HR & recruitment at Amazon, you ridicule yourself.

Amazon, who knows everything about their customers, EVERYTHING, and has a pretty OK user interface for their web shops, please, please, I plea to you Amazon HR – learn from your own services.

I came across “Senior HR positions at Amazon Europe” in Linked In. I was speaking with a Senior Amazon Executive during the fall and thought it would be great to get to know their HR in Europe, chat with them if they’d be interested in running an “HR-lab”, where new, modern HR could be piloted to support an agile, self-directive, modern organizations and culture. To get a feeling of how HR at Amazon works, I thought I’d apply through their service to these positions.

Step1: sign in with FB, LI or Google+, or creating a profile yourself. I created a profile. Name, address and the usual. Fine.

Step 2: upload your CV and cover letter. Fine.

Step 3: Answer ridiculous long questionnaire about if I have the right to work in 7 different locations in Europe, and if there are any restrictions to working there or not. Really? Seems like Amazon HR is taking the easy way – if you don’t have a work permit, don’t bother? Amazon HR…wake up, please. Have you heard about UX? Lean? Ring any bells at all? Do you really need this information upfront from hundreds of people applying? Are you not interested in just finding the best ones and then fixing their working permits to the country. You are HR, with this competence, right?

What really made me roll over and die a brutal HR-death, quietly screaming inwards in professional pain, is the following legal text:

Information provided in support of this application, including but not limited to my resume or curriculum vitae and the above information, is true and correct.  I understand that false statements or material omissions of any kind during the hiring process may result in denial of employment or discharge.

I hereby authorise Amazon to verify and investigate, directly or through third party service providers, my employment, education, criminal record, credit history and other information concerning my character and ability; and to inquire of my current and former employers and references information concerning such matters, as Amazon deems appropriate. I hereby release Amazon, such third party service providers and their representatives in seeking such information and all other persons, companies or organizations for furnishing such information.  In this regard, I agree to sign as a condition of my employment any and all releases not specified here, but which may be required under law, to implement this background check. I further agree to hold harmless and indemnify Amazon and their employees and agents from and against any and all liability arising out of such background investigations.

I understand that nothing contained in this employment application or interview process is intended to create an employment contract between Amazon and me and that no representation or promise regarding the duration or the termination of employment with Amazon is authorised or binding unless contained in a written document signed by an officer of Amazon.

Data Retention Agreement: By submitting your CV you authorise Amazon to store your information in the group of companies’ world-wide recruitment database currently located in the USA for the purpose of assessing your suitability for this and future vacancies.

You have to be JOKING!!

As if I would give you, or any third party you’d happen to pick out, the right to snoop around in my private life in any way you see appropriate, in this early stage of applying. What does “other information concerning my character and ability” really mean? That means nothing and anything. Lawyers. You should not let them design UX for you.

Data retention agreement: Where is the opting out option? Or maybe rather opting IN? Where is the right to be forgotten? I am an EU citizen, remember? EU is doing something for the data protection and privacy for their citizens, which probably is a bit strange to you. Your data retention agreement might even be illegal here, I bet some cool US lawyers could get you in trouble for making it mandatory for people to tick that box when applying for a job in Europe, giving you basically the right to forever keep the records of this applicant (and/or their FB/LI profile). Maybe some cool lawyers will read this and start thinking. Maybe EU legislators will read this and start thinking.

Amazon. You can stick this application process where appropriate, without indemnifying yourself, or any third party agents of your choosing, against any liability arising from the painful truth that your HR processes and the employer image you give through them really suck. Don’t hold yourself harmless, though. This is very harmful to finding highly skilled professionals.

Oh dear.

Fellow agilists, leanists, digitalists, modern HR thinkers.

We have a long way to go.

And Amazon:

Since, unfortunately and against all common practices, I am unable to delete my profile with you, I need to ask you to do that.
That data belongs to me, and as long as I did not tick your “I give all my rights away” radio buttons, you infringe my rights for my data.
So would you please delete it for me and get back to me when you have. Thanks!

Thanks for reading and please share so we can help a multinational get their HR a bit friendlier.



PS. Apparently I can read about Amazon’s twelve (LOL!) Leadership Principles on their career pages, but not delete my applicant profile. Amazon’s leadership principles are: (hold on, you need to write them down to have them handy, because you definitely won’t remember these by heart)…Customer Obsession, Ownership, Invent and Simplify, Are right a lot (what’s this?! LOL, again!), Hire and Develop the best, Insist on highest standards (no comments), Think big, Bias for action, Frugality, Vocally Self Critical, Earn trust of others (by legal texts giving all rights to you?), Dive deep, Have backbone disagree and commit, Deliver Results. This gives me so much juicy bits to chew on, but I’ll leave out commenting on this publicly.

One Reply to “HR & recruitment at Amazon, you ridicule yourself.”

  1. Hi Riina,

    Being an Amazonian I’m really sorry to hear about your bad experience with us. You’re right about your comments and even though I’m not part of Recruitment team I will ensure that this message will get across the right person so we can improve our process and of, course, our customer experience. We have a long away to go until we reach that great customer experience in all fronts of our business but I believe we will get there.

    Regarding the Leadership Principles we actually have 14 and not 12. If you only saw 12 I will also reach out to the person responsible for our page so this is amended. When I first went to Amazon building for interviews I saw the 14 Leadership Principles and I thought exactly the same than you: “Some of these principles don’t many any sense and I seriously doubt that people even know them by heart.” It was only when I joined that I found out how wrong I was. Everyone knows these principles and lives them on a daily basis. I worked in previous companies that had only 3 or 4 principles and I can guarantee you that I found people having more trouble demonstrating these 4 principles than the 14 Amazon ones. I guess it all depends on how you communicate them.

    I hope you will hear from us soon. Better late than never 🙂


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