Last week, Amazon extended its acquisition offer to hundreds of recruiters. This is part of what is expected to be a months-long cycle of layoffs, with angry and nervous employees across the company. Recode has now seen classified internal documents that raise questions about whether the new artificial intelligence technology the company began experimenting with last year will one day replace some of these employees.
According to an internal “Amazon confidential” document published in October 2021, the tech giant has been working for at least the last year to hand off some of the tasks of recruiters to AI technology. AI technology aims to predict job applicants for specific companies and entire organizations. Warehouse jobs can thrive in certain roles and respond quickly to interviews without recruiter involvement. The technology works in part by finding similarities between the resumes of current top Amazon employees and those of job seekers applying for similar jobs.
The technology, internally called Automated Applicant Evaluation (AAE), was built by a group in Amazon’s human resources department known as the Artificial Intelligence Recruiting Team and was first tested last year. Amazon first built her AI hiring tech in the mid-2010s, but stopped using the system after it showed bias against women. According to internal documents, Amazon’s human resources department believed in its initial tests that the new machine learning model could successfully combat racial and gender-based bias. Although artificial intelligence has become more widely used in recruitment across industries in recent years, questions remain about its role in introducing or amplifying biases that can occur in the recruitment process.
An Amazon spokesperson did not provide comment prior to publication.
Over the years, Amazon has invested heavily in attempts to automate many types of work. In 2012, the company acquired his warehouse robotics company called Kiva. The company’s robots have reduced the need for warehouse workers to walk miles to do their jobs, but have also increased the pace and repetitiveness of their work. Amazon has continued to explore other ways to automate its warehouses and introduce new robots. One reason is that the company has so many frontline workers that it fears it will run out of people to hire in some parts of the United States. Amazon previously ran an initiative in the corporate sector called “Hands off the Wheel.” This has taken inventory ordering and other responsibilities out of the hands of retail employees and handed over to technology.
The growing creation and use of AAE technology may now permanently change the role of recruiters within the second largest private sector employer in the United States, and who Amazon will need to hire. number may decrease.
That is, when the company starts hiring again.
Amazon implemented a corporate hiring freeze early in the fall, and just last week The New York Times reported that Amazon would furlough about 10,000 employees, or 3% of the company’s staff. The company’s nearly 30-year history. In addition to the company’s layoffs of his Alexa and Amazon gadget divisions, the company sent a buyout offer It applies to the majority of the company’s HR department, including all junior and mid-level recruiters in the US and India. If an employee voluntarily quits the job, Amazon will provide her with three months’ salary and he with one week’s salary for every six months of tenure. These employees have until November 29th to decide on their offers. Department leaders said involuntary layoffs could occur in the new year, depending on how many employees voluntarily agree to leave the company. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy also said layoffs in the company’s core retail division will continue through 2023.
AAE technology removes one of the key roles some recruiters play at Amazon. It’s about evaluating job applicants and choosing who should proceed to the interview. The program uses a current employee’s performance review and information on their resume and online her job assessment completed during the recruitment process to assess current job applicants for similar roles.
“[T]The model achieves accuracy comparable to manual processes and has proven no adverse effects,” an internal document from 2021 read.
The technology was first tested on healthcare applicants working in Amazon’s warehouse network. Since then, however, it has been used to screen job seekers for a wide variety of positions, from software development engineers to technical program managers, opening up the possibility of its widespread use throughout the company in the future.
There is a perception in the tech industry that the Big Tech boom may be over. In many cases, pandemic-boosted business successes have been reversed or plateaued. Now, a tech giant like Amazon is trying to tighten its belts by fulfilling a long-term bet that technology, especially his AI, can do the same as humans.