Hiring for the blockchain

Hiring for the blockchain
William Nash
William Nash
April 4th 2018

Blockchain-specific tips

The market

You are in competition with the two best-funded sectors on the globe: banking and Silicon Valley. Both have the attitude of 'throwing money at the problem', and you'll be unable to match their compensation packages. Don't even try! So, what can you do? It’s best if you can outmanoeuvre them by being more agile and responsive.

As a smaller company or a new team, focus on what you can offer which those larger companies can't. This includes equity, autonomy, career progression, control of your working day, and remote working. Most importantly, try to be responsive to whatever a good candidate is interested in. Big companies aren't nimble enough to offer that type of bespoke package.

'20 years of experience on the blockchain'

Nobody has 20 years of experience working on blockchains. The maximum would be about 8 years, and you should have questions for anyone who quotes more (such as 'Are you Satoshi Nakamoto?'). On newer blockchain platforms, developers will have even less experience. Don't try to fight this by insisting on five years experience. There’s nothing wrong with looking for developers with experience in general as this is always an asset. If a candidate has learnt a new technology from scratch before this is a very good sign that he or she will be able to pick up blockchain quickly.

Grow rather than buy

Hire someone who doesn't already have blockchain experience so that you aren't up against every recruiter in London. Blockchain platforms aren't impenetrable, and each has a healthy developer community, especially in bigger cities. Developers will be able to learn these platforms, especially when you are an experienced founder or developer yourself. Instead, look for raw ability plus experience in any distributed systems, networking or developer operations. Then, depending on which package you're working with, you can hire people who have worked with the relevant language/s (Hyperledger: Go/JS, Parity (Ethereum): Rust etc.).

If you want to test overall ability then it’s worth sending out a tech test We used https://www.hackerrank.com/ and used the interview process to access analytical thinking. Quickfire problem solving is a great way to do this. We’re a lean team so we often have a group conversation too aimed at finding out more about the candidate as a person, which is critical to assessing cultural fit.

General Tips

Use Your Network

Although everyone recommends using your professional network when hiring, it's still good advice. You know who people are, you can find them, and you can hire them for free. Look outside your family and close friends as this complicates the professional relationship, but don't be afraid to think about old rivals, or friends of friends.

If you don't have a network, then try to use someone else's. Doing this means making your first hire someone plugged into the developer community in your city. Some candidates know the value of their network, but others will need to be asked explicitly during the interview.

Write a good job description

A good job description isn't a gate; it's a signpost. Write a short job description which is to-the-point, and you will get appropriate candidates without scaring people off (or boring them). It’s best if the job listing fits on one side of A4 and consider asking for a link to a portfolio/github page rather than a CV.

Most developers won't read extensive prose, so you're wasting your time writing it. You may even put people off. Work out what skills you need, then list them. Work out what you can offer a candidate and list that next. Think about what you're trying to build, then describe it in a few sentences.

Posting

There are some free places where you can post a job listing and they’re all about the same. The most obvious is www.workinstartups.com but there’s also https://blocktribe.com/ and https://www.indeed.co.uk/.

www.stackoverflow.com is a great paid alternative which isn’t too expensive and, if you’re thinking about recruiters, then try www.snap.hr before you shell out on human recruiters. Snap is significantly cheaper than a regular recruitment agency and has some really good candidates available.

Conclusion

A good tech team makes a good business, and good hiring makes a good tech team. By outmaneuvering the banks, being clear about your needs, and authentically presenting your company values, it’s possible to find great developers and will give your blockchain product the perfect start.