Amazon Career Day: Lessons On The Job Market At The Time Of Covid-19
On September 16, 2020, Amazon conducted its first all-digital Career Day, during which Amazon recruiters conducted 20,000 free 1on1 coaching sessions, providing 6,600 hours of advice altogether. Amazon announced that over 300,000 people attended the day and I was one of them. I was curious to determine if Career Day was simply an Amazon lovefest recruiting fair or something one could learn from whether interested in working at Amazon or elsewhere. I attended all the public sessions and I booked a 1on1 coaching session with a recruiter. I certainly learned a thing or two about the current job market, interviewing in the digital age and Amazon’s recruiting process.
Top of Mind Questions from Applicants
For my one-on-one, I was randomly allocated a technical recruiter who has been with Amazon for several years. I asked what was top of mind for the people he had talked to and not surprisingly, it was Covid-19. Specifically, people were eager to find out about the remote interview process and whether remote working was an option. Amazon's employees who can effectively work from home can do so till January 2021. There are plenty of open roles that can be done remotely, giving peace of mind to the applicants who won't have to worry about moving in the middle of a pandemic.
Most of the people the recruiter spoke to were interested in joining Amazon, so they had specific questions on how to ace an interview. According to his experience, it is more about having the right qualities to become an "Amazonian" and fit the culture rather than all the technical skills required for the job. Amazon has 14 different leadership principles that are updated from time to time and any candidate should be very familiar with those. The interview style is also quite unique as it focuses mostly on asking questions based on real-life examples. Providing detailed answers, including the impact the situation had on the candidate and others, will always give a candidate the best chance to land the position.
The Current Environment
Planning for this event, Amazon conducted a nationwide survey in partnership with research firm Morning Consult, to better understand what American workers are feeling and thinking amid the pandemic. From a national perspective, Amazon found that 25% of the US workforce was actively applying for new jobs and of that 25%, more than half said their job search was a direct result of Covid-19. Furthermore, 61% of those looking for a job said they are looking in a new field from where they have worked before.
During a panel interview with Dr. Kelly Monahan, a social scientist who studies the future workforce at Accenture Research shared three key findings from an ongoing study to assess workers' sentiment. The first is that 62% of global workers within the dataset reported high levels of job insecurity. The second is that many people feel they are underemployed. That means that people don't think that they are using their skills, strengths and capabilities each day. Before the pandemic, this number represented a third of all people and today it jumped to closer to 40%. The third is linked to remote working: 57% of people have been required to work from home with little to no experience. The Accenture Research data points to 76% of people reporting high loneliness.
Overall, the environment underlines the need for upskilling, whether it is about better coping with remote work or reassessing your worth or being in the difficult position to find a new job.
When it comes to looking for jobs, Covid-19 has also been shaping the market as Kathryn Minshew, the founder and CEO of the Muse, a career platform used by more than 75 million people, pointed out. Because of the economic recession fueled by Covid-19 hit different sectors and industries unevenly, people have been looking for jobs in specific areas such as technology, infrastructure, in some cases, healthcare and education. When it comes to the type of content people are looking for, it is no surprise that many are asking the same questions the Amazon recruiter shared with me: remote work, remote interviewing, how to stand out in a digital world. Another topic growing in importance is inclusion and equity. Not only are people looking for inclusion and equity, but they are looking for advice on Muse on how to assess whether the position they are applying for comes from a company that makes inclusion a priority.
The Best Advice
How to stand out in a digital world starts with your resume when you think that a robot reads 70% of resumes submitted for an application to a job before a human reads them. This means that your template has to be very different from the storytelling format we have been told to adopt over the year. At this point, the only purpose your resume serves is to pass that robot filter to get to the human!
There were two pieces of advice I took away from one of the sessions I attended. First, the realization that the current situation will make it harder for people who are trying to re-enter the job market. People who are returning to work after a gap are usually concerned about the time they spent not working. At the same time, employers are most interested in the skills they offer and any new skills they might have acquired while they were not working. For people who might have lost their job during Covid-19, the employer's interest turns to why they lost their job and any indication of their resilience and growth mindset mentality. For both groups, a piece of excellent advice given during Career Day was to focus on unlocking greater economic opportunity. So, if you are deciding to upskill, look at which skills are in the highest demand, which according to Accenture Research, are cloud computing, robotics and process automation and lastly, statistical analysis.
All in all, I found there was plenty of value during the Amazon Career Day for anyone looking to understand the current job market and the added complexity brought about by Covid-19. Of course, Amazon also used the opportunity to share some employees' stories that spoke to the positive work culture they have found within Amazon, whether they worked as a delivery driver, a dispatch facility worker, or in a corporate role. Some of the resources are still available even if you missed the actual day, including some coding sessions.
This article was originally published on Forbes
Disclosure: The Heart of Tech is a research and consultancy firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this column. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this column.