Hide table of contents

Semi-linkpost for: https://80000hours.org/speak-with-us/referral-form/

TL;DR: generate a referral link to our advising application form here and share the link you generate with potential 80k advisees. If we speak to just two people who applied through your link, you’ll have a chance to win full travel + admission reimbursement to a professional conference of your choice, worth up to $5,000. The more advisees you refer, the better your chances are. 


The 1-1 advising team at 80k wants to speak to more people than ever before and I think Forum readers’ broader personal networks are one of the biggest reservoirs of talent we could reach. 

We are looking to speak to everyone who:

  1. Is interested in working on our top problems, and 
  2. Has accomplishments that suggest they could do great work on those problems

Many of our advisees have told us that their single prepared-for and focused conversation with an advisor was the catalyst for them pursuing impactful work. If you know a talented person who would endorse this kind of exercise, we can execute on the conversation for them. My guess is that readers might both be excited to go to e.g. an EAG or NeurIPs and know many such people that we haven’t spoken to. The referral program aims to incentivize those people to accelerate the impactful careers of their friends, colleagues, students, professors, and others, and at the same time help them further their own careers with a travel grant for a conference.

How it works

  1. Enter your own name and email address on this page to generate a unique link to share with prospective advisees
  2. We will track referrals from now until October 6, 2024
  3. A referral counts as successful if:
    1. We invite the applicant for a call
    2. They show up for the call[1]
    3. We haven’t spoken to them before
  4. There are two ways to have your referral counted:
    1. Have your contacts use the link you generated above to apply
    2. Have your contacts type your full name into the referral field in their application (less reliable along a number of dimensions)
  5. Win conditions
    1. The top three referrers are guaranteed winners
    2. The next seven will be drawn by lottery from among everyone with at least 2 successful referrals, where referrers with more referrals get proportionately greater chances to win (i.e. every referral over 2 gives you an additional lot in the random draw) 
  6. If you win:
    1. We’ll get in touch with winners shortly after October 6th 
    2. You can then tell us what conference you plan on attending and what the costs will be
    3. Importantly, you’ll need to have been granted admission to the conference you want us to fund. For example, I assume many participants will want to attend an EAG, where the EAG team has final say over who attends 
    4. Other conferences that are likely of interest are things like NeurIPs, ICML, Founders Forum, or the Animal Rights National Conference
    5. You are also welcome to gift your prize to someone else 

Who to refer

The thing we want to stress more than anything is when in doubt, refer and apply. The form takes 10 minutes (we updated it to contain only one substantive question last year).[2] It’s easy for us to imagine people spending more than that vexing over whether they’re the right kind of person – that’s not good for any of us!

Again, we are looking to speak to everyone who:

  1. Is interested in working on our top problems, and 
  2. Has accomplishments that suggest they could do great work on those problems

Everyone means all ages, educational backgrounds and areas of expertise. This is not just a service for young adults or people who are already at the peak of their careers. It is for both of those groups and everyone in between. It is also not just for people looking to change roles now or in the next few months. Planning is underrated. 

On interest in our top problems: it’s usually important that our advisees have context on the nature of our top problems and the specific reasons we’re concerned about them. Having tentative or more well-developed views on exactly which interventions are most helpful is a bonus, but not at all necessary. If you’ve had (or could have) a productive 30 minute conversation with a given friend about our top problems, there’s a good chance they’re above the bar! 

On accomplishments: we construe them broadly. If someone you’re considering referring has really impressed you, there’s a good chance they’ll impress us too. Our top problems need a broad range of talented contributors working on them from policy experts and computer scientists to communicators and academics. People with generalist skills in building teams, systems, and organizations can be especially valuable too.

Importantly, potential can count just as much as historical success. The easiest way to show this is getting good grades at a top-100 world university, but there are many other ways. A thoughtful and well-maintained blog can do the trick. A few examples of impressive public speaking or a rapid series of promotions in an otherwise non-prestigious job can often tell us as much as a degree from Harvard.


Many thanks in advance to everyone who participates! 


  1. ^

    In good faith.

  2. ^

    Now you only need to propose two long term career ideas along with some pros and cons. No greatest accomplishments, and no need to spell out a plan to pursue the ideas at the application stage. 





More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Why conference trips in particular? Is it partly because conferences may generate more opportunities for referrals?

I wanted to stay very far on the right side of having all our activities clearly relate to our charitable purpose. I know cash indirectly achieves this, but it leaves more room for interpretation, has some arguable optics problems, and potentially leads to unexpected reward hacking. The so far lackluster reception to the program is solid evidence against the latter two concerns. 

I think a general career grant would be better and will consider changing it to that. Thanks for raising this question and getting me there! 

I thought it might be something like this, and FWIW am pretty sympathetic to this kind of concern :) I'm on board with being over-cautious about (e.g.) both corruption and the appearance of corruption.

I'm not dying on the hill of "all incentives should be cash", but it sure is difficult to come up with other incentives that are universally desirable.

Of course, the other optics / reward-hacking evasion possibility is to offer absolutely trivial incentives. Give me a bronze pin for 1 referral, a silver pin for 5 referrals, and a gold pin for 20 :) This seems likely to work best if you think that "people who will bring us great referrals" and "people who are already on board with helping 80k being a good and rewarding thing" are heavily overlapping, and works less well if you're particularly trying to reach people further outside of the usual 80k audience who wouldn't otherwise be interested or involved.

To that last point, I'm particularly excited about fans of 80k being referrers for talented people with very little context. If you think a classmate/colleague is incredibly capable, but you don't back yourself to have a super productive conversation about impactful work with them, outsource that to us! 

Yeah, I'm surprised they're not just giving people money. Conference trips likely matter to some people but not others (either because they're in a field with more conferences, or because their employer often pays for it, like mine)

I think that 80k doing strategic marketing like this sounds really interesting. I personally wasn’t excited about entering (despite being excited about the prize) because I’m pretty suspicious of “chance of a trip”, I think text like this is much more common when the chance is actually very low than when it’s high which makes the endeavour less worthwhile. I think if you’d given an explicit best guess probability that would have been helpful for me.

Sadly I didn't really know how to give a reliable forecast given the endogenous effect of providing the forecast. I'll post a pessimistic (for 80k, optimistic for referrers) update to Twitter soon. Basically, I think your chances of winning the funding are ~50% if you get two successful referrals at this point. 5 successful referrals probably gets you >80%. 

I suspect this will be easy for you in particular, Caleb. Take my money!

That all makes sense. I will very likely have a think about who to refer.

Executive summary: 80,000 Hours is offering to sponsor conference trips worth up to $5,000 for people who successfully refer others to their advising service, with the goal of reaching more talented individuals interested in working on top problems.

Key points:

  1. Referrers generate a unique link to share with potential advisees, valid until October 6, 2024.
  2. A referral counts as successful if the applicant is invited for and attends a call, and hasn't spoken with 80,000 Hours before.
  3. The top 3 referrers are guaranteed winners, with 7 more chosen by weighted lottery from those with at least 2 successful referrals.
  4. 80,000 Hours is looking for advisees of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in their top problems and have accomplishments suggesting they could do great work on those problems.
  5. Potential can count as much as historical success, and thoughtful blogs, public speaking, or rapid job promotions can demonstrate this alongside traditional credentials.



This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

Do they have to be able to speak English?
Are there any countries that you are barred from or have no access? 

Good questions! Yes, they would need to speak and apply in English. There are no barred countries. 

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities