A website is allowing prospective tech employees to anonymously purchase a job referral from existing tech workers for $20 to $50 apiece.
Rooftop Slushie, created by the makers of techie chat favorite Blind, has hosted 11,000 referral transactions since it was launched in 2019. Facebook and Google referrals are the most popular.
The "vendors" are established employees at companies like Amazon, Google, and Twitter who can become verified on the website and vet candidate submissions before accepting the deal.
The site's product manager told One Zero that the service helps improve a skilled candidate's chances of getting hired, but critics say paying for and accepting payment for a job referral is unethical.
The hiring process in the tech world can be competitive, and getting your foot in the door to score an interview can be easier if someone's vouching for you.
A website has commoditized such referrals, allowing eager prospective employees to purchase one for $20 to $50.
Rooftop Slushie was formed by the creators of Blind, the anonymous chat site favored by tech workers where they can freely air their grievances about the industry.
Here's how it works: Job candidates fill out a form, seen below, indicating the companies where they're hoping to apply. Then they list what they're willing to pay and upload their resume.
Tech workers can become verified on Rooftop Slushie as "vendors." They peruse the forms that candidates submit, taking into account their asking price and the quality of their resume, and then decide if they will accept or not. According to Gizmodo, employees from 83,000 companies — including Google, Amazon, and Facebook — are verified on the site. They are required to use their work email to be verified.
As Daniel Kim, Rooftop Slushie's product manager, told One Zero, job referrals for positions at Facebook and Google are the hottest sellers.
Kim told One Zero that its referral transactions help even the odds for skilled employees who perhaps make the cut for a role but lack desirable application features like job referrals. As the author notes, many of the high-earning tech workers that accept the payment of under $50 hardly need such supplemental income.
But critics told One Zero the transactional nature of Rooftop Slushie's service "smells like bribery" and is ethically questionable. For employees that opt to become vendors, they could also be violating a legal binding to stay loyal to their employers.
Tech companies typically have some sort of referral bonus system in place for employees. Amazon told One Zero that accepting payment for a job referral, however, is a violation of company policies and is looking into putting an end to the practice.
The website also allows users to pay for tips on how to beef up their resumes and how to prepare for interviews, according to Gizmodo, but the referral transactions are the most popular feature on the site.
According to One Zero, the website was named after a character in the HBO show "Silicon Valley," a series that has come to be known as a strikingly accurate portrayal of the tech ecosystem and its idiosyncrasies. The character Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti has a penchant for sipping Big Gulps on rooftops while "resting and vesting."
As Business Insider's Melia Russell reported in 2016, the "Big Head" character embodies the Silicon Valley founder whose company has been acquired and is left to wait out a contract while their equity vests.
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