Amazon just got 200,000+ Applications and That is a Giant Problem!

You probably saw the headline from Amazon: “Hiring 30,000!” Let’s face it, Amazon is a rocketship. Have you seen the Amazon vans coming down your street? I’m 100% sure the “Amazon Guy” who drives the van in our neighborhood stops by our house about 250% more times then the mailperson stops by our house!

I’m not actually surprised they have 30,000 openings, but I am surprised that they only got 200,000 applications!

The headline is from Business Insider and they’re mostly professional journalist thinking that when they write the headline everyone will be wowed by the big number, but in reality, that number is scary low! Do the quick math 200,000/30,000 = 6.6 applications per position.

Also, we (Talent Pros) know the reality. For positions that Amazon has no trouble filling, they probably got 600 applications per positions and for the ones they are having trouble filling they got zero or one, and that one wasn’t even close to being qualified!

I’m not sure exactly what Amazon’s applicant funnel looks like but if the top of the funnel only has 6 applicants, that’s a problem! A giant problem! The big question is how many applicants does Amazon need to fill 30,000 currently open, or anticipated open positions. If Amazon has 30,000 positions to fill, right now, how many applicants would they have to plow through to fill those jobs?

This is where the rubber hits the road with your Talent Strategy. There are a number of factors:

  • What’s the average pay per position?
  • Can we group these positions into various categories to better understand how long the process will take?
  • How many are skilled vs. unskilled vs. semi-skilled vs. white-collar?
  • What are the locations?
  • How fast do these need to be filled?
  • How picky are your hiring managers?
  • What’s our comp strategy? Trailing, leading, etc.?

Let’s just throw out some numbers assuming the average pay is around $15/hr. Probably low for many of the openings they are filling, but I’m also assuming the vast majority are warehouse, drivers, service level type roles. Scattered all over the country, but most white-collar positions will be in highly competitive markets.

Let’s say you need at least 20 applicants on average per position. That would mean at a minimum they will need around 600,000. But, there is a massive turnover of those lower-level positions, plus Amazon is known to have a demanding work culture that tends to push folks out even quicker, so you would probably need at least double that to around 1.2 million applications to fill 30,000 openings.

That means, in the real world, Amazon’s TA team is probably right now having a panic attack! A panic attack of being around 1 million applications short to fill 30,000 positions, and that’s not even considering current turn and churn of their giant employee base already, plus who knows what Bezos and the team have cooked up for future growth.

The numbers are staggering, but at scale this the job. It’s just a funnel whether you’re filling 30,000 or 30. You better know how many applications you need on the topside to ensure you get the hires at the end!

One thought on “Amazon just got 200,000+ Applications and That is a Giant Problem!

  1. Hey there Tim,
    Great breakdown of the Amazon hiring.
    Here’s one that most people don’t know much about, but it makes Amazon’s 30,000 look like recruiting 101!

    In the first 6 months of 2016, Uber onboarded 600,000 drivers… in the US alone!
    That’s 20X the Amazon hiring…

    How did they do it?
    They basically rewrote the recruiting funnel, took out every wasted step, put the most important qualifiers up front, and automate all of the touch points and reminders, through multi-channel messaging and notifications.

    For instance, it’s obvious you need a driver’s license in order to drive for Uber, so instead of running a full background check that includes a criminal check, which costs more money and time, they do a driver’s license check first. It’s super cheap, and the results are usually within hours, or minutes.

    Then, they keep moving driver candidates through the automated funnel, where they congratulate the candidate on the last step, and then let them know about the next step. If a candidate go far enough through the process, in a critical city, where they needed drivers, a specific point in the process, if a candidate stalled out, they’d send multiple reminders about the next step… then, again, if it’s a location that needed drivers badly, a human would reach out to see if there was anything stopping the candidate from taking the next step.

    When did you ever hear of any other company doing this? It was complete transparency about the process. Drivers always knew their status. When did you ever hear from an Uber driver that it took a long time to get hired, and they didn’t know their status… never.

    Good Automation and status updates can provide a much better recruiting experience than most companies ever provide.

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