Early Amazon employee Glenn Fleishman told Internet History Podcast that Amazon had a hard time hiring developers in its early days.

We decided to run Amazon’s first known job posting (from August 22, 1994) through Ongig’s Text Analyzer software to see how his job description text scores using today’s best technology.

Ongig’s Text Analyzer is job description software used to attract top-tier talent and remove bias.

Thanks to Jon Erlichman for posting Amazon’s first job ad on Twitter:

Some special thank-yous: Thanks also to Marilyn Haigh of CNBC for getting Amazon’s confirmation that this was indeed Amazon/Bezos’ first job posting (see Amazon’s first-known job listing: Jeff Bezos sought candidates to work faster than ‘most competent people think possible’); and thanks to Matt Bradburn and Hung Lee for bringing this first Amazon job posting to my attention (Hung linked to Matt’s screenshot of Amazon’s first job ad in his Recruiting Brainfood newsletter).


Text Analysis of Amazon’s First Job Ad

Here’s what we found when we ran Bezos’ first job ad through Text Analyzer:


Total Score = 78.45 (out of 100)

Bezos scores a 78.45 out of 100 for his total job score. That’s close to industry average (currently at 79.38).

The total score is made up of factors such as:

  • Job Title
  • Bias
  • Readability


Job Title Score – 31/100

Bezos’ job title scores a 31 out of 100 — it’s the least effective component of his job ad. He chose as his title:

“Well-capitalized Seattle start-up seeks Unix developers”

The length of Bezos’ job title is:

  • 6 words
  • 55 characters

Ongig’s Text Analyzer recommends you stay within 1 to 3 words and 20 or fewer characters.

A long title like this is a common mistake job description writers make — they try to be clever.

Bezos would have scored better (higher apply rate) if he went with a job title that read simply:

“Unix Developer”

SEO Note:  Bezos does come in under the Google Search Engine Optimization threshold of 60 characters. That means his full title would show up if it appeared on Google.com search results.


Bezos’ First Job Ad is Gender-Neutral!

Bezos’ first Amazon ad contains no gender bias.

It’s a shorter than average job ad (more on that below) so it’s not as likely to contain gender-biased words. But, technically, Bezos nailed a gender-neutral job ad on his first try.

Bezos was gender-neutral before people used the phrase!


Adverb Score = 82.79/100

The adverb score for Bezos’ job ad is nearly 83/100. Adverbs account for 3.11% of his job ad’s total word count. This is slightly higher than the 2.3% threshold Ongig’s Text Analyzer finds optimal.

He could delete an adverb or two (like “extremely”) to make his writing more punchy. Many adverbs used in job postings can be deleting without losing any value…and the result is a tighter, punchier job ad.


Word Count = 161 words (low)

Bezos’ first job ad is short (161 words). Ongig’s Text Analyzer currently recommends 300 to 700 words for most job postings.

Perhaps Bezos was busy at the time…like most hiring managers and recruiters!

Many candidates don’t think you’re that serious about filling your job if your length is less than 200 words.


Bezos Scores a Perfect 100 on Readability!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Bezos’ first job ad is that he gets a perfect 100 out of 100 on readability.

That is very unusual for a first try on writing a job ad with a job description text analyzer writing tool. Bezos beats 99.99% of job postings on readability.


Notice (in the right-hand rail above) how Bezos’ writing is at the 7.48th “Grade Level”.  Busy candidates appreciate reading content that’s written at a lower grade level because it’s easier/quicker to read. See Why I Write My Job Descriptions at the 8th Grade Reading Level (or lower!).  Bezos writes at the same optimal level as some of the best writers of our time:

  • Warren Buffett
  • Mark Twain
  • J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter!)
  • Apple’s copywriters

Bezos’ job ad readability also crushes the industry average 12th grade reading level.

Bezos uses Plain English type words that are easy to grasp:

  • “help pioneer commerce”
  • “do so in about one-third the time”
  • “Top-notch communication skills”
  • “Familiarity with web servers and HTML”

And Ongig’s Text Analyzer did not detect Bezos using a single complex phrase (see 50 Phrases to Avoid So You Don’t Have Clinical-Sounding Job Postings.


Amazon might have had trouble hiring developers in its early days. But Bezos and team seemed to have figured things out. They now have 647,500 employees and own the commerce and cloud software server categories on the Web.

If you want to write job descriptions better,  check out The Top 6 Augmented Writing Tools for Job Descriptions 

Why I wrote this?

Our mission at Ongig is to transform your job descriptions. Our Text Analyzer job description software helps attract top-tier talent and remove bias. Click the demo request button on this page if you’d like to have a discovery call with us.

by in Job Ads