Cross-posted from the Animal Advocacy Careers blog.
To build understanding of the bottlenecks and job opportunities in the farmed animal movement, Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC) conducted a brief “spot-check” of the job opportunities that were advertised on the websites of 27 different effective animal advocacy (EAA) nonprofit organisations. The results were compared to the findings from an additional search of the currently filled roles at the same organisations. The findings provide weak evidence that EAA nonprofits are struggling to fill fundraising and operations roles. Campaigns and research roles seem to be easier to fill than other role types. Roles based in the US may be easier to fill than roles based elsewhere. In the job specifications for advertised job opportunities, communications skills and English language skills were frequently important. Though remote work was common, flexibility by country of residence was not. Most jobs required experience in related types of roles — the average was 1.8 years of experience required, with operations roles seeming to have slightly lower requirements — but few jobs explicitly required degrees or nonprofit experience. Surprisingly, few jobs were advertised on the 80,000 Hours’ jobs board or the “Effective Altruism Job Postings” Facebook group.
In order to decide where to focus its interventions, Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC) needs to understand what the largest bottlenecks are in the farmed animal movement. AAC also needs to understand the characteristics of the job roles that are available in order to inform the advice that we give through online resources and one-to-one conversations. Checking to see the characteristics and trends among advertised job opportunities in the movement, and how these compare to currently filled roles, is one way to develop understanding of these issues.
We therefore searched through jobs that were being advertised by effective animal advocacy (EAA) organisations on the 29th to 30th January, 2020 and on the 26th March, 2020. The results were compared to the findings from an additional search of the currently filled roles, conducted shortly after the first search of advertised opportunities. There is no reason to assume that this time period is particularly representative of these organisations’ hiring needs; hence, we should be wary that any surprising findings (especially those based on small numbers of job adverts) may simply be explicable by random variation and small sample sizes. A second search was conducted in March to increase the number of results, but we should still not place much weight on any individual finding from this brief research project.
The websites of 27 different EAA nonprofit organisations were searched for lists of current staff. Where full lists of staff were not provided, searches of LinkedIn were conducted instead. 827 roles were identified. A list of 9 types of expertise was developed by modifying the “types of talent” listed in 80,000 Hours’ 2018 “EA talent needs survey” and grouping together several options into broad categories. After reading the individual’s job title (and sometimes briefly checking any available descriptions of their role), up to 2 areas of expertise were marked as “key” skills required for that role. Up to 2 additional areas of expertise were marked as “important” but secondary.
The same organisations’ websites were also searched for current job openings; 15 organisations had openings publicly visible, for a total of 110 roles (82 if duplicates are excluded). 80,000 Hours’ job board, restricted to the factory farming “problem area,” was also searched, though results were only added for the 27 pre-specified EAA organisations.
Several objective characteristics of advertised job opportunities were noted, where they could be identified, such as whether the role was full-time, the salary that was offered, and whether remote work was optional, compulsory, or unavailable. The advertised job opportunities were sorted into the same 9 types of expertise as the currently filled roles. Additionally, due to the much smaller number of results for this search (110, rather than 827) and greater available detail on the job specifications, a more specific categorisation of roles into 21 types of expertise was carried out. Finally, listed fixed requirements of roles were noted, such as the minimum number of relevant years of experience that were required.
For all searches, all results (except for the country in which the role was based) were then converted into a numerical format. Most answers were “yes” (1) or “no” (0), but for simplicity of reporting, middle answers such as “optional,” “important,” and “preferred” were coded as 0.5.
The results seemed likely to be a better representation of paid employment opportunities than unpaid volunteering opportunities or internships, so, for the rest of this post, our analysis is restricted to the paid roles (and, in the search of currently filled roles, roles that seemed to be both paid and full-time) that were identified. That is, all figures reported below exclude unpaid roles, even where this is not specified.
