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Matt Holford for

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Non-Profits and the Tech Recruiting Game

Reprinted from LinkedIn, March 2016. We've since updated our jobs page :).

I was recently looking at our jobs page, and realized that the content was trying to make a case for working here based on a lot of the usual: culture, perks, benefits, good times, and so on. And we've got all of that going on, to be sure. But we weren't offering anything that could obviously distinguish us from, say, an AdTech firm down the street. A casual visitor would have to find other pages on our site to see what we're really doing: fostering the next generation of young leaders, around the world, by the millions.

The thing is, you can see that from any other page on our site. Literally any URL that begins with and resolves to a web page will make it obvious that we're changing the world every day, getting the most young people to do the most good. Except our jobs page. It's homely, and it neglects to mention the most important reason to work here. Why is that?

We're playing a game. We have a fundamental stake in making great technology products, we're based in the middle of the Flatiron District near Tumblr and Pivotal Labs and Google, and we're constantly trying to hire the best talent in engineering, product, data, and design to accomplish our goals. So, we find ourselves competing for this talent with all of the for-profit startups and agencies and tech giants that surround us.

And I've been trying to compete in the “normal” way. I'm regularly out and about, you know, attending tech Meetups and conferences and industry dinners. I talk about how we're open source by default and using exciting things like React and our fantastic pattern library and building a big event-driven system around RabbitMQ. I've been keeping a close eye on Glassdoor and AngelList for "senior software engineer" salary ranges, and feeling at a disadvantage because you can't offer equity in a not-for-profit.

But you know what? We do offer equity, in fact–better equity than you can hope for from any theoretical IPO that an early-stage founder might be soft-selling you over your next cortado. Our equity is the future of the human race. And in fact the entire planet.

Am I being hyperbolic? I don't think so. What's on your mind today? Scared by the unbelievable pace of global warming this year? The terrible state of politics? The fact that plastic bags in the world's oceans will almost definitely outnumber fish by 2050? The Syrian refugee crisis? Rampant cyberbullying? Guess what: You can work on these problems as part of your job. You can make a career choice to challenge yourself, improve your skills, learn a new programming language or framework, practice true lean product development, dive into deep pools of behavioral data, all in the service of raising generations of humans equal to the problems that we're creating for them.

How's that for a reason to get up in the morning? Sure, you get all of the other things: nice vacation policy, zero-cost health insurance, a great coffee culture, parties, a sabbatical every two years, competitive salaries, sprint retros with a brilliant and diverse team, managers who care deeply about your career, a stepping stone to places like Trello, Zocdoc, Crisis Text Line, Olark, and Meetup–all companies that our staff have moved on to after their years at

But I can tell you, after fifteen years in agencies and twenty building on the web, that every job has its bad days. And it makes all the difference in the world to go to bed knowing that your working hours, great or tough, helped push the planet towards a survivable future.

We're almost always hiring in Product and Engineering. I want to meet the best of you: People who are excited to work on this future with us, to focus the laser-like energy of our 5+ million members on the problems they most want to help solve, technologists and product managers who will teach me and the team new things and challenge our assumptions.

But don't bother applying if you're going to compare us to every startup in New York, wondering how we make up for the equity gap. You'll miss the point. We may look and act like our Flatiron neighbors, but we're different at our core. And if you work here, that difference will become a lasting part of you and your career.

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