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Introduction to the series

Career Conversations Week on the Forum got the Successif team thinking about the conversations we’ve[1] been having internally and with others in the community about making high-impact fields more inclusive of mid-career professionals. Though these conversations are, so far, based on few data points, we continue to notice patterns that tell us we need to do more work in this area. We have decided to post about these one-by-one on the forum to start conversation. They are not very researched or exhaustive. 

Conversation 1 - Hiring practices at some impact-minded organizations may be driving away talented mid-career people

Within our work at Successif, we’ve heard several stories from program participants who have interviewed at well-regarded, impact-minded organizations and who have had significant negative experiences during the process. The claims include a combination of unreasonable asks, poor communication, mismanagement, and offers retracted at the last-minute. This has led talented individuals to reconsider their decision to invest time in the very difficult and costly task of finding impactful work.

These stories seem to mostly be caused by the fact that small organizations sometimes rely on recent graduates, with no prior experience in hiring, to find the most promising candidates to work on the world’s most pressing problems. Unfortunately, hiring processes that are not handled adequately can drive out people with the highest professional standards and the most experience, since they will be more likely to recognize these processes as problematic. We are thus concerned that it is creating a selection bias and driving out people with certain skills and backgrounds that are less common in the community. 

Many mid-careers balance their existing full-time workloads and at-home responsibilities with upskilling, searching for opportunities, interviewing, engaging with programs and other material, and others, who can afford it, take a sabbatical and dedicate themselves fully to this process. For those who make it to the interview process, our hope is that they are met with a reasonable experience so that they are not discouraged from finding impactful work.

Successif’s core activities rely on indirect impact (helping others maximize their own impact), especially in the mitigation of AI catastrophic and existential risks. We are not hiring experts, and we got interested in this question because we think organizations with good hiring practices and internal culture will retain better talent and maximize their impact. That’s why we’ll be exploring this further with the HITE community (mentioned below) at monthly events, and we intend to post our findings on the forum. 

Let’s start the conversation!  

How you can help

We’d like your help continuing these conversations or challenging them, surfacing relevant data points, sharing your own experiences, or telling us about current efforts to make changes. You can do this in the comments here, in our inbox (contact+hite@successif.org)anonymously via this form, or with others in the community.

If you (1) are a recruiter at a high-impact organization, (2) are a career advisor, (3) provide trainings to upskill professionals, (4) offer meta services to potential job candidates, or (5) provide meta services to high-impact organizations, consider joining the High Impact Talent Ecosystem (HITE).

HITE's goals include understanding and addressing the gaps in the high-impact talent pipeline, sharing and collecting information to inform our strategies, building common tools, and strengthening the overall work of the community. Next week, on September 21, 2023, HITE will have its first online event, with time dedicated to discussing best hiring practices. Fill this form to be added to the HITE group and invited to the event. HITE is open to those who actively work on strengthening the high-impact talent ecosystem.

  1. ^

    “We” and “our” are used to represent various combinations of team members at Successif. Not all the views in this post have been reviewed by all team members.





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Executive summary: The post discusses the need for improving inclusivity of mid-career professionals in high-impact organizations while highlighting potential biases and shortcomings in current hiring practices that may deter such professionals.

Key points:

  1. Stories from program participants indicate unreasonable requests, poor communication, and rescinded offers during the hiring process at some well-regarded impact organizations.
  2. This discourages talented mid-career individuals from pursuing impact roles and may create a selection bias.
  3. Hiring is often handled by inexperienced recent graduates at small impact organizations.
  4. Successif aims to explore this issue further with the High Impact Talent Ecosystem (HITE) community.
  5. Readers can help by sharing experiences, surfacing data, and joining HITE to improve hiring practices.
  6. Improving hiring and culture will help retain talent and maximize impact.


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.

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