Dragons in the Algorithm
Adventures in Programming
by Michael Chermside

Amazon Job offer

An email I received from an Amazon recruiter

Hi Michael,

I recruit for a multitude of software development engineers for Amazon Services which is frequently mentioned by Jeff Bezos as one of our key strategic growth opportunities for the company, which gives you the opportunity to dive deep, think big, and see your ideas into fruition.

I would like to discover what your career interests are and have an opportunity to chat with you regarding this. If you would like to know more about these opportunities please feel free to respond back and let me know a good time for us to connect for an informational chat.

Please keep in mind that positions located here in Seattle, Arizona, Texas and Michigan.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks in advance,


My response


I appreciate your considering me, but don't think I would be interested. First of all, I am currently working as the Director of Architecture for Small Business at Capital One and am quite happy in my current position. Secondly, for family reasons I do not particularly want to move away from the Philadelphia region. Finally, I am sorry to report that I would be particularly wary about any offer from Amazon.

My concern specifically about offers from Amazon is based on the reputation you have built up as an employer. Obviously, there was the furor in 2015 over the article in the New York Times. But even outside of that, I frequent Hacker News and /r/cscareerquestions and other places where people occasionally share their experiences working in tech at various companies. The stories I have heard about Amazon have been overwhelmingly poor (something like 8-to-1 negative). They describe a lack of respect for employees and a culture that promotes vicious competition. Of course, many also point out that the culture varies from one group to another -- but there are enough warning signs that I would be extremely careful about considering any job at Amazon.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news about your reputation. As a consumer, I am an avid customer of Amazon. As a professional I build extensive systems based almost exclusively on AWS infrastructure. As an investor I hold a significant (to me) position in Amazon stock. I admire the company in many ways, but I would not want to work there, at least based on what I have heard. And I understand that reputations are VERY difficult to improve -- I know first-hand that my current employer is working hard to improve their reputation as a Tech employer, but that building trust is a process that takes years. I wish you luck, but I am not interested in inquiring further about the position at this time. I hope you find this feedback to be useful; I know that if I were in your position I would value a similar level of candor from those I reached out to.

Michael Chermside

Posted Sat 05 August 2017 by mcherm in Programming