In AAC’s previous survey of leaders and hiring managers at several animal advocacy organisations, 6 of 10 respondents to the question “How long does the average job role stay open?” gave answers that included two months or longer. Given that the two searches of advertised job opportunities were conducted approximately two months apart, our analysis in the rest of this post excludes duplicates of adverts for roles that were identified at both time-points, except where otherwise specified.
Results and discussion
The full results are available in the results spreadsheets for the spot-checks of current roles and advertised jobs. The most important results are discussed below.
How many roles were there for each area of expertise?
If certain types of expertise are undersupplied in the community, relative to its needs, we would expect that such skillsets would be overrepresented in animal advocacy job adverts, since roles using these skillsets would be harder to fill. Given the small number of roles that are advertised at any one point, the findings from this spot-check constitute only very weak evidence of the existence of particular career and talent bottlenecks, however.
Overall, the proportions of each role type were relatively similar. Notable differences include:
- Fundraising roles seemed to be slightly overrepresented in the advertised job opportunities compared to the current roles (17% compared to 10%), suggesting that filling roles that require fundraising expertise is difficult for effective animal advocacy nonprofits.
- Operations, administration, and HR roles were slightly overrepresented in the advertised job opportunities compared to the current roles (28% compared to 18%). This provides weak evidence that, as seems to have been the case in the wider effective altruism movement, operations expertise is a bottleneck for EAA nonprofits.
- There were slightly fewer job ads for roles requiring management and leadership expertise than we had thought that there might be, suggesting that this is slightly less of a bottleneck than we previously thought (26% compared to 24%). Comparisons between the two different searches may be especially unreliable for management and leadership roles, however.
- Campaigns roles and research roles were both slightly underrepresented in job ads (21% vs. 31% and 0% vs. 7%, respectively). This matches our impression that these roles (perhaps especially entry-level roles in these areas) are generally popular and oversubscribed.
The results from the search of advertised job opportunities were also sorted into more specific categories (viewable in the advertised jobs results spreadsheet). This analysis revealed additional skillsets that appear to be commonly required in roles at EAA nonprofits:
- A large proportion of roles (49%) specifically mentioned that clear communication skills were needed; this seemed to mostly refer to written communication skills, though verbal and social skills were sometimes included within this category. The 49% figure here slightly underrepresents the importance of this skillset, since some other roles specified that communications skills were needed, but we decided not to categorise communications as either “key” or “important,” since other skillsets seemed relatively more important.
- A larger proportion of roles required some operations (33%) or administrative (22%) tasks than we expected (note that these two categories have substantial overlap).
- Of the 40 roles based outside the US and UK (excluding those where location was flexible), the specifications for 25 suggested that English language proficiency was “key” or “important.” Few roles in the US or UK required proficiency in other languages.
How many roles were there for different types of organisation?
These comparisons don’t provide much evidence to suggest that any particular organisation type struggles to hire employees more than others.
Looking at the results for current roles, for most skillsets, there were few substantial and surprising differences by organisation type. For example, the range for management and leadership roles was from 22% to 31% across organisation types. Due to limitations of the methodology used here, differences of this size do not seem particularly meaningful.
Which countries were roles based in?
An important caveat to the findings below is that the inclusion criteria for this research were fairly arbitrary and were arguably US-centric. For example, even if your views on effective animal advocacy are closely aligned with those of Animal Charity Evaluators, you might think that all the organisations involved in the Open Wing Alliance should have been included here.
Note that in the “advertised jobs” spot-check, some remote roles were marked as optional for multiple different countries (hence, some the percentages add up to more than 100%), whereas the “current roles” were evaluated solely by where the current employee appeared to be based. Despite this, roles based in the US appeared to be slightly underrepresented in the advertised jobs; this is weak evidence that US-based roles tend to be easier to hire for.
Looking at the results for current roles, for most skillsets, there were few differences by category of country. Potentially meaningful differences include:
- A smaller proportion of the roles in English-speaking countries other than the US (12% compared to 21% in the US) were “operations, administration, and HR” roles, perhaps partly because there were few animal-free food tech employees in these countries, or because some of the organisations with employees in these countries had operations staff in the US or elsewhere.
