I recently read a post by Ashe Dryden which has led me to edit a job advert we currently have online. I thought the story might be of interest.
Ashe notes that it is becoming increasingly common to look at a coder’s public GitHub pages and contributions as a way of getting a quick view of their skills and energy. The basic idea is that someone with loads of public, well documented code is probably a good coder you want to have on board – and someone with an altruistic interest in free and open source technology to boot. What could be wrong with that?
The gist of Ashe’s argument is that there’s actually quite a big problem with this. What it all boils down to is the fact that contributions to GitHub aren’t just a sign of someone’s enthusiasm or skill, it’s also a sign that they have the good fortune to have lots of spare time. And guess what – the people who have lots of spare time are also people who tend to have a lot of other privileges in life.
So, as a response to Ashe’s challenge, I have removed the requirement in our latest job advert to have proof that you have been willing and able to do impressive things in your spare time. We will still vet people for enthusiasm and passion – especially important at a mission-driven non-profit like mySociety – but we won’t do it in ways that potentially exclude people who could make a big contribution to our goals.
NB We are advertising for three different roles right now, not just coders. Do please take a look.
What’s on your Christmas wishlist? If ‘a meaningful job’ is high on the list, then we’ve got important news for you. We’re looking for talented, passionate and diversely skilled people to join our team.
In 2013, we’ll be pushing out internationally, improving our core UK sites and doing more commercial business. And we need some more lovely, dilligent people to help us.
All the details are on our jobs page. There’s plenty of time to get your application in, so why not give it some thought over the mince pies?
Not quite for you? Then please tell your nicest friends!
Photo by Minivan Ninja (CC)
Update: applications have now closed. Thanks for your interest!
As 2012 kicks off, we’re looking for talented, passionate and diversely skilled people to join our team.
This year we’ll be pushing out internationally, improving our core UK sites and doing more commercial business. To do this, we need some more lovely, dilligent people to help us.
We’ve set up this new jobs page, where you can see what we’re looking for.
Please tell your nicest friends!
Are you a keen follower of political developments in Kenya or Nigeria? Are you also passionate about transparency, and interested in the possible role of digital technologies in enhancing it in these countries? If so, you might be just the person to run mySociety’s Africa Project.
mySociety is a project of registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy, currently running award-winning civic and democratic websites within the UK, including TheyWorkForYou.com and FixMyStreet.com.
We have recently received funding from the Omidyar Network to mentor transparency organisations in Kenya and Nigeria about how mySociety assesses value in technology, and how it goes about delivering projects. We’re looking to recruit an Africa Project Lead who will be responsible for shaping and running the project.
The role will be for 12 months in the first instance, with possibility of extension. The salary is competitive, and reflects the skills and experience we are seeking. Reasonable travel expenses will be fully paid, however no relocation expenses are available.
mySociety has ten full time staff, and a wider community of energetic and creative volunteers, all but one currently based in the UK. We are a very techy organisation, made up of people who care passionately about using technology to make services that are not just popular, but which offer their users some sort of tangible, offline benefit.
Running the Africa Project successfully will involve using the expertise of mySociety to enable Kenyan and Nigerian transparency organisations to become more effective. Whilst doing this, the Africa Lead will also be scoping for future opportunities where Omidyar Network and mySociety would be able to make meaningful contributions to the transparency and accountability sector in Africa.
Whilst we have good, knowledgeable friends who have helped us scope this project, mySociety’s current staff and volunteers have only limited knowledge of Kenya and Nigeria, and of the technical or political circumstances within them. The Africa Project Lead will enable the rest of the organisation in learning what is needed to deliver projects that are of value.
Key Responsibilities and Deliverables
- Build relationships with two partner organisations in Kenya and Nigeria and, with them, deliver specific digital services (or measurable improvements to existing digital services) which are appropriate to their national settings, utilising expertise from the mySociety team.
- Develop an in-depth understanding of the role of transparency in a number of key African countries, which can be shared with the mySociety core team and the wider mySociety network.
- Demonstrate through presentations how mySociety has built successful services in the UK and develop relationships with organisations and individuals with which we or Omidyar Network may work in the future.
- Towards the end of the first year of the Africa Project, the Africa Project Lead will run an ideas generation process to identify further organisations worth partnering with, and specific projects worth building.
- Help our Internationalisation Developer to understand how to successfully deliver technological contributions in conjunction with our partners.
