You should write about your job

post by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-07-19T01:26:59.345Z · EA · GW · 19 comments


  Jobs are mysterious...
  ...but they don't have to be
  "Job posts" can help
  What a job post might look like
  Sample job posts

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:

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:

...but they don't have to be

"Job posts" can help

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


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-07-19T01:29:49.463Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

Replies from: AndyMorgan, riceissa, Linch, evelynciara, Paulindrome
comment by AndyMorgan · 2021-07-20T02:03:34.171Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

Replies from: aarongertler
comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-07-22T01:33:50.833Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

Replies from: AndyMorgan
comment by AndyMorgan · 2021-07-22T21:07:42.974Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sweet, will do!

comment by riceissa · 2021-07-19T06:16:18.903Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

comment by Linch · 2021-07-19T04:31:58.077Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm a generalist researcher at Rethink Priorities [? · GW]. 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 [EA · GW], 2020 [EA · GW]).

Replies from: AbbyBabby, Ikaxas
comment by Abby Hoskin (AbbyBabby) · 2021-07-20T21:42:43.327Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

comment by Ikaxas · 2021-07-20T12:20:03.867Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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 [LW · GW]" of the job. Aside from this recent post [EA · GW], 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.

comment by evelynciara · 2021-07-19T04:43:32.081Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

Replies from: bec_hawk
comment by bec_hawk · 2021-07-20T02:29:58.941Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

Replies from: evelynciara
comment by evelynciara · 2021-07-20T16:29:59.735Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

comment by Paulindrome · 2021-07-21T22:10:16.545Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

comment by MichaelA · 2021-07-19T07:50:14.533Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

I also tentatively suggested something somewhat similar recently in a shortform [EA(p) · GW(p)]. 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 [EA · GW] 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 [EA(p) · GW(p)] 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 [? · GW] 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?"

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.) 

comment by MichaelA · 2021-07-19T09:48:27.501Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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. 

comment by Nathan Young (nathan) · 2021-07-19T08:26:30.571Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Great post, well argued.

comment by Abby Hoskin (AbbyBabby) · 2021-07-20T21:44:37.143Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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

comment by Nathan Young (nathan) · 2021-07-22T18:36:43.490Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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?

Replies from: nathan
comment by Nathan Young (nathan) · 2021-07-23T16:30:21.010Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

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