- The percentages of total roles that focused on “Government, policy, lobbying, or legal” expertise were 9% in the US, 0% in English-speaking countries other than the US, and 3% in the category for all other countries combined.
- 39% of roles in countries where English is not the first language were “Campaigns, corporate engagement, or volunteer management” roles, compared to 21% in the US and 24% in other English-speaking countries.
In the results for advertised roles, 32 jobs were remote and a further 5 jobs had the option of remote work. However, only 8 of these roles were flexible across countries of residence. I.e. nearly 90% of identified paid roles required applicants to live and work in one of the 13 countries for which there were available roles.
What was the gender balance among current roles?
70% of the full-time, paid roles were held by women/females, which matches the finding of Open Philanthropy Project. Given that more women than men tend to be vegetarian and that gender is also a predictor of animal farming attitudes, we should expect that with high-quality hiring practices at EAA orgs, the majority of employees would be female. Interestingly, however, this spot-check found less evidence that women were underrepresented in management and leadership roles than OpenPhil’s research, perhaps because roles with responsibility for fewer individuals were included here; OpenPhil focused on executive teams, boards of directors, and CEOs and executive directors.
There are fewer women in research roles (57%) and in roles at research nonprofits (54%) more generally. Women were also relatively underrepresented in the “other technical skills” category (46%) and in English-speaking countries other than the US (59%).
What were the requirements like for advertised roles?
Results are reported below for all paid roles and for 2 sub-groups of interest.
Low proportions of job specifications (22%) explicitly required that applicants have university degrees. It was much more common for jobs to require experience in related types of role (such as in some sort of management for a management role, or in some sort of marketing, communications, or campaigning for a campaigning role) than to require experience specifically in nonprofits. Over half of the job roles specified a requirement of a year or more’s worth of related experience.
Unsurprisingly, the requirements were greater for management and leadership positions. Operations and admin positions seemed to require slightly less directly relevant experience. This matches our impression from casual conversations with people in operations roles in the effective altruism community that it is possible to enter such roles and do well in them without much directly relevant experience, as long as you’re a good fit in other ways.
Where and how were roles advertised?
Surprisingly few roles were listed on 80,000 Hours’ jobs board and even fewer were posted on the Effective Altruism Job Postings Facebook group within the past 3 months. Strangely, several organisations posted some but not all of their available paid job opportunities on 80,000 Hours’ jobs board, Animal Equality and Mercy For Animals had roles listed on the jobs board that were not listed publicly on the jobs sections of their websites, and Charity Entrepreneurship was the only organisation that posted all of their paid job opportunities on the jobs board.
Limitations and suggestions for further research
- The searches of advertised roles provide only a brief snapshot and are vulnerable to random variation. Ideally, results would be measured over a longer time period. Such research could be combined with the creation and maintenance of a job board that focuses specifically on animal advocacy roles. Otherwise, the spot-check of advertised opportunities could be repeated at later time points.
- Animal-free food technology companies and the impact investing groups that support them are important parts of the farmed animal movement and the EAA community. The job opportunities at these organisations could be evaluated separately, perhaps using this list or GFI’s Company Database as a starting point.
- There are lots of other roles that relate to effective animal advocacy that are not at highly-focused nonprofits or at animal-free food technology companies. Examples include government and policy roles that affect farmed animals, animal welfare law roles, academic positions that have opportunities for effective animal advocacy research or research into animal-free food technologies, and high-paying jobs that enable people to donate lots of money to EAA nonprofits. Spot-checks of the roles available in these areas (perhaps evaluated separately) could be useful.
- It could be interesting to compare these results with results for farmed animal advocacy organisations that do not identify as closely with the principles of effective altruism, to see if there are notable differences. This project seems low priority, however.
- Given that the inclusion criteria were somewhat arbitrary, the same methodology could be used but with a larger number of organisations, as a form of robustness check.
