Good references are important to any job search; but you need to know when and how to offer them.
In the United States, references do not belong on a resume. First, you want to protect the privacy of your references; resumes go out to the world. Second, you want time to alert your references to the call or email they may receive. If your references are listed on your resume, you lose control.
Employers assume you can give them references if they ask. So your resume should not include the phrase “References available upon request.” It is not necessary and it takes up valuable space on a resume better used to show your accomplishments.
That said, as part of your preparation, create a list of references to have ready when needed. The list should include each reference’s name, title, company name, address, phone number(s) and email. In addition to professional references, you may need a few personal references. Contact all your references to make sure they are willing to speak well of you and to alert them to your job search. Your references need to know they will be receiving a legitimate request for information by a company you’re interested in.
You can ask a company not to contact your most recent employer. Companies realize you may want to keep your job search confidential until you have a definite offer. Besides, current employers are often limited in the information they are allowed to share.
Make sure you have some references who will gladly speak well of you! One of the most damaging references you can get is, “I’d rather not say.”