June 5, 2018

Tech Sector Struggles to Find Qualified Blockchain Developer Talent


Blockchain is a new and disruptive technology, little understood by most of us who don’t work in the financial sector or hold cryptocurrency. Yet in many industries  — including the HR and recruiting sector — pioneers are finding valuable uses for blockchain that extend well beyond bitcoin.

“Essentially, blockchain is an open, decentralized database that is operated by more than one party,” explains Luka Horvat, head of talent operations at Toptal, which connects businesses with blockchain talent. “In order for multiple parties to successfully cooperate without needing to trust one another, various mechanisms are needed. From this basic principle of a ‘trustless database’ and thousands of lines of code, various public and private blockchains were born. These blockchains enable parties to simultaneously use and operate on the same datasets without having to worry that their data or businesses will be compromised.”

Talent Gaps Within Talent Gaps

The technology sector already suffers from talent gaps — talent chasms, really — that force stakeholders to poach top talent back and forth while desperately seeking new talent pipelines. Since blockchain is still fairly new, finding experienced developers can be an especially difficult task.

“The blockchain space is new, rapidly developing, and diverse,” Horvat says. “In this environment, it’s incredibly difficult to find talent with an exact experience match.”

One way around this roadblock is to look instead for candidates wth experience in what Horvat calls “adjacent technologies,” which include cryptography, systems development, distributed systems, C++, Python, and Go.

If You Teach Them, They Will Come

Horvat also recommends recruiters “identify hungry learners who are excited to advance in the blockchain space,” as they can be trained up to subject-matter expertise. Nurturing developers with related experience internally is often more efficient than recruiting established blockchain talent directly.

While the technology itself may be new and disruptive, developers entering the blockchain space will find a familiar atmosphere, which makes training new blockchain talent slightly easier than you might expect.

As Horvat remarks, “Blockchain development teams aren’t too different from other types of development teams.”

Aside from internal developmental initiatives, there are also third parties stepping in to lend a hand. Toptal’s new Blockchain Academy, for example, is designed to help produce a brand new crop of blockchain experts for the talent market.

French playwright Charles-Guillaume Étienne famously penned the phrase “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” If you want to find valuable talent in a new and disruptive technology, this old advice might serve you well. By developing your own training programs or partnering with companies that train blockchain talent for you, you can establish a loyal developer base with the skills to push your organization into the future.

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Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.