- At least 12 months prior knowledge of the role of transparency and accountability organisations in at least one African country, preferably working directly with such groups, in country.
- Strong mentoring skills
- At least 12 months working either professionally or voluntarily with developers of internet technologies.
- Graduate level spoken and written English
- A willingness to travel on a regular basis
- Prior experience of working independently with limited or no direct supervision, required because in this position your line management will be light touch and physically remote
- Prior familiarity with digital transparency projects
- A high level of technical literacy
- A preexisting social network in either the local web technology community, or the transparency and accountability community
We are looking for a candidate to be based in or near Nairobi’s iHub . However, this job will entail considerable travel, including several weeks a month working with one of our partners in Abuja. The successful candidate must be able to travel between Kenya and Nigeria without undue restriction.
How to apply
To apply please send an email to email@example.com with the tag msjob9 in the subject line. Your application must consist of a covering letter, a CV and a 250-300 word written piece on “The similarities and differences between classic transparency projects and digital transparency projects”.
Closing date for applications – 7pm on the 11th April 2011 and interviews will be taking place in Nairobi April 12th, 13th 14th and in the UK on April 16th, 17th.
As you might know, we’ve currently got an open-call for new developers, we’re hiring quite a bit in the next six months.
Thus far our list of people interested in the job contains no women’s names at all – zip, zero, zilch – despite us having taken soundings on how to get a more diverse sample of applicants.
I’m really, really not OK with this. I understand the gender imbalance in tech as well as anyone, but I interpret this as ‘mySociety hasn’t reached out well enough’, not ‘blame the women for not applying’.
So my question to you, the world at large, is this: what can we do right now, or this week anyway, to get some women’s names on this list before we start to vet the CVs?
Applications are still very definitely open, so anyone – male, female or other – who’d like to apply should see the original blog post for how to go about it.
Updated 4th March 2011. Recruiting has been extended, and a slightly edited version of this description (including new instructions on how to apply) is available at the Guardian Jobs website.
mySociety Communications Manager
Do you enjoy communicating through all the channels that the modern internet has to offer? Do you enjoy helping users as well as pitching to journalists and companies? Are you looking for a communications job with a greater sense of purpose? If so, mySociety’s new Communications Manager role could be for you.
mySociety is a project of registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy, currently running award-winning civic and democratic websites like TheyWorkForYou.com and FixMyStreet.com. Our services had over 5 million unique visitors in 2010, but we believe that there are a lot more people who would benefit from what we do, if only we were better at communicating. The job of the new Communications Manager will be to help mySociety reach out to these potential beneficiaries, as well as to prospective commercial clients.
The Communications Manager will be a new post at mySociety, funded by the Omidyar Network, with a 12 month contract in the first instance. This is a home working position and the successful candidate can be located anywhere in the UK. Occasional UK travel will be required to meetings and events. Salary: £28-31k.
mySociety has ten full time staff, and a wider community of energetic and creative volunteers. This is a newly created, full-time role as an employee of mySociety Ltd, reporting to the Head of Operations and Finance but working with everyone, including the volunteers.
mySociety operates a number of not-for-profit websites, and carries out high quality software development on a commercial basis to support the charity. The key objectives of this role are:
- To drive public awareness and usage of our not-for-profit websites.
- To work with users of our not-for-profit websites to help them achieve their goals, whether on our sites or elsewhere.
- To drive awareness of our commercial sites and services, respectively building their traffic and generating commercial sales prospects.
It is important to communicate that the position is a combination of a classic PR role with a more modern digital community management role: the successful candidate will need to feel as comfortable over quiet lunches with journalists as they are with Facebook’s ever-changing featureset.
The focus of activities would be primarily within the UK, but will involve supporting our team’s international partnerships and projects. We have no fixed offices, and have team members working from home spread across the country who work and communicate primarily via the net. There are face-to-face meetups every week or two.
Key Responsibilities and Deliverables
- Helping mySociety to make the most effective possible use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, through a combination of authorial skills and analytics.
- Sourcing the materials for a monthly email newsletter, writing and delivering it, and processing click-through data to improve the next iteration.
- Working directly with users of our sites, especially FixMyStreet and FixMyTransport, to help them work together to achieve their goals.
- Blogging on mySociety’s site, and encouraging the rest of the organisation to blog and communicate more.
- Building relationships with journalists, and gaining media coverage of new launches and noteworthy events in the mySociety universe.
