2.0 Intro to Career 1-1s


The goal of the first session is to be aligned on what career 1-1s are, and the common features of the career 1-1s.

The readings in this section should also help you come up with a strategy plan for incorporating careers advice & career 1-1s.

It’s possible that as you develop a strategy, you may realise either that career 1-1s are not the best use of your time, or that they shouldn’t be a current priority. This could be especially true if you have limited time and can’t do everything at once. That’s totally fine! The point of this workshop is to more generally help you improve your group strategy, whatever it may be.

How to read this document

The most foundational/important introductory sections are asterisked (*).

I’ve carroted (^) the more advanced concepts that I think are also really important, but would be secondary to the foundational sections. If you are self-pacing, you could split these into 2 parts.

Intro to 1-1s

1-1s are a very valuable activity for all groups, and one it is good to be familiar with. They are good for learning more about your members, onboarding new members, and, of course, giving career advice. The EA Hub Resources One-on-Ones page provides an overview of the topic and general guides for conducting 1-1s.

Guide to Successful 1-1s by  EA Oxford. I recommend skimming this doc even if you’ve read it before (1600 words, 10 minutes)


  • Rationale for doing 1-1s
  • Running Intro 1-1s
  • Running Mentor 1-1s*. This will be a topic of discussion because, although we are focused on career 1-1s, the rationale behind mentor 1-1s is similar but broader. This may actually be the type of 1-1 your group needs, especially if your members are not at the career change stage yet.


  • What kind of conversations are 1-1s best suited for?

Intro to Career 1-1s

The following readings provide a basic introduction & showcase a few different types of career 1-1s as they are currently practiced in the EA community. For this week, we will be focusing more on the big picture of career 1-1s, rather than establishing the 1-1 pipeline or impact metrics (we will cover these at a later date).

Introductory Guides

This is a 2020 guide which contains a lot of useful information, specifically about your relation to the advisee. In particular, closely read:


  • Do you agree with the general principles?

This is a late 2018 guide with some repetition from the above, but the following sections may be useful:

80,000 Hours’ Career Advising

Read this summary of the 80K podcast by Michelle Hutchinson.

  • How relevant are the generalisations 80,000 Hours makes to the kind of people you might be advising?
  • What points do you disagree with and why?
  • Of the frequent advice, could any of these points be more broadly communicated?

Other common challenges you might come across

This is a brainstorm of topics not covered by the podcast above

  • Lack of connection to experts/relevant people
  • Lack of focus/too many ideas
  • How to establish comparative advantage in a field (or be confident you have it)
  • If someone gets a lot of rejections & no feedback, how do they know what to take away from the rejections?
  • Due to all of the above, and in general, some people may lack motivation.

Target Audience

You’ve now read a few different perspectives on the ideal audience for a career 1-1. Defining your target audience will likely be an iterative process and change as you do more readings in this session. However, it’s useful to note down some preliminary ideas now in your strategy exercise, and then adjust based on the next readings.

Below are some key considerations for defining your target audience. Note that this section will not be focused on tactical considerations like outreach or screening (outside of where this may be a major barrier to you reaching the person). We will discuss those in 4.0 Pipeline & Impact Tracking.

You should define selection criteria to identify “promising” candidates. This definition will probably differ a lot from group to group, so it’s useful to refer back to your goals before continuing.

Selection Criteria

  • What prerequisite level of EA knowledge should they have (readings, intro workshop, fellowship, etc.)?
    • Generally speaking, most of the experienced organisers say that you will likely be able to provide more value in a career 1-1 if candidates have prior knowledge of basic EA concepts & cause areas.
      • However, some very promising candidates may be too busy or are only interested in EA from how it will directly help their careers.
    • Topics you could ask:
      • How long they’ve known about EA
      • Familiarity with different cause areas
      • Participation in EAGx/EAG’s, fellowships, EA-related work opportunities, etc.
      • Many of the questions on EAG/x applications
  • What challenges might they face, and which ones are you best equipped to help them with? How should this shape your selection criteria?
  • How easy is it to find or communicate with your target audience? Are there any major practical considerations you need to think about?

Convincing your target audience to do a career 1-1

Sometimes, your target audience may not think they would benefit or need a career 1-1. However, they might still benefit from one.

  • What are possible barriers to wanting to do a career 1-1?
    • New to EA/your local group (maybe they don’t feel comfortable sharing their career plans)
    • Engaged EAs who may not think they need explicit help
    • People don’t see the value in it/the use case
    • They aren’t in your local group/network yet

Keep in mind: It may be the case that people in your target audience wouldn’t benefit from doing career planning right now. You will need to make sure you aren’t doing career

How to coach people who doesn’t fit into typical paths?

