Join the Recurse Center and help people find fulfilling work
We’re hiring for a new role: A jobs person. In this post I’ll describe what this role involves, what we’re looking for in candidates, and what to expect in our interview process. I’ll also share some background information about our business and some reasons you may or may not want to apply for this job.
About the Recurse Center
The Recurse Center is an educational retreat and programming community based in New York City. People come from around the world to spend three months focusing on becoming better programmers in a self-directed, supportive, and energizing environment. Our goal is to build the best place to become a better programmer. We’ve been in operation since 2011 and have an alumni network of about 600 people.
We are free to attend, and we make money by recruiting. We work with employers ranging from small startups to public tech companies, and these companies pay us a fee when they hire our alumni.
Given our business model, you might assume that RC is a kind of jobs-training program or is otherwise focused on employment. In fact, the opposite is true: We go to great lengths to make sure that RC is not focused on jobs. We don’t run RC so we can recruit; we recruit so we can run RC. Additionally, we do not base our admissions decisions on whether someone wants or can get a job. We focus exclusively on getting the best people we can, regardless of whether they want jobs.
About this role
There are two closely related parts of this role. The first part is helping members of our community (called Recursers) who are open to new jobs find ones they’ll enjoy. This involves a number of things, including:
- Meeting with Recursers to understand what they value and what they’re looking for in their next job.
- Editing resumes and cover letters.
- Helping people prepare for interviews.
- Helping people choose between and negotiate job offers.
- Providing feedback, moral support, and advice throughout the process.
The other half of this role is working with our partner companies to help them hire Recursers. This includes:
- Meeting with engineering managers and recruiters to understand their companies and who they’re looking for.
- Organizing in-person hiring events.
- Making individualized recommendations and introductions.
- Soliciting feedback from employers.
This is not an internal recruiting role. You won’t be doing hiring for RC itself, and this job doesn’t involve “sourcing” candidates (i.e., finding people and convincing them to interview), since you will only work with existing members of our community.
Pros and cons
Every job has downsides, and this one is no exception. People usually learn about these things after they join a company, but we think it’s important to highlight them in advance:
- Some of the work can be emotionally draining.
- You will need to be able to take calls or respond to emails in the evenings or during weekends. We try our best to avoid this, but we prioritize being responsive to our alumni, and so if an alum wants our help deciding between two offers on a Sunday evening, we’ll happily take the call.
- The pay is probably less than you could get at many tech companies.
Thankfully, we think this job has many more good things going for it:
- Meaningful work, with a huge effect on people’s lives. To brag briefly: We’ve lost track of the number of alumni who have told us we changed their lives, or that RC was one of the best things they’ve ever done.
- A friendly and intellectual atmosphere, and a tight-knit and supportive team of coworkers.
- Respect. We feel odd listing this, since we think it’s a base requirement for any decent job. But we’ve seen enough otherwise reasonable companies treat similar roles as second-class, so we wanted to note explicitly that we do not do this.
- A warm and welcoming office (we’re currently in SoHo near Broadway and Grand).
- A great health insurance plan, plus dental and vision insurance. RC pays 100% of the premiums.
- 15 days of vacation (we effectively have unlimited vacation, but we have a number to make sure people actually take it).
- Complete organizational transparency: If we give you an offer, we will share all employee and founder salaries, how much cash we have, projected revenue, and the many risks we face. We will answer any questions you have about our company and prospects honestly and directly.
- Speaking of transparency, we can pay between $65,000 and $85,000 a year, along with stock options.
Where (and whether) you’ve previously worked or gone to school isn’t important to us. The following, however, is important:
- You have good judgement.
- You are empathetic.
- You have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- You are energized by working with people from a wide range of backgrounds.
- You are comfortable giving and receiving candid feedback.
- You do what you say you’re going to do, and you do it well.
Additionally, it would be fantastic if you have a programming background or are familiar with the technology industry. The ideal candidate is someone who has programmed previously (either professionally or as a hobby) but who isn’t interested in working as a programmer. However, this isn’t a requirement, and we care much more that you have the characteristics listed above than any specific technical knowledge or experience in the industry.
This is not a good job for someone who’s interested in transitioning into a programming role.
What to expect from our interview process
As we’ve said previously, we think most interviews are poor proxies for the jobs they’re meant to screen for. This is why we try to make our interviews as much like the actual jobs we’re hiring for as possible.
Here’s the outline of the process:
- Send your resume or your publicly viewable LinkedIn profile to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a paragraph or two about why you’re interested. Please use thoughtful, conversational English.
- We’ll send a quick response to let you know we received your message.
- If we think you might be a good fit we’ll follow up to schedule a call with one of the RC founders (Sonali, Nick, or Dave). This will be a 15 to 45 minute call to learn more about your background and interests, and to answer any initial questions you have about RC and this role.
- We’ll follow up within two business days of your call to let you know if we’d like to move forward or not.
- If we do, we’ll send you a short writing task that will be representative of the type of work this job requires.
- If that goes well, we’ll either invite you to another Skype call or a set of on-site interviews.
Our on-site interviews will consist of a series of about four 30 to 60-minute discussions and mock working sessions. Each will be with one or two RC employees or alumni, and will be structured to be as similar to the actual work you’d be doing as possible. You’ll also get a chance to go to out to lunch or coffee with a few RC employees, and you’ll have lots of opportunities to ask us questions. Our goal is to give you an accurate impression of what the role entails and what our company is like so you too can assess whether we’re a good fit or not.
A few extra things to know
- Most of the company gets in around 10am and leaves around 6:30pm, but some of us come in early and/or stay later.
- Part of this job involves planning and running recruiting dinners and events, which are typically on weekday evenings.
- We’re personally and institutionally committed to combating sexism and racism.
- If you’re considering applying, you should spend a few minutes reading our blog, about page, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company.
- If you want a sense of your potential coworkers, here’s a head start: Dave Albert, Mary Rose Cook, Nick Bergson-Shilcock, Rachel Vincent, Sonali Sridhar, Tom Ballinger, and Zach Allaun.