Simplified Career Guide

The entire guide, in one minute

(Part #) refers to the linked career guide pages under this section.

To have a good career, do what contributes. Rather than expect to discover your passion in a flash of insight, your fulfillment will grow over time as you learn more about what fits, master valuable skills, and use them to help others. (Part 1.)

To do what contributes, here’s where to focus over time. Each step can allow you to have a much greater impact.

1. Explore to find the best options, rather than “going with your gut” or narrowing down too early. Make this your key focus until you become more confident about the best options. (Part 8.)

2. Invest in your career capital to become as great as you can be. Especially look for career capital that’s flexible when you’re uncertain. Do this until you’ve taken the best opportunities to invest in yourself. (Part 7 and part 9.) Then, use your career capital to:

3. Effectively help others. Do this by focusing on the most urgent social problems rather than those you stumble into – those that are big in scale, neglected and solvable. To make the largest contribution to those problems, think broadly: consider earning to give, research and advocacy, as well as direct work. Although many efforts to help others fail, the best can be enormously effective, so be ambitious. (Part 2, part 4, part 5 and part 6.) But don’t forget you can have a big impact in any job (part 3).

4. Keep adapting your plan to find the best personal fit. Think like a scientist testing a hypothesis: make careful decisions, adapt your plan as you learn more, and find a better and better career over time. (Part 8 and part 10.)

5. And work with a community to be more successful. (Part 11 and part 12.)

By working together, in our lifetimes, we can end extreme global poverty and factory farming, we can prevent dangerous climate change and safeguard the future, and we can do this while having interesting, fulfilling lives too.

So let’s do it.

You have 80,000 hours in your career.

Don’t waste them.

Overview of Career Guide and Links to English Pages

Part 1: What makes for a dream job?

Answer: Research shows that to have a fulfilling career, you should do something you’re good at that makes the world a better place. Don’t aim for a highly paid, easy job, or expect to discover your “passion” in a flash of insight.


Part 2: How much difference can one person make?

Answer: Many common ways to do good, such as becoming a doctor, have less impact than you might first think. Other, more unconventional options, have allowed certain people to achieve an extraordinary impact (including one particular Lieutenant Colonel in the Soviet military).


Part 3: Can you change the world without changing job?

Answer: With the right approach, you can make a major difference to the lives of others without changing job, or making a major sacrifice. You can do this by giving 10% of your income to the world’s poorest people, promoting important causes, or assisting others in having an impact.


Part 4: Where should you focus to have the most impact?

Answer: To maximise your impact, work on areas (1) that are large in scale, (2) that others neglect, and (3) where it’s possible to make progress. Many people fail to compare the scale of different problems, work on the same problems as everyone else, and support programmes with no evidence of impact.


Part 5: What’s the biggest and most urgent problem in the world?

Answer: Most people in rich countries who aim to do good work on health, poverty and education in their home country. But health in poor countries is a bigger, more solvable problem, and only receives 4% of charitable donations. Others work on climate change, but pandemics pose a similar threat, and are over ten times more neglected.


Part 6: Which jobs help people the most?

Answer: When we think of jobs that help people, medicine, teaching and charity work are what first come to mind. But these are not always the highest-impact options. To help the most people: (1) focus on the most pressing problems; (2) choose the best method for working on the problem, considering research, advocacy and donating to charity, as well as direct work; and (3) do something with excellent personal fit and job satisfaction.


Part 7: Which jobs put you in the best position for the future?

Answer: Especially early in your career, take options that will give you flexible career capital – skills, connections and credentials that will be useful in many different jobs. Examples include mathematical graduate studies, consulting, and learning to program. Be careful with humanities PhDs, charity jobs and vocational qualifications.


Part 8: What’s the right career for you?

Answer: Don’t expect to figure out what you’re best at right away. Instead, go investigate: speak to people to learn more, and try out your best options. Then, to avoid common decision-making mistakes, use a systematic process to make your final decision.


Part 9: How can you be more successful in your current job?

Answer: There’s a lot that anyone can do to be more productive, impactful and happy in any career. Some of it is common sense, but people often don’t take simple steps such as prioritising their mental health, learning how to learn, investing in their productivity, figuring out how to think better, and otherwise improving the way they work.


Part 10: How should you plan your career?

Answer: Rather than try to pinpoint the single best option, accept that your plan is likely to change. Write out a flexible road map, which includes nearby alternative options and a backup if things don’t work out as expected.


Part 11: What’s the best way to get a job?

Answer: Don’t just send out your CV in response to job listings. Get leads through your connections, and prove that you can do the work by actually doing some. When you get an offer, negotiate.


Part 12: What’s the best way to gain connections?

Answer: Join a community of people working in the same area as you. You’ll get hundreds of connections at once. We’ve seen hundreds of people become far more motivated, altruistic and successful by getting involved in our community of effective altruists.