  • From Naomi (EA Geneva):
    • How to coach somebody who doesn’t fit into the path of ‘choosing a top cause’ -> ‘work at EA org’? (I have exaggerated a bit here, but I hope that the sense of the question is clear). I often encounter people who a. cannot move to an EA hub or b. do not have the skills to contribute to a top-cause. How to help them judge if an opportunity is high impact? And how to help them search for an impactful position?
    • Within EA orgs I often hear that people are looking for talent and people who are very good in their job. How to assess whether somebody is highly talented? How to assess if it’s a good idea to encourage somebody to start a new project without setting back their field? And how to assess if I can encourage somebody to apply to a challenging and competitive job in an organization, so the time of the advisee and the organization they applied for isn’t wasted?

Where in the funnel & other group activities do career 1-1s fit?

  • What activities could happen before & after so a member will gain more value from a career 1-1?

A brief comment on names

I see career 1-1s as a good and accurate umbrella term for the range of possible activities you may decide to cover in a career 1-1 section.

Other names for career 1-1s and some thoughts:

  • Career coaching: Career coaches can help people do very nitty-gritty things like interview prep, resume polishing etc. 80,000 Hours used to call their career advising “coaching” but shifted away from this terminology because they didn’t want to give the impression they offered more high-level advice.
  • Career advising/Career mentoring: There are some concerns that less experienced organisers should not try to give explicit advice, and this may give the impression that they know more than they do. However, I think for more experienced organisers this is okay. EA Oxford calls their service Student Career Mentoring.
  • Career planning: Depending on your target audience, you may not do any actual planning during a session. If you plan to do e.g. ABZ planning, or create a list of next steps it could be useful.
  • Career consultation: I don’t think I’ve seen this used outside of EA Israel’s guide, I don’t have strong intuitions here.

Depending on your target audience, you might want to brand your services differently.

^Different Career 1-1 Structures

You can view all the career call templates mentioned below here.

Single vs Multiple Sessions

The introductory guides above are mostly for career 1-1s being hour-long sessions between the advisee and advisor, with some follow-up via email, and possibly a call. However some groups have been doing multi-session career 1-1s.

Multiple: Student Career Mentoring’s approach:

They do a series of calls with advisees (university students).

Multiple: 80,000 Hours’ Career Advising used to follow a case study model

  • Are there any benefits to a model like this on a national level?

Guiding Questions

  • Who is the ideal audience for single vs multiple sessions?
  • Are there ways to get the benefit of multiple 1-1 sessions without doing them? This could be useful if you have limited time.

Standalone vs integrated sessions.

Again, the introductory guides treat the career 1-1s on their own. However, you might find it useful to integrated yours into other events such as career clubs, fellowship programs, or as follow-ups to make them better suited for your members. These other events can serve as filters to ensure that a person has a certain level of familiarity with EA causes and concepts.

(Note that a career 1-1 will almost always be integrated into the other events in your group in some capacity, whether formally or not, so it’s important to think about it in context of your other activities even if you’re doing standalone sessions).

EA Oxford. Read the section on the Call Process by EA Oxford. Note that Student Career Mentoring now does a series of 1-1s.

Standalone sessions: David Nash from EA London’s approach:

David does standalone 1-1 sessions with members of EA London.

  • See what causes and career paths they could be interested in
  • Help them to narrow it down to 3 or 4 wider options (law/consultancy/think tank etc).
  • I then point out various frameworks that could be used to narrow down/test/choose options.
  • After that I may connect people to someone that I already know who may be happy to chat, and link to various organisations/resources they may not have heard of.

Many fellowships also offer 1-1s for attendees.

EA Sweden runs a Career Club where participants of the career club later do career 1-1s with the main organiser.

Session culture

Depending on your advisee, your career 1-1 may look very different, in terms of:

  • The way you interact
  • The advice or encouragement you give
  • The connections you make

You would probably approach the following groups quite differently:

  • Students and professionals
  • Overconfident and under confident advisees
  • People with lots of in-depth EA knowledge and those with less knowledge
  • Advisees with clear EA interests


Guiding Questions

  • What kinds of issues might come up in your sessions?
  • How would you manage them?

Topics Covered During a Career 1-1

This will be the topic of next week’s section, but I’ve added it here because many of the readings cover possible topics, especially the Value section of the Israel guide.

  • How many of the following topics are best suited for 1-1s? Can any of these be done in a group setting?
  • Can you cover all of these topics in 1 session?
  • What happens if you run out of time?
  • What kind of advice should you not give?

Some topics

  • Building rapport
  • Cause prioritisation
    • Discussion of one’s values and cause prioritisation
      • Discussing different value systems and the reasons for prioritising different causes
      • Specifics on different cause areas
      • Different possible career paths
  • Generating Options
    • Signposting useful resources including websites, articles & people
    • Current jobs, internships or other opportunities
    • Earning to Give (specifically, optimising your career to pursue high paying jobs)
  • Concrete Next Steps

Open Questions

Please add suggestions to the open questions, or offer answers/further thinking or resources.

  • What is the role of earning to give amongst younger people, vs direct work? What resources are available? How beneficial is it to research top ETG careers in your country'?