John Salter

Founder @ Overcome
1103 karmaJoined Sep 2022Working (0-5 years)www.overcome.org.uk


Founder of Overcome, an EA-aligned mental health charity


I view our hiring process as a constant work in progress, and we look back at the application process of everyone after their time with us, potatoes and gems alike, and try figure out how we could have told ahead of time. Part of that is writing up notes. We use chatgpt to make the notes more sensitive and send them to the applicant. 

Caveat: We only do this for people who show some promise of future admission. 

Have also tried this, although most our applicants aren't EAs. People who reapply given detailed feedback usually don't hit the bar.

We still do it, in part because we think it's good for the applicants, and in part because people who make a huge improvement attempt 2 usually make strong long-term hires

I suspect this thread would be more productive if "very high" was defined more precisely before he answers. I suspect top 30%, top 10% and top 1% might have very different answers. 

I don't think acquiring knowledge requires brilliance, although I accept some of it is hard. I just think that at least two or three of these things would be doable for the median "mediocre" EA. 

I think there's a ton of obvious things that people neglect because they're not glamorous enough:

1. Unofficially beta-test new EA stuff e.g. if someone announces something new, use it and give helpful feedback regularly
2. Volunteer to do boring stuff for impactful organisations e.g. admin
3. Deeply fact-check popular EA forum posts
4. Be a good friend to people doing things you think are awesome
5. Investigate EA aligned charities on the ground, check that they are being honest in their reporting
6. Openly criticise grifters who people fear to speak out against for fear of reprisal 
7.  Stay up-to-date on the needs of different people and orgs, and connect people who need connecting

In generally, looking for the most anxiety provoking, boring, and lowest social status work is a good way of finding impactful opportunities. 

Funders are likely to judge you based on whether you can clearly and concisely get these ideas across. Directing to a long blog post is unlikely to cut it. They'll probably not read it. I'd strongly suggest modifying the original post to include this information, or make it more apparent. There's 69420 people, just like you and me, vying for their attention at any given time; they aren't going to do much additional work to understand your application. If they can't find these answers very quickly, they'll click off and look elsewhere. 

For what it's worth, I'd love to have more people like you, a local person actually doing the work on the ground (pun intended), getting the funding they need to make their vision reality.

Things that would make this post more compelling

1 - A more clear vision of the good this project would achieve if it gets the money, e.g. a cost-effectiveness analysis
2 - Why donors ought believe in the teams ability to execute
3 - A clearer vision for how the next few years would pan out if you got the money

At least when I used it a few years back, if you just wrote coursera that you were a broke student and couldn't afford the course, they'd give it to you for free. Unsure if that's still the case, but it's likely worth giving it a go and seeing what happens!

I'd strongly suggest creating a summary and linking to the full post as a Google doc or something. At present, the length will put off potential donors from even reading it.

Key questions to address in a summary:

  1. Why are you the BEST opportunity to donate to within this cause area?
  2. Why has EAIF decided to terminate your funding? If they think it's not cost-effective enough, why are they wrong?
  3. What are you going to accomplish with the money?
  4. Why should prospective donors believe you can execute?

FWIW, my gut tells me that this is likely a good use of funding. The team seems dedicated, willing to work for cheap, and sufficiently proactive to make a good go of it.

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