80,000 Hours wrote some quick notes on this back in 2015:
Potentially promising career paths in poorer countries
They were rough then and may have become out of date in the last 3 years, but hopefully can still help people generate ideas.
We have a forthcoming post on whether the expressions ‘talent gap/bottleneck/constraint’ are generating more heat than light and should be phased out in favour of more specific terms.
Responses to the survey do help to inform our advice but it’s only considered as one piece of data alongside all the other research we’ve done over the years. Our writeup of the survey results definitely shouldn’t be read as our all-things-considered view on any issue in particular.
Perhaps we could have made that clearer in the blog post but we hope that our frank discussion of the survey’s weaknesses and our doubts about many of the individual responses gives some sense of the overall weight we put on this particular source.
We’ve written a new post in part to address this question: Many EA orgs say they place a lot of financial value on their previous hire. What does that mean, if anything? And why aren’t they hiring faster?
It sounds like you mostly agree with our take on earning to give in the high impact careers article. That article is fairly new but it will become one of the central pages on the site after a forthcoming re-organisation. Let us know if there are other articles on the site you think are inconsistent with that take—we can take a look and potentially bring them into line.
We agree with you that earning to give can be a genuinely great option and don’t intend to demoralize people who choose that path. As we write in that article, we believe that “any graduate in a high income country can have a significant impact” by earning to give.
That said, we do stand by our recommendation that most people who might be a good fit to eventually enter one of our priority paths should initially pursue one of those paths over earning to give (though while maintaining a back-up option). Those paths have higher upside, so it’s worth testing out your potential, while bearing in mind that they might not work out.
Many of the best options on these paths require substantial career capital, so often this won’t mean starting a direct impact job today. Instead, we think many readers should consider acquiring career capital that can open up these paths, including graduate school in relevant disciplines (e.g. AI/ML, policy, or international relations) entry level policy jobs (e.g. as a Congressional staffer, or working as an early employee at a startup to gain skills and experience in operations. We hope to release an article discussing our updated views on career capital soon.
Of course, these paths aren’t a good fit for everyone, and we continue to believe that earning to give can be a great option for many.
It’s also worth emphasizing that our advice is, of course, influenced by our views on the highest priority problems. We tried to make that clear in “high impact careers” by including a section on how our recommendations would change if someone is focused on global health or factory farming. In that case, we believe “earning to give, for-profit work and advocacy become much more attractive.”
“Does the answer refer to high impact opportunities in general in the world”
That question is intended to look at the highest-impact jobs available in the world as a whole, in contrast with the organisations being surveyed. Given the top response was government and policy experts, I think people interpreted it correctly.
Hi Alex thanks I fixed 30. 2,4,6 and 15 are working for me—can you email over a screenshot of the error you’re getting?
“given the relative abundance of cash available to EA orgs (through OpenPhil and Good Ventures), a rate as high as this is surprising.”
Three thoughts: i) the range of figures offered was very wide, ii) orgs that are strongly supported by large institutional donors gave lower figures, iii) if those orgs expect OpenPhil/GoodVentures/etc to give them even more money in future years, they could still sensibly report a high discount rate.
Fair point. I thought about calling them articles… but they’re definitely not all articles. Thought about calling them ‘content releases’ but that felt like corporate vagueness.
I should have gone with something nobody could dispute: 32 new(ish) universal resource locators. ;) - RW
Hi Geoffrey, we agree this would be very valuable. Our materials are already heading in that direction, but I think it will be at least a year or two before we do a major research push to produce that guide due to other competing priorities.