The Career Factors Framework attempts to formalise the different factors that may help or hinder an individual from following a particular high impact or EA-aligned career path.
I (Vaidehi) initially planned to develop this post more by providing concrete use cases and examples where this framework could be used. However, due to time constraints and other projects that didn't happen, I'm choosing instead to post this now because I still think the factors themselves are useful.
We created this framework in early 2020 as a result of a survey on group organisers conducted as part of the Local Career Advice Network (LCAN) and have outlined the process of creating (and limitations) in a previous post.
This framework expands on early (2015) work by 80,000 Hours on the formula for a perfect job (see appendix). While 80,000 Hours focuses on estimating the expected value between different options, we were interested in a slightly different question which came from observing challenges that organisers outside the US and UK faced when trying to help their group members have more impact:
What (definable) factors help or hinder an individual's journey along high impact career paths?
We found 80,000 Hours' initial work a useful first step, but needed to develop it by expanding the scope of the factors considered to be more comprehensive, and relevant not just to individual opportunities, but along a career path. Within a given career path an individual could have many jobs, studies and participate in other kinds of activities. This meant expanding from just a concrete opportunity and the interaction between it and the person (e.g. supportive working conditions) to factors that are related to the person themselves, which could be independent of the opportunity (e.g. social and health resources or information resources). We also identified new factors such as personal uncertainty and freedom of movement through grounded research via our survey.
Who can use this framework?
We hope this framework will help to formalise and identify important bottlenecks for any community builders looking to coach and help their members pursue high impact career paths. We have received positive feedback from a handful of community builders that this framework helped them to think about their group's collective bottlenecks in a more structured way.
We also think it may be helpful to think about what kind of opportunities can have the attributes of different factors, or that can give a member such factors, e.g. if experience (career capital) is something that’s generally lacking, then perhaps it’s worth community builders spending time to find, or create, such opportunities.
Although this framework was developed with community builders in mind, we hypothesise it may be useful for individuals to consider all the factors that can help them to pursue a given career path, and possibly help them pinpoint areas for improvement, or things that they may want to ask the EA community for help on.
The framework can be applied throughout someone’s entire career journey, whether that’s deciding which subjects to study, how to change or pivot careers, or how to use one’s time effectively. It could help individuals identify potential blindspots in their career planning such as a lack of information resources. It might also help them dig deeper and understand the root causes of certain bottlenecks. For example, are they uncertain because of their personal fit for a path, or because they just aren’t sure how to actually achieve that path?
It can also help community members understand better what they are willing to compromise on in order to pursue particular paths and better understand what risks they are willing to take. For example, one could be considering 3 career paths and analyse all three of them with this framework.
We hope that this framework may prompt individuals to take time to re-evaluate how much a particular factor may be helping or hindering them and recommend pairing this framework with 80,000 Hours’ Career planning: An in-depth process & template.
Things to keep in mind
- This framework does not make any claims on the weight of different factors. The importance of different factors varies a lot by cause and career path. It also doesn't comment on the interrelation between the factors.
- From our research we have found that factors are interrelated and not independent. We believe that the best solutions would require improving multiple factors at once, rather than isolating them. Further, improving one factor may have positive flow-through effects on other factors that would be important to take into account when trying to work on career advice bottlenecks.
Career Factors Framework
Relevant skills for at least 1 path
Domain knowledge, technical skills, management skills, language knowledge, etc.
Relevant credentials for at least 1 path
Degrees, certifications etc.
Relevant experience for at least 1 path.
Internships, work, volunteering, projects
Connections in relevant fields, industry, cause area or role for at least 1 path
Experts, mentors, funders, etc.
Flexibility of career capital
How cheap it is to change career paths
Require significant resources to upskill
Uncertainties regarding personal fit and current and future risks which may affect motivation and confidence to follow a path
Factors that affect personal fit including cultural fit (for a type of job or organisation), past and current success, having a good work-life balance, avoiding personal negative outcomes (e.g. social/health outcomes) and personal satisfaction
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to pursue a career path
Can result from several other factors that affect motivation: lack of specific knowledge; lack of confidence, ambition or initiative; lack of interest or commitment to EA
Uncertainty about which career path to follow and/or the concrete actions necessary to follow it
Relevant innate talent and potential including personality traits for at least 1 priority path
Evidence that the person could potentially excel in a given path
Knowledge of EA
Sophisticated and accurate understanding of EA principles (esp. cause prioritisation) and career advice
Access to monetary resources, or resources that funge with money
|Money, time, skills that use resources more effectively (e.g. productivity).|
Social and Health Resources
Access to social support, good physical and mental health
Social support includes that from family, friends, communities, society.
Freedom of Movement
Internal or external constraints that affect geographic movement
External constraints: work visas, familial obligations, relationships, language. Internal constraints: social life, relationships, personal preferences, cultural fit.
Prevalence of opportunities for direct impact or career capital
|Factors that increase difficulty of securing an opportunity, such as competitiveness, or number of opportunities.|
Movement knowledge tailored to a local context (incl. people that can deliver this information)
Lack of (awareness of) local opportunities, access to good careers advice etc.
If you have any questions about the framework, please comment or reach out to us.
Thanks to Arjun Khandelwal and Neha Georgie for comments on early drafts of this post. All mistakes are ours.
For reference here is 80,000 Hours' old formula for evaluating af given opportunity, which we used as a starting point for thinking about career factors:
Here is the updated formula from May 2021 (published after we completed our post):
These include, but are not limited to 80,000 Hours' Priority Paths.
As you can see in the Appendix, 80,000 Hours has also updated their thinking towards weighting information value (i.e. how today's opportunity can better inform tomorrow's).