Hard-Charging Amazon High on Ideal Employers List

From its humble—if forward-thinking—origins as an online bookstore, Amazon has evolved into an e-commerce and web-services monolith. So pervasive is the company’s reach that mere rumors of its future plans are enough to force other companies to change course. It regularly helps redefine product categories, including e-commerce and cloud.

While Google took the top spot on virtually all of Dice’s Ideal Employer lists, Amazon made a strong showing. Among developers, programmers, IT service management, and project-management specialists, for example, it placed second (behind Google); it ranked just as high among Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers, although it came in third behind Google and Microsoft among Millennials.

Most tech pros would assert that having Amazon on your résumé is a good thing, especially if an employee participated in a cutting-edge project while there. For example, someone who worked on the Alexa team would probably have little trouble landing a gig at another company working on A.I. or digital assistants. “I have two friends that [work] at Amazon, and since they’re taking over cloud technology (AWS) I would like to get into the company early to get the right skillset,” is how one Dice survey-taker described their affinity for Amazon.

“The future is AWS, cloud computing, and machine learning, etc.,” another said. “They have everything in them.”

Amazon is also famous for its hard-charging workplace. Two years ago, The New York Times published a lengthy piece documenting an “unrelenting pace” and ultra-driven managers. But blog postings and reviews on job sites such as Glassdoor paint a somewhat different story: while some current and former employees have described Amazon as a burnout factory, others have enjoyed the challenge. (Soon after that Times piece appeared, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos encouraged employees experiencing “shockingly callous management practices” to report them to HR.)

At its core, Amazon seems to appeal to those tech pros who are self-starters. “You’re responsible for your own career progression and finding the places and teams that are doing the stuff you want to do,” one current employee wrote on Glassdoor. “No one is going to take you by the hand and help you with that.”   

Amazon’s high ranking as an Ideal Employer highlights an interesting facet of the survey: some 90 percent of survey respondents picked a company other than their current one as an Ideal Employer. Breaking things down a little more, some 75 percent of respondents chose a company other than their current or past one as Ideal. In other words, a lot of the people who chose Amazon have never worked there; they’re selecting it based on reputation as a world-beater.

5 Responses to “Hard-Charging Amazon High on Ideal Employers List”

  1. VERY Bad side of Amazon: Amazon owes Millions and Millions of corporate income tax $$ to several U.S. state governments. Amazon is considered a “fugitive” in those states owed money to, is banned from running headquarters and distribution operations in them. VERY Surprised its CEO and topmost employees have yet to be arrested, tried, convicted in these state they still owe dollars to. Those new states and their law enforcement officials–such as Maryland, which just got distribution centers installed–need to keep a VERY close eye on Amazon’s conduct!!!!

  2. I know someone who works at the data center as a tech for amazon here in reston VA. He told me its an OK job and he gets worked like a dog and no weekends off. No job or company is perfect, this article hypes amadud too Much.

  3. I used to work for Amazon. If you’re politically correct, kiss the right ass, and don’t mind a bunch of moderately competent people acting like they’re god’s gift to humanity – it can be a very nice place to work – until they fire you for not being politically correct, not kissing the right ass…

    When I was at Amazon, the turnover rate was high enough that within 7 months I was senior to over half of ALL Amazon employees. Amazon plays a game (with itself) of picking “only the best” people. And they do an okay job of that. But then, within a relatively short period of time, most of those “best” people find other jobs – where they don’t have to dance like monkeys.

  4. Two of my best friends worked for amazon… One of them was a principal in AWS. There are certain things that make amazon a top employer….one of them is stock options, the other is a resume item for your next job where you don’t have to work 100 hour weeks.
    Sure, the culture is cool, the tech is cool, and you make a bunch of money, but you have zero life balance. ZERO. The company is very ambitious, and sets almost unreachable tech goals and expects their employees to meet them, no matter the cost to their home life. There is a chronic lack of adequate tech staff because of their “Bar Raiser” hiring edict. It’s complicated as it’s been explained to me, but the nuts of the culture is: If you aren’t smarter than the smartest guy/gal in the group you are interviewing for, then you do not get hired. If the group you are hiring for has a crazy smart, super genius, you are NEVER getting that job. It’s not uncommon for them to interview in-person (thats the ones that have made it through the screening process) 200-300 candidates and hire none of them because they simply aren’t Bar Raisers.

    You are in Group A. Your group has an impossible project. You have 10 engineers on your team, a smattering of managers etc. You need 5 more engineers to realistically make the project happen on time, management says you may have 2. Then they change that to 1. On your team is a genius. He’s a pain in the ass and he treats you like dogshit, but his code is good and he delivers. When they interview candidates, he buries them all in the bar raiser session, because it’s an ego boost to him and he enjoys being a jerk. Your group will never fill that position. NEVER. Unless gods-gift-to-code decides to transfer teams, leaves his job to go….where? He’s already at the top tech company in the world? He’s not going *ANYWHERE*. So your team continues on, and you either meet your project deadlines and work 100 hour weeks, or your group fails to meet the impossible deadline, your bonus gets zapped, and you get burned out.
    Both of my friends have left amazon after years of service to go and work at other places that have better life balance. They do miss their stock options though. Every time AMZN goes up they wince a little.
    The grass isnt always greener on the amazon side of the fence.

    • Unless things have changed since I was at Amazon, that’s not QUITE how it works. But it’s close. The bar-raiser is usually a senior member of staff – not on the same team you’re hiring for. And the work pace wasn’t quite the 100 hours a week. Maybe 50-60 on average, but you DID wind up working whatever hours you had to when crunch time came and you were racked all the time. My team was undermanned by 50% and we still maintained 100% effectiveness. I was interviewing people like crazy to add to the team – but HR sent us crap and after a year I was only able to find one candidate.