 This list was primarily based on organisations that are currently recommended as “top” or “standout” charities by Animal Charity Evaluators or have been recommended as such in the past. Additions were made for farmed animal organisations that AAC believes strongly identify with the principles of effective altruism and for research-focused nonprofits that focus on the overlap of the animal advocacy and effective altruism movements. A full list of searched organisations is available on both results spreadsheets. Of course, whether particular organisations should or shouldn’t have been included in this spot-check is highly subjective; the methodology here is intended to provide a useful snapshot, rather than to be comprehensive or objective. Note also that the number of organisations had to be limited, in order to reduce the time needed to complete this “spot-check” research.
 This probably means that some organisations are slightly underrepresented in the final results, since some employees might not have LinkedIn profiles, and so would not be identified by this research. For example, in the category for effective animal advocacy organisations focused substantially on corporate welfare campaigns, only 39% were identified via the organisations’ websites, compared to 96% and 100% in the categories for research organisations and animal-free food technology organisations.
 Of course, this methodology is highly vulnerable to error, if titles are misleading.
 Several other decisions were made that may have slightly affected the results. For example:
All ProVeg volunteer positions were combined into a single result,
HSUS roles that didn’t specify a focus on farmed animals were not included, and
Fellowships provided by New Harvest were not included as these were not roles at the organisation itself.
 This time, up to 3 areas of expertise were marked as key skills required for that role, and up to 3 additional areas of expertise were marked as important but secondary. Again, this methodology is highly subjective. The codings were mostly based on the wording of the job specifications, rather than our expectations of the requirements of particular role types.
The more detailed categorisations were actually conducted first, so most of the analysis on the results spreadsheet focuses on these more detailed categorisations. The less detailed categorisations are visible in the “Paid roles simpler categorisations” tab.
 The full results with unpaid roles included are visible in the results spreadsheets.
 We might also expect these roles to be overrepresented in the duplicated results, although given the small sample size and the short period between the two searches of advertised opportunities, the findings here are not highly reliable in that sense.
 These differences may represent the relative ease or difficulty in hiring excellent candidates for particular role types, but they may alternatively simply represent random variation in the available roles at any one time and the limitations of this “spot-check” methodology.
 This view, and our other views of the existing bottlenecks in the EAA community, are based partly on our own intuitions. Other evidence includes the evidence listed in the section “Unmet demand for EAA movement building services” in this post, the findings from our survey and interviews with 10 CEO’s and hiring professionals from some of the “top” or “standout” charities currently or formerly recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators, and a short survey of 9 attendees of Effective Altruism Global.
 The following factors may have affected the figures here:
Managers and leaders might stay in their roles for longer periods of time, because they are closer to the peak of their career and do not need to switch positions around as much to gain career capital. This suggests that we should expect M&L roles to be lower in the advertised jobs spot-check than in the current roles spot-check.
Animal Equality and Mercy For Animals listed their leaders on their websites but did not list their other employees. If some employees do not have LinkedIn pages, then these organisations may appear in our results to have a larger proportion of employees with management and leadership responsibilities than is the case in reality. This means that we should expect M&L roles to be slightly lower in the advertised jobs spot-check than in the current roles spot-check.
It’s sometimes unclear from someone’s title whether they are a manager of other employees or not. For example, lots of people have words like “coordinator,” “manager,” or “director” in their title, but are sometimes just a “manager” of a particular project, with no supervisees. This has unclear implications.
A larger proportion of jobs with the word “senior” in the title seemed to be marked as involving management and leadership responsibilities in the review of job specifications for advertised jobs than in the review of current roles. The same occurred with jobs with the word “director.” Given this, we would expect a greater proportion of advertised opportunities than currently filled roles to have management and leadership responsibilities. This suggests we should expect M&L roles to be higher in the advertised jobs spot-check than in the current roles spot-check.
