Unsolicited Career Advice

by ConcernedNetizen1 min read4th Mar 20198 comments

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I read the ‘After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation’ thread. 


From memory, EA Cambridge could fill a ~300 person auditorium for a statistics lecture. Hence my Fermi estimate for the UK EA graduate pool is as follows.  Assume 1/3 of students graduate every year from the top 20 universities each with 300 interested students. Then there is a supply on the order of 2000 competent, committed EA grads each year (fudging in a number of other things). Not all of whom will apply for every EA non-technical role, but many will. 


At the moment there are order of 10 interesting looking non-technical roles in the UK on the High Impact Job Board.

So, the math here will work something like musical chairs with (maybe 10-20% of) 2000 people and 10 chairs. Those are not good odds.


Next, I checked up some of the organisations people mentioned when discussing operations roles. E.g. Open Phil and CEA. Most organisations have ‘Team’ pages where you can see who is working in similar roles. Now of the three Operations profiles I checked all had had previous experience. One had been CEO of another charity!  Another EA org has an Executive Assistant posting open. The three administrative team members listed on their site include: someone who ran a $100m business, a barrister and someone from Formula 1. However, the job posting does not mention any experience requirements.

That’s a high bar. And it’s not explicit.

This is to say… there is no point in recent graduates beating themselves up about not winning that game. I’m saying this because many organisations are too nice, in that they don’t want to explicitly put anyone off by saying, “stellar experience required.”


Another point is that roles at well known EA focused orgs may not be an effective choice on the margin for an individual. Given the math, it seems highly unlikely that a non-technical role would go unfilled by a quality candidate. So the ‘neglectedness’ criterion may well be unmet.


Policy prescription:

  • Get technical. Compete for roles with smaller pools of qualified candidates. 
  • Get experience. Become one of the people who meet the unwritten bar, elsewhere
  • Stay elsewhere. In the context of the whole economy, there are not many EAs, and there is much left undone.

I was going to write something like ‘get creative: start your own thing’. But to do that seems to require solving the same type of problem.

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