Amy Miller

Senior Tech Recruiter, Amazon Web Services

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

I was an only child until 12 – just me and my mother who raised me on her own. My best memories were spending time with my favorite aunt and her 7 kids – so many playmates! I was a very lonely child – extremely socially awkward and I found it hard to make friends. I lived for those visits.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

I dropped out of high school at 16 – ran away from home (literally to another state) and bought myself a whole mess of trouble. At that point my mom had pretty much washed her hands of me, so when I was sent back to Kansas, she told me I was on my own – at least as far as finishing school, or getting my life together. It was the strangest feeling – I had this POWER over my own life that I was in no way equipped to handle. I did eventually go back, and had to take summer school classes to graduate on time but it was definitely a defining moment. I knew then I was the only person responsible for my success – and failures.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

I got an Apple Watch for my birthday and have been obsessed with closing my rings. That means 45 minutes to an hour of cardio every day. Sadly, it also means I learned the hard way that abs truly are made in the kitchen. The best part is the example I’m setting for my kids, who see me slaving away on this dang stationary bike every night. I haven’t lost any weight but I have gained credibility in my family’s eyes – they can’t believe I’ve stuck to it since June!

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Only three??? You’re killing me!

Lunatics by Bradley Denton

One of the funniest and most heartwarming love stories I’ve ever read. Without giving too much away, there are some fantasy elements woven throughout all sorts of love stories – friendships, exes, soul mate love… it’s just a great, fun read that I revisit often.

The Gunslinger series by Stephen King

Ok that’s 7 books, but it’s such a phenomenal story. I tried to read it in High School (I’ve always been a huge King fan) but couldn’t get into it. Tried again as an adult and whoa. Mind blown. Another must re-read.

Pretty much anything by C. S. Lewis.

I know. That’s way more than 3. I’m a rule breaker.

5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

I am not an extrovert. Not even a little bit. I hate crowds, I hate being around lots of people, I am constantly concerned about everything (do I have something in my teeth? Did I laugh at an inappropriate time? Am I talking too much? Not enough? OH MY GOD EVERYONE HATES ME). That’s the inner monologue that goes on any time I’m in public. I gave myself anxiety just writing about it. While I do enjoy pockets of interaction (love seeing my friends at recruiting conferences, speaking and engaging) it’s only “fun” in the moment. Leading up to and of course after these moments of engagement are crippling.

6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

Oh I’m very inquisitive. That’s a nice way of saying I’m nosy. I have so many questions! I push back, I call out things I don’t agree with, I am usually truly seeking to understand, especially things that counter my experience or beliefs. It often comes across like I’m just intentionally being contrary or argumentative. It’s really me just scratching my head going “wait – WHAT? EXPLAIN!” because I want to know!

7. On what topic would you never make a joke? Why?

Someone else’s shortcomings. I know that’s broad, right? And I love to laugh at myself – I have no issues calling out my own shortcomings, and making jokes – but I don’t think we should do it to others.

8. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

I’m laughing at this because I always feel like an outsider. I think one recent-ish example that stands out – I was recruiting for a VERY LARGE COMPANY and our recruiting team held a diversity meeting. We went around the room and everyone had to share what college degree they had, and what they would, in hindsight, study if they could go back. Everyone had one of the same 3-4 degrees (marketing, business, etc) and all pretty much picked CS or other tech fields. Then there was me. The only recruiter in the room (and I mean a large group) who had never gone to college. My background was very different, and frankly, I was quite a bit older than most of the team.. It seems like such a small, silly thing – but in the moment? I felt like I was going to be “caught” as a giant fraud and someone who didn’t deserve their spot in this company.

9. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

Well my Apple watch obviously 🙂 I love anything that holds me accountable. That’s the appeal.

10. What’s your desktop/mobile screensaver? Take a screenshot and attach it to your answer!

On my phone, my adorable husband John – taken on our honeymoon on Kauai. On my laptop / desktop, my 3 puppies

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

It would look like a gothic library, there would be tons of books, big comfy chairs, and probably a cat or two roaming around.

12. If you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

Boudica, Queen Elizabeth I, and Mary Magdalene. These women have seen some stuff. I think they would have some fascinating stories to tell about what really went down in their lives…

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

“Amy, repeat after me – I f*cked up”

Learned that from one of my very first bosses in recruiting – honestly even if it’s not totally my fault, I’ve learned when something goes awry, just take responsibility and move forward. It often softens whatever anger / frustration is coming at you, and fast forwards us to solutions and away from finger pointing.

14. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

Being right doesn’t always mean being successful. I had a hiring manager who was completely at odds with me on how we should conduct searches and how I should be showing up with his direct reports (the hiring managers). Even though eventually I wore him down (a story for another time) I completely destroyed any hopes for a positive relationship with this leader. It was a huge learning moment for me, and has shifted how I interact with leadership in the future. If I’d been a little more flexible and less hellbent on proving him wrong, I could have saved myself some heartache.

15. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

Putting my trust in the wrong leader. Like most of us, I’ve had lots of bosses, and not all were great. But there’s one that stands out as the literal worst person I’ve ever worked for. I was gaslit, sabotaged, and cried more times than I can count. I stayed on that team way too long – while it all worked out in the end (I landed in a wonderful role after leaving that team) I was so emotionally drained and second guessing myself because of one person. Unfortunately, that one person had a lot of influence over my success. I should not have stayed as long as I did, and I certainly shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did.

16. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

I can handle just about anything but manipulative, lying behavior at work. I’ve worked with some strange characters in 22 years – one of the best recruiters (i.e. top billers) I ever worked with was a total womanizer who cheated on his wife constantly. Terrible person – great recruiter. I’d take that guy over someone who falsifies their numbers or lies about productivity. I hate that. I can’t comment on someone’s personal standards, but by God you better have it together in the office, I guess.

17. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

Definitely, but never for long. I learn, soak up as much knowledge as I can from stronger team members, and set out to beat them. 🙂 I like being a top performer – I can celebrate with you today and plan how I’ll overtake you tomorrow! We can consistently trade the #1 and #2 spots on the team!

18. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

The misguided belief that AI will “take over”. I don’t see AI or any kind of automation fully taking over recruiting. It always has been and always will be an emotionally charged situation. While I would love smarter tools (please someone get my calendar under control) the human element is never going to fully go away. The challenge though – how to use new technology for good? There are so many ways for this to go awry and unintentionally harm job seekers… I worry about recruiters getting distracted by the next shiny thing, and not sticking to the fundamentals. Losing touch with the human side of recruiting scares the heck out of me.

19. What common wisdom in our industry needs to be debunked?

That anyone (particularly prospective candidates) owes us a damn thing. There’s a lot of recruiter hate out there, and frankly, a lot of it we earn. Recruiters complaining that candidates have multiple offers, or don’t respond to our outreach, or study up on every facet of our company before getting on a call with us… the industry as a whole needs to get over itself. We’re not God’s gift to job seekers and it’s on us to deserve a response / build relationships with our target audience.

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Laura Mazzullo. She is one of the most genuine and kindest people in our industry.

Thank you to Amy Miller for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune.

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