“Am I too old for Amazon?”
This is a common question I get from coaching clients in their 40s and 50s who feel insecure about their chances of landing a job at Amazon. Here’s the short answer:
No, you’re not too old. Amazon is not perfect, but it’s as much a meritocracy as any other tech company. If you have the right skills and you’re a good culture fit, age will not be a barrier for you to get a job at Amazon. I’ve helped many folks in their 40s and 50s land such jobs as software development engineer, software development manager, AWS solution architect and more. And I have plenty of experience and advice on the matter, which I’m sharing with you in this post.
If you’re over 40 and considering interviewing for a position at Amazon, read this.
1. Respect Amazon’s interview process
As someone with 20- or 30-plus years of experience, you might feel it’s an insult for Amazon interviewers to ask you basic algorithm and data structure questions. If you want to get a job there, you’ll need to respect the Amazon recruiting machine. Just like younger applicants, you should be prepared to answer data structure and algorithm questions.
When it comes to questions about your experience, choose more recent and relevant experience. What you’ve done 20 years ago might have little relevance to today’s work environment.
However, emphasize that with your experience, you can be particularly valuable to serve as a mentor and a coach to younger employees. Write down career lessons you have learned. Start a blog. Publish a book. Demonstrate that you are willing to serve as a mentor who can help younger employees accelerate their careers.
2. Be realistic about job title and level
Amazon has a flat organizational structure. You must be willing to work for managers who are many years younger and less experienced than you. Job title deflation is an issue at Amazon due to this flat structure, but if you’re open to a lower job title and level, you’ll have a lot more opportunities (having a lesser title doesn’t mean you’ll be under compensated, however — Amazon salaries, sign-on bonuses and stocks are competitive).
Be upfront and transparent with Amazon recruiters about your job level expectation. You can tell them that at this stage of your career, you’re willing to take a lesser role, because you want to focus on what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. As a manager, I’d be more than happy to have someone who is overqualified on my team. You’ll make my life easier.
3. Keep up with the latest in Amazon technology
It’s a no-brainer that you should be an Amazon Prime member. You should watch Amazon Video. You should know Amazon devices like the Fire Stick and Amazon Echo. If you are applying for a position in AWS, open a free AWS account and play with the various services. Read Amazon Web Service blogs and case studies. There is so much information out there on Amazon innovations; make sure to stay current on the latest technology, features and functionality.
4. Take care of yourself
Age is just a number. You have so much experience and expertise to contribute to the world — but, you need to have the energy and mental sharpness to sustain it.
I have worked with and managed several older workers. The really good ones are some of the best colleagues I have ever worked with. They’re highly skilled, experienced and savvy. They are also at a stage of their career that they don’t feel like they need to prove themselves. The mix of self-confidence, humility and life experience makes it a joy to work with them.
On the other hand, I have also worked with older colleagues whom I secretly wished would retire soon. Almost without exception, these folks tend to be 10-20 years behind the times in terms of skills and industry knowledge. Most of them also have developed memory issues. They simply forget things.
None of us will stay young forever. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and remain sharp. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is still performing at a very high level at age 40 because he put in tremendous effort to stay healthy and fit. To have a successful and long career, take care of your health.
5. Establish the proper mindset to stay young
You’re not too old! Don’t buy into what you read in the media. Just to give you a few examples:
- Sam Walton founded Walmart when he was 44
- Julia Child published her first cook at age 50
- Ray Kroc started McDonald’s at age 52
- Colonel Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 62
- Warren Buffet is still working at age 87 — and his partner Charlie Munger is too, at age 94
The great ones get better as they age. You have so much experience, expertise and savvy to give to this world!
With your experience and expertise, you have a lot to bring to Amazon at this stage of your career. With the proper mindset, preparation and skills, you will be able to land a job at Amazon and continue to grow your career. I love helping older tech workers, and if you need coaching, feel free to contact me below.