If you have a job, you are one of the world's foremost experts on your job — at least within the EA community, which is not large.

Jobs are a useful thing to know about. We spend more time on them than anything else, and most of our impact comes from jobs + their outcomes (e.g. salary).

Thus, I think people should write more posts that talk about:

  • How they got their jobs
  • What they learned in the process of getting hired
  • What it's like to work at their job, day-to-day

If you have a job, there's a chance that writing about it is one of the best ways you could contribute to the Forum. And you can do it without reading anything, or having any opinions whatsoever!

Jobs are mysterious...

The job market, both inside and outside of EA, feels weird and mysterious and intimidating to a lot of people:

  • Almost everyone gets rejected from most jobs they apply for.
  • Almost no jobs provide feedback to applicants.
  • Almost all job applications go toward the small fraction of jobs with the most applicants, which creates the impression that the average job is more competitive than it actually is (see many comments on this post).
  • Almost all jobs are more about "content" than "topic": your experience with them depends on what you actually do with your time, rather than what the job is "about".

...but they don't have to be

  • Almost everyone gets a job — and within the EA community, almost everyone gets a job with some kind of relevant upside (good money, skills training, networking, etc.)
  • Even if few people get their first-choice job, they tend to end up doing something that someone else in EA might also want to do.
  • People who get a job know a lot about the application process for that job, and what that job entails — more than anyone else who hasn't had exactly that job.

"Job posts" can help

  • Just reading about how something happens, in detail, can make it seem less mysterious and intimidating — like the hiring process for a given job
  • It's also good to hear about the journey involved in finding a job, and the ways in which it isn't always smooth or flawless (even people who get jobs typically get lots of rejections, too)
  • If someone wants to do the same kind of job you do, writing a job post helps them in multiple ways; they can read it, and they can ask you questions!
  • Your job doesn't have to be with an EA-aligned organization. This kind of resource is hard to find even in bigger fields, and many existing examples have problems (written by someone who wants to sell you something, written by people who won't respond to questions, ten years out of date, etc.)
    • Jobs outside EA that will be relevant to many Forum readers might include:
      • PhD student
      • Programmer (though this might be the job with the best existing "literature")
      • Academic researcher
      • Journalist
      • Biologist
      • Anything that involves working with public policy
      • If you're not sure whether people want to know about your job, leave a comment here to find out

What a job post might look like

Here's my suggestion for a minimum viable job post.

It's fine to start minimal, because people who want to know more can leave a comment! Or message you with a question!

  1. Background: What were some past jobs or other experiences that helped you prepare for getting your current job? Which ones would you especially recommend?
    1. Bonus: What other, irrelevant stuff did you "waste time" on? This helps readers (a) avoid doing irrelevant things, and (b) understand that it's possible to get a job even without a perfect, focused resume.
  2. Application process: What was it like to apply to your job? Were there parts of the process you wish you'd prepared for differently?
    1. Bonus: What other jobs did you apply for? Which ones rejected you? How far did you get, and how much time did that take? This helps readers feel less intimidated about the job market (by making it clear that everyone gets rejected, even people who found cool jobs later)
    2. Bonus: What did your resume look like at the time?
  3. What the job is like: What are you actually doing on a day-to-day basis? What skills have you been building?

In total, the MVP version could be ~3 paragraphs and/or bullet lists.

Sample job posts

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21 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:23 PM
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Suggestion: If you're not sure anyone would want to read your job post, reply to this comment and say what your job is, then see how people respond.

Also, consider that we'll have a nice tag for these posts and that, if lots of people write them, the tag will become a resource that could help hundreds of EA-aligned job-seekers.

I work as a senior policy analyst in the New Zealand government, specifically in the area of genetic modification policy.  I can talk about how I got the job, and why I think I excel at it, despite not having a background in science, as well as what the work is like day-to-day.

I'd be extremely interested in this, and it's the highest-karma comment on this thread at the moment!

Sweet, will do!

For the past five years I have been doing contract work for a bunch of individuals and organizations, often overlapping with the EA movement's interests. For a list of things I've done, you can see here or here. I can say more about how I got started and what it's like to do this kind of work if there is interest.

I'm a generalist researcher at Rethink Priorities. I'm on the longtermism team and that's what I try to spend most of my time doing, but some of my projects touch on global health and some of projects are relevant to animal welfare as well (I think doing work across cause areas is fairly common at RP, though this will likely decrease with time as the org gets larger and individual researchers become more specialized). 

I'm happy to talk about my job, but unclear how valuable this is, given that a) "generalist researcher" is probably one of the most well-known of EA jobs and b) Rethink is probably one of the more public EA orgs, at least among orgs that aren't primarily doing community building, and people interested can look at things like our AMAs (2019, 2020).

I would love to hear more about your job, and it might be really useful for RP too since they're hiring ;)

I'd be interested in this. Even though "generalist researcher" is well-known, I think it's easy from the outside to get a distorted picture of the "content" of the job. Aside from this recent post, I don't know of write ups about it off the top of my head (though there could be ones I don't know about), and of course multiple writeups are useful since different people's situations and experiences will be different.

