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Pssst! Want job referrals? Bribe me.

A Startup Is Selling Referrals for Jobs at Facebook, Google, and Amazon

Source: OneZero on Medium
By Seth King

referralsIf you’re looking for a job at a tech company like Facebook, Amazon, or Google, you’re probably also looking for a referral. Just buy one. Rooftop Slushie, a website created by the makers of the anonymous tech forum Blind, has facilitated more than 11,000 referral purchases since launching last year, Daniel Kim, the site’s product manager, told OneZero.

Candidates fill out a form listing their desired companies and the amount they are willing to pay per referral — usually between $20 and $50, according to Kim — and upload their resume. Verified employees at the listed companies, known as “vendors” on Rooftop Slushie, can view their resume and asking price, then decide whether or not to accept their offer. Facebook and Google referrals, according to Kim, are the biggest sellers.

After purchasing a referral, candidates will often receive a confirmation email with the next steps from their desired company. If candidates don’t receive a referral from the vendor, they can email Rooftop Slushie for a refund.

When asked if selling referrals for a small fee was an ethical concern, [one] vendor quickly dismissed the notion. “Whether or not a candidate gets a job is beyond my control,” he said. “There is no silver bullet to making it through the recruitment process. It’s really a coaching platform.”

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Nick’s take

What do we know about a company when its employees will openly take bribes for referrals to their boss about a job? We know Amazon, Google, Facebook and other employers have lost control of recruiting and hiring. When an online pop-up store can charge $50 for “referrals” to a company’s recruiter, you know one thing: that company’s HR department is running a numbers game. Stay away from HR, especially if you have to ante up to submit your resume. (See also 10 reasons your company’s HR can’t fill jobs.)

Is this practice ethical? Would you pay Rooftop Slushie to bribe somebody for referrals to a recruiter? What does this “business model” tell us about America’s Employment System? Most important, how does this really affect your ability to get a job?



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  1. This isn’t surprising, and sad as well.
    I just saw an online ad for fake resumes. Evidently, you pay money for a fake resume, which includes fake employers and fake references. Based on the testimonials (and for what that’s worth) people had success with landing jobs, and little to no fear of being busted.
    I had a lengthy stint of unemployment in this last recession. I had an interview for a sales job with a clearly unethical company and clearly unethical General Manager. He told me that in order for the interview process to proceed, I had to provide them with 10 sales leads, then they’d evaluate them to see if they’d proceed.
    Wow! Any lakefront property for sale in the Mojave desert?

    • You’re passing up a great business opportunity! A company where people searching for sales job can pay other people to be the sales leads. Think about:

      For $25, I’ll let you give them my name and contact information as a sales lead
      For $50, I’ll actually return their calls.
      For $100, I’ll ask for a pricing quote.
      For $500, I’ll place an actual order. Note that I retain the right to cancel the order for any reason and most likely will.
      For $1000, before placing the order, I’ll keep asking them why I’m not dealing with you because you’re such a great sales person.

      You could probably set up the website in a weekend. Then take 30% of the transactions.

      I’d be surprised if such a system didn’t already exist.

      • @Chris: Such a system doesn’t exist in sales because sales managers would never permit it. What does that tell us about HR?

  2. Its hard to believe an employee would risk his/her reputation by “referring” a total stranger, let alone going against a company’s governance rules against kick backs.

  3. Job scams and unethical practices don’t surprise me any more. What shocks me is that they operate out in the open with impunity. The people selling these “services” are another matter altogether. The reason this stuff continues is that the Employment Industry is for the most part unregulated. Perhaps the worst offenders are the so-called “contracting” and “consulting firms” and their huge corporate clients. They “hire” people under questionable deals so the client companies can avoid “hiring” at all. Nastiest daily practice: A “contracting firm” solicits you for a job and demands that you sign an agreement to accept a job at a certain pay rate before they tell you who the employer is and before you interview.

    Jobs are perhaps the biggest scam going. This website recently exposed one. The FTC shut it down after levying a $1.7M judgment for fraudulent “offerings” of job interviews for money. The FTC reduced it to $18,000 because the scammer didn’t have the money to pay the full judgment. Crime pays.

    Be careful out there.

  4. It has been proposed that what we call the “information age” is actually the “misinformation age”. I rest my case! I am also thankful to be an analog engineer (even with digital circuits in the middle): At least I know where my information is coming from!

  5. Sadly, I think that would probably be the only way I could manage to get a referral…

  6. Doesn’t surprise me. I mean I’ve heard of companies that will fake reference checks.

  7. I’d beware of that “Blind” app, or the company behind it. The app is not anonymous since you have to register with a COMPANY email address. What do you have to give up for this paid referral thing? Sounds like a data breach about to happen.

  8. Can’t speak for the tech industry, but in my field of Civil Engineering this is grounds for losing my license to practice anywhere in the US, and probably the world.