Amazon Career Day makes strong pitch with a soft touch

Amazon's virtual career day put the best possible face on the firm in its push to fill 33,000 corporate and tech jobs as well as 100,000 operations jobs.

Amazon made a strong push Wednesday to fill some 33,000 corporate and tech jobs. During its three-hour virtual Amazon Career Day, it offered advice and inspiration on how to get a job -- not just with Amazon, but with any company. But Amazon's top goal was to put its workplace culture and employment opportunities in the best possible light.

For all the information presented, Amazon employees and its roster of experts didn't pull back the covers on the firm's hiring technology or processes. It didn't discuss, for instance, how it screens resumes.

But it did provide practical advice on how to apply and interview for new positions in general. The experts who presented said their No. 1 piece of advice was to get the video interview right.

Video interview a sign of tech literacy

"Nobody wants to look up your nose or down your forehead when you're on a video interview," said Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume. Augustine was part of a panel of career experts who offered interviewing tips. She even suggested adding some Amazon boxes as props in the video.

Video interviewing is also a way to show comfort with tech, Amazon Career Day panelists said.

"You definitely don't want the first impression to be one of struggling to get the video technology to work," said Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter Inc. and an Amazon Career Day panelist.

Amazon said it is filling about 100,000 operations jobs in the U.S. and Canada on top of 33,000 corporate and tech jobs. The corporate jobs pay an average salary of about $150,000 a year. The firm has almost 800,000 employees globally.

Amazon said it has 1,000 recruiters ready to coach applicants for its jobs today.

Robots read resumes

It also believes workers today want new occupations. Amazon presented commissioned surveys with data claiming 25% of the U.S. workforce is actively applying for new jobs. Other data suggested that workers feel isolated by remote work.

Since COVID-19, 76% of people "are reporting high loneliness," said Kelly Monahan, talent research lead at Accenture Research and an Amazon Career Day panelist. 

Seventy percent of resumes that are submitted for an application to a job are read by a robot before they're read by a human.
Ian SiegelCo-founder and CEO, ZipRecruiter

Although Amazon didn't describe its resume vetting technology, ZipRecruiter's Siegel had a warning.

"Seventy percent of resumes that are submitted for an application to a job are read by a robot before they're read by a human," he said. "At this point, the only purpose your resume serves is to pass that robot filter to get to the human." He was talking generally and not about Amazon.

Siegel recommended job seekers use the "most boring [resume] template" possible and clearly list their skills and level of expertise to make it easier for machine parsers to assemble the data.

Amazon's work culture

Amazon's interview process is designed to "take the mystery out" of the job and the firm, said David Sylvester, director of new employee success at Amazon Web Services.

"We're not here to surprise anyone in the interviews," Sylvester said. The goal is to give applicants "a realistic preview of our culture."

New hires receive a 90-day launch plan that lays out a curated set of projects and tasks. These tasks are "tailored specifically to the role to really get people off to a solid foundation," Sylvester said.

Amazon has faced workforce controversies. Employees have protested its actions on climate. It is being sued by fulfillment center employees in New York alleging COVID-19 protection failures. Amazon has also been criticized for having a high-pressure, even grueling, workplace culture.

Several Amazon executives answered preselected questions from the career day's virtual attendees. The panelists emphasized the company's commitment to the health and safety of its employees, to career advancement as well as to broader social issues such as the environment. But one Amazon executive hinted that working for the firm is not for the faint of heart. 

When asked what the most challenging thing about working at Amazon was, Cherris Armour, director of worldwide operations, said, "It is truly our pace."

"Amazon moves at lightning speed, and it's like no other business I've ever worked for," Armour said. "I truly think it's one of the major things that makes us the most successful."

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