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Riding the Wave: Staffing Up For Blockchain Development

Riding the Wave: Staffing Up For Blockchain Development

It’s up. No, it’s down. It’s risky. Actually, it’s safer than we thought. Whatever the news of the day on cryptocurrency, one thing is certain: The blockchain behind it is poised to play an important role in tech jobs for 2018.

While it’s clear that cryptocurrency skillsets are taking off, the challenge will be in finding adaptable engineers that can put blockchain knowledge into practical application. There’s no question this distributed, transparent and unchangeable ledger of economic transactions is a remarkable innovation. A rash of new ideas and concepts are going to be developed using the blockchain.

Industries exploring the space extend beyond finance and into healthcare, government, nonprofit, music, real estate, intellectual property, and smart contracts. With so much money being poured into new companies in such a green-field space, they need to spend (and hire) quickly but wisely to come out on top.

How blockchain transcends Bitcoin

It’s important to understand that blockchain development transcends the daily value of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is useful anywhere multiple parties must verify changes across siloed systems. For example, the technology can soon be used by the media industry to help stop the spread of fake news. It’s already helping organizations like the World Food Programme facilitate fundraising and reduce inefficiencies when distributing capital for foreign aid. Think of any application in which a secure transfer of information is necessary, and you’ve got a case for blockchain: health information, car insurance, even voting systems.

As ZDNet’s Laura Shin explains

Riding the Wave: Staffing Up for Blockchain Development

“the technology could give rise to what Gartner calls ‘the programmable economy,’ powered by entirely new business models that eliminate all kinds of middlemen, machine networks in which devices engage in economic activity, and ‘smart assets’ in which some form of property such as shares in a company can be traded according to programmable or artificial intelligence-based rules rather than the control of a centralized entity.”

To learn more about the technology and where it’s headed, we recommend listening to two podcasts featuring cryptocurrency experts Nick Szabo and Andreas Antonopolous and reading ZDNet’s “Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology.”

Hiring blockchain talent

The top technical talent needed for blockchain teams are blockchain engineers, full-stack developers, and front-end developers. This talent isn’t easy to find. According to PwC FinTech director Jeremy Drane, the number one issue facing the blockchain industry today is a lack of talent.

When hiring for blockchain, it’s important to strike the right notes with candidates. There are a few truths in doing this that may come as no surprise. One is flexibility for remote work. Another is that pay is going to be a little bit higher—on average, salaries are 10-20% higher than non-blockchain tech jobs. Startups and technology companies invested in blockchain often offer profit sharing as part of their recruitment packages (no surprise there). But many are now offering it in the form of tokens instead of traditional equity or stock options. Obviously, this comes with more risk than usual, so hiring managers need to seek out candidates who are eager to try something new and break new ground.

Screening candidates can be tough since experience isn’t common in this new and constantly changing area. Candidates should show that they’re motivated and able to learn complex subject matter without the benefit of a rule book. They need to be able to demonstrate that they understand and have a passion for blockchain. Blockchain networks and meetups are popping up in every city, giving those interested in the technology a chance to show they’re involved and invested. There are also opportunities for those interested in blockchain to work on any number of open source projects to demonstrate their abilities. This article from Dice.com, for example, recommends developers consider building a smart contract using the Ethereum blockchain, which is a relatively straight-forward way of showcasing fundamental blockchain skills.

Keep in mind, too, that it’s not just engineers and developers that comprise a blockchain team. Various non-technical skills are needed that are transferable and can be utilized to build a company around the blockchain concept. Some of the most in-demand blockchain hires include operations, marketing, and UX/UI design. These folks should also know the lingo, not just so they can wow you in the interview but to exhibit their passion for and belief in the area (essentially, you want to know they understand what they’re in for).

We’ve entered the era of the blockchain, and it’s certainly exciting. Recruiters need not only to arm themselves with the expertise needed to find blockchain talent but embrace the emerging technology and put it into practice in your own business. No one said change is easy or comfortable, but taking a chance and staffing up for it doesn’t need to be difficult as long as you have a game plan.

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Richard Fusco is Director of Business Development of recruitAbility, a recruiting and retention firm based in Austin, TX. He brings 10+ years experience as a management consultant and product management director in the software industry. He thrives on working with clients to break down their seemingly intractable problems to deliver practical solutions.

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