Demand for Blockchain Developers is white hot! Startup CTOs and corporate recruiters need to adapt to attract the best talent.
In 2017 Blockchain ventures raised 3.7 billion in ICOs and another $0.5 billion in venture capital. But with precious few experienced blockchain developers in existence and even fewer amongst them willing to work on your terms, Blockchain entrepreneurs are left with a curious dilemma… “How do You Recruit Blockchain Developers?”
They’ve come…Now find Blockchain Developers to Build It.
Any lingering doubts that early Blockchain pioneers may have had about the technology’s ability to surpass its abstruse origins were definitively laid to rest in 2017 as professional investors and early adopters acknowledged the importance of the Blockchain—with their fiat wallets. On top of approximately $4 billion in ICOs in 2017, Blockchain startups attracted at least another $0.5 billion from VCs. Established companies pivoted to include or even focus on Blockchain tech, mainstream media and the general public hopped on board as Bitcoin shot to fame, and the runaway Blockchain train now truly seems unstoppable.
The truth is, even some of the most thought-out and best-funded Blockchain projects are still in white paper stage. The process to plan, code, test, integrate and test some more is still months and years in the making for many ventures. And that takes experienced Blockchain engineers. It reminds one of the refrain from Kevin Costner’s’ movie Field of Dreams…”If you build it, they will come.” The debut of Blockchain has left many entrepreneurs with the obverse dilemma…“They’ve come…Now, can you really find Blockchain developers to build it?”
Demand for Blockchain Developers is White Hot!
“The number of job postings including the term Blockchain increased by 115% from 2016 to 2017.”
How many new Blockchain ventures have come onto the scene in the last year or two? How many existing technologycompanies have pivoted into Blockchain or added a Blockchain component to their existing models? While reliable statistics on the number of new ventures to enter the Blockchain fray are hard to come by, an IBM study of 3,000 leading company C-suite executives conducted in mid-2017 revealed that a full third of them were planning to integrate Blockchain in their business operations.
According to employment analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies, the number of job postings including the term “Blockchain” increased by 115% from 2016 to 2017, already making the skillset the second highest in demand, trailing only robotics.
Research like this just serves to support what the empirical evidence on the ground already tells us — the demand for Blockchain developers is white hot!
Finding Blockchain Developers is Hard…
Here’s the dilemma. In 2016, there were believed to be no more than 5,000 developers worldwide dedicated to the Blockchain and cryptocurrency programming. That estimate is downright paltry compared to an estimated 18.5 million general software engineers worldwide. Think about that for a moment … the industry is under rapid development and change, mainstream corporations are jumping on board, and perhaps but a few hundredths of a percentage point of developers worldwide truly understand this technology.
This tremendous shortage of experienced Blockchain engineers in the industry makes it very difficult to recruit the right talent for your venture. The problem is exacerbated by three particularly menacing conditions:
- Blockchain-related ventures are growing at an exponential rate, meaning that more and more firms want to hire the same Blockchain engineers that you do.
- Blockchain development operates under a different paradigm of software development, demanding that traditional developers pick up challenging new skills before they can really perform. (That takes a commodity none of us really has….time!)
- Blockchain based systems are designed to perform autonomously, to inherently reduce risk. But as Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas pointed out, “Blockchain technology lacks a history of secure code,” meaning that inexperienced Blockchain developers, working to meet fast-paced business demands, may inadvertently leave vulnerabilities in the system. (Remind you of The Dao, anyone?) Unlike many other software systems, bad Blockchain code can be very hard to patch.
(For more on this, see our article “Why are Blockchain Developers so Hard to Find?”)
…and Blockchain developers can be very expensive!
With blockchain developers in short supply, it is not surprising that experienced Blockchain developers command high salaries—if they’re willing to work for you at all. In December 2017, Computerworld reported that “The median income for blockchain developers in the U.S. is $130,000 a year, compared to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000.” That median was $120,000-$180,000/year, according to Business Insider, and £200-300,000 ($250,000-$400,000) as reported on Bitcoin.com. (See our feature article “ How Much do Blockchain Developers Cost?” for more details.)
So how DO you recruit a Blockchain developer, anyway?!
