This site has had similar questions about giving private information to recruiters but I haven't seen this particular case.

When I'm cold-called by an recruitment agency about a job, and I agree to be submitted, they often ask for birth month/date and the last four digits of my SSN. I'm never really comfortable giving it, but I usually do.

The agent who called today asked for the last four plus the FULL date of birth. (Most likely illegal.) I'd probably decline to give the info except for one thing: I gave it to this company two years ago, for better or worse.

The agency submitted me to a prestigious company that year and the next year, and I even got an interview out of it. So not only does this agency seem somewhat legitimate, but we may actually have a "relationship".

The new recruiter says my information is no longer in their database. Is there any reason I should not give this new guy the same information I gave his agency before?

  • 1
    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/24241/… – Erik Mar 28 '17 at 6:38
  • I am a recruiter and I can tell you that with certain 3rd party vendor-managed systems for large customers like FCA/Chrysler, recruiters cannot submit you to any contract positions without this information. It is required by the client VMS, so if a candidate refuses to provide this information, there is no other way to submit them to the job. – user7780168 Mar 28 '17 at 13:49
  • I presume, however, that you wouldn't cold-call and ask for this info without explaining yourself? – Michael Kohne Mar 28 '17 at 14:08
  • The one unbreakable rule in Shopping is that the Shop (recruiter) NEVER submits the Shopper to a potential client without FIRST contacting the Shopper and getting explicit permission to submit to this specific NAMED client. The purpose of this rule is to prevent duplicate submissions, which hurt EVERYONE. With that rule in mind, it is immediately obvious that you do not need to get the guy's data in advance. You only need the data if the client requires it. You can get the data when you call the Shopper to get consent for that specific submission to that specific client. – John R. Strohm Mar 28 '17 at 17:27
  • @MichaelKohne that is how I conduct my business, yes. – user7780168 Mar 28 '17 at 18:00

I can think of one very good reason why you shouldn't give him the information: you don't want to, and he almost certainly doesn't need it right now.

Challenge them on this. Ask why they require the information, what it's being used for, and how it's being secured after you provide it (if you're emailing it, there is no security!). They're asking for it and expecting it because not enough people stand up for themselves and say "no."

If you don't like the prospect of giving them this information, then don't. If they won't move you further in their process over this, move on to the next recruiter. Forget what happened two years ago with this information. The past is the past.

I have never been asked for this information on a cold-call. Or any other stage of the interview/application process prior to the actual employment paperwork & background check.


I was asked this recently by a recruiter (minus the birth year) and I refused. I was told that the information was needed to create a unique key. After establishing that that was the only reason they needed it I told them to enter my birthday as 11th November and the last four digits of my SIN as 1111. That seemed to work.

Of course you can't all do exactly that...

  • That would not guarantee a unique key either. Only an idiot would create a unique key that way. granted many databases seem to be designed by idiots. – HLGEM Mar 29 '17 at 13:55
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    Sure, but that's not my problem. – DJClayworth Mar 29 '17 at 14:06
  • If we all did exactly that, maybe they wouldn't have such a dumb requirement... – ColleenV parted ways Mar 30 '17 at 19:10
  • I've heard this two times in my career and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If they want a unique key there are two pretty obvious alternatives: your email address(duh) and umm....a randomly generated number (or guid). Both times I was asked I refused. One didn't submit me and the other did. – user609926 Apr 25 '18 at 19:31

Asking a candidate their age or date of birth is actually an illegal interview question, just as asking what is your religion or if you are handicapped. Cannot ask and completely inappropriate and unprofessional. If a recruiter is asking questions like these, walk away.

Per the EEOC, there are "prohibited practices" for hiring- employers cannot base hiring decisions on race, age, religion, sex, etc., thus we cannot ask certain questions during the hiring process.

Once the hiring process is completed and a successful candidate has been selected, the employer can then have them complete a background check to ensure that the candidate is who they say they are- they have the work experience and degree(s) and also verify if they have a criminal record, etc. There are federal laws in place to help ensure that these checks are not used to discriminate.

I have had situations in the past where a candidate was selected for a position and a background check showed that the candidate had not earned multiple degrees they said they had earned. Candidate was not hired.

There are definitely some unscrupulous recruiters out there who lack ethics and integrity, and they make things harder for the majority of us who honestly try to do things the right way. If you get a call from someone who is being cagey and will not share important details, like the name of their client, and who cannot share basic information like a job description or company benefits, you should probably cut bait.

  • Many companies do background checks and require the recruiters they work with to do background checks. These are important pieces of information to do a background check with a high level of accuracy. – UnhandledExcepSean Mar 29 '17 at 13:22
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    @ghost: Although true, it's completely unnecessary to run a background check until a job offer has been given. – NotMe Mar 29 '17 at 16:07
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    @NotMe You are absolutely correct, but that is not what this answer said. It reads like a recruiters should not be asking these questions ever. – UnhandledExcepSean Mar 29 '17 at 16:08
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    Hi, please use the edit button to update your existing post rather than posting new answers. Thanks! – enderland Mar 30 '17 at 18:09
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    Uh no, asking those questions is not illegal, but a really bad idea. Basing your decisions on the candidate's religion, etc. is illegal. If you ask for it, it becomes easier to accuse you of discrimination, but asking by itself is not illegal. – Masked Man Mar 30 '17 at 18:31

It's possible that two candidates might have the same last 4 digits and birth year so giving that extra information might uniquely identify you.

Or they might mistakenly be asking for the full birthdate.

Just point out that you only usually give your birth year and ask for clarification on why they want the full date.

And yes, things do get lost/deleted (and some people don't know how to search databases, but won't admit to it).

  • I find it unrealistic to think that two candidates have the same name, same birth year and same last four in social. There is zero reason to ask for the parts of the social security number. – NotMe Mar 29 '17 at 16:06

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