Last updated: 4th October, 2023. We plan to update this page further in the coming months.
1. What is a career 1:1?
EA offers a unique perspective on individuals’ career paths. Career 1:1s provide a platform to discuss career aspirations and consider EA-aligned options. You may also conduct these discussions in small-group settings. In these conversations, experienced organisers can help their members make career-decisions in a personalised and in-depth manner. We think that a lot of the value coming from these conversations is from organisers directing advisees to opportunities and individuals where the advisee can learn more, as opposed to organisers telling advisees what to do.
2. Should you conduct career 1:1s?
There are a few characteristics that make people good candidates to have 1:1s:
- Thorough understanding of EA cause areas and concepts; for example 80,000 Hours’ key ideas.
- Good interpersonal and communication skills.
- Active membership in the EA community, including the ability to connect to other relevant members of the community.
If you’re unsure whether you are ready to conduct career consultations, it’s a good idea to reach out to those who have more experience; see our key contacts page for people you can ask for help from. If you are a university group organiser, you can also apply to UGAP or OSP to receive more guidance on this and other topics. You can also recommend the free 1:1 career advising services offered by 80,000 Hours and by Probably Good, which are run by professional advisors. We also recommend Virtual Program’s career planning pilot.
3. General principles to follow
- Tool-driven rather than answer driven: the advisee will have more information than you regarding their situation, even after talking for an hour. You shouldn’t feel like there’s an expectation for you to find “the answer” for them. They usually need help thinking through tough decisions, or an intelligent sounding board.
- Intellectual honesty: you should very clearly differentiate between facts you are relaying and your own opinions, with a default towards saying something is your opinion as opposed to fact. When you are giving an opinion, it can often be useful to state how sure you are in the claim you’re making, perhaps with a percentage. It’s also helpful to highlight the potential downsides of different courses of action, even those that you think are good. It’s important to be aware of your own biases: We often want to be viewed as smart or knowledgeable, especially when we’re trying to help people do good. However, it’s really useful to say “I don’t know” about the very large set of things you don’t know.
- Connecting rather than telling: it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re one of the world-leading experts in the topic you’re discussing in your career 1:1. Therefore, it may be helpful to connect people to resources and individuals that can offer more help than you can. This could be articles, other career consultations services, companies etc.
- Seeking to identify what is true about the world: e.g., (i) is radically transformative technology likely to happen soon & can we influence outcomes three; (ii) do animals deserve significant moral consideration; (iii) do people overseas, with problems I can’t relate to, deserve somewhat comparable moral consideration to domestic people with visible problems? Whilst it is important to identify what you’re good at and what you enjoy, it might be the case that the most important question is what is true about the world. For example, if we’re at a technological key-point in history, that possibly becomes the dominant consideration. If we’re not and animals deserve significant moral consideration, then that possibly becomes the dominant consideration.
4. Preparing yourself to conduct career 1:1s
- Ensure you are familiar with 80,000 Hours’ most pressing problems. Perhaps you could take some notes of key organisations and concepts relevant to the top ten.
- Read our introducing EA and communicating about it, dealing with difficult questions and 1:1 meetings pages.
- Familiarise yourself with Section 7 of this page; look through the resources and ensure you are comfortable explaining (a) what each resource has to offer and (b) which resources you think are the most useful and why.
5. Preparing for a specific 1:1 and conversation template
Try and get as much information as you can about the needs of the advisee before your meeting. Your ability to do this may differ depending on how they reached out for advice, but a message asking what their situation is and what sort of advice they’d like is usually very helpful in preparation if they haven’t filled out a comprehensive form.
You will then want to prepare a rough agenda and list of questions. This will be vary depending on your situation, but here is a rough outline of 12 steps you might want to include. We recommend preparing at least 1-2 questions for each stage that you can fall back on if conversation halts.
We also highly recommend that you collect resources that you may want to refer your advisee to either during or after your meeting. See Section 7 of this guide for some resources, but we recommend you also do your own research on top of this, ready to share with your advisee.
It’s extremely rare that people make large changes in their lives after a very successful two-hour meeting. Usually decisions like changing careers happen after a process that can take weeks, months or years. Specifically, time passing is sometimes necessary in order to process and come to terms with new ideas. This means that following up and supporting their process is usually crucial in order to achieve actual results and make a difference.
We recommend including the following information in your follow-up message:
- First sentence introduction e.g. about enjoying talking to them.
- A short summary of what you discussed.
- Any action items going forward.
- Links to materials you discussed, contact details or offers to intro to people you wish to put them in contact with.
- Invitation to keep communicating and how you’d like them to do that.
7. Resources you may want to refer people to
- Replaceability by Benjamin Todd (80,000 Hours)
- Moral Value of Information by James Aung and Jessica Wong (who edited the original transcript)
- Longtermism by Cody Fenwick (80,000 Hours)
- Earning to Give by William MacAskill (80,00 Hours)
- Comparative Advantage by Benjamin Todd (80,000 Hours)
- Specific Resources, Ideas, and Articles
- 80k Hours’ Job Board
- Advice by Specific Expertise, by Benjamin Todd (80,000 Hours)
- World’s most pressing problems by 80,000 Hours
- Framework for Comparing Global Problems by Robert Wiblin (80,000 Hours)
- Help Now or Later, More on helping now or later by Benjamin Todd (80,000 Hours)
- The Case for Reducing Extinction Risk by Benjamin Todd (80,000 Hours)
- Is it ok to take a harmful job in order to do more good? by Benjamin Todd and William MacAskill ·(80,000 Hours)
- Crucial Considerations by Pablo Stafforini
Footnote: 1:1 meetings are also known as the following. We have noted these different terms below to help with search functionality!
one-on-ones / one-on-one’s
one-to-ones / one-to-one’s
one-ones / one-one’s
one:ones / one:one’s
1-1s / 1-1’s
121s / 121’s
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If you were in the ‘Career Guidance’ section, see below for your previous and next pages:
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