We recently released a rough blog post on this topic, which has been discussed quite a bit on this Forum in the past:
Our 2018 survey found that for a second year, a significant fraction of organisations reported that they’d want to be compensated hundreds of thousands or sometimes millions of dollars for the loss of a recent hire for three years.
There was some debate last October about whether those figures could be accurate, why they were so high, and what they mean. In the current post, I outline some rough notes summarising the different explanations for why people in the survey estimated that the value of recent hires might be high, though I don’t seek firm conclusions about which considerations are playing the biggest role.
In short, we consider four explanations:
- The estimates might be wrong.
- There might be large differences in the value-add of different hires.
- The organisations might be able to fundraise easily.
- Retaining a recent hire allows the organisation to avoid running a hiring process.
Overall, we take the figures as evidence that leaders of the effective altruism community, when surveyed, think the value-add of recent hires at these organisations is very high -- plausibly more valuable than donating six figures (or possible even more) per year to the same organisations. However, we do not think the precise numbers are a reliable answer to decision-relevant questions for job seekers, funders, or potential employers. We think it’s likely that mistakes are driving up these estimates. Even ignoring the high probability of mistakes, the implications of the data depend heavily on exactly what is driving the results. We are very uncertain about the magnitude of various considerations, so we recommend against leaning on these numbers when making career decisions.
Independently of this data, we believe that these jobs are sometimes very high-impact for some people. This suggests that finding out whether or not you’re a good fit can be valuable, even if most people won’t turn out to be. At the end, we sketch out some (weak) implications for job seekers. We hope to write about our overall views on the current job market in the effective altruism community in the future.
These are just rough notes and not a polished article, but I hope they’ll help to sum up the discussion and let the debate move forward...