Thursday, August 22 marked the 25th anniversary of the very first job opening Jeff Bezos ever posted. In his wildest dreams, he, nor anyone else, could have imagined after that first job was filled some 650,000+ more would follow. Currently, there are over 11,000 Amazon jobs posted just in the Seattle area alone.
Bezos takes great pride in his writing, inserting nuggets of wisdom into every annual shareholder letter he writes. I can only imagine that when he was writing his very first job post he must have pined over it, sweating every word.
GeekWire just recirculated the seminal job post–here it is as it appeared 25 years ago:
Job post for an engineering role in Seattle
Well-capitalized start-up seeks extremely talented C/C+ +/Unix developers to help pioneer commerce on the Internet. You must have experience designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems, and you should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible. You should have a BS, MS, or PhD in Computer Science or the equivalent. Top-notch communication skills are essential. Familiarity with web servers and HTML would be helpful but is not necessary.
Expect talented, motivated, intense, and interesting co-workers. Must be willing to relocate to the Seattle area (we will help cover moving costs).
Your compensation will include meaningful equity ownership.
Send resume and cover letter to Jeff Bezos.
We are an equal opportunity employer.
“It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it.”- Alan Kay
Here’s the money sentence:
“You should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible.”
This to me, sums up at least part of who Jeff Bezos is and what has made his company so wildly successful. Amazon (and Bezos) expect the best, demand the best, and push the best to regularly redefine what’s possible. There’s undeniably a bit of arrogance in the statement, a smirk at the mere “competent” of the world. Also part of the Amazon gestalt.
I’ve experienced first-hand this aura of supremely high expectations in encounters with Amazon. I dealt with them many times as a senior executive at Procter & Gamble. They were fierce–and yes sometimes arrogant–negotiators (frankly, so were we). They expected us to simply figure out how to cover the margin they lose when they decide to do things like give steep discounts to Prime customers. To not do so meant getting punished on merchandising support.
Recently, they asked manufacturers to figure out how to make their packages smaller, easier to open, and more cost efficient for Amazon to ship. If the August 1st deadline for this wasn’t met, behind the scenes at a minimum, Amazon will bring down the hammer on manufacturers. I’ve experienced this “do this by that date” pain first hand.
I also got familiar with the Amazon recruiting/interviewing process in helping a coaching client of mine prepare for an interview with the Seattle behemoth. Amazon settles for nothing but the most talented, experienced, candidates. (And yes, he got the job) I know many employees that work at the Seattle HQ that tell me the expectation of continual boundary pushing is woven into the culture.
And I love it.
Do it in one-third the time our competent (at best) competitors can. Keep redefining what’s possible. The sentiment appeared in the first job post 25 years ago and carries through in the company’s DNA today.
Take the one-liner and bring a little into your company. You too just might have to post more jobs as a result.