Amazon.com Reviews

Updated March 31, 2015
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3.4
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
2,966 Ratings

Pros
  • You can definitely learn a lot in short spam in Amazon as they make you work a lot (in 118 reviews)

  • Density of talent: Some really smart people spoiling their careers here (in 352 reviews)

Cons
  • Company is not at all sorry to screw people's work-life balance for itself to excel (in 636 reviews)

  • There is literally no work life balance inside this company (in 145 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Employee Reviews

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  1. 404 people found this helpful

    Can be amazing for some people, horrible for others

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazon is doing lot's of cool stuff...but lots of boring stuff too. There are really well run teams...and very badly run teams. The experience for software managers and engineers is all over the board, from really run low operational load teams to teams where people burn out after a year.

     - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. You can generally expect that anyone who's been here for more than 2 years is competent and motivated or they wouldn't have survived. You can count on them as long as your priorities are aligned. There aren't many slackers here, and they don't survive long.
      - We work on so much stuff that there's always an opportunity to find amazing cool stuff to work on (note that it's an 'opportunity', one that you have to pursue)
      - A chance to make a huge difference
      - A place where you can learn a lot about all kinds of things, both technical and about yourself
      - Amazon encourages high mobility - even your manager can't prevent you from moving to another team within 6 weeks (normally, more than a few months under unusual conditions).
      - Your friends and family have actually heard of the place you work and have at least a vague notion of what Amazon does without you having to explain

    Cons

    - You're responsible for your own career progression and finding the places and teams that are doing the stuff you want to do. No one is going to take you by the hand and help you with that.
    - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. The strong survive and the weak perish (metaphorically speaking) and the 'bar' is constantly increasing. The level of performance that would have been acceptable five years ago will get you canned today. It's a kind of crucible that'll help you develop a harder edge, if you can survive, that can serve you well in your career and in life, but it's often not a pleasant experience.

    I wouldn't recommend it as a place to work for just anyone.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stack ranking is a horrible practice since it's rife with favoritism. It's also not Amazonian in that it's not data based (arbitrarily designating a certain percentage of employees that must be put on performance management isn't a data driven criterion) and it's not frugal (effectively forcing an individual out of the company in one division who would make the grade in another is either retaining someone who doesn't meet the bar or a waste of talent). The goal is to force managers to actually make the hard decisions about how their team members compare with each other (not everyone can be exceptional), but it has more defects than virtues. Replace it with a common comparison of each person against the bar for their position, based on data. The percentages that are assigned to each performance category will turn out how they turn out, but there will be an evaluation mechanism that's fair and frugal.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 432 people found this helpful

    Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Marketing in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Marketing in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The name will precede you. This company can legitimately be called a "Disruptor" and perhaps even a world-changer. Customers love it and it's amazing to watch it all unfold at times. It's a pleasure to be even a small part of that.

    Even low-level employees are given some ownership, more than they might in some other places. Processes like the customer service andon cord demonstrate this.

    Pay is mostly good, with some caveats (see the Cons section).

    You will learn a ton. You'll be put through the ringer, but will emerge stronger for it. It's been said that a year at Amazon = two years elsewhere. That's definitely true. You'll learn business, supply chain, tech, retail, you name it. You're surrounded by smart people who challenge you to grow constantly. That was one of my favorite parts about working here.

    You can bring your dog to the office, dress code is casual, and South Lake Union is a fun neighborhood to work in. Seattle is stunningly beautiful in the summer, too (if you have time to enjoy it, that is.)

    Bezos is one of the few CEOs I've seen who earns the glowing reputation. He's a genius and a visionary. It's exciting to work in his company, though the thought of what will happen when he moves on is also a bit frightening.

    Cons

    "Work-life balance" means different things to different people, so I'm not going to say it's bad here per se. That said, long hours are the norm at all levels across the company, and usually that's required and expected just to keep up. Expect 60 hours as your baseline year round and 70 or more during Q4. You should expect that your time and mental energy for kids, hobbies, etc. will be extremely limited. Plan accordingly. Whether this is a negative will depend largely on the individual; just ensure you know where you stand on this before you sign an offer letter.

