I am applying for jobs through a recruiter, and have just been asked to provide ID and/or references before being put forward for a role.

If I get the job and the company wishes to have reference and Id then fine, but recruiters asking for Id and references even before you get the job? Strange.

My manager would not give reference as he says it is just a ploy to get them in his books to spam him for jobs later down the line, but I can't think of why they would want my Id.

Why do recruiters ask for Id and/or references before putting you forward for a role?

  • 1
    Yes, I have. Not a few recruiters do background checks or at least linkedin searches to validate your competency before recommending you.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 15:00
  • I see ok. this is new to me
    – Jono
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 15:01
  • 1
    Hi Jonney, I edited your question slightly as its original phrasing would likely get it closed for being a poll. If I've made a mistake in my edits, feel free to rollback the changes or to edit your post further :)
    – Rachel
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 15:45
  • 1
    Did the recruiter ask for ID and references, or ID or references? In my experience ID and references are two different checks, so if it was or that's important info. (The answers are mostly addressing the references and not the ID, so far.) Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:58
  • Some country's the UK for example require all Recruitment agencies to check that you have the right to work and provide passport or birth certificate's
    – Pepone
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 23:13

7 Answers 7


Some recruiters want your references so that they can determine how good you are and what kind of jobs to suggest you for. This increases their success rate. Most recruiters want your references so they can have more names and email addresses to claim they "know" and to contact about "great opportunities". They take advantage of the fact that you expect to be asked for references at some point in the hiring process, and they ask you for names and contact info that are not required to evaluate you for positions at all.

How can you tell which kind of recruiter you're dealing with? You probably can't. It helps to come up with a canned answer to use when you're asked. For example:

to reduce disruption for those who've kindly agreed to provide a reference, I provide their details only on request, typically when I've made the shortlist for a position and am being considered for a second interview.

Not sure a fresh grad can say that with a straight face, so you might want to work something up you're cool saying.

The ID wouldn't bother me. Prove your name, residency, and right to be employed wherever it is you're applying: seems fine.


Recruiters have reputations too. If a recruiter recommends candidates that turn out to have been not what they claimed, will the recruiter be used again?

So I can understand the problem, but I've never come across it happening. If the recruiter has something special for you, get to know them and find out what they need, in order to help you. It should be fine to tell them what your boss told you.

A reference says two things:

1) this guy did actually work here 2) this guy is a good guy.

A recruiter shouldn't need more than the first one to get you on a short list. There are other ways of telling them this - send them a pay slip - they normally want to know your current pay anyway.


They reason they want references is because part of the service that they provide their clients is to have checked references on candidates that they are going to present to them.

All clients want the reference done and some ask the recruiters to quote what was said on the references. Recruiters can't go around this policy, or are not supposed to because hypothetically, if they place someone at a company and that person winds up stealing money, for instance, they are not held accountable in any way because the references were done. This is why it's very important for everyone to stay in touch with former managers and upon leaving a job, ask them for their cell or home number or personal email address, in case they leave the company. You need to be able to locate them and ask them to supply references for you.

If they won't the thinking is that they're not comfortable doing it for some reason and that's a red flag. Just because someone interviews well and has stellar skills, does not mean that they have a good work ethic, or were dependable. The fact of the matter is that if a valued employee leaves a company, the manager will want to help that person land their next job.

  • But the same could be said for the previous employer ie u did a stella job for them but they were bitter that you left them. there are people like that
    – Jono
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 11:09

To ensure that you're not lying to them

References and ID are one way to check if what you told them is true, e.g. if indeed you managed 10 people on a huge project, if your former boss indeed loved you that much, etc.


Only recruiters know why they are doing what they're doing.

Two things could be happening: either the recruiter wants to make sure they are not being lied to (so as not to waste time), or they are playing some sort of a game. We can't tell you which one it is.

But in the long term, keep this in mind: some recruiters do act immorally and use all kinds of ploys to raise their commission. You have to learn to say 'no' to these people when they are pushing for something that you don't feel comfortable with. I would advise against risking any relationships to satisfy their demands.

Regarding references: it is completely normal to only give them in response to a conditional job offer. I've frequently been given contracts where a throgough background check happens after I sign them, and it is well understood that if something doesn't pan out thenI will not be working there.


If this recruiter works for an employment or staffing agency, the "dirty trick" they do here is get your references, then use them as leads to find other jobs they can pursue and help fill to earn their commissions.

If this recruiter works directly for the hiring company, often their HR department, then I would feel much safer giving this information out before you've even had a first interview with them.

However, the norm is to NOT give out professional references until you're in the running. In the former case, people who have served as professional references to others have gotten their time wasted when they either try to hound them for job leads, or otherwise hounding them when the candidate is nowhere near consideration (which is why they're typically given out towards the end of the hiring process).


Seems like the recruiters need your data more than the actual personal contact.

There are at least two possible explanations to this, namely: this is either a part of global trend for less-personalised communication and 'statification' of economics, or the persons in charge/in control are those of introvertive types.

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