seen that the information is readily available to them even before they started looking at my resume.
For printed resumes, I don't expect them to type in the URL of my collection of references / letters of recommendation. Instead, I print out the information, so that they don't need to request it. The information is already conveniently in their hands.
I don't want to give the potential employer the impression that I'm going to have the expectation that they will need to waste their time telling me to do some work that seems obvious. Instead, I'm going to proactively do the work, showing them that the job is done already, and the possibly-desirable information is already provided by the time they are likely to possibly want it.