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Rooftop Slushie sells employee referrals (aka bribes), and we hate it

At last, the sharing economy is addressing the issue of nepotistic hiring practices in tech… by making it worse. And adding a bit of immorality. We suspect that Rooftop Slushie is a fast way for you to land in hot water.

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Introducing Rooftop Slushie, a website that emerged last year and has gained popularity in the absence of face-to-face networking events brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company sells recommendations on behalf of those seeking jobs at major tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft. As of now, Rooftop Slushie proudly claims on their website to have referred over 13,000 candidates.

Here’s how it works: users pay between $20-$50 to upload resumes and indicate their desired position. Anonymous tech employees evaluate them, then decide whether or not to refer candidates based on their listed credentials. They also offer resume reviews and career advice.

It is a recent venture from the enigmatic creators of Blind, an anonymous online forum of vaguely described “verified professionals.” (How someone can be both verified and anonymous is beyond me, but I digress.)

While Rooftop Slushie asks their employee network to only recommend candidates who are genuinely qualified for their desired positions, the site has no apparent measures to ensure that this happens, other than there being no guarantee that any given applicant will succeed.

It is true that Rooftop is providing a unique service. Nobody else is doing what they do, because what they do is wrong. It would be questionable even if there was no money exchanged. As it is, this is akin to bribery.

The keyholders of these prestigious tech job references are taking advantage of their status within large companies for profit, as well as any additional incentives to refer candidates that their employer may offer. It’s friggin’ corrupt, plain and simple.

Now, I’d like to address those who would consider using this service to land their dream job.

I understand that impulse, especially in this economically desperate moment. But ethics aside, think about the personal consequences you could face.

What if word gets out that you bought your way into your coveted new position?

You and your reference would probably be canned immediately. You could lose trust with your friends and associates, business or otherwise, who hear the news as well.

This is not a hypothetical question. Amazon has already started cracking down on paid referrals, and others are sure to follow suit. Good luck explaining that at your next interview.

It is also incredibly unfair to those of us who can’t gamble 50 bucks to get a foot in the door with Google.

We have to do it the old fashioned way (like some kind of peasant, I suppose). And look, the ”old fashioned way” is obviously flawed. There is a LOT to criticize about preferential and biased hiring practices in the tech industry. This attempt to solve it is still very misguided.

Blind claims to be a “platform for change,” and suggests that Rooftop opens up opportunities to people who don’t have insider connections, thus (supposedly) leveling the playing field.

But cheating only worsens the problems they describe. The hiring process should not be pay-to-win. Jobs aren’t commodities.

Whether or not the act of selling professional recommendations breaks an employee’s contract, it’s certainly a gross violation of the social contract.

If you believe you’re qualified for a particular position, but the company won’t give you the time of day, don’t cheat. Be persistent. Or, better yet, why not seek out an employer who recognizes your talents?

And if you can’t manage to do that… maybe it’s time to reevaluate your actual level of expertise.

Desmond Meagley is an award-winning writer, graphic artist and cultural commentator in D.C. A proud YR Media alumn, Desmond's writing and illustrations have been featured in the SF Chronicle, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, The Daily Cal, and NPR among others. In their spare time, Desmond enjoys vegetarian cooking and vigorous bike rides.

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ADJ

Humans of ADJ: Chris O’Riley

In honor of the famous photo essay project, Humans of New York, we’re tipping our hat and featuring Humans of ADJ (Austin Digital Jobs) to showcase how different yet similar we all are on this boat.

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The Austin Digital Jobs group (ADJ) celebrates the tremendous talent where we’re headquartered and boasts nearly 50,000 members – we’re devoted to retaining talent in Austin and attracting new brands, and letting our hair down while we do it.

To help us see what we have in common while simultaneously showcasing our diversity, we’re bringing “Humans of ADJ” to you as a nod to the famous photo essay project, “Humans of New York.”

The goal is to learn more about each other as humans.

We want to showcase things less obvious about ourselves – a game developer who plays professional rugby, a digital marketing strategist who has lived in 12 countries, a UX pro who served 23 years in the Navy, a technical writer who is currently fostering 12 animals and bottle feeding 5… you get the idea.

We are more than our job titles. Every single one of us. We sincerely seek to demonstrate the uniqueness of folks in this town in hopes that we can connect with each other more meaningfully.

Our first feature is Chris O’Riley – he’s a brand new father, he navigated a challenging childhood, and his take on humanity is kind and sincere. The following answers are in his words:

Q: Do you have a mantra?

A: In a moment where I’m happy, or given the chance to truly help someone, I remember to tell myself that every terrible moment in my life has gotten me to this exact moment, right here, right now.

I’ve had some unique experiences that I’ve been able to share with others as a way to relate, and prove that it DOES GET BETTER. Being able to say “Sure, that all happened, but I’m happy now” is really encouraging.

Q: Someone says you have to teach a seminar in 5 minutes – with no prep time, what topic do you choose and why?

A: Life is change, and change is scary, and often happens for unfortunate reasons. It can wreck someone’s life if they can’t accept it, roll with it, or recover from it.

I would choose this topic because I’m intimately familiar with it due to my childhood and growing up, and ever since I learned that I am NOT a byproduct of the things that have happened to me, but rather, how I dealt with them, I’ve been happier and more successful that I thought possible.

Q: Who most shaped you professionally? Personally? Tell us a bit about either/or.

A: I didn’t grow up with a very steady family situation, with landing in an orphanage at 7, and having a couple of foster families until I emancipated myself at 17.

Having people treat me like family taught me compassion, the value of helping other people, and helped my believe that I was worthwhile.

