For a company famous for revolutionizing e-commerce, it was old-fashioned handshakes and printed resumes at Amazon’s Arlington Career Day on September 17th. Job seekers lined up down the block for their turn to enter a large white tent packed to capacity with representatives from Amazon’s different business ventures.
“I thought for a tech company there would be some fancy way to check-in and upload my resume,” said one attendee. “But they seem to really want to meet people.”
A Fireside Chat between Linda Thomas, a director from Amazon’s communications division, and Ardine Williams, Vice President of Workforce Development , shed light on what drew the standing-room only crowd and provided more detailed insight to another long line of job seekers inside the tent waiting to speak with representatives face-to-face about the application and interview process for Amazon’s 30,000 open jobs nationwide.
“We came to Arlington because of the talent,” Williams said, adding that the high number of institutions of higher education in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland have the potential to feed the talent pipeline for years to come.
Amazon: Tapping Into virginia’s Workforce
With Amazon HQ2 moving in a stone’s throw from the Pentagon, Thomas and Williams gave a special focus to veterans and military spouses. Williams, herself a veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, joined Amazon five years ago after a lengthy private-sector career and said the company is the “closest thing to the military” she has experienced because of its culture of problem solving and constant collaboration.
Thomas and Williams noted that with military spouse unemployment at 24%, Amazon’s growing national presence makes it a transfer-friendly employer, with opportunities ranging from finance to web services to Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores, including Whole Foods shopper opportunities and Prime Delivery partnerships. The company’s growing apprenticeship program for new hires and existing employees alike opens opportunities across all of Amazon’s business ventures.
With such a diverse range of opportunities, potential applicants were encouraged to resist the temptation to submit general descriptions of their skills and abilities and focus on specific job openings within the company. “Find the job that’s the most interesting for the skills that you have,” Williams said, noting that because Amazon’s recruiters have tens of thousands of jobs to fill, applicants should be clear about what they want.
Applicants who get called for interviews can expect to have a conversation based on Amazon’s Leadership Principles – things like customer obsession, ownership, and thinking big – and should be prepared to tell the story of their career experience in terms of situation, action taken, and results.
Just because the Arlington area is at the center of the defense and intelligence community doesn’t mean that Amazon is looking for those skillsets alone. Williams said that for the 150-200 HQ2 jobs that are hiring now, the responsibilities range from recruiters to project managers to Alexa software developers, and described the best applicants as those who are “builders, curious, and looking for opportunities to collaborate.”