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  1. Blog
  2. Applying
  3. January 15, 2021

‘References Available Upon Request’ & 4 Other Things to Cut from Your Resume

What to redline ASAP

Hand holding a red pen over a piece of paper
Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

When you’re ready to start applying for jobs and you’re dusting off your resume, one important factor to consider is who you’ll use as references. Typically employers ask for professional references from those who have worked with you or managed you, so they can speak to your experience, work ethic, and overall work vibe. 

Even while you should be creating a new reference list, should you include them on your resume? What about “references available upon request”? In both cases, probably not. Let’s talk about why, and other items you can likely cross off your resume.

‘References available upon request’

Including this phrase on resumes has become somewhat common. Job seekers want to show recruiters that they do have solid professional references, but that they didn’t want to muddy up the resume with too much information. 

Even with the best intentions, however, some phrases like this just aren’t necessary. They can quickly become distracting. Recruiters will already assume that you have references available should they need them. The company will likely ask for references later in the process if they’re seriously considering you.

All the phrase “references available upon request” really does is take up valuable space on your resume. 

Read more: A Step-by-Step Guide to Formatting Your Resume

Some would actually argue that including it can make you look too presumptuous. A post by Walrath Recruiting staff members says that their firm sees this line in about 50 percent of resumes they receive. They go on: “In the worst possible scenario, including ‘references available upon request’ can make a candidate look too presumptuous. References aren’t typically contacted by an employer until after an interview.”

The firm also says that the language is an “old and tired practice. Including the phrase could indicate to a hiring manager that you’re behind on current trends.”

It’s probably best to cut it, and wait for the prospective employer to ask for your references elsewhere. 

So, what else should you cut from your resume?

Acronyms

Another unnecessary and potentially confusing item to eliminate: acronyms. You may be tempted to use them for former workplaces, universities, or technologies, but remember that you need to be clear on your resume and never create confusion.

According to career coach Debbie Shalom says, you should also get rid of acronyms that someone in HR wouldn’t recognize, and focus solely on buzzwords that relate back to the job listing. She says, “The HR person most probably does not know what those acronyms stand for, so I always tell people first of all, don’t overload your resume with acronyms, and if they do, put in parentheses what they stand for.”

Personal information

Your resume isn’t the place to discuss your non-work-related hobbies, your family, your pets, physical attributes, or anything else that is not applicable to the job. It’s actually illegal for employers to make hiring decisions based on personal information like this, and it’s probably not related at all to the job you’re applying for. (However, if a hobby and related accomplishments are related, that’s another story.)

While a resume generally includes your basic contact information, including email address, phone number, and address, don’t include identifying information like your social security number or driver’s license number.

An objective statement

Many job seekers believe that they need to include a vague objective statement on their resume about looking for a position that will further their career. But as certified professional career coach and resume writer Amanda Augustine says, “This vague statement is a waste of space on your resume because it doesn’t help the reader quickly understand what type of position you’re seeking and why you’re qualified for such a role.” 

She advises to instead replace the statement with a professional summary with an elevator pitch. “In approximately 3–5 lines, explain why you’re a good fit for the position you’re pursuing by summarizing your relevant qualifications and career achievements.”

Read more: How to List Professional Experience on Your Resume

Photographs

Finally, there are very few industries that will require you to include a professional headshot or photograph with your resume. Recruiters don’t want to see photos in a resume, and in fact, it could lead them to inadvertent discrimination because they may be able to determine your ethnicity, gender, or age. They may not even want to deal with the potential for discrimination and skip your resume all together. 

Unless your industry requires a headshot, like entertainment or news positions, best to skip it.

Read more: How Long Should Your Resume Be? 8 Resume Myths, Busted

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Meredith Boe

Contributor

Meredith Boe is a writer, editor, and grant writer, and a regular contributor to InHerSight. Her writing focuses on working women, self-employment, small businesses, finance, and legal, in addition to her literary criticism, poetry, and creative prose. She holds a master's degree in writing and publishing from DePaul University, and her bylines include the GoDaddy Garage, The Chicago Reader, and the Chicago Review of Books.

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