Ozzie Gooen on March 5th, 2014
Who has been applying to coaching from 80,000 Hours? In this post, we analyze our coaching applications to understand what kinds of people are requesting coaching.
Data sources and quantity
We analyzed responses from our Social Impact Coaching applications. These consisted of multiple choice questions, text-response paragraphs, and CVs or resumes. This analysis looked at all 91 Social Impact Coaching responses from Oct 15th 2013 to Jan 22 2014.
What were the key demographic characteristics of the audience?
- Only 30% were from the UK. 38% were from the US, with others spread around the globe, especially Australia and Canada.
- 73% were in their twenties, and 20% were over 30.
- We estimated that approximately 40% of applicants were not students.
Where do most coaching applicants come from?
- The most important source was personal referrals at 28% of applicants.
- Next, came the student groups in Oxford and Cambridge, which yielded 24% of applicants.
- Google search was a surprisingly common source at 16% of applicants.
- Two other important sources were the CFAR/LW community and Peter Singer’s TED talk.
How high achieving is the audience?
Our impression of the audience was that they were extremely ‘high achieving’ from the standpoint of intelligence and general prestige. It seems like we have a surprisingly high number of top young academics, entrepreneurs and charity workers applying.
This could have been biased because it has become known that 80,000 Hours coaching applications are highly competitive. Therefore it may be that many applicants who didn’t feel impressive did not apply.
How knowledgeable about effective altruism is our audience?
Approximately 1/4th of the applicants seemed to be very familiar with effective altruism, 1/4th somewhat familiar, and the other 1/2 seemed unfamiliar (see the ‘Knowledge of effective altruism’ rating below for more details). About 45% said that they support one of the causes common in the effective altruism community.
How altruistic is the audience?
They appear to be highly altruistic on average, with 30% pledging at least 10% of their income to charity and over half saying that positive impact is the main or only relevant factor in choosing their career. We might expect this to be biased upwards because it was obvious from the application which answers we’d prefer. From examining CVs qualitatively, we classified about ⅓ of the audience as ‘highly altruistic’.
Is there a subsection of the audience who might be willing to pay for coaching?
We’re interesting in the possibility of making part of the coaching self-funding. Our best guess was that the people who will be most willing to pay for coaching are people from tech and finance backgrounds aged 25-35. We found that about 20% of the requests fell in this category, which was higher than our expectations.
How has our audience changed over time?
There was a 0.17 correlation between audience ID (the order in which they joined) and the achievement score. Therefore it seems like the applications are becoming slightly higher in average achievement, which is a positive sign. However, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions because the period of time was very short (October 15th 2013 to Jan 15th 2014).
What were the most common types of question?
The vast majority of questions were about choosing careers. Approximately 30% of questions seemed directly focussed on optimizing social impact as opposed to improving the career from a personal perspective. Taking other parts of the applications into account, it seemed that most applicants primarily care about social impact. After reviewing these questions we came up with an alternative method of categorizing questions.
Doing this analysis required us to personally read each application and skim each resume. These were highly revealing.
Entrepreneurs, global ‘shapers’, international lawyers, genius geeks, and lots of otherwise different groups all share uncertainty but desire to do good in the world. Our audience base seemed diverse indeed.
Some applicants discussed frustrating experiences at the forefront of careers in several ‘ethical’ industries. For instance, several applicants experienced frustration at the difficulties of getting positions at international nonprofits (and some of these people spoke several languages and did diverse work on many different continents). These could represent very useful opportunities to learn from this community, perhaps in direct interviews.
Many of these applicants could probably benefit greatly from meeting each other. They are, on the whole, extremely intelligent and talented, but often confused. Many are looking for future startup or nonprofit co-founders. We’re not sure what organization or who should facilitate connections in the community, but this seems like a really valuable service.
80,000 Hours’ coaching service attracts a large community that is not familiar with effective altruism. Much of this seems to be what is call the ‘Globalists’ above. This group seems to have very different goals and needs from the ‘Rationalists’. It may make sense for 80,000 Hours to either focus on one of these groups, or at least experiment more with the ‘Globalist’ group.
We noticed that a significant number of the applicants wanted to do one of the following:
a. Consult international NGOs on effectiveness
b. Create new social ventures to help the world, (often not particularly effective altruism inspired)
c. Technology related to decision making, policy making, or global poverty
This leads us to believe that impressive new organizations doing (a) or (c) may be able to find many excellent employees. It may be useful to create an incubator or social groups to encourage (b).