Most tech recruiters are lying to you if they are asking for your references.
In seven years as a software recruiter, I've never asked for references.
Clients have never asked me to because they have their own processes for this. It's a lazy bullshit way of getting the names of potential hiring managers whom they can approach.
This is one of those practices that give the recruitment industry a bad name.
Most of the time it's the old school directors of these businesses who are pushing their consultants to ask these questions.
A good recruiter knows who the hiring managers are in their market without needing to do this.
A good recruiter has a piece of software that tells them who is hiring in their market without needing to pull leads from candidates.
I placed 36 tech candidates in new perm roles in 2019 without needing to resort to stuff like this.
Even if a client has asked the recruiter to get references because its part of their SLA (Service Level Agreement), they should not be getting them until the offer has been made.
If a recruiter asks you for your references, ask the recruiter to show some proof that the client has asked them to get references.
What other bad practices do you see recruiters doing?