 Of the organisations that did not list their full teams on their website — Animal Equality, The Humane League, L214, Mercy For Animals, ProVeg International, Sinergia Animal — organisations focused substantially on corporate welfare campaigns seemed to be overrepresented (6 out of 7). For this type of organisation, only 39% were identified via the organisations’ websites, compared to 96% and 100% in the categories for research organisations and animal-free food technology organisations. Therefore, we might expect the sorts of roles that seemed more highly prevalent among those organisations (especially “Campaigns, corporate engagement, or volunteer management”) to be underrepresented in the results for the spot-check of current roles. This suggests that such roles are more underrepresented in the advertised roles than the comparison of 24% to 31% suggests.
 We may have slightly under-represented one-on-one social skills and emotional intelligence in a similar manner.
 We would have guessed that the figures would be closer to 15% for each of these two categories.
 Only 5 roles were available in EAA research nonprofits. Of these, 3 were at Charity Entrepreneurship and none of the 5 were research roles. Arguably, the 3 CE roles should not have been included in the findings since these roles will not necessarily be focused primarily on farmed animal issues.
 There are a number of unsurprising differences:
The animal-free food tech nonprofits (a category dominated by The Good Food Institute) were overrepresented in terms of “Government, policy, lobbying, or legal” roles (14% of employees, compared to 5% across all organisation types) and “Natural sciences” roles (13% compared to 2%).
The organisations “focused substantially on corporate welfare campaigns” and the “other” organisations had much larger proportions focused on “Campaigns, corporate engagement, or volunteer management” — 35% and 38%, respectively, compared to 0% for research nonprofits and 10% for the animal-free food tech nonprofits.
In research organisations 56% of employees had roles categorised as focusing on research, compared to only 3% outside of these organisations. All included, 7% of identified roles focused on research.
Only one role at a research organisation was explicitly categorised as a fundraising role, presumably because in these organisations (which had an average of only 6 staff, compared to 33 in the full sample), fundraising is carried out primarily by the leadership and so was not detected by the methodology used here, based primarily on job titles. Overall, 10% of roles were categorised as fundraising roles.
 For example, it could have just been that some organisations were more or less likely to use titles that implied or shrouded management and leadership responsibilities.
One slightly surprising difference was that a slightly smaller proportion of roles in organisations focused substantially on corporate welfare campaigns (15%) and in research organisations (13%) were in the category for “operations, administration, and HR” than for the other two organisation types (both 21%). Nevertheless, 44% of these roles were still in organisations focused substantially on corporate welfare campaigns.
 See footnote 1.
 If a website did not specify the location of an employee, we assumed that they were based in the same country as the majority of employees of that organisation, unless we happened to know the individual themselves and know where they were based.
 See footnote 16.
 They noted in early 2019 that they “surveyed four of the largest farm animal groups in the US movement on the gender breakdown of their staff. All four of the groups reported that either 69% or 70% of their organizations were comprised of women (none of the groups surveyed provided numbers of non-binary persons).”
 For example, Faunalytics found that 3% of US males and 5% of US females reported eating no meat or fish over the past year. For India, the figures were 28% and 34% respectively, and for Brazil, the figures were 1% and 2% respectively, although for both Russia and China the results were 2% and 1% respectively. Younger people tended to be vegetarian or vegan in the US but the opposite was the case in China and India; there was no consistent trend in Russia or Brazil.Sentience Institute found that females had more positive attitudes towards farmed animals than males.
 We would expect that the employees at these organisations identify more closely with the effective altruism movement than employees at other effective animal advocacy organisations. Note that in the 2019 effective altruism survey, 71% of respondents identified as male. Whether women are considered to be underrepresented in research roles and roles at research organisations therefore depends which reference class one uses — the effective animal advocacy community (70% female), the effective altruism community (29% female), or the global population (close to 50% female).
