Senior Qualitative User Researcher (San Francisco or Remote)

Code for America

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Code for America uses the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American public, and how the public improves government. We use a data-driven, human-centered, and iterative approach to building technology to help government services work, starting with the people who need them most.

We are looking for a Senior Qualitative (User) Researcher to join our Opportunity Accelerator team and bring best-in-class qualitative research directly to local communities and governments as part of a unique non-profit partnership. Opportunity Accelerator is a partnership between Results for America, the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, and Code for America. These four organizations are well-known to both government partners and funders as having the most tangible, proven results in the field of government performance and service delivery improvement towards equitable outcomes. The big exciting idea is to see what happens when combining the four organizations’ expertise and bring them as a single package to local communities. The first year will be focused on three local communities across the country, with scale-up planned for a multiple-year effort bringing the Opportunity Accelerator to dozens of communities nationwide.

As a qualitative (user) researcher at Code for America, you will help the organization understand the people we serve. During early stage discovery your work will include contextual inquiry and ethnographic research to understand users and their needs. You will help to create low fidelity prototypes to test with users. You may work alongside product managers in later stage development to plan and carry out qualitative research and usability testing that improves the performance of the service for users. Our qualitative research team is established as the premier team in government technology and recently published Principles and a Qualitative Research Practice Guide which drive our work across Code for America.


  • Generate feedback and insights that drive product development by working directly with end users.
  • Conduct qualitative research: build a research plan, recruit participants, conduct research and analyze the results.
  • Effectively and confidently use a variety of methods including group facilitation, in-depth interviews, observations and quick intercepts.
  • Understand which method to use to get the result you want and what to do if your findings are not clear.
  • Share, discuss, and publish user insights and findings with both internal teams, Opportunity Accelerator partners, government partners, and wider external audiences.


  • 4+ years experience as a User Researcher, Design Researcher, Qualitative Researcher, or equivalent.
  • Proven experience of creating strong qualitative user research for product design, user experience, or equivalent. (This role does not require a background in professional academic research).
  • Ability to work collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team in a fast paced agile environment across multiple organizations and manage competing priorities.
  • A deep passion for our mission of making government services better for people who need them.

It’s a plus if you: 

  • Thrive in ambiguity as an entrepreneurial self-starter with immense excitement for working on difficult, under-defined challenges. This is an opportunity to build something new, and to do so requires proactive creativity and not only comfort with not knowing exactly what comes next, but also the ability to embody one of Code for America’s values: “No one is coming. It’s up to us.”
  • Have experience working with public servants, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and/or in local communities.

We strongly encourage individuals impacted by the criminal justice system or safety net system (either with direct or indirect experience, such as an impacted family member) to apply, as these are areas where Code for America does a significant portion of its work. 

This role may be remote or based in San Francisco, and reports to the User Research Manager, with mentorship and support of the Principal User Researcher. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Code for America is currently remote-only with in-person attendance in the SF office only under extreme extenuating circumstances. 95% of our staff are not going in-person into the office at all, and 5% are going on an as-needed basis. This will be a remote position at least through June 2021. Code for America has set a policy that travel and in-person work will not be required until June 2021 at the earliest, except for extreme extenuating circumstances. Note that after that time, we expect this to convert to a position with estimated 25-50% travel to Opportunity Accelerator communities.


Code for America offers full health and dental benefits, a 401k plan with matching funds and a culture that is collaborative, hardworking and fun.

About Code for America

Code for America is a startup non-profit with a great culture and a huge opportunity to make a difference. We work in cross-functional teams, collaboratively and agilely and value high-quality, user-friendly work product. We strive to learn from everything we do and regularly host talks from leaders in the civic technology movement. We respect each other, work hard, and have a great time together. We’re looking for people who share our vision, our values, and our willingness to do what it takes to achieve our mission over the next few years.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Code for America values a diverse workplace and strongly encourages women, people of color, LGBT folks, people with disabilities, members of ethnic minorities, foreign-born residents, and veterans to apply.

Code for America is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will not be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, citizenship status, disability, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition or any protected category prohibited by local, state or federal laws.

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