Amazon says it will bring 50,000 jobs to its two new headquarters—here's how to land a job at the company

REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

After months of speculation, Amazon has officially announced that Long Island City, New York and Arlington, Virginia will be the retail behemoth's additional headquarters. Hundreds of cities across the country eagerly wooed Amazon, which had promised to spend $5 billion developing the new headquarters that was promised to employ 50,000 people.

In a video announcement, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called the decision "a big win for Virginia," sharing that Amazon will invest $2 billion to "deepen its roots in the commonwealth, lay ground on a new headquarters and create thousands of jobs."

At a press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Amazon's partnership "the largest economic development initiative that has ever been done by the city, or the state, or the city and the state together." Cuomo shared that the agreement includes up to a $3.6 billion investment by Amazon and is expected to create between 25,000 and 40,000 jobs.

Many — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was recently elected to represent a congressional district that borders Long Island City — were less enthusiastic about the announcement. "We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism," wrote Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.

Still, workers across the country have shown significant interest in the opportunities that Amazon is promising. Brian Kropp, Group Vice President of Gartner, tells CNBC Make It via email that Amazon's expansion could even mean raises for other workers in the region.

"Wages will go up," he says. "Most of the jobs that Amazon will be putting in place in New York and Northern Virginia will be higher-end, more professional services-equivalent jobs rather than warehousing or distribution jobs. Amazon has been clear that their choice in location was based on the quality of talent in those geographies. Given that, they are going to be competing for the best talent in those geographies, which will only bid up salaries."

In July, CNBC Make It spoke with Sean Kelley, Amazon Worldwide Operations Talent Acquisition Director, about what it takes to land a job at the company. Here are four tips for getting a job at Amazon:

Find your fit

Amazon is a continually expanding company, not just in terms of its number of headquarters but also in the number of industries it is invested in.

The tech company dominates the e-commerce industry and is taking on sectors like groceries and pharmaceuticals. Amazon requires a massive and organized workforce, both inside and outside of their distribution centers.

"We're obviously expanding globally and continue to grow in marketplaces around the world," Kelley tells CNBC Make It. "We're in a lot of business and a lot of markets and expanding."

That means the first step of getting a job at Amazon involves narrowing down the opportunities and finding the position that best matches your skills. Search through the job openings on Amazon's career page and filter opportunities based on job category, job type and location to find the role that is right for you.

"People shouldn't just take a job at Amazon — or any other company for that matter — without understanding what parts of the employment value proposition are the most important for them and how that aligns with potential employers. For some, the move to Amazon will be a great move, for others it will be a bad one," says Kropp. "The key is to understand what the jobs are actually like."

He continues, "The best place to get that information about Amazon or any other employer is not by reading the material from that employer, it is by talking to people that worked or still currently work for that employer to understand what it is actually like to work there."

Stairs at the Amazon offices
Courtesy of Amazon

Follow the playbook

Carefully reviewing Amazon's hiring website may be one of the simplest and most effective ways to land a job at Amazon.

According to Kelley, applying for a job at Amazon is like taking "an open-book test," and the "cheat" is to simply go over the company's 14 leadership principles and to practice discussing how you demonstrate those values.

"The leadership principles are the playbook," says Kelley. "It's super straightforward… All you really have to do is tell us stories that align with those principles and help us help you."

One of the most important principles to think about is "customer obsession," and all candidates should prepare several examples to show commitment to this this value, says Kelley. If candidates can demonstrate that they have a "bias for action" — meaning, calculated risk taking — this is also a good sign to Amazon hiring managers.

Give them reasons to say "yes"

In addition to laying out the exact characteristics that Amazon will be looking for via the 14 leadership principles, the company also provides a step-by-step guide for the application and interview processes.

The first step of the Amazon application process is submitting an online application, often followed by a recorded video screen, or a phone screening with a hiring manager to confirm that candidates have the basic requirements for the role.

Depending on the role, candidates will then be invited to attend three to four in-person interviews at Amazon's offices.

The process, Kelley insists, is simple and straightforward, and candidates can rest easy knowing they won't be asked any trick questions. Instead, they'll be asked to talk about their accomplishments and to express why they would be a great fit at Amazon.

"We're looking for ways to create opportunities for that candidate," explains Kelley. "We're really looking for reasons to say 'yes,' not to say 'no.'"

Ask questions

As with nearly every other interview, it is crucial that candidates prepare several questions to ask the hiring manager.

"We look for people who are relentlessly curious," says Kelley. "People may run out of questions, that happens, but we like that little spark."

Even if you have run out of prepared questions, Kelley says that simple questions like "That surprises me, why would it be that way?" and "Could you tell me more about that?" will go a long way in showing the hiring manager that you would fit in well at Amazon.

"We want to see someone get into the dialogue with us and just be who they are," he says.

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