Recurse Center

We’re hiring a Head of Marketing (US remote)

Do you want autonomy, clear goals, and work that matters? Join RC as Head of Marketing.

There’s a better way to learn: one that relies on diversity and nurtures curiosity. We’ve been building it for over a decade.

Now, you can join the Recurse Center and help more people discover RC and transform their lives through self-directed, accessible, and community-driven education.

In the long run, you can help replace the now dominant view — explicitly or implicitly accepted by most of the world — that growth is the result of curricula, fear, competition, and coercion. Together, we can show that curiosity, collaboration, and community are more conducive to growth, and that deciding what you want to learn and how you want to learn it is a fundamental right and within the capacity of people of all ages.

Read on to learn more about RC, our interview process, hiring rubric, the role, and what we think is good (and bad) about this job.

If this role isn’t for you, please consider sharing it with others. If we hire someone who found this job because of you, we’ll donate $250 to the non-profit of your choice.1

A unique business and community

RC is a unique institution. We run a free and self-directed programming retreat, a community of over 2,000 alums, and a recruiting agency, all of which are integrated and support each other. Our revenue comes from recruiting fees paid by our partner companies when they hire alums we refer to them.

Until 2020, we ran our retreats in our space in New York City. We’ve been operating online since the pandemic struck (we plan to operate both online and in-person once it’s safe to do so, but we have no idea when that will be).

Our views on education are unorthodox. We reject the overt and subtle coercion of school and believe people should get to decide what they learn and why and how they learn it. We don’t have grades, teachers, or any kind of curriculum. Instead, we provide time, space, resources, and a supportive community in which to grow.

Our approach to recruiting is similarly unconventional. While many recruiting agencies operate on a “quantity over quality” basis by referring any candidate they can find to as many jobs as possible, RC is different. We work hard to understand what Recursers and our partner companies are looking for, and only make introductions where we think it genuinely makes sense for both parties, after confirming mutual interest. We also stick with companies and Recursers throughout the interview process, checking in and offering support.

The role: Head of Marketing

As Head of Marketing you will be the first member of the team focused solely on marketing. Like Seth Godin, we believe marketing is a chance to serve, and when successful, a way to make positive change.

We are here to serve two groups: the people who attend our retreats to improve their lives (Recursers) and the people who pay us to help them hire a diverse range of programmers (employers at our partner companies).

Of these two groups, the first – Recursers – are our priority. Not because we don’t care about employers (we do, and they provide all of our revenue) but because success with Recursers drives success with employers, and you can only have one top priority.

Autonomy and support

You’ll have a lot of autonomy and freedom to decide what you want to try and how to try it. This role is great for someone who likes to take ownership, think holistically, and run experiments to see what works.

For many years, most people have found RC via word of mouth. Our team has focused on making RC a great experience and community, and improving how we run our recruiting agency. While we’ve experimented with some marketing ideas we’ve not made any sustained efforts. You will explore and figure out what type of marketing is most effective and what to focus on: perhaps it will be partnerships, content or performance marketing, SEO, or something completely different.

While you will have significant autonomy and be the only person focused solely on marketing, you will not be alone. You’ll have support from the rest of the company, because we don’t think marketing is separate from or tacked onto the rest of our business. We think it’s fundamental to what we do and you will collaborate closely with many members of the team, including me (RC’s CEO).

Clear goals, transparency, and feedback

We work hard to foster a culture that’s collaborative, trusting, and thoughtful. Here are some of the things you will find that support this culture:

  • Clear company-wide goals and the reasoning behind them. You’ll have an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish together and why. In 2022, the goal you will focus on is to get 250 qualified applicants, at least half of whom identify as women, trans, and/or non-binary and at least 10% of whom identify as Black.
  • Organizational transparency. You will have access to whatever information about RC you want, from how much money we made last month to our bank balance.
  • Direct, but kind and constructive feedback. This helps us quickly resolve disagreements and work together more effectively.
  • A writing review stream in our private chat and an accompanying culture of review. We copyedit and review all our writing, from blog posts to tweets.
  • Weekly one-on-ones to give and receive regular feedback and help you work through frustrations or challenges with your work.

Work that matters

Your work as Head of Marketing will help more people discover and benefit from RC, and people genuinely love RC.

Alums routinely tell us RC was one of or even the most impactful, meaningful, productive, or transformative period of their lives. We’ve helped people find their first programming jobs, meet lifelong friends and colleagues, and discover what they really want out of their lives and careers. Alums have told us RC changed their approach to programming, their beliefs about education, and even how they think about themselves and relate to other people.

Our community loves RC so much that they collectively donated over $350,000 to help us make it through the pandemic. When our business did better than expected and it turned out we didn’t need the money for operational expenses, we used it to restart our grants program. Since launching the program in 2012, we’ve given over $1.7 million directly to Recursers who are women, trans, non-binary, Black, Latina/o, and/or Native American to pay for living expenses during their time at RC.

Good work-life balance and benefits

You will work 40 hours a week and can do so remotely from anywhere in the US. If you’re in New York and like in-person work, you can do as much or as little of your work from our sunny office in Downtown Brooklyn.

You’ll have friendly, supportive, diverse, and intellectually curious colleagues. We all care deeply about RC’s shared success, but we also never forget that this is, at the end of the day, a job. All of us have lives and loved ones outside of work, and we know you do, too.