    That Amazon is a massive company with tons of smart people at all levels can actually be a huge negative. You might be a solid individual contributor, but so is absolutely everyone else - and you're all fighting for the same attention. It can be very hard to stand out, and you have to ensure your manager and your manager's manager know what value you bring at all times or you're toast. (You may still be toast regardless.) That means politics, backstabbing, and stack ranking do occur, despite some claims to the contrary. People definitely look out for themselves and themselves alone here; it's not a collaborative environment. It's also very easy to get the sense that you are a highly expendable cog even if your contributions bring significant value to the company. Plan to fight for yourself hard here, and be prepared to not get much acknowledgment or praise. Even if you do prove yourself well, know that advancement opportunities are limited. Most transfers in my observation were lateral, with big new hires being external. I've heard that the strategy of many people is to do a few intense years of lateral moves which can then be leveraged into a higher position at another company.

    Compensation is a mixed bag. Salaries are just average, but you get a huge signing bonus and stock which vests in strange increments over four years. Since the average employee lasts less than two years, you will not see most of that stock and you may need to repay some of that signing bonus (usually awarded over two years) if you leave or are pushed out. Raises are very, very small each year - your salary will not substantially increase even with a good review. Most people work startup hours, so their effective pay rate is pretty low. Additionally, the company espouses frugality as a core value. While this can be a positive, it also means they're downright cheap on some things, including hardware. Employee perks are pretty much nonexistent, and that's compared to most big companies and not just the Googles of the world. Benefits like health insurance and 401k match are mediocre at best. No free Prime accounts. No paid parental leave; moms get disability and dads get zip. (As in zero. None.) I did mention earlier that this isn't the most kid-friendly company to work for.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It's great to work at a place that highly values customer experience, so please keep that up. Work on your compensation - it's not competitive when compared to other tech giants. If I'm going to work as hard or as much as I did, at least I'd get free haircuts and food and massages at Google. Hell, even some paid paternity leave would be a start.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 134 people found this helpful

    A huge diverse high tech company with all sorts of stuff

    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time

    Pros

    Disclaimer: My opinions reflect that of an SDE in Amazon. Seems like some operational job functions are very tough.

    I have read through some of the other Amazon reviews and it seems to me that everyone has a very different experience! This is so true. Within the same team, you can have both workaholics and slackers coexisting and coworking together. I think I am more of the balanced type as I try to stay sane. The Amazon experience is basically the entire spectrum and it is what you make it out to be.

    Pros in Amazon certainly excludes great benefits, but compensation is competitive. Free food means average quality free coffee, once in a while free pizza for lunch where it is a working lunch, and free beer and finger food in special events. We get a free Orca card to take any bus in the Seattle area for free. $160 per month subsidy for office parking, which is better than nothing. Downtown monthly parking goes for about $200 per month. 401K contribution is 50% of what you put in, where you can put in max 4% of your salary. Not so great. Staff cafeteria food is average and not at all cheaper than outside food, or could be even more expensive. It is hard not to complain about the cafeteria. Vacation days are ok but note that there are no sick leaves. They count as part of your 5 personal days per year. Listing the benefits of Amazon is like listing the cons and not the pros.

    Work life balance seems to be ok for the most part, and seems to be individually-driven. No one will tell you that you have to come in at what time and stay till what time. I have team mates working every night and weekend, and others getting in at 10am and leaving at 5pm, all in the same team. Managers will focus on your project deliveries instead of how much time you spend working. If you work 40-hour weeks productively, you can definitely outperform someone who works 60-hour weeks but don't deliver stuff. Working less than 40 hours per week is somewhat common, but I can't say how many people are working how long. The view on work life balance is a bit skewed. All it comes down to are the managers and what they think. Projects are always never-ending but I have found that deadlines are very realistic and reasonable, without counting your nights and weekends. Getting some slack time once in a while is probably a sign of a healthy work environment. Everyone needs a break.

    On-call really really sucks. Basically all it comes down to is having SDEs double-duty as support operations engineers. Note that on-call does not improve the code quality of any team in any way. The on-call experience is particularly bad because you are using services from some other team, and their code is of low quality and fails for the wrong reasons. If the managers had given more time to up the quality, there would not be so many problems. Software is usually delivered with a tough deadline with code that meets the minimum quality bar and never gets improved for the next few years. The code review process does not seem to help improve the code but it really obstructs developers from making great changes as unconventional things will not pass code review in clumsy minds. Innovation and excellence are not the name of the game in Amazon. Searching through the Amazon code base is usually not going to turn up quality code that you can actually reuse.

    Integration is the name of the game in Amazon. You will need to spend a lot of time to figure out how to integrate your code with another team's services. Whether these other people are cooperative is a hit-or-miss. I have found that most people are responsive and helpful, but there are also quite a number of jerks who are out to make trouble for everybody. It is not easy to work across teams but the experience is mostly positive.

    Amazon is a huge behemoth and is hiring people like there is no tomorrow. This reflects well on a good growth momentum but also is worrying that the company is not turning much profit. If the company does not make money, where is our bonus going to come from? You can see new faces around the Amazon building almost everyday! Downside is that we are taking in a lot of average to above-average engineers and being an Amazonian SDE certainly does not share the same reputation as the top names. Amazon is a huge mixed bag of some very talented people and some very dumb people. I think the world is not turning up enough SDEs and the only way is for quality to go downhill.

    As an SDE, expect to spend most of your time talking, writing emails and documents, and maybe around 20-30% of your time coding. In most of the teams, you can work on interesting projects, but probably not revolutionary ones. Note that Amazon is a very down-to-earth company and the work is very down-to-earth as well. You will work on real things that people have actually requested for, and that people will start using as soon as you are done. Work is challenging but not to expect highly technically complex stuff. Most of the work has to do with solving everyday problems. To me, this seems to make sense because I have ever tried working on experimental projects before elsewhere and I did not feel it was a good use of my time.

    Internal mobility is a key strength of Amazon, and I am not sure which company has done better than Amazon in this aspect. Internal moves are easy. You only need to stay in your team for a year before moving to a different team. There is no easy way to tell which team is a good team to move to because they all have their different pros and cons and people and coming and leaving all the time!

    Seattle is by much rumour an easier place to live than the Bay area.

    Overall Amazon is a tough but yet sane place to work. The flexibility of this company is really its core strength. You have the freedom to excel as much as you want and also to slack as much as you want. Bummer. You shouldn't be slacking!

    Cons

    Beware of bad managers and horrible team mates. They are not specific to Amazon but they do exist in Amazon.

    I have to admit that Monday is usually a blue day at Amazon and it is very tough to look forward to getting into office. I don't know anyone in Amazon who looks forward to getting in on Mondays.

    Be realistic about SDE requirements. Coding skills are good to have but they are not the most important part of your job. I think we are hearing the same thing from every company.

    Medical coverage is average or below average. Expect to pay about $60 per month for singles and about $240 per month for families. $240 per month for families gives you $3000 in medical fees before you have to pay (more) anything out-of-pocket.

    SDE advancement is unreal difficult. They have about 6 levels total, SDE 1-4, then Senior Principal Engineer, and finally Distinguished Engineer. The number of SDE 1s and 2s are huge. Trying to get to SDE 3 seems to be all-of-a-sudden extremely difficult, but not impossible. So this essentially means that if you come to Amazon as a fresh grad SDE, expect to get about only one or two promotions in your entire career, which obviously is quite a lame expectation and reality. You will probably do much better in your career advancement anywhere else.

    Employee retention is horrible. I am not sure why the philosophy seems to be trying to undercut existing employees and then hire from external sources. Management all say that they are trying to retain people, but actions don't seem to suggest anything better. Rumour has it that annual pay raises are horrible. This basically mean that either you are a superstar in the company before they will try to retain you, or if you are smart you should not stay in Amazon for too long.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The thing about thinking long-term is getting more and more worrying as the company has not turned a tidy profit and is trying to conquer the world with its lofty expansion strategies. I don't know what kind of secret recipe management is cooking but seeing the company not making much money never feels comfortable.

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  5. If your looking for a place with tons of Benefits, Amazon is your place.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Picker in Fogelsville, PA
    Current Employee - Picker in Fogelsville, PA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    They are paying for my CompTIA courses

    Cons

    The work does take a toll on your body after a few years.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. This company is a so so!!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Fulfillment Associate in Chester, VA
    Former Employee - Fulfillment Associate in Chester, VA

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    The best reasons to work at Amazon.Com is the pay, the teameork, and the benefits.

