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How to Get a Job at Amazon

By Anna Bradley-Smith

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

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Amazon is one of the biggest, most influential companies on the planet and unsurprisingly it takes a lot of employees to keep the e-commerce giant thriving. If you want to be one of those employees, look no further than our guide onto how a get a foot in the door at Amazon.

Jeff Bezos stepped down as Amazon's CEO earlier this week. Image courtesy of Mike Mareen via Shutterstock.
Jeff Bezos stepped down as Amazon's CEO earlier this week. Image courtesy of Mike Mareen via Shutterstock.

Amazon is one of the biggest, most influential companies on the planet and unsurprisingly it takes a lot of employees to keep the e-commerce giant growing, developing and thriving.

Today, Amazon employs 1.3 million people worldwide, with 950,000 of those workers being in the US. Staggeringly, that means the company employs one out of every 153 employed workers in the country.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company, founded in 1994, has continued its seemingly unstoppable growth. So far in 2021, it has pulled in more than $221 billion in sales.

Amazon Andy Jassy

So how does one get noticed in a field of millions? Check out our tips on how to get noticed by Amazon and make it through the company's rigorous hiring process.

What do you need to apply for a job at Amazon?

Thousands of candidates around the world hit the ‘apply now’ button on Amazon’s website each day. Because of that, it’s impossible for the team to get back to every applicant and you can only expect to hear from the company if it wants to move forward with your application.

Despite the volume of applications it receives, Michelle Jackson, Senior Client Lead Recruiter, Global Specialty Fulfillment, says Amazon obsesses over its candidates just as it obsesses over customers. "We want to make sure you have a great experience and that you have the resources you need."

Although the Amazon hiring process can seem overwhelming, there are steps you can take to make yourself the perfect candidate and two key things you need to be armed with: a concise resume and references.

Amazon doesn’t do cover letters, and it doesn’t even require resumes for all positions — although the higher you’re aiming the more you’ll want that resume to shine. Most important, the company says, are great references.

Find the right job for you

This might sound obvious, but with more than 30,000 jobs available at the company, it pays to really research what’s on offer beyond the job titles and find roles that really align with your skill set and values.

Beau Higgins, Senior Program Manager, Military Affairs, says applicants shouldn’t be guided solely by previous roles, but should “spend time figuring out what you want to do, not just what you think you should do.”

All of Amazon’s job descriptions include basic and preferred skills, so find the one that most appeals to and aligns with you and tailor your resume to suit that description, highlighting all the basic skills in detail and including as many as the preferred skills as you can.

Rasheeda Liberty, Senior Recruitment Manager, Finance and Global Business Services adds that you shouldn’t rule yourself out based on a job title. "Focus on your transferable skills. As a larger company, Amazon sometimes doesn't model the industry. We might scale differently than where you've worked in the past,” she says.

Liberty says that if you were formerly a vice president at an organization with 50,000 employees, you might be a fit for a senior manager role at Amazon because your scope would be even larger.

How to get a foot in the door

Once you’ve nailed down the right position for you, it’s time to make sure your story fits with Amazon’s narrative and goals.

Cody Nelson, Senior Manager of Recruiting, Worldwide Operations, says it's important to use data to tell your story and paint the picture of what you've accomplished in a measurable way.

“The qualitative impact you made in your previous role is hard to translate on a resume, but math and numbers are a universal language," Nelson says. "Things like cost savings, process improvement, time savings and other data points show up clearly and concisely on your resume."

Because of the huge number of applications Amazon receives, it's critical to show your unique value in your resume, and make it clear who you are and what you have to offer.

"When I see that on a resume, I really want to talk to that person because I want to hear their story,” says Dia Harris, Senior Diversity Recruiting Program Manager, Student Programs. Harris recommends having multiple resumes that speak to different skill sets you want to highlight based on the position you're applying to.

But no matter the number of resumes, one constant rule is to make sure they’re simple and concise, and stick to one page. Include all your previous experience, skills and expertise, and make sure you include the skills from the job description — but you don’t need much else.