We strive to have a culture that supports our employees to do their best work in a sustainable way, so that you can contribute over the long run. Here are some of the things you’ll find here to help with this:

  • Full health, vision, and dental insurance. RC covers 100% of the premium for the standard plans for all employees, as well as their partners and families. RC also pays the full premium for basic life insurance.
  • A 401k. RC contributes 3% on top of your salary to a 401k for you regardless of how much or even if you choose to contribute yourself.
  • 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which you can take within a year of having or adopting a child.
  • 15 days of vacation (in practice we have unlimited vacation, but we have a number to make sure people actually take it), a 10-day winter holiday (Dec 23 to Jan 1), and nine additional holidays. We also have five days for personal development, which you can use for anything that supports your personal and professional goals and growth.
  • Flexible hours. You can choose any eight consecutive hours with six or more hours of overlap with 9am-6pm ET (most of the team works 9am-5pm or 10am-6pm ET).

Many companies have stated policies that aren’t followed in practice, but that’s not the case at RC. For example, I took two months of parental leave when my son was born in 2019. Even though I’m CEO, I was able to fully unplug from work during that time (I intended to take my third month of leave in 2020 but the pandemic disrupted my plans).

Downsides and other things to know

Like all jobs and companies, this one is far from perfect. Here are the biggest downsides we see.

  • We don’t have existing marketing expertise. You will know more about marketing than anyone else at the company.
  • Relatively low pay (if you’re located in a major metro area). The salary range for this role is $120-150k, regardless of where you’re based.
  • We’re not a rocket ship. While we aim to continue growing, our growth has been modest and is funded entirely by revenue. We’re not going to sell or IPO, so there’s no equity or big pay day potentially looming. Instead, our goal is to be a Small Giant. We’ve been privately owned, operated and profitable for over a decade, and we want to remain so indefinitely.

Our internal hiring rubric

Instead of a vague list of requirements, below you will find the exact rubric we will evaluate everyone on, along with an explanation of why we think each criterion is important. We don’t see any point in keeping our criteria a secret: interviewing is stressful enough as it is – you shouldn’t have to also guess what we’re trying to evaluate you on.

Every part of our interview process is intended to help us evaluate one or more of these criteria. We need to get a positive signal for each criterion (and ideally no negative signals) in order to confidently make an offer.

Clear communicator
Marketing is communication — we can’t imagine anyone who could be great at this role and not be able to communicate clearly in both writing and conversation.
Self-directed and collaborative
Self-directed because we expect you to take ownership over (and drive results for) how to get more qualified applicants.

Collaborative because there’s no way you’ll succeed on your own — marketing can’t be divorced from the rest of the business and you will need to work closely with most or all of the company.

Intellectually curious
Important for fitting in with our team and culture (and, we think, understanding and helping to communicate what makes RC special).
Pleasant to work with
A requirement of everyone we hire.
Understands and is aligned with RC and our values
You will be trusted to help craft and deliver our message, and you need to be able to do that in a way that is true to our mission and values.
Wants a role defined by high-level goals rather than specific types of work
We want to hire someone who will help us solve a problem, and you should be excited (or at least willing) to do whatever incidental work is necessary to do so.
Has a broad understanding of marketing and deep expertise in some aspect of it
We’re looking for someone to bring marketing expertise into our organization, but we won’t know the type of marketing that will be most effective until we hire someone to work on and understand our marketing problem(s).
Highly experimental and biased towards thoughtful action
A common thread we’ve found researching marketing for this role is the importance of experimentation, because even expert marketers can’t always predict what’s going to work.
Analytical enough to understand and productively think in terms of our metrics
You need to be able to do this if you’re going to take ownership over and drive results for getting more qualified applicants.

There are some things you might think are requirements but aren’t. For instance, it does not matter where (or if) you went to college, and you don’t need any programming knowledge to be a strong candidate. All the things we think are necessary for doing this job effectively are listed in the table above.

What to expect from our interview process

This process is designed to evaluate the criteria listed above, and for you to evaluate if we might be a good fit for you.

Step 1: Email us. Please email with your resume and/or publicly viewable LinkedIn profile, along with short (1-3 sentences) answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve learned in the last month?
  • What’s a book (or talk, thinker, etc) that has significantly influenced how you think about marketing?
  • What marketing achievement (in or outside of work) are you most proud of?

Step 2: Initial call. A 45-minute call with me (Nick). I’ll have some questions for you, and there will be plenty of time for you to ask me any questions you have about RC, this role, or anything else.

Step 3: A virtual on-site split across two days. During the first half-day, you’ll have time to talk to several of us about the different aspects of RC — what our challenges are getting enough qualified applicants, how our retreat and career services work, and marketing work we’ve tried in the past. You’ll also have a chance to talk with an RC alum about their experience.

If the first half goes well, we’ll invite you back for a second (and final) half-day of calls. We’ll ask you to prepare and share your thoughts based on what you’ve learned about RC so far, including your thoughts on our marketing challenges and what you’d try. We’ll give you a $500 Amazon gift card (or if you prefer, make a $500 donation to the non-profit of your choice) in appreciation of your time if you reach this stage.

Step 4: Reference checks and offer. As a final step before making an offer we will ask for and speak with two references.

After each step, we’ll do our best to let you know within two business days if you’re advancing to the next stage. (The exception to this is the final step, when it will likely take longer to let you know if we’re making an offer, in part because of the time it takes to schedule and speak with references.)

Other useful things to know

  • You need to have US work authorization and work from one of the 50 US states (we’re unfortunately unable to sponsor visas for this role).
  • All RC employees must be fully vaccinated, even if remote (we still meet up in-person sometimes).
  • While this job is fully remote, it will require that you visit NYC once we resume running our retreats in-person so you can experience them first-hand.
  • If you’re considering applying, you should spend some time reading our about page, blog, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company and your potential coworkers. You can also check out what other people say about RC.
  1. If you tell someone about this job and we hire them, we’ll donate $250 to a non-profit of your choice. How? We’ll ask whomever we hire if they found out about this job from a specific person. If they did, we’ll reach out and ask that person what non-profit they’d like us to donate to.