How do I list references if they no longer work there?

Written by peter mitchell
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How do I list references if they no longer work there?
Be straightforward and honest when listing references. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Nobody expects someone to remain in the same job forever. So, most companies will understand if your listed reference now works at a new place. Usually, applicants only list references when asked by the employer - often after an initial interview. Even then, a new employer will usually wait until they want to offer you a job before contacting your referees.

Seek permission

Before listing a referee, it's polite - and often more effective - to ask the person's permission. A phone call out of the blue can lead to a poor or rushed verbal reference. If they no longer work at your company, this is even more important. You'll need to know their new role and contact details in order to list them on an application. A friendly email asking for permission to include someone as a referee is often all you'll need.


In the reference section of your CV or application list a referee who has moved to a new job by adding their current and previous title. For example, a listed reference might read: Steven Harris, New Job Title, New Workplace, New Contact Details, and finally Previous Job Title. This way, the reader knows where the person now works, but also what their previous working relationship was with you while they were at your company.


If you're freshly out of university or training, it may be more appropriate to list academic references. For example, suggests that a teacher, tutor, lecturer or even PhD supervisor make acceptable references. As with professional references, if your academic contact has moved to another place, then list both their current and previous positions. Again, it's good practice to contact them before using them as a referee.


In some cases a prospective employer may only accept references from a manager at your current or previous employer. In this case, it's worth having a back-up reference in mind that you can list. For example, a team leader or department manager may be a good alternative if your line manager has moved on to another employer. If that's not possible, explain to the interview contact that you're unable to provide a reference from your current place of work.

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