For students and entry-level applicants, Danielle Deshields, Undergraduate Recruiter, Student Programs, says it’s important to paint the full picture of your professional involvement and relevant involvement with university clubs or volunteer organizations.

"The more of your story you tell us, the more we can see your potential to have an impact at Amazon."

What is Amazon looking for in an employee?

The requirements for an Amazon employee can vary widely depending on what position you’re after. For example, some technical positions, such as software engineers, will require specific degrees, while other jobs, however, have less concrete educational requirements. That information will be provided in the job description.

But across the board, Amazon’s focus is on character more than anything else. What will truly separate you from the pack is found in their 14 Leadership Principles. Those principles include tips like: invent and simplify, learn and be curious, insist on the highest standards, think big and earn trust.

No matter what position you’re applying for, Amazon evaluates every candidate based on those principles. Study them, commit them to memory, and be ready to demonstrate how you embody them. Think up examples of ways you’ve lived those principles in your past, and share them once you reach the interview stage. If possible, have a former employer or colleague give those examples in their references.

Former Amazon executives Bill Carr and Colin Bryar told Forbes Amazon’s culture comes down to four fundamental principles: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and taking pride in operational excellence. Bezos doesn’t just tell employees to pay attention to the customer; he reminds them to obsess over them, the pair say.

Critical throughout the interview process then is to demonstrate how you follow those same four principles.

What does Amazon’s hiring process look like?

Amazon’s hiring process is unique in several ways. Here’s the general flow of how to get a job at Amazon once you’ve applied:

1. Waiting Time

After submitting an application, all you can do is wait. If Amazon isn’t interested, you won’t hear anything back. They’ll only contact you if they want an interview. You can check the status of your application by logging into your application profile for updates.

2. Interview

If Amazon is interested, they’ll reach out to you and set up a phone interview with an Amazon recruiter. For these interviews, Amazon uses “behavioral-based interviewing,” a system designed to uncover how a candidate thinks and behaves in situations relevant to the job they’re applying for. The interviewer will ask questions about past challenges and situations you’ve faced and how you dealt with them. These questions are unpredictable and change from candidate to candidate. However, there are some questions you can (almost) always count on, such as: tell me about a time when you handled a crisis; describe a time you had to think quickly to solve a problem; tell me about a time when you failed at a project or task; describe at least one way you’ve been innovative; what’s something you disagreed with a supervisor or manager about in the past and how did you handle it.

Regardless of what questions you get, Amazon gives away the key to answering them well: the STAR method.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. In practice, that means that when you’re asked, “Tell me about a time when you took a leadership role,” you’d answer by giving a situation you were in, the task you had to complete, the way you completed it (in this example, through taking a leadership role), and the results. Amazon recommends that you abide by that format for all your answers.

The Amazon recruiter doesn’t have to be the only one asking questions, though. In fact, curiosity is one of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles, so you can impress your interviewer by coming up with questions in advance. Ask about projects, initiatives, team culture, the scope of the position, or anything else you can think of to demonstrate your curious and interested nature.

3. Work Assessments & Simulations

If the interview goes well and Amazon decides to move forward with the hiring process, they’ll begin testing your skills and abilities. The type of assessments they’d perform will depend on what position you apply for. Broadly, though, Amazon uses two types of assessments: work style assessments and work sample simulations.

Work style assessments are focused on the company’s culture and the 14 Leadership Principles. Your interviewer will ask you questions to get a better picture of your work style. This takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete.

For its work sample simulations, you’ll have to complete tasks related to the job you want. This usually takes 20 minutes to an hour. For example, for a technical role, Amazon might arrange a video call and ask you to write or review code or perform some other task to demonstrate real skill.

4. Joining the Team

What happens after your assessments? In some cases, Amazon may fly you in to meet their hiring team for an in-person interview and an opportunity to meet with your potential teammates.

If you’d like to know more about those teammates, check out Amazon’s organizational chart to see who you’d be working with and how reporting structures are aligned.

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