In general, if an existing employer requests them, then it’s worth expanding upon. The word ‘reference’ can mean many things. For example, work that you are proud of: award-winning software, leading a complex project, or designing and implementing a complex IT system).
Choose people who can provide an objective – but rather more likely, positive – picture of you. Don’t select your friends, but your former work colleagues, possibly managers, teachers, with whom you get on. Speak with them beforehand and ask whether it is ok for you to give their name as a reference in your CV. If you are writing an international CV, that is, for foreigners, it’s worth giving a manager who works at a multinational company. “Some Company Ltd” won’t mean a thing to them; it’s as if the company doesn’t even exist. Not even the names of the larger local companies mean much to a foreigner. It’s worth putting beside the company name, for example, “large Ethiopean system integration firm”, “large Indian software distributor” or “One of Hungary’s largest shipping companies”, and so on.
It’s possible the bare fact a big name appears on your CV as a reference will be totally sufficient. In most instances, HR people and decision-makers don’t have time to call up each and every reference of all the applicants. In many instances reference-checking only takes place after the second round. Provide only legitimate references which check-out, though.
Whoever lies in their CV will sooner or later be found out. Sooner, rather than later, and there’s plenty such stories we could tell! There is a saying that anyone is separated from anyone in the world by a maximum 6 relationships. Well, if you know us that leaves 5. 😀