Blockchain development has changed from a passion project to a viable and well-paid career. Now that big business has caught on to the many applications and usefulness of blockchain, these few skilled blockchain developers are hotly sought after by companies who are finally jumping on the bandwagon and trying to integrate the technology into their services.
In his book The Business Blockchain, thought leader and author, William Mougayar, briefly explores this emerging trend, noting that by his mid-2016 estimates, there were only “5,000 developers dedicated to writing software for cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, or blockchain in general.” He admits that “perhaps another 20,000 had dabbled with the technology, or have written front end applications that connect with the blockchain.”
All of this, he says, pales in comparison with the nine million Java developers worldwide, and about 18.5 million software developers in the world.
The rapid rise of blockchain has created a skills shortage, as demand far outstrips the number of talented and experienced individuals who can undertake the tasks that companies are working on. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult for a business to find the right blockchain developer for their needs. It’s a good time for blockchain developers, because they are finally able to command a high fee after years of developing their skills on what was once only a passion.
Recruiting these sought-after individuals is proving incredibly challenging for both startups and established corporations. Until recently, blockchain technology was only a fringe-technology explored by a small but enthusiastic community. Because of this, blockchain developers tend to be different from other employees. Their unique situation means that HR needs to try new tactics in order to find the best blockchain developers.
How to Hire a Good Blockchain Developer
You Need to Know What You Are Looking For
Consider the different aspects of your company, as well as the kind of blockchain project you are embarking on.
- Are you a startup or a big corporation?
- What is your company culture like?
- Would a blockchain developer be excited to be part of your project?
There are many factors that will affect what kind of developer you will hire, such as the type of project, its length, the number of people you need, whether you need experts in the field or just enthusiastic individuals whose skills you can develop. It may even be better to outsource the project to a specialist blockchain development firm, or even this collaboration between Microsoft and ConsenSys. Outsourcing can relieve you of the hiring pressure and allow your company to focus more on its core services.
The individual characteristics will act as a filter for those who want to be part of your project. It will also influence what you will have to offer them in order to get them onboard. If your project appeals to the blockchain developer mindset, you will probably find it much easier to find the right staff.
Understanding Blockchain Developers
Great blockchain developers can be very different from the rest of the workforce, even those within the IT sector. This is because blockchain technology was an outsider interest that has only just begun to have a real commercial impact in the last couple of years. The result of this is that the best and most experienced developers tend to be in it for the passion, while other strong candidates are entering the industry because they see great opportunities in blockchain technology.
The early Bitcoin and blockchain enthusiasts were brought together by a shared vision for the future, focusing on decentralization and cryptography instead of more traditional financial means. Because of this, there are strong ideological forces in much of the blockchain community, which sways frequently into the realms of libertarianism and anarchism.
Companies need to respect these attitudes if they want to attract the best people for their positions. They also need to realize that this makes certain projects much easier to get off the ground than others. A crypto-anarchist might be far more interested in a project that aims to bring about improvements to democracy in the developing world, than a project that aims at cutting costs in the banking sector.
In saying this, most great developers are far from tinfoil hat-wearing crazies. The blockchain community is a broad church, with its fair share of conservatives and techno-capitalists as well. There are many excellent blockchain developers who see the technology purely for its usefulness and have developed their skills in order to make money or to help advance our society.
The important thing for a business looking to hiring a blockchain developer, is that they hire someone with a background that fits in with their company culture and goals. The wrong kind of developer can result in an unproductive working relationship.
Look in the Right Places
How does your company usually look for candidates–job ads? LinkedIn?
Throw out the traditional methods, because they aren’t going to be very effective in finding the perfect developer. You can stand on the rooftop and yell out, ‘Looking to hire an experienced blockchain developer,’ but the odds are that great candidates won’t be within shouting range. They probably aren’t looking at traditional job boards either–those with in-demand skills don’t need to.
If you want to find a good developer, you need to look for them in their natural habitat. Because of the nature of blockchain development, many of them have multiple projects on the go and aren’t actively seeking out new work. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be intrigued if the right opportunity comes into their peripherals
The blockchain community is tightknit, and many of the best developers and thought leaders are constantly engaging with each other to keep up on the latest projects and news. These meeting places are where the astute hiring manager should look for them, whether they are online discussion groups or job board like on Blockgeeks, or real life meeting places, such as conferences.
Find Out What They Want and Offer It to Them
Once you have uncovered their hiding place, you will discover blockchain developers scurrying around between projects like beetles. Now it’s time for you to pounce on them. What you have to keep in mind is that they are in demand. They are highly skilled and have many other recruiters chasing them with sweet deals. The ball is in their court.
Your first option is to grovel, beg and plead for them to work with you, but this might not always work. As was mentioned above, blockchain developers are often a very different kind of worker, with unique skills, habits, and lifestyles. You need to find out how you can tempt them into working with you.
Unless they got into Bitcoin in the very early days and are now comfortable millionaires, money will be one of the biggest motivating factors. The best developers are commanding a high fee, and if you want a highly skilled person, you need to be willing to match what your competitors are offering.
Many blockchain developers aren’t your typical 9-5ers, so if you aren’t willing to be flexible, your position may stay vacant for a long time. Unless you are in a major cosmopolitan city, you may also need to cast your net wider, because the right talent might not be close by. Your company should consider whether the position can be filled by a remote worker and come up with ways on how to accommodate them into your operations. Blockchain developers may also want to set their own schedule, have more frequent holidays and have access to other special privileges.
If you are lucky, your project might be exactly what some blockchain developers are looking to work on. If this is the case, it should be relatively easy to entice them into your office. If not, you will need to figure out other ways to encourage them to contribute to your company. This can include giving them more autonomy and the freedom to pursue projects of their own. Other sweeteners can include opportunities for them to progress their career, such as further education and sending them to conferences
How to Hold on to Your Blockchain Developer
You can’t relax once you have found the right candidate. They are in such high demand that you really need to look after your developers if you want to keep them. This includes offering them a pleasant work environment, pay rises in-line with the market and the possibility for career progression. If they aren’t happy and don’t see a future for themselves at your company, it won’t be long before another offer comes and snaps them up.
If you are reading this article, the chances are that you are already incredibly frustrated in your search for a blockchain developer. Unfortunately, like any skill that is in demand, it is not easy to find the right person, and you may have to offer more to entice them.
Blockchain developers are in such great demand because companies are only now realizing the value that lies in blockchain technology. As everyone swarms to get their piece of the pie, you don’t want to be left behind by the competition. Be prepared to offer the developer a handsome package if you want to make the most of the blockchain boom.
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