“Blockchain developers are NOT searching job boards for your opportunity. To engage with them, you need to fish where the fish are.”
With all of the above context, finding good Blockchain talent is no trifling matter. The good news is — good Blockchain developers of all stripes DO exist, and on the whole, ARE interested in taking this industry forward.To hire a Blockchain developer, first you need to think like a Blockchain developer. After talking to experienced, committed developers every day for quite some time now, we here at Blockchain Developers, Inc. have the following recommendations for attracting and hiring the best Blockchain talent:
Top Five Ways to Recruit Blockchain Developers:
- Be Interesting.
Leading Blockchain developers with chops are extremely bright and incredibly passionate. If they’ve been around for a while in the Blockchain world, they got into this field to change the world, not to “punch a clock.” To attract good Blockchain staff, you need them to feel that what you are doing is of genuine importance and a bona-fide intellectual challenge. Blockchain Developers, Inc. can help you craft and share your message in a way that Blockchain developers will appreciate, but the actual “interesting” part is up to you… If your mission is humdrum, we probably can’t help you. (We turn away more new clients than we accept, for more on that, please read our FAQ on “How does it Work? / How much does it cost?.”)
- Go Remote.
Probably around 80% of the Blockchain ecosystem talent is located outside of the United States. There are naturally pros and cons to hiring globally, and most US firms prefer to hire locally. Suffice it to say, however, that firms with “local-only” hiring policies had best start warming up to remote working arrangements, even if that’s only a time zone away. According to Stack Overflow’s 2017 developer survey, respondents consider “office environment” as a key factor in considering a job, and cite “days off” (57%) and “remote options” (53.3%) as the most important factors in compensation benefits packages. However you slice it, Blockchain developers don’t want to live in your cube farm.
- Farm It Out.
If you don’t need hardcore Blockchain development talent long-term, can’t find Blockchain engineers, or don’t think your project is compelling (or well-funded) enough to attract the caliber of talent that you desire, you might consider throwing out the DIY model altogether. Firms like Consensys, Distributed Labs, and Mako Lab focus on turnkey software engineering projects, while Ideas by Nature and Searched.io do Blockchain consulting and branding for ICOs. Go one step further by pairing your own developers with these groups to learn on the job. It will probably cost you more in the end to work this way, but playing the smart long game has a storied history of beating the quick and dirty hack job.
“Hiring Blockchain developers is not for the faint of heart. But it CAN be done, and done well. The winners and losers of the next few years may well come down to the staffing decisions that are being made on this very day.”
- Grow your Own.
Even Consensys is not immune to the developer shortage. That’s why they have been running all-expenses-paid coding bootcamps for qualifying candidates in Dubai, just to discover a few pearls to hire. While that kind of undertaking seems a bridge too far for most, there are many smaller scale alternatives. Consider sending your most talented developers to a Dev++ Bitcoin Programmer Boot Camp at Stanford University, or through a Blockchain Programming Seminar near you, encourage (and pay for) Blockchain courses on platforms like Udemy or BlockGeeks, or, if you’re lucky enough to have an experienced Blockchain developer on staff already, align your team to bring them up to speed under the master’s tutelage.
- Seek, and You Shall Find.
Maybe this one ought to be filed under: “Things not to do: Post a job opening and wait.”In the same Stack Overflow survey, only 10% of developers said they were “completely satisfied” with their job, 25% spent no time at all searching for new opportunities, and 28% spent only up to an hour per week. Blockchain developers are NOT searching job boards for your opportunity. To engage with them, you need to fish where the fish are. That means trawling Github repositories, joining slack, mattermost and reddit channels dedicated to Ethereum, solidity, bitcoin and smart contracts, attending and chatting it up at Ethereum development conferences, etc… You probably WON’T find what you are looking for with standard HR office practices like LinkedIn searches, so prepare to roll up your sleeves and do the work. (By the way…it’s really a LOT of work. That’s why so many smart Blockchain companies hire us to do it for them.)
Hiring Blockchain developers is not for the faint of heart. But it CAN be done, and done well. The winners and losers of the next few years may well come down to the staffing decisions that are being made on this very day.