If you're not supposed to put it in your resume, what's the alternative phrase to be used?

  • 10
    What is wrong with saying that?
    – Kilisi
    Sep 10, 2017 at 6:26
  • 6
    @Kilisi As explained on this question, of which this is arguably a duplicate, it's assumed that you'll provide references if asked and including the phrase is considered quaint these days. Candidates who still include it often come across as out of touch with modern hiring practices.
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:06
  • 6
    Possible duplicate of Do I have to put "References available upon Request" on my Resume?
    – Masked Man
    Sep 10, 2017 at 12:21
  • @Lilienthal Must be locale specific, some places, perhaps even more so in English-as-a-second-official-language expect all the formalities.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 10, 2017 at 13:25
  • @Lilienthal At least in the parts of Europe I know well (DACH-Region), not writing this is interpreted as a negative.
    – Wilbert
    Sep 11, 2017 at 10:35

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 10
    +1 for that third paragraph, showing examples that really drive the point home. Excellent job.
    – TOOGAM
    Sep 10, 2017 at 15:31

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.

  • 4
    Your first sentence is incorrect: that phrase never belonged in a cover letter.
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:07
  • Well, I included the clause of "if you insist on saying it." That means, despite anybody's best efforts to convince OP otherwise, if he is determined to include the four dreaded words, "references available upon request," he should include it in the cover letter, preferably buried at the end in the closing paragraph, as opposed to anywhere on his resume. That's all.
    – A.fm.
    Sep 10, 2017 at 14:52
  • Sure but that's wrong though. If the OP insists on including it, it should go on their resume which is where that phrase was traditionally placed. A cover letter is a letter that should flow well and sell your profile to a potential employer. Referring to references there isn't just old-fashioned, it's bizarre and much more detrimental than including it on a resume.
    – Lilienthal
    Sep 10, 2017 at 15:34
  • With respect, no. The last paragraph or sentence typically already states that the resume is enclosed. A closing such as "I welcome the opportunity to meet with you for an interview and to discuss the position further. My resume is enclosed and references are available at your request. I can be reached at [phone #] or [email]. Thank you for your time and consideration." is not only appropriate, but preferred (again with the caveat that OP insists on including the statement).
    – A.fm.
    Sep 10, 2017 at 16:48

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.

  • @Dukeling : The URL provided was for dummy examples. Mine showed an actual, real-life example. I accept the stance of removing a self-reference, albeit the cost of depriving the answer of an actual real-world instance. Still, please don't make edits that leave part of the answer just looking silly, which was done by removing the fact that there was plenty of content after a slash in the URL.
    – TOOGAM
    Sep 10, 2017 at 17:10
  • Letters of recommendation are not references - references are work related you could have a letter of recommendation for a non employer very old fashioned in this day and age through Sep 10, 2017 at 18:56
  • @Neuromancer : For people without extensive professional references (I'm mainly thinking: young adults), non-professional references may be better than nothing. A reputable-appearing contact that says this person is reliable/promising/whatever is better than a candidate being unable to provide such information. I consider that a letter of recommendation is one type of reference. Apparently we don't see eye to eye, which I can accept. (Actually, this answer has already garnered a few downvotes, which I've found rather surprising.)
    – TOOGAM
    Sep 10, 2017 at 21:24

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