    Cons

    They aren't organized for example if I went a did overtime for half a day. They will take the other five hours. Favoritism

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Open your eyes and realize that there a lot of potential but they can't because the same people are being put on indirect roles.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. Technical Sourcing Recruiter (consultant) at Amazon Web Services (AWS) for east coast

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Technical Recruiter
    Current Employee - Technical Recruiter

    I have been working at Amazon.com (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    -I consistently deal with technical candidates that are absolutely outstanding at what they do (code, lead teams/projects, team players, strong customer focus, etc). This is perhaps one the most attractive aspect of working for AWS/Amazon.
    -Plenty of recruiting tools to choose from. A 300% increase from other companies which I have consulted for on a contract basis (10 years plus).
    -Management will take new recruiting tool suggestions seriously assuming it is presented with facts.
    -Hiring managers will spend money on "out of the box" job posting ads or larger features depending on reasoning and need.
    -Recruiting management doesn't micro manage by any means if you have decent hiring numbers.
    -Fast paced environment but for the right reasons since AWS is growing so fast. Very similar to a staffing agency environment in many ways but I enjoyed working for an agency years back. Move quickly, share candidates if appropriate and build quality pipelines for your hiring managers and everything will be fine.
    -More pros than cons in my opinion.

    Cons

    -Due to fast paced environment it isn't for everyone. Suggest asking questions regarding this during interview.
    -Very few Senior Recruiters on staff with 10 plus years experience.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do whatever you can to retain Senior Lead Recruiters and Senior Sourcing Recruiters. It is a big loss for the business when they leave the company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful

    Great place to work -- tons of responsibility on the shoulders of SDEs

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Amazon.com is a challenging, fun, and ultimately rewarding experience. You have a lot of potential for career growth, with SDEs able to get promoted to the VP level while remaining an individual contributor. If you can find a good team, with a supportive manager, you can definitely excel.

    You are given a lot of responsibility -- even SDE-1s own a part of the software stack and are responsible for delivering on it.

    With ownership comes responsibility. You are expected to be oncall and maintain your software end to end. Most teams have an oncall rotation, no dedicated QA staff, and full autonomous ownership of a subset of Amazon.com. I consider this a pro -- I love working in a place that trusts its engineers to make decisions, and gives us full responsibility from end-to-end. As a senior engineer at Amazon, you will come up with the business idea for what to do, help management prioritize it appropriately, design the architecture end-to-end, implement the code, test the code, deploy the code, and finally maintain the code if anything goes wrong. It's exhilarating, challenging, and a lot of fun. But it's not for everyone.

    Amazon.com's service oriented architecture ensures that most teams at Amazon own a subset of Amazon services, which means that they are responsible for defining the roadmaps for their service. As a senior engineer, you often spend part of your time as a product manager, helping define the roadmap for your services. It's a great opportunity to grow.

    Finally, the promotion process is fair and puts the power in the hands of the engineer up for promotion. You are given a clear document on what it takes to get to the next level (SDE1->SDE2, SDE2->SDE3, SDE3->Principal being the main ones.) Then you are given full power to seek out projects that get you to the next level. Amazon won't care about your years of experience -- it will promote you solely based on your merit, which is great if you can prove yourself.

    Cons

    As a large organization, Amazon is not without its politics. If you get a bad manager, this can be bad for your career; if this turns out to be the case, make sure to switch teams as soon as possible after joining (you're supposed to wait a year, but it can be done sooner if things are bad enough.) Luckily, this didn't happen to me, but I have seen it happen on occasion.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make the promotion process more transparent. Make stack racking more transparent. Own it. I think the process is great, but there is a lot of misinformation and mystique out there about how it works.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. A great job, but don't count on it lasting

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    Former Employee - Customer Service Associate
    Former Employee - Customer Service Associate

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Fun work. Got to help people. Interesting because of the different sort of things dealt with. Training was good. Good manager support. Felt like part of a team.

    Cons

    Hired seasonally, and thought I'd be kept on because my metrics were so good. Let go with only one week's notice after making it through the first cut. Can feel isolating.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. Inventory Analyst position where I can effectively utilize my skills and expertise.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Data Analyst in Breinigsville, PA
    Former Employee - Data Analyst in Breinigsville, PA

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Five years’ experience as Data analyst in inventory and quality assurance.
    My skills include being able to solve routine inventory problems that may be more detailed or complex than normal including system analysis and reconciliation of inventory. There would be no problem with referring to an inventory control along with checking data for reconciliation

    Cons

    Not enough communication between the management and mid-level staff.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider all the staff as an asset to the company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. At Amazon you are given a lot of responsibility but no training.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Recruiting Coordinator in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Recruiting Coordinator in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    At Amazon they trust you to finish a project from start to finish which is awesome.

    Cons

    You are almost set up to fail. It is a self service culture so you do not get any training or guidance to succeed at your job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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