Q: What experience has most defined your life?

A: Definitely the orphaning. I highly doubt I’d have survived this long had I stayed in that situation, and surviving the various hardships that came from it helps keep me grounded, and from taking things for granted as easily.

Q: What does “The American Dream” mean to you?

A: I feel like the American Dream has shifted in my generation. Before, it was a house, 2 cars, 2 and a half kids, and a retirement plan.

Now, it’s having a safe world to raise a kid in if you choose to raise one, and otherwise, finding some way to be happy despite the state of America. I guess you can say that I dream of a different America. A kinder, more accepting, less ruthless and “us vs. them” oriented America.

Q: What do you believe we all have in common as humans?

A: We’re all sentient shambling meatbags with wants, needs, fears, hopes, and dreams. Every last one of us. I believe we’re all capable of kindness and cruelty, but we’re more likely to share the one that we receive more of. 

I also believe all of us can do better by encouraging one another to do so, by example. I’m not saying we will, but we CAN.”

Q: Dream job?

A: A dream job for me would be not just something to make money and do something I enjoy, but to pass on the kind of things that helped me get to where I am.

I believe that everything that’s happened to me and how I dealt with those things put me where I am today, so the logical next step is to share that with people who might be going through what I did once upon a time.

Thank you for your realness, Chris, we appreciate you and feel less alone in our quirky lives! For anyone who wants to be considered as a featured Human of ADJ, click here for info (and please note, there’s a very very long wait list, but we’re getting systems in place to feature folks more frequently!).

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ADJ

RSVP to the next ADJ Recruiting Mixer – see what’s next

If you’re curious about the offline events offered by ADJ, let’s talk about what’s coming up next!

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The ADJ Recruiting Mixer goes down every quarter – we are currently finalizing which vetted employers we will be partnering with for the next event (email us if you’re an employer interested in details).

And it’s going to be a big one. The date is March 25th and it’s in North Austin (per your infinite number of requests)!

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS & DETAILS

If you’ve never been to an ADJ Recruiting Mixer, here’s an outline of what to expect.

We invite you to join us – if you subscribe to our emailer, you’ll be the first to hear details (like date and time)!

PS: In the meantime, we also offer a free tech networking event you should come to!

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ADJ

What it’s like to go to an Austin Digital Jobs Recruiting Mixer

(BUSINESS) It can be intimidating to go to an Austin Digital Jobs recruiting mixer due to the size, but listen, everyone’s slightly nervous – here’s what it’s like to actually go to one.

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The following letter is written for those of you who have never been to an Austin Digital Jobs Recruiting Mixer…

You’ll arrive around 4:45 and realize that it’s a Monday, so finding parking is easier than you thought. Your heart is beating slightly, because new places are scary, no matter how confident you are.

You see the bar up ahead. You see an unassuming line of people at the door, and there’s a succulent at the front table. That’s nice. The doorman checks your ID (and you’re secretly flattered, but act slightly annoyed)..

Then you get signed in

There are seven people in line ahead of you, so you look around and well, you don’t know a single person (but you don’t realize that most other people don’t know anyone either). You hold your folder filled with resumes to your chest and wait your turn. You start to peek into the venue to see which employers are there, just waiting to meet you.

At the registration table, you’re greeted by a friendly face, and asked whether you’re job hunting or looking for talent, and given the appropriate badge. Your handwriting sucks, but you write in big bold letters what you’re looking for, and you notice that employers’ stickers are vertical and job hunters’ stickers are horizontal. You’re told the neon name tags are worn by partners who are most eager to hire. Bingo!

You make a mental note so your eyeballs focus only on the vertical or neon stickers in the crowd, spelling out in equally bad handwriting what they are looking for.

You’re handed a list of which types of jobs each employer is looking to fill, you circle the ones you want to visit (make a plan, trust us on this one), and you are excited to job hunt after you order a lil’ a drink** (so you can stay focused!) – that feels pretty Austin-y. And look, recruiters are sippin’ too, that’s cool.

There’s even a photographer there offering you free, high quality headshots, so you remind yourself to circle back to in between employers.

You start moving about the cabin

You start making the rounds, and the first hand you shake is a younger recruiter who is looking for someone like you, only he says they need a specific skill and you don’t quite have it, so you hand him your resume, and you part ways politely.

You see a line of people on the rooftop, are they waiting for a table? You ask someone what’s going on and they tell you it’s free career and resume coaching and you can have 15 minutes with an expert. Bingo! You wait a few minutes and a table opens up, you learn that your resume is outdated and ineffective and quickly walk away with some tips to improve that and affirmation that your career is moving in the right direction.

Time is of the essence because you only have two and a half hours, and you’re pressuring yourself to make the rounds, but tell yourself to remain calm.

After two or three more handshakes, you make it over to three employer booths in a row, and you hit it off with two recruiters and line up two interviews for later in the week.

You go grab another drink to celebrate, and meet a few more folks along the way. Before you know it, you’re out of printed resumes, have several phone interviews lined up, an in-person interview, and things are looking up.

You nailed it!

It’s almost over, so you start heading out and you thank the registration table (always be networking), and head out to your car.

You start ‘er up, and drive home with some pep in your step because YOU, my friend, have just made it a successful first Austin Digital Jobs Recruiting Mixer.

You tell everyone on Facebook about it when you get home, you nail the job interview, you become the Prince of Zamunda*, you get the job, and you tell everyone how awesome ADJ is, because BOOM, it worked.

*Obtaining the Prince of Zamunda title not guaranteed. For everyone.
**Drink responsibly, friends.

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