As I speak with leaders around the globe, here’s what I’m hearing:
- We can’t find enough workers to staff our business.
- No one wants to work anymore.
- Top talent is exiting out the door, and we cannot stop them.
I suspect many of you are nodding your heads while reading this. You’re probably thinking that if this is happening to you, it’s happening to everyone.
Sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s not.
During the severe labor shortage of 2021, Amazon hired a record-breaking 500,000 employees worldwide, actually doubling the previous year’s hiring total. (The previous leader Google hired a mere 20,000.)
This company is so popular that they received an astonishing 30 million job applications for their open jobs when most would be thrilled to receive 300 applications, or in some cases, 30!
Dr. John Sullivan recently published a two-part case study where he pulls back the curtain on Amazon’s hiring process and delivers insights that can apply to even the smallest of companies.
Here are eight critical takeaways for businesses of all sizes to consider.
- Hiring is the single most important element in Amazon’s business success. “Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com’s success,” says Jeff Bezos. Sullivan notes how that’s not just the most important HR function, but the most important business function. As a result, Bezos fully funds exceptional recruiting.
Can you honestly say your organization believes in the importance of recruiting and puts their money where their mouth is?
- Recruiting is still a challenge for Amazon and will continue to be as they look to hire 55,000 people for corporate and technology roles globally during the new CEO, Andy Jassy’s first three months. To give you some perspective, that’s close to all of Facebooks current headcount and nearly 1/3 of Google’s headcount. To achieve these numbers, Amazon is pulling out all the stops (more on that later.)What have you committed to doing differently this year to achieve your hiring objectives?
- Conformists need not apply to Amazon, as the organization seeks to hire innovators specifically. Candidates are given “real problems to solve” during interviews.What exactly happens in your interview process? Are you hiring managers going through a checklist of questions, hoping that candidates don’t “fail the exam?” Or are they digging deeper to find people who can move your business forward?
- In July of 2012, Amazon disrupted its consumer-focused primary website front page with a recruiting letter from Bezos announcing to all Amazon customers that it was hiring and launching a new jobs initiative.
This would never happen in your business. Here’s why I know this to be true. I’ve gone onto the websites of many organizations, featured in articles on the labor shortage, in places like the WSJ and The New York Times, and have had to search high and low to find any information on their current hiring needs.
Don’t believe me? Go onto your own company website and see how long it takes you to find this information.
5. Amazon has a powerful employer brand, which means that many applicants are reaching out to them. As a result, Amazon recruiters spend significantly less time convincing people to come work for their company than companies with a weak or no employer brand.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your company’s employer brand? If less than a 10, what would it take to make your employer brand a 10?
If your employer brand needs a refresh (or if you have no employer brand to speak of), be sure to check out my LinkedIn Learning course on Employer Branding to Attract Talent.
6. Amazon’s goal is to be “the world’s best employer,” which everyone says they want to be. Here’s where Amazon separates itself from the rest.
They’re not just talking about being the best. They are taking steps to be the best. Leaders are asking themselves: “Are my fellow employees growing?” “Are they empowered?” “Are they ready for what’s next?” Managers have a vision for and commitment to their employees’ personal success, whether at Amazon or
What are you doing to position yourself as the best employer in your employees’ eyes?
7. From the top of the organization to the bottom, Amazon only hires the best. It’s well-known throughout the organization if you can’t hire quality, don’t hire at all.
“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person,” states Bezos.
Are you making offers to the best people you can find, or are these people indeed the best in the industry?
8. Amazon is willing to invest in the employment and development of candidates that most people wouldn’t even consider hiring. Amazon’s Returnship program is geared to help the underemployed, and those unemployed, reenter the workforce. New hires, under this program, are provided with an opportunity to reset their career.
Educational opportunity programs have been established to help lower-level Amazon employees work their way into higher-paying jobs, even if that means they will eventually leave Amazon.
My favorite Amazon program is CamperForce, a program for those with wanderlust. People who live in a trailer or an RV can combine their love of travel with work. These people are hired to fill holiday warehouse jobs and receive a monthly stipend to live in their own camper or at an RV located close to work.
Are you looking for talent where few people are looking? If the answer is no, why not?
You may not agree with everything Amazon does or its approach to business. However, I believe we can all agree that they’re much further ahead than most in terms of attracting and hiring talent
If you’re serious about improving your talent strategy, pick one or two areas on this list and move them forward a mile rather than moving all nine areas forward an inch. Write to me and let me know how you fare.