 In the results spreadsheet, results were also pulled out for paid fundraising roles and for paid legal or legislative roles. However, those results seem especially misleading. Both have small numbers of identified job roles (8 and 5 respectively) and the fundraising roles seem to over-represent senior roles, compared to what we would expect. Of course, this could be interpreted as weak evidence that such roles are especially difficult to hire for, but the very small sample size suggests that it would be unwise to place much weight on this finding. Results were also pulled out for paid roles at corporate welfare organisations.
 The Humane Society of the United States Farm Animal Protection Campaign also had its only two paid roles that were specific to farmed animal advocacy posted on the jobs board, though HSUS as a wider organisation was advertising for other roles, none of which were listed.
This is a very unusual way of saying 'women were over-represented' (relative to their share of the population).
I don't think that the baseline we should expect if all was fair and there was perfect equality of opportunity is 50% female. Bear in mind that far more veg*ns are female than male (without looking into the best studies on this, a quick Google suggests 80% female in the US). I'd guess that "animal advocates" has a similar gender balance. So this would suggest that women are still slightly underrepresented in paid roles, or at least that they're not overrepresented. Also note that women are slightly underrepresented in management and leadership roles in my findings compared to the number of employees (although not by as much as I would have guessed)
Should we be looking at recently filled roles instead of all currently filled ones, for roles needed "on the margin"? E.g., of all recently open roles, how many remain open? It seems like both the ratio and number could be important, though, and all else equal, a greater number means more needed, and a greater ratio means more needed. Of course, some roles might also be more important than others, on top of this.
Compare the following:
X: We need 6 people in total in roles of type X, and 2 roles have been filled for a while, 2 were filled recently, and the last 2 are open. The ratio of open out of all roles of type X is 2/6=1/3, but the ratio of open to recently open is 2/4=1/2.
Y: We need 7 people in total in roles of type Y, and 5 roles have been filled for a while, none were filled recently, and the last 2 are open. The ratio of open out of all roles of type Y is 2/7, but the ratio of open to recently open is 2/2=1.
Z: We need 12 people in total in roles of type Z, and 6 roles have been filled for a while, 3 were filled recently, and the last 3 are open. The ratio of open out of all roles of type Z is 3/12=1/4, but the ratio of open to recently open is 3/6=1/2.
It seems like we should push people to fill Y or Z more than X, because they're harder to fill on the margin, either proportionally (2/2 of recent roles open for Y > 2/4 for recent roles open for X, but both 2 open roles) or absolutely (3 openings for Z > 2 for X, but both 1/2 of recently open still open), even though the proportion of roles of type X open out of all roles of type X needed is highest.
It's harder to judge between Y and Z; Y has a proportionally harder time being filled (2/2=1>1/2=3/6), but Z has more openings (3>2).
<<E.g., of all recently open roles, how many remain open>> I agree that this is probably more informative, but this would require ongoing monitoring to measure and evaluate so it's not appropriate for this "spot-check" methodology? I think that that suggestion comes under the general category of further research that could be be possible in combination with a a jobs board, which I referred to briefly to in the first bullet point in the further research section.
You could just ask orgs which roles were filled within the last X days/months, since they should know, so it wouldn't require ongoing monitoring, but this might still be substantial work for you and them (cumulatively) to get this info, depending on how many orgs you need to contact.
Yeah part of the appeal of this project was that I could do it independently without relying on connections or asking orgs to fill out a survey (we're going to use a lot of them going forwards I imagine). There are definitely things we can play around with going forwards to get better information about these things.
But we also might not want to count someone moving between orgs in the same kind of role, which makes things more complicated. There can also be people shifting around into different roles within the movement, and even possibly cycles because of it, e.g. A goes from X to Y, B goes from Y to Z and C goes from Z to X. Maybe you'd want to deal with openings caused by people leaving a position differently.
This post was awarded an EA Forum Prize; see the prize announcement for more details.
My notes on what I liked about the post, from the announcement:
Thanks for posting this! I've come to believe that a lot of common beliefs about the EA job market are based on anecdotes and impressions rather than data on available positions or the population of job-seekers. I'm excited to see AAC taking on this work for animal advocacy roles.