February 15, 2024.


In Nigeria, CV references play a major role when a hiring manager wants to have a better picture of a potential job candidate. To reach the point where an employer takes out time to establish such contact, however, requires a well written resume that grabs attention within the first 5-10 seconds. A list of names and phone numbers on a CV is unlikely to limit your chances of landing the job, so devote the resume to eye-catching accomplishments instead.

Most school of thoughts is of the opinion that job seekers should not provide their references and their contact information unless specifically required by the hiring manager.  Job Applicants often include a line indicating that ‘References are available upon request.’ This can be a waste of time and space as it is assumed that if the employer wants references, they will ask for them.

Most job seekers would then ask, so, if including references on a resume isn’t recommended, where is noting them appropriate? Some job applications, including online ones, usually have a specific section to provide your reference (names and contact information). This method proves convenient for hiring managers because they already have references handy when they choose to examine a job candidate, but they can simply ignore that segment if not interested in the candidate.

Formatting your reference

Reference sections of most job applications usually ask for three people. This number also provides a good guideline for any reference document you create as well. Since hiring managers most often than not do not actually use all the references provided, the top entry should be the person with whom you’d most likely want them to speak to. This arrangement also increases the odds of employers hearing great things that make them want to continue moving down your reference list. When this happens then you’re already in the good books of the employer.

In the absence of instructions on where to list references, some job seekers may choose to present them on a separate sheet but not in the resume, as a printout or file attachment to the resume. When creating such a document, job candidates often employ this format for each entry in the reference section:

Surname and First name of reference
Position and company
Phone number


How to get the most from references (Upon Request from employers)

A major issue regarding resume references is choosing effective ones that would advance your cause in landing the desired job. In referencing forget family and friends – employers want references who know you in a professional capacity and not family wise and do not really have an obvious interest in whether or not you get the job.

Upon request by the employers, successful job seekers often select:

  • supervisors
  • colleagues
  • long-served clients
  • industry mentors

Young school leavers may decide to use:

  • Lecturers
  • guidance counselors
  • internship employers

Picking references that know you and are delighted to help by singing your praises tends to lead to the best outcome.

Before putting down anyone as a reference, experts repeatedly stress the importance of always getting in touch with them and notifying them of your intention of using them as your reference .

“While you may not have full control as to how reference checking is done, as a job applicant, it is essential to manage references as proactively as possible to ensure that any reference is a compelling supporter of your job candidacy.

During your conversation, ask the person for permission to use him or her as a resume reference. Also, find out their preferred contact information, including the best phone number and email address at which to be reached as this would help in boosting your odds of landing the job should the employers decide to reach out to your reference. Also make sure you discuss with your reference the kind of job you’re applying for and what type of position you are seeking and what aspects of your background make you a good match. Such knowledge can be of help when formulating responses in verifying for the employer that you truly possess all the wonderful qualifications highlighted on your professional resume.

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