- Co-organising occasional events with mySociety’s Office Manager.
- Producing copy and coordinating design for commercial briefing documents, such as sales brochures.
- Managing our Google Adwords account.
- At least 2 years experience in a role that involved regular authoring of press releases and blog posts
- At least 12 months involvement with some kind of predominantly online community
- Graduate level spoken and written communications skills
- Experience as a journalist
- Experience of fighting campaigns, especially at a local level
- Experience of monitoring performance of Google Adwords, Facebook adverts, email mailshots, postal mailshots or other kinds of marketing which can be improved through quantitative testing and iteration
- Experience of both charitable and commercial PR
- Pre-existing relationships with journalists and bloggers in a variety of sectors
- Trusted reputation within at least one online social service that is issue specific (e.g. Mumsnet, Rightsnet, Ravelry)
This vacancy is now filled.
How would you like to be a coder in an organisation that is as determined to make a difference in the world as it is to be a truly high quality, engineer-led software team?
mySociety is that organisation. We’re a project of a registered charity, currently running award-winning civic and democratic websites like TheyWorkForYou.com and FixMyStreet.com, and we’re looking to grow our already-celebrated development team by several new members over the next six months.
We’re looking for developers willing to commit to full or mostly-full time positions (no freelancers, sorry) and who are up for a career change that will see them stay with us for a little while. You’ll get to work with volunteers, mix commercial and charitable projects, and travel far and wide. Plus, you can work from wherever you live (in the UK), and we pay salaries from £28k to £50k depending on skills.
Most of all, we’re looking for coders who look at the services we have built so far and think “I wish I’d been on that project”. Projects you’ll likely be working on over the next few months include (but are not limited to):
- A/B testing and conversion tracking of our charitable sites
- Commercial spinoffs from FixMyStreet
- Enhancements to TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow
- Commercial development for clients
And if you’ve any questions, please post them in the comments below so we can share the answers.
One of the most popular features on TheyWorkForYou is the plain English, non-judgemental vote analyses on MP pages that say things like “voted strongly against introducing a smoking ban“. We call these ‘policies’, and they are authored by skilled people using the volunteer run PublicWhip website.
Making each one of these policies is a painstaking task, requiring good knowledge of how the Parliamentary voting system works, good writing skills, patience, and the strength of character not to let your own views about the issues cloud the analysis. It is of utmost importance to both mySociety and our users that these policies are fair and trustworthy.
Earlier this year we started to update the process by which we made new policies to make it even more rigorous, which we wrote about here. Marcus Fergusson and Stephen Young came onboard and did sterling work, but they have now moved on to greater things, and so we’re looking to recruit two to three new people to do this job. Uber volunteer Richard Taylor has been helping out recently, but this is really a job for two or more people.
You might very well ask ‘why two people, given the work is part time?’. The answer is that we really want every new policy to be cross-checked by two different people every time it is added or amended. This is to help eliminate possible mistakes, and prevent any unconscious biases.
We pay for this work on a piece work basis – £160 a time for a combination of one new policy authored, and one other policy double-checked. This money comes mainly from people making small donations, which I think helps keep everyone focussed on how important it is to get these right. We hope to add about two new policies a month, once the new team is up to speed.
If you’d like to be considered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘mspolicies’ in the subject line. Applications close 22nd November 2010.
mySociety is looking for someone who loves building relationships, and who enjoys thinking about travel, property and what makes for a great day out.
We are a non-profit group of staff and volunteers that builds websites that help people do things like find out how their politicians vote, or get broken street lights and potholes fixed in their road. We make most of our charitable money through commercial means, and to that end we’re setting up a spin-off called Mapumental Ltd that is building web mapping tools the likes of which have never been seen before. Watch this video to learn more.
Mapumental’s underlying technology is now complete, and ready for user-facing products to be built on top. What we need is someone who can do the market research to work out what products we should build, and who can go out and sell them to clients of all shapes and sizes – from holidaymakers to property firms.
- Market analysis – to research what products we should and shouldn’t be building with Mapumental
- Sales and marketing – to tell people authentic, convincing stories about how our products can help them, and sell the finished products
- Good copywriting skills – and ability to work with designers to create marketing materials
- At least 12 months experience selling products or services, ideally to corporate clients.
