Friends to Coworkers: A Referral Story

Everyone thinks their friends are amazing, smart, and fun, but would you actually want to work with them every day? Zach Bird, eCommerce Optimization & Sales Coach does! He referred his friend Josh Ziman, now Sr. UX Designer and they are the self-proclaimed referral kings of HomeAway. They are sharing why they love their jobs and how they are helping their friends work here too.

Zach taking a selfie in front of the birdhouse meeting rooms at our Penn Field office in Austin.

Zach taking a selfie in front of the birdhouse meeting rooms at our Penn Field office in Austin.

Zach and Josh met at The University of Texas, Austin and have stayed friends in their postgrad years. When it came time for Josh to leave startup life, he asked Zach about his HomeAway experience.

When Zach describes his role he says, “Before I was a sales team lead at a startup, but now I’m in a sales coaching role and I work with 34 of our reps on soft skills, training and delivery. There are several things I love about working at HomeAway — it’s a bigger company, we have great incentive programs, and even more resources since the Expedia acquisition.”

This was enough to pique Josh’s interest and begin the application process. Now that Josh is officially part of Team HomeAway, it’s much easier for him to give insight about the day-to-day on the engineering and product teams.

“Before HomeAway, I was the sole UX designer at a eight person startup in travel and hospitality. We built products for hostels and backpacker transportation in Latin America. On a small team, my work spanned many disciplines, which is what I preferred at the time.

HomeAway allows me to focus and ‘go deep,’ which is what I wanted next. We have a large team of expert designers, prototypers, researchers, and writers — a diverse group of people who grow and teach one another everyday. It’s a fantastic place to think scientifically, challenge ideas, learn new processes and improve my craft.” - Josh Z.

So how are these two friends handling future referrals? Josh and Zach made an arrangement to split bonuses because they have so many mutual friends who also want to work at HomeAway!

While combing your LinkedIn connections and following up with hiring managers may sound tedious, these two swear it pays off.

Josh joined Team HomeAway as a Sr. Experience Designer in 2018.

Josh joined Team HomeAway as a Sr. Experience Designer in 2018.

Zach says, “I love using LinkedIn to promote job postings from HomeAway. The referral bonus is fantastic and well worth the extra effort of sharing job postings and following up with people.”

They even have a system in place to decide who should talk to each referral.

“It’s easy to talk to a wide array of people about working at HomeAway because our roles are so different. If they are pursuing a more technical role (developer, UI/UX) that’s right in Josh’s wheelhouse. We also have a number of contacts in the sales space here in Austin, so when we come across someone who’s more aligned for that, I come in as the resident sales coach. I think we both have a lot of insight into the recruiting and hiring process as well and will often try to help folks navigate the process altogether. In fact, I know that Josh is reviewing the resume of one of our mutual friends right now!” - Zach

You might not be a personal acquaintance of Josh or Zach, but they have some recommendations on how to get someone in your corner to advocate for you.

Zach says, “First, you need to be qualified for the job, make sure you have a good track record with the person you’re asking to refer you, it’s really that easy.”

Whether you’re looking for a new job or looking for referrals to join Team HomeAway, it’s always easier with friends, just ask these two!

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about what it’s like to work here? Visit our careers page!

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Inside John Kim's Exclusive Career Development Cohort

President, John Kim, recognizes the importance of spending time developing talent within HomeAway. With his President’s Apprentice program, he’s dedicating his personal time to help existing and future HomeAway leaders broaden their leadership footprint. These employees recently graduated from the program and they’re sharing the advice and learnings they took with them.

(The Alpha class from the Customer Experience and Partner Success teams. From left: Seleena Hoban, Shawn Stoller, Drew Cross, John Kim, Katie Winland, and Sarah Wilson)

(The Alpha class from the Customer Experience and Partner Success teams. From left: Seleena Hoban, Shawn Stoller, Drew Cross, John Kim, Katie Winland, and Sarah Wilson)

Q: What is something that you took away from your apprenticeship that you’re applying to your current role?

