Assessing Impact of Specific Roles

Getting started

So let’s check in. At this point, we discussed how your values and moral views may influence the causes you want to work in. Then, we utilized the ITN framework to  compare and analyze different cause areas that align with your values. This led us to look into some promising cause areas – including mental health, global development, catastrophic risks, etc. – where you could potentially make a big impact.

After thinking through all this, we can start looking at specific roles and jobs at different organizations. A lot of impactful and exciting opportunities exist, but it’s not always an easy decision of which role to pursue. And truthfully, it shouldn’t be.

There are a lot of things to to consider when deciding on a career path or job. Is it right for you? Is it actually tackling an important issue? Can you make a big impact in the role?

Your career is a long-term commitment, and while you can always change along the way, it’s easily worth spending some extra time thinking carefully about your options.

Assessing potential impact

It’s not always obvious whether or not a role can make an impact. Sometimes a job or role falls within an important cause area (like animal welfare) but ultimately, it doesn’t do much to improve the world. Other times, a role can seem important, but in practice, it makes a much smaller impact than we initially thought.

To assess just how impactful specific roles could be, we’ll look at four major factors:

  1. Problem significance: how big and important is the problem you’re working on?
  2. Method efficacy: how well can a particular approach or organization help solve it?
  3. Role leverage: how much does a specific role influence the organization or broader goal?
  4. Personal fit: how likely are you to excel in (and enjoy) this role?

The SELF framework

Taken together, these factors make up the SELF framework: a tool for assessing the impact of specific roles and opportunities. In the chapters ahead, we’ll dive into each factor, provide tools for understanding them, and look at how each of them work together. Then, we’ll apply this framework to  a more real-life scenario.

Later on in the guide, we’ll talk more about the big personal career questions — like finding impactful opportunities, investigating your options, making informed decisions between them, etc. For now, we are aiming to establish an understanding of what makes for an impactful job. 

While we don’t expect to find a final answer by adding up all the right factors, breaking down different considerations can sharpen our intuition and help us recognize differences between options – which might be much larger than we would have assumed. Sometimes, even a rough estimate can make these differences obvious; it just takes a bit of investigating to get there.

First up in our impact assessment, we’ll look at the significance of different problems—and how some problems may be more important to work on than others.