- Ideally, more than two years’ experience in product management, market research, or marketing
- First degree in any subject
- You’ll be able to tell us how you made tricky but successful marketing decisions
- Most important – you’ll need to be able to meet and collaborate with a diverse range of people, both colleagues and customers, in an amiable, confidence-inspiring manner
- Preferably – an interest in maps and the internet.
- You’ll have to be a self-starter who can work independently, and often in a location of your choosing
- Enthusiasm for new things, new ideas, new businesses
Location, Hours and Salary
We can be flexible between a minimum of 3.5 days per week, up to full time. You can live and work anywhere in the UK, but your life will be easier if it is within a couple of hours of both London and Birmingham.
We offer a salary of £33k+, and we are also offering a decent bonus tied to success at sales.
Applications should be sent to email@example.com by noon of 13th September, with the tag msjob5 in the subject line. This is a re-advertisement of a previously advertised position, and previous applicants need not apply.
The Head of Operations and Finance is a new post at mySociety, responsible for leading the commercial, financial and legal aspects of our work. Once appointed, the person will act as a member of the senior management team, contribute to the ongoing strategic development of mySociety, and report to the Board as required.
This is a newly created, full-time role as an employee of mySociety Ltd, reporting to the Board. The successful applicant will work alongside the CEO/Director of mySociety Ltd to further the aims of the company’s parent organisation (the charity UK Citizens Online Democracy, aka UKCOD) and to ensure the financial and operational success of mySociety Ltd.
mySociety aims to build websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives, and funds its work partially through the provision of commercial software products and consulting. mySociety currently has seven full-time staff (soon to expand to 15) and has a projected overall income budget for 2010 of £609,000, funded by a wide range of donors, private foundations and commercial contracts. The Head of Operations and Finance will directly manage four professional staff.
Key Responsibilities and Deliverables:
- Lead for mySociety on the development of commercial opportunities, products and service lines (including marketing, inbound lead response, meetings, pricing and contract negotiations, and other customary business development tasks).
- Deliver commercial contracts including commercial rollout of e-petitions product to local authorities and certain other projects (excluding Mapumental).
- With the CEO, allocate resources between UKCOD and commercial activities, determine work priorities and manage delivery of an agreed plan for UKCOD and its subsidiaries.
- Create and run a robust system for financial planning and reporting, preparing monthly management accounts and cash flow forecasts, and preparing forward-looking financial updates for the boards of the charity and its trading subsidiaries.
- With the CEO, develop the annual board-level strategy for the charity and its trading subsidiaries, to formulate and track agreed strategic goals and metrics, reporting back to the Board on progress.
- Manage key stakeholder relationships, including major commercial clients, professional service suppliers, regulatory authorities, major funding bodies of the charity (current and potential), and other organisations with similar aims to the charity (in the UK and overseas).
- With the CEO, manage the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Project Coordinator to successfully deliver on our project goals in conjunction with our funding partners the Open Society Institute.
- With the CEO, manage the Africa Project Co-ordinator to successfully deliver on project goals in conjunction with Omidyar Network.
- Manage the mySociety Office Manager and the Communications & Marketing Manager to ensure that they carry out tasks in accordance with their job descriptions.
- Experience as a financial controller, business manager with finance responsibilities, accountant, or similar positions.
- At least 10 years of managerial experience, including at least 5 years managing professional teams, and taking responsibility for P&L of a business unit or as budget holder in a public sector or non-profit context.
- Knowledge and experience of working with technology teams.
- Analytical and financial skills, including problem solving, data analysis, and financial projections.
- Experience of managing and resolving compliance issues.
- A passion for democracy and transparency issues and views on how technology can help.
- A level of interpersonal and communication skills which enable the post holder to establish credibility with a wide range of contacts within and outside mySociety.
- Ability to devise imaginative solutions by developing novel ideas or adapting existing ones in new ways.
- The ability to assess and anticipate stakeholder needs and expectations.
Ideally would have:
- Some experience of the developing world.
- Previous experience/knowledge of not for profit organisations, charities accounting and reporting to non-executive boards.
- A high order of negotiating skills and the capacity to present ideas and issues with authority.
- Readiness to make decisions and render judgments based on logical evaluation of all the relevant factors.
- An understanding of how to introduce systems and processes in a complex organistion that mixes paid staff and volunteers.
- Proven ability to line-manage and work with colleagues who work from home, primarily using email and instant messaging.
Salary: £45k+. Location: Flexible with some travel within the UK. Application Process: Send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with the tag msjob4 in the subject line by noon on 10th August 2010.