When Agencies Ask for References – What to Do – Hitting Agents for Six

When Agencies Ask for References
Asking for References - why agencies do it

Agencies ask for References


When agencies ask for references – this is the 3rd part in a series of articles called Hitting Agents for Six.

What to Do When Agencies Ask for References

Another tactic (or trick) is for an agency to contact the contractor saying that they want to take some references.

You will of course reply that you would prefer to give the references when you have a definite job interview.

Dodgy Agencies
Dodgy Agencies that trick contractors

They will of course reply that there are some employers who will not even see you without the agency having ask for references for you.

Except for naive contractors (and there must be plenty of them or agents would have given this up long ago), you both know that this is a trick (or tactic) to obtain the names of your old bosses, or, in the agent’s eyes, people who hire contractors.

What You Tell them When the Ask for References

The first thing to say to the agent is that you are happy to supply references. However, only when they get you a definite job interview.

If they do happen to get you a job interview, you can decide whether to give them references or not. It is best to say that you will supply them at the interview.

The agent might well say that the employer needs will ask for references before they’ll even see you. It is almost certain (99% sure) that the employer has made no such request.

Ask for Address

Just ask for the employer’s email or address. Or say that you’ll send a copy to the employer in a registered envelope.

Contractor References asked for by agencies
Contractor References asked for by agencies

You could of course just tell the agent to ‘get lost’ in the beginning. Because, if they are up to this, then don’t have very much and are getting pretty desperate anyway.

Even agents don’t like to do this unless they’re getting desperate. It is better to keep everyone ‘sweet’ if you can, though, without giving anything away.

Clear It First

When it does come to references, though, many contractors worry about whether they can get references from their old bosses.

That’s why you should never give their names unless you have cleared it with them beforehand.

When agencies ask for references, many contractors just give the names of friends that they have worked with. Agencies never do their homework.

All they want to do is tell the employer that they have had ‘very good references’ for the person that they are putting forward.

They don’t really want to look too closely and don’t know what questions to ask anyway.

Here are parts 1 and 2 of the series Hitting Agents for Six.

Agency Tricks – Hitting agents for Six

Hitting agents for Six – The Oldest Trick in the Book




  1. The obligation to obtain references is normally at the point of hire and for a number of years now it is the previous agent that the contractor worked through that supplies it.

    If an agent wanted to know Bob’s boss at ABC Ltd – Linked In will tell them that information in a heart beat so why would they waste time with a practice that in reality – died out a decade ago.


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