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Amazon Tech Talent: Where have they gone?
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10.6% Surge in Demand for AI Professionals over Mainstream Software jobs in H1 2023
With widespread technology company layoffs over the latter half of 2022 continuing into 2023, and the US labor market tightening significantly, hiring conditions are certainly challenging for tech talent. In particular, one of the largest tech companies globally, Amazon, has had some of the largest layoffs in the company’s history during this period, including tech & IT professionals who would normally be in high demand during typical macroeconomic times. For competitors or other high-performing industries, however, this represents an opportunity to ‘snap up’ high quality talent to fuel their own growth agendas.
In this article, we analyze the cohort of former Amazon employees who have departed from technology-related roles since the start of 2022 to understand their top destinations, jobs, and seniority.
Where have they gone?
Using Aura data, we identified around 34,000 former employees of Amazon from Engineering, IT, or Research & Development related roles who left in 2022 or 2023, based on publicly available data up to December 2023.
Some exits may not be accounted for in this analysis, which may be due to a number of reasons: a) they intentionally remain unemployed in the context of severance package, the opportunity for a break, and/or other non-employment opportunities (e.g. education); b) they are actively recruiting for opportunities but are yet to find something they are after; or c) they are yet to update any publicly available information with their employment, due to oversight or the need for secrecy (e.g. projects in stealth mode).
Big Tech firms made up the majority of top destinations for these former Amazon employees – the largest hires were made by Google, Microsoft, and Meta, together accounting for almost one in twelve leavers. Understandably, layoffs give competitors like these a unique opportunity to access additional quality talent, which would otherwise be unavailable to the market. Other major technology firms rounded out the top ten; however, in total, these only made up around 12% of total exits.
The remainder are spread out across a long tail of firms, crossing tech & non-tech, large & small firms (e.g. startups). This suggests that the current headwinds may be pushing some talent away from the technology industry into other sectors, where their transferable skills can be utilized. As these headwinds solidify, tech companies will be looking to avoid overweight workforces and unnecessary personnel costs in favor of more secure margins. On the other hand, with the advent of Generative AI and growing use cases for other AI modalities (machine learning, reinforcement learning etc), demand for advanced computer science & data science skillsets is on the rise in other industries. As highlighted in Aura’s most recent Industry Hiring Trends report, demand for AI-related roles has risen significantly over the last six months; in the Financial Services sector, there has been an almost 70% increase in AI-related job postings in November compared to the previous month. The availability of tech talent can facilitate these development ambitions more easily, especially in growing market segments.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of leavers analyzed were in software engineering / software development, and similar roles made up the largest subsequent roles following Amazon. This supports the hypothesis above, that these professionals shifted to similar roles in other tech firms or explored similar roles in other sectors in the main. An interesting finding is that some leavers moved into the education sector as teachers – given the macroeconomic conditions in the private sector as a whole, capable employees may reconsider taking on educational or academic opportunities, away from the pressure of corporates where they can apply their valuable learnings to give back to the community while maintaining more work-life balance.
How did this affect career progression?
Job security and career progression are two of the most sought-after qualities of any employment opportunity. The challenging climate in which we find ourselves now certainly poses a threat to job security, compounded by the potential for redundancies, which is why we have seen exceptionally low attrition rates in industries like consulting. As we have previously discussed in relation to the Twitter layoffs, the effect on career progression, however, may have a mixed effect of positive and negative elements. Despite the risk that an exit or layoff might suggest a deficiency or other undesirability for hiring, they can also unlock opportunities for seeking more senior roles, renegotiating compensation level, or otherwise better matching role to personal ambitions and motivations (e.g. career pivot, exploring other sectors), especially when driven by sector difficulties rather than poor performance.
Similar to the effect seen in the Twitter layoffs, we see an increase in position seniority between Amazon and post-Amazon roles in this cohort. Although the proportion of junior roles only dropped by 10 percentage points, this created a large rise in more senior roles: ~2% of the exits were in director or C-suite level roles at Amazon, increasing to ~12% at subsequent companies. This suggests that Amazon alumni compare favorably to other available talent, and can make the most of these career progression opportunities despite leaving Amazon.
Movement of talent within the labor market can be influenced heavily by macroeconomic conditions – in the case of Amazon, we see that tech industry challenges have led to exits and layoffs, which enable talent to explore new opportunities. Following their destinations and career progressions can lead to uncovering of hiring trends and companies still looking to invest in talent, as well as a proxy for measuring the quality of the talent in Amazon itself.
At Aura, we support this type of analysis by making workforce data readily available, enabling comparison of relevant metrics between cohorts of companies & candidates to develop a deeper understanding of workforce trends and drive meaningful change.
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Matthew Chan
Product Economist, Aura


Note: All information mentioned in this report comes from publicly available data; if you believe the information on your company is incorrect, please reach out to us at:
aura@bain.com
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Amazon Tech Talent: Where have they gone?
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