Amazon Wants Absolutely Everyone To Know It's Hiring. Why Might That Be?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 23 2012 3:16 PM

Amazon Hijacks Its Own Front Page to Announce Jobs Initiative

Amazon wants absolutely everyone to know that it's hiring.

Screenshot wants you to know that it likes to pioneer, it likes to invent, and it’s not willing to do things the normal way if it can figure out a better way. To wit: The company is not willing to post a normal old job ad on a job site, or send out a press release about its new jobs program because it has figured out a better way: hijacking its own front page.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

The online retail leviathan today has replaced its famously busy homepage with a special message from founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, touting the new “Amazon Career Choice Program.” Here’s a summary for those who don’t make it past the part about how “sustained innovation inside our fulfillment centers has driven improved reliability, accuracy, and speed of delivery… ”: 

  • Amazon needs people to work at its warehouses
  • It especially needs people to live in a trailer and work at its warehouses during the holidays (combine work with a camping trip!)
  • It needs people so badly that, if you come to work at Amazon and stay three years, the company will pay for you to learn how to become an aircraft mechanic or medical lab technician, even though the company does not need aircraft mechanics or medical lab technicians

The job retraining isn’t a huge benefit, money-wise—the company will reimburse employees up to $2,000 a year for four years—but it seems like a smart idea for a company whose warehouses have been branded “sweatshops” in the media.

Still, there’s something puzzling about the company’s use of its massively trafficked front page to broadcast this program. In an economy full of unemployed people desperate for work, does Amazon really have to blast all of its millions of customers to find a few hundred new applicants? Surely there are more efficient ways to target job-seekers without going all SOPA-protest on us.

Unless, of course, job-seekers aren’t the only intended audience here. Let’s see, is there any other reason why Amazon’s higher-ups might want the company’s customers, and the general public, to know that it’s going on a hiring spree, that it has improved its workplace conditions, and that it’s offering its employees generous-sounding perks that could contribute to the economy as a whole? Any reason why it might want to advertise all of that in a way that results not only in job applications, but in news stories like this?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


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