Workforce.com

The Thrill of the Hunt

Amazon.com posts ads on several job-placement sites, in addition to actively searching the Web for resumes.

January 8, 2002

A born-and-bred-on-the-Web company, Amazon.com is no stranger to online recruiting. "We've always recruited online," says Carmen Hudson, manager of technical recruiting. "We're Amazon; people expect it."

Large Company
Name: Amazon.com
Location: Seattle, Washington
Business: Online shopping site
Employees: 7,000 worldwide

Amazon has more than 20 employees dedicated to recruiting, three of whom specialize in filling tech positions. It sounds like a lot, but it's a slim staff when you consider the hundreds of résumés that come into Amazon every day, Hudson says. "It's tough, but we are committed to looking at all of them." She estimates that they fill 40 percent of the tech openings through online recruiting efforts.

When a job opens, Hudson works with the hiring manager and a writer to craft the announcement. "We are trying to get recruiters to be more creative writing their job descriptions," she says. "We want them to write more candidate-friendly ads that lay out our expectations and what the job entails, but it's a constant battle."

Once the ad is written, she posts it on Amazon's career page, which features 50 or more job opportunities on any given day. She and the manager then decide where else online they might find prospective candidates. Depending on the type of job, they post ads at Monster.com, CareerJournal.com, Hhnet.com, and niche sites. Amazon recruiters also actively search the Web for résumés.

"It sounds like overkill, but we have a highly sophisticated set of skills and a high hiring bar," Hudson says. "The people we want may not come to us." It's not uncommon for her to take two months or more to fill some of the tougher positions, such as software engineer. "To be a recruiter at Amazon, you have to like the thrill of the hunt."

To help recruiters sort through the hundreds of candidates they consider for every position, Amazon is implementing a new tool that pre-sorts and categorizes résumés before recruiters see them. Right now, applicants e-mail résumés to one of the seven recruiting departments' e-mail boxes, but there could be 20 jobs posted for any given department, she says. That means recruiters have to wade through all the applications, scanning for keywords or skill sets, to find the ones relevant to their postings. "All the recruiters suffer when one of them posts an ad at Monster," Hudson says.

With the new system, which is a combination of PeopleSoft v. 8 and MagnaWare, an HR solutions software, applicants enter their résumé data directly into an applicant-tracking system that automatically organizes the information according to the ad resource number or job title. Recruiters access the database online and can instantly review the candidates for each position. "We love it. It helps us manage the flow of résumés and eliminates the need for e-mail."

When she's not sorting through online applicants, Hudson also relies on word of mouth, campus programs, and as a last resort, employment agencies. She hesitates to use agencies because they charge several thousand dollars to fill one position. In comparison, it costs hundreds of dollars or less to do it online. "My job is not only to deliver the best candidates but to do it in the most cost-effective way," she says. "If we can find a candidate that matches our needs online, we can save the agencies for the really hard jobs to fill."

Hudson has an agreement with the limited number of agencies she does use that they cannot recruit online. "It's a sourcing strategy. We've already paid to get access to those candidates; we want to utilize their other resources."

Workforce, December 2001, pp. 76-77 -- Subscribe Now!