Are you excited to work on some of the world’s most important and neglected causes?
Working at Open Philanthropy
Table of Contents
How We Hire
The full hiring process for many roles looks something like this:
- Fill out an application
- Initial application screen (possibly including a short telephone screen)
- Invitation to take 1-3 paid work tests designed to simulate the work you would do if hired and/or evaluate certain skills important for success in the role. (For more on how we approach work tests, see our frequently asked questions.)
- A remote interview
- An interview day with several members of our team (most of these currently take place remotely, but an onsite visit day at our San Francisco office may be possible for some roles)
- Reference checks
- Employment offer
We believe it’s worthwhile to invest significant time in hiring in order to build the strongest possible team. We realize our hiring process is unusually demanding, and we offer monetary honorariums for completing our work tests, partly to ensure financial constraints do not keep candidates from applying, and partly to demonstrate that we respect and appreciate the time that applicants put into these tests.
If you have any questions about applying, please reach out to [email protected].
Currently our benefits include:
We offer comprehensive health, dental, and vision coverage that pays all premiums for you and your family. We also offer an ergonomic benefit to cover the costs of equipment to help staff stay healthy while working, both in the office and at home.
Employees may take paid time off at their discretion, and we encourage staff to take ~20 days of paid time off per year outside of office closures for holidays. We also offer up to 4 months paid parental leave, leave for bereavement, and options for unpaid leave.
We want staff to be able to work when and where they feel most productive. Staff are generally free to set their own schedules, and many work from home one or more days a week.
We offer a family-forming benefit that supports employees and their partners with expenses related to family formation, such as fertility treatment, surrogacy, or adoption. This benefit is available to all eligible employees, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
We provide all staff an unconditional 401(k) grant of 15% of your salary (up to $20,000 per year).
Cause selection at Open Phil is a cool mix of quick-turn practical research and interesting abstract questions. For example, we start with a question like: what is the welfare burden of air pollution in South Asia, and how much of a difference could our grantmaking accomplish there compared to other issue areas? We can read the key papers, talk to experts, and build some simple models. But we also need a method for valuing health improvements relative to, say, income improvements, and a view on how that tradeoff applies across different countries. So we end up working on that methodology along the way. That combination is really fun.
Wanting to be in a high-feedback environment was one of the things that motivated me to apply to Open Phil. I wrote about that in my application, and I still think it’s one of the best parts about working here. I worry about ending up in an environment where you can’t improve because no one will tell you how to. In my first few weeks here I got almost daily feedback, and it helped me sharpen my skills and grow very quickly. Now that I’m a manager, I get a lot of feedback from my direct reports. Sometimes we’ll end up reshuffling our priorities or deciding not to do something because one of them pushed back. I think it makes us more bonded as a team that there’s always room for conversation and debate about why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Inclusiveness is one of the four operating values that we expect every hire to demonstrate. We put substantial and ongoing effort into improving the diversity of our staff, and into ensuring that Open Philanthropy is a place people of all backgrounds can do their best work.
To this end, we have implemented a variety of policies for both our hiring practices and employees, including:
We have structured our hiring process to center largely around blinded work trials, partly as an effort to mitigate the effects that conscious and unconscious bias can have on hiring decisions. We think this is a better way of hiring, as it focuses us on who can do the work best, rather than who interviewers happen to get along with. (We also do interviews, but they generally take place later in the process, and are only part of the picture.)
To encourage applicants with a diverse array of backgrounds, we do our best to minimize application “requirements” which could deter capable individuals from applying. For example, we no longer list educational requirements that are not strictly necessary for performing a given role.
We have an ongoing partnership with Jopwell, an organization that works to connect Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals with career opportunities, and we make additional efforts to proactively reach out to candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.
We have worked extensively on our compensation system to ensure that it is principled and data-driven rather than negotiation-driven, and does not amplify systemic inequities. We also strive to be transparent with our staff about how salaries are determined, and we do our best to note the expected salary on job listings.
We have flexible working hours, reimburse work expenses that will help individuals with their productivity, and take other measures to ensure that everyone can thrive here. We believe that many conventions of the workplace — for example, expecting regular in-person office attendance — are not necessarily important for all roles, and not necessarily compatible with prioritizing inclusiveness.
We encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply, and we especially encourage applications from people of color, self-identified women, and non-binary individuals who are excited about contributing to our mission.
I find the combination of high-level thinking and practical on-the-ground strategy-setting really rewarding. We start with a very big picture of what we want to see in the world – whether that’s getting egg-laying hens out of cages or getting fish stunned before slaughter – based on a big-picture analysis of what would be most impactful. But then to actually set funding priorities we have to form a detailed picture of who is doing what. One of my favorite parts of the job is getting to have really long, interesting conversations with people who see different pieces of the whole picture of the farm animal welfare movement.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are your work tests like?
Work tests vary considerably in length and complexity depending on the role. These often take the form of a small task or project similar to the kind of work a successful hire would be asked to perform. For example, someone applying to a communications role might be asked to draft a response to a sample inquiry from a reporter, while someone applying to a research role might be asked to read a set of materials and build a cost-effectiveness model based on them.
All of our work tests are created “in house” and simulate real work done by Open Philanthropy staff, and we do not use work assessments administered by any external company. We set up our process so that the majority of work tests can be evaluated blind, though at later stages in the process candidates might be asked to perform a work trial that is partly or fully in-person.
While different positions require different skill sets, our operating values outline some qualities Open Phil values across all roles at the organization:
Ownership. We encourage staff to take broad responsibility for their work and approach tasks and priorities with a critical mindset. Staff are expected to question and seek to understand the reasoning behind their assignments, rather than assume they should execute instructions as given.
Openness. Openness means constantly seeking, incorporating, and sharing new information. We encourage direct, clear, and frequent feedback — delivered respectfully and supportively — across all levels of the organization.
Calibration. We strive to communicate clearly about what we know and what we don’t (see our post on reasoning transparency). We work to improve our ability to make accurate predictions related to our work, to assess the impact of our work without motivated reasoning, and to use this information to shape our strategy.
Inclusiveness. We try to avoid conscious and unconscious bias and be as flexible as we can to ensure that anyone who embodies the above values can do their best work at Open Philanthropy.
Beyond these core operating values, we’re also looking for people who are passionate about Open Phil’s mission of helping others as much as we can with the resources available to us1, who can tackle and complete difficult, open-ended projects, and who are excited to be part of building a growing, rapidly changing organization.
What can I do now to prepare for a role at Open Phil later?
While every role differs, and there’s no single course of action to prepare for every opportunity, for many roles it might be helpful to:
- Work on writing and communicating in a clear, calibrated, and transparent manner.
- Practice thinking critically about the strength of different kinds of evidence. See for example How we evaluate a study, and Surveying the research on a topic, and the principles for assessing evidence published by GiveWell (an organization with which we share many core values).
- Become comfortable with statistics, as well as the basics of Bayesian reasoning.
Do you offer internships?
If you are interested in an internship at Open Phil, we’d encourage you to fill out our General Application and note your interest in interning. We may reach out to exceptional candidates interested in internships on a case-by-case basis.
Do you have remote positions?
For most positions, we’d prefer candidates to work from San Francisco if possible (though many San Francisco-based staff work from home one or more days a week). However, for many roles, we would consider full-time remote work if the best candidate is only able to work remotely.
What compensation can I expect to receive if hired?
We usually post anticipated salary for a role. If we haven’t posted a salary, it’s usually because we think the responsibilities and scope of the role will be heavily influenced by who we ultimately hire.
We aim to pay competitively enough so that salary isn’t a major consideration for candidates who would otherwise be interested in taking a role with us. We’d encourage you not to let uncertainty about salary deter you from applying.
I applied to Open Philanthropy in the past and was unsuccessful. Should I reapply? How will you use any work tests I completed as part of my previous application?
We recommend that candidates wait about a year before reapplying for the same role at Open Philanthropy. Past candidates are welcome to apply to a different role at any time.
We do sometimes use the same work tests from year to year, but we may use a new assessment for repeat candidates on a case-by-case basis. We sometimes allow candidates to skip forward in our process based on past work tests.