I'm currently interning at the Stanford Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship! My team works on using computer vision and Google Street View data to identify physical features of buildings and urban environments that might correlate with community well-being in U.S. cities.

I think the fellowship is good for students who are interested in getting into academic research and data science, so I'm happy to talk more about it if anyone's interested.

Hi Evelyn, I would be very keen to hear about this! Especially  your general thoughts on data science, as I'm not based in the US, though may apply for a US masters in future.

What kind of data science are you interested in? The DSSG fellowship is focused on data science for academic research.

I work in energy and infrastructure financing for a large bank in the UK, and don't have a background in business or finance.

I'd love to hear more about your trajectory and work!

This interview with Reuben Munger is one of my favorite discussions with an energy/infrastructure financier who is having an impact on renewable energy markets in North America — it certainly led me to consider his corner of finance a fairly EA-friendly career path — in case it's interesting to you or others: https://capitalallocators.com/podcast/private-capital-perspective/

Yeah, I definitely expect it'd be worth many people doing this! 

I also tentatively suggested something somewhat similar recently in a shortform. I'll quote that in full:

Are there "a day in the life" / "typical workday" writeups regarding working at EA orgs? Should someone make some (or make more)?

I've had multiple calls with people who are interested in working at EA orgs, but who feel very unsure what that actually involves day to day, and so wanted to know what a typical workday is like for me. This does seem like useful info for people choosing how much to focus on working at EA vs non-EA orgs, as well as which specific types of roles and orgs to focus on. 

Having write-ups on that could be more efficient than people answering similar questions multiple times. And it could make it easier for people to learn about a wider range of "typical workdays", rather than having to extrapolate from whoever they happened to talk to and whatever happened to come to mind for that person at that time.

I think such write-ups are made and shared in some other "sectors". E.g. when I was applying for a job in the UK civil service, I think I recall there being a "typical day" writeup for a range of different types of roles in and branches of the civil service.

So do such write-ups exist for EA orgs? (Maybe some posts in the Working at EA organizations series serve this function?) Should someone make some (or make more)?

One way to make them would be for people think about career options to have the calls they would've had anyway, but ask if they can take more detailed conversation notes and then post them to the Forum. (Perhaps anonymising the notes, or synthesising a few conversations into one post, if that seems best.) That might allow these people to quickly provide a handy public service. (See e.g. the surprising-to-me number of upvotes and comments from me just posting these conversation notes I'd made for my own purposes anyway.)

I think ideally these write-ups would be findable from the Working at EA vs Non-EA Orgs tag. 

I think the key difference between my shortform and yours is that your suggestion is broader than just "typical day in the life" or just EA org jobs. I think it's indeed better to suggest something that's broader in those two ways. (I had just had in mind what happened to stand out to me that day after a call with someone.) 


Btw, Jamie Harris noted in a reply to my shortform: 

Animal Advocacy Careers skills profiles are a bit like this for various effective animal advocacy nonprofit roles. You can also just read my notes on the interviews I did (linked within each profile) -- they usually just start with the question "what's a typical day?" https://www.animaladvocacycareers.org/skills-profiles

So those profiles might be of interest to people on the object-level or as examples of what these posts could look like. (Though I don't think anyone should really need to see an example, and I haven't actually read any of those profiles myself.) 

I think the MVP version you describe sounds good. I'd add that it seems like it'd sometimes/often be useful for people to also write some thoughts on whether and why they'd recommend people pursue such jobs? I think these posts would often be useful even without that, but that could sometimes/often make them more useful. 

Love how many posts have been written off the back of this. Great work Aaron. I wonder if there is other underrated private knowledge which people could easily write articles about?

People could write about jobs they've tried and why they didn't work.

Great post, well argued.

While I think a write up of my experience as a web development intern wouldn’t add much value compared to the existing web developer post, I’d be interested in writing a guide to getting a (top) software engineering internship/new grad position as a university student. (Not saying my past internships are top-tier!) I'm planning on giving an overview about (or at least link to resources about) to how to write a great resume, preparing behavioral interview answers, preparing for technical interviews with LeetCode-style or system design questions, and so on. A lot has been written about the topic already on the general internet, so I would heavily link to those resources rather than reinventing the wheel, but I think it would be useful to have some practical job-seeking advice on the EA Forum to help with each other's career success. Does that sound like it would be on-topic for the EA Forum?

Definitely sounds on-topic! (Just like these "job profile" posts are.)

I appreciate that you plan to make use of the vast online literature on this topic, rather than writing a lot of original content.

Even if your post doesn't cover much new ground, I've seen other Forum posts that were among the best I've read on "generic" topics, so my prior is that we have a lot of good writers whose work is worth reading, even when it's not specific to EA.

This is an awesome idea! 80k would probably be interested in compiling a bunch of the answers you get :)