- Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud division, is the retail giant’s most profitable subsidiary.
- Competition for roles is tough, with some positions getting hundreds of applications.
- We spoke with a technical recruiter on how candidates can get ahead.
Amazon Web Services is one of Amazon’s strongest business units, growing revenue 39% in the third quarter. The cloud computing titan is also on a big hiring spree, Insider’s Belle Lin reported.
Even through the pandemic, the company has been hiring for “thousands of roles,” for both technical and nontechnical roles, said Nikita Gupta, a technical recruiter at AWS in the US and the founder of the talent firm FAANGPath. “I think their growth is immense.”
Gupta typically hires for technical roles, such as software engineers and front-end engineers, but sometimes she hires people for marketing or product-management roles. She said some positions get hundreds of applications.
According to previous Insider reporting, the maximum AWS base salary is between $160,000 and $185,000 depending on location, but total compensation including stock units and bonus can be much higher. Insider’s Kyle Robison obtained documents in August showing total maximum compensation as high as $715,400 for one Amazon role.
Reliable figures for the UK were not readily available, but data posted to Talent.com showed the UK base salary for an AWS software engineer to be about 60,000 to 70,0000 pounds.
High competition for roles comes as no surprise, with the company ranked fourth by Forbes among the world’s best employers in 2021. It also crowned LinkedIn’s top companies list in 2021.
Gupta said she recruits via LinkedIn, as well as through applications submitted by candidates.
The various rounds of applications include a recruitment screening, a phone screening, and three to four virtual “on-site” interviews.
She offered five tips to stand out against the fierce competition.
1. Show hands-on technical skills
Showing hands-on technical skills is important, Gupta said.
“Various roles even at a very senior level require coding. You need to write code,” she said.
2. Quantify achievements in résumés
Recruiters like to see what real effect you’ve had in previous roles, so it’s important to tailor résumés to the job. Carina McLeod, a former head of vendor management at Amazon, previously told Insider that your achievements should be supported with valid data and evidence.
Gupta added: “One suggestion which I can say about résumés is to add numbers, because a lot of people just write long sentences, but they don’t mention the numbers. If they don’t mention the numbers, it’s not showing the impact.”
An example: “Don’t just write that you were working as a store manager, you have to show your impact in those three months of working as a store manager,” she said. “What was your task, how did you implement it, and what was the outcome?” It doesn’t matter if your prior experience isn’t directly relevant to being a software engineer. It’s important to use examples and data to show how you were effective.
3. Highlight extracurricular activity
Young people may not have lots of experience, but transferable skills from projects and internships are valuable, too.
“I think for new grads two things are very important: internship experience, if there’s some relevant internships; personal projects and school projects, too, because these are the projects which showcase what work you’ve been doing, what tech stack you’ve been using, how much knowledge you have,” Gupta said.
She suggested that showcasing extra work through a portfolio or a Kaggle profile could help, too. Kaggle is a Google-owned online data-science community where users can find and publish data sets and work with experts in the field.
4. Know that preparation is king
As one of the largest tech companies in the world, AWS wants the best talent, and preparation is key because candidates can be “very easily” rejected, Gupta said.
“They need to prepare on the technical side and on the nontechnical side. They need to prepare for Amazon’s leadership principles,” she added.
The Amazon’s leadership principles guide employees as to how Amazon functions as a company and does business. The guide was developed in the company’s early days, and it’s been updated only twice — in 2015 and again in 2021. Some of the principles: Learn and be curious; invent and simplify; and insist on the highest standards.
Gupta added, “They should know why they want to join Amazon, because everyone wants to join Amazon.”
5. Be a team player
Finally, collaboration is key.
Gupta said that during the interview, the hiring team helps candidates as much as possible to get through the process and often gives them “clues” and “hints.”
Likewise, the candidate “should be a team player,” she said. “They should be actively interacting with the team,” not just “working in silos.”