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Paying for a Reference Is Just What the Job Hunt Hellscape Needed

Illustration for article titled Paying for a Reference Is Just What the Job Hunt Hellscape Needed
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Getty)

If you have shame spiraled after sending a birthday message to a secondary contact on LinkedIn or had a few too many at a professional event, you, too, have probably wondered how much you would be willing to throw down for a networking cheat. Enter the platform Rooftop Slushie, where you can post a bid for a referral from a company employee: those professionals can choose to accept your offered “commission,” starting at $20, supposedly based on the merits of your resumé, and they’ll send in a referral. It’s not a perfect system, but you get some eyeballs on your resume, and let’s be realistic.

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First spotted by OneZero, Rooftop Slushie, which launched in 2019, claims to have enlisted employees from over 83,000 companies, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter. What’s in it for those employees, you may wonder, who likely don’t need a middling 20 or 30 bucks for the effort? Maybe they want to help a person out. Maybe they’d get a few thousand dollars if you get hired. Rooftop Slushie’s product manager Daniel Kim has told OneZero that the site has processed over 11,000 referrals. (The name was reportedly inspired by the Silicon Valley character Big Head’s fondness for rooftop slushies.)

The company was founded by the creators of TeamBlind, a sort of gossip quora for tech workers, who have to sign up with their work emails in order to post. Rooftop Slushie similarly vets employees, who also anonymously take payments for resume reviews, interview tips, and salary negotiation advice, via their email addresses.

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Bribery, perhaps. Amazon tells Gizmodo that the company is actively attempting to stop outside sites that incentivize employees to use the referral program, and that its employees could be disciplined for taking payments in violation of the company’s conflict of interest policies. (Per the standard, Amazon gives referral bonuses only if the candidate is hired and remains on the job for over 90 days.)

But we know that connections are traditionally purchased in tuition expenses, unaffordable city living, on top of which you must possess innate social skills and/or an intuitive understanding of cocktail-casual fashion. Even a supposedly untainted submission process exists within a framework of inherent racial bias and bullshit resume keyword searches. If you’d like to give it a shot, anonymous vendors have some free advice for you.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

I hate that we’re looking at this, and not at just getting rid of referrals as a screening item on applications. They’re relic of both of the snootier days when you needed an elite reference to get into an elite finishing school, and from when servants needed a reference from their preceding master to get a job with a new one (not coincidentally this system really enabled abuse).