“The ability to form a better argument. As a group, we’ve been working on building a business case for HomeAway to implement. The process of forming a thesis, supporting facts and getting buy-in is very tough, but the skills and insights I’ve learned from John Kim have helped me suggest and support arguments to my team.” - Trey Briggs, Senior Software Engineer

“Do your research, then do some more! This program showed me how critical it is to dig in to understanding any problem you’re trying to solve with a scientific mindset and feverish curiosity. I use this daily to lead my team and we lean on the data and research to have more meaningful conversations with our partners.“ - Megan Hunter, Lead Account Manager

“Since participating in the Apprenticeship program, my role at HomeAway has changed significantly. Some of the most impactful takeaways were the power of leading with logic, being an organizer of thought and always encouraging others to poke holes in my argument. If I’m ever feeling stuck, I can hear JK saying, ‘Ok, what is the job to be done here? What do I want to accomplish?’ He said this so often that it became sort of a running joke amongst the group, but it’s such simple and sound wisdom! Starting with the end in mind allows me to build stronger branches of logic and have a vision that isn’t muddied by an infinite number of possible outcomes.  - Sarah Wilson, Customer Experience Specialist

Q: What’s the nomination process like and how you found out you were accepted?

“I was nominated by my director at the time. After the nominations, we were interviewed by Arin Bryan from the Learning & Development team, who asked us questions about our experience and what our career aspirations were. I then had a call with John Kim to discuss the program and see if I would be a good fit based on what his goals were. Then I was notified that I had been selected to participate in the first junior cohort at HomeAway and I was super excited!” -Katie Winland, Partner Success Team Lead

Beta Class from left: Trey Briggs (Engineering), Julie Bosshart-Lammers (Marketing), Megan Hunter (Partner Success), Andrew Cunningham (Product), Joshua White (Customer Experience)

Beta Class from left: Trey Briggs (Engineering), Julie Bosshart-Lammers (Marketing), Megan Hunter (Partner Success), Andrew Cunningham (Product), Joshua White (Customer Experience)

Q: What was your experience like working directly with HomeAway President, John Kim?

“John Kim says things that make you think differently for the rest of your life. I remember him asking us how we were feeling about our final presentation in which I answered ‘I just want it to be awesome!’ He then said to me, ‘That’s a fixed mindset.’ We read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck which honestly changed me mentally for a couple weeks in that I constantly counted the times in which my mind was in a fixed state rather than a growth state. I’m better for it only because John Kim called it how it is. You need to be open to the feedback and understand that he wants you to be the best version of yourself and a great leader.” - Seleena Hoban, Global Operations Program Coordinator

“JK inspired me to evaluate how I ‘show up’ for my job every day and how important it is to understand how you are doing now, then set up a plan to measure how you will continue to grow moving forward. It’s not enough to say, ‘I want to get better at x, y, or z.’ You have to put the time in and then figure out how to quantify the results and keep yourself in check!” -Megan Hunter, Lead Account Manager

Q: How did the career coaching session impact your personal career goals?

“The coaching sessions with John Kim and Learning & Development Specialist, Kylie Robin were incredibly insightful. John showed me how to be more intentional with my career by writing down my aspirations, what I want my reputation to be and how to align my week-to-week actions to get there. This helped me reevaluate where I was at in my career at the time and led me to work with my director to set goals. My sessions with Kylie helped me gain insights for daily self-improvement. Her general knowledge and thoughtful consideration for coaching me on leadership opened me up to new skills like communicating with confidence and compassionate directness. These sessions were invaluable and allowed me to take intentional steps to achieving my personal goals.” - Trey Briggs, Senior Software Engineer

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Q: Did you work on a specific assignment during the program?

“Our main project was creating our vision of ‘The Future of Sales and Service.’ I know...so meta.  I can remember exactly where I was sitting the day JK gave us feedback.  It wasn’t pretty, but to be fair, this was the very first time any of us had ever attempted to create a strategic vision. After gathering information from some of the brilliant minds at HomeAway (and going through countless iterations), we presented our thesis to leadership and an audience of over 300. I’m immensely proud of what we accomplished! It’ll be an ongoing goal of mine to emulate JK’s seemingly effortless ability to deconstruct a pile of dirt and rebuild it into diamond.” - Sarah Wilson, Customer Experience Specialist

Q: Did you meet new coworkers during the program?

“The first junior cohort was from Customer Experience and Partner Success. A few of us knew each other prior to the program, but this experience really brought us together as a group. We still connect with each other in and out of work, I feel like we have become a family. We spent a lot of hours together preparing for our sessions and final presentation and we created lasting friendships. I’m so grateful for this experience it really taught me a lot about collaboration and I made friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. -Katie Winland, Partner Success Team Lead

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about what it’s like to work here? Visit our careers page!

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