Now that the dust has settled regarding the New York Times exposé of what it’s like to work at Amazon, did it just get more difficult to be a recruiter at Amazon?
The Times piece, which ran a few weeks ago, made the online merchandiser out to be a scary place to work. Amazon was portrayed as the kind of place where long hours are the norm, total commitment is expected, and conflict among colleagues is encouraged in order to bring out the best ideas. However, the validity of these accounts has been questioned, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has defended the company and the culture he’s built.
But the fact remains that the story is out there, and it’s hard to imagine that it won’t have any influence on applicants who are considering opportunities with Amazon. HR pros are already reporting that it’s harder to find quality hires than it was six months ago – is it now even harder for Amazon to do the same?
Maybe it’s a good thing that this peek behind the curtain happened. Maybe this exposé will help Amazon draw in the right kind of applicants: ambitious people who thrive on long hours, competition, and the promise of accomplishing great things, despite some personal sacrifice.
After all, job descriptions for positions at Amazon’s corporate headquarters don’t hide that working there can get intense. (Of course, they also don’t mention that candidates need the ability to work through major personal crises like those described in the article.)
In addition to “fun,” some common phrases in Amazon job descriptions include “comfortable with ambiguity,” “fast-paced and ever-changing environment,” and “strong sense of urgency.” The demanding nature of the work is also evident from the way many job descriptions talk about Amazon.
Here is the third paragraph from a posting for a senior software development engineer:
We’re going to change the way that the advertising world measures, plans, and buys. Along the way, we’re going to face seemingly impossible problems. We’re going to argue about how to solve them, and we’ll work together to find a solution that is superior to each of the proposals we came in with. We’ll make tough decisions, but we’ll all understand why. We’ll be the dream team.
Amazon’s descriptions make these jobs sound important. They help candidates understand how a single role will contribute to the bigger picture. That’s inspiring.
Perhaps now these job descriptions will be read through the lens of the New York Times piece — but at the same time, maybe they’ll do an even better job of attracting the right applicants. Maybe recruiters will have to spend less time weeding through applicants who lack the qualities needed to be a successful Amazonian.
Most definitely, Amazon will lose out on some talented candidates as a result of the Times article — but maybe Bezos and his recruiting team are fine with that. Maybe the Times piece will actually bolster Amazon’s employer brand among some applicants, in a weird way: Do you have what it takes to succeed in this challenging environment? Then join us.