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Why it’s so hard to hire anyone working on blockchain tech

Blockchain experts have a hard time calling anyone ‘boss’

Blockchain project jobs

Actual photo of people working on a blockchain project (via Shutterstock).

Modern Consensus was on the ground in Berlin for BlockShow, a two-day festival boasting thousands of attendees, each one there to expand their understanding of blockchain technology and meet some A-list crypto-players.

Between the public on-stage panels and the private conversations we had with attendees, one theme cropped up consistently: it’s hard to acquire the talent and human resources necessary to take a large or small company into the new blockchain-enabled future.

We know the song all the crypto-kids sing: blockchain technology isn’t just about powering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s a “new internet” setting a higher standard for how information moves and is validated around the world. This stuff isn’t even ten years old yet; this new internet is in its dial-up phase. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t wisened experts out there. Most of them just happen to be too busy to go to work on someone else’s project.

“It’s difficult to recruit top blockchain talent at the moment because most experts prefer to do their own ICO, or set up a consultancy to better leverage their knowledge and share it with a series of clients,” said Antoine Verdon, founder of Swiss blockchain company Proxeus. In simplest terms, the blockchain’s existing pros mostly want to work for themselves.

This sentiment is backed up by Marc P. Bernegger, a member of the “blockchain task force” that advises the Swiss economics minister on all things crypto. “Some of the smartest blockchain people have been in the space for quite a long time and became financially independent from their digital asset holdings,” he said. “They get to do just what they want, and are not forced to work for others because of money.”

This situation is bound to change. As blockchain technology goes more mainstream, there will be an influx of widespread public interest (beyond all-caps “bitcoin” headlines) and savvy workers ready to handle crypto tasks. “We will hopefully see emergent products that reduce the technical hurdles to harness blockchain, and let employees focus on improving and carrying out business processes,” said Verdon.

His comment can be interpreted as a subtle plug for his company Proxeus, which provides companies with a figurative blockchain toolbox (it’s been called “WordPress for blockchain” in the past), letting people with no technical expertise quickly and easily create their own blockchain applications. In any event, today’s pool of young computer programmers will likely shift their attention to the blockchain space, bringing all their existing expertise with them as they begin to specialize in this “new normal.”

To any company looking to hire blockchain specialists, Bernegger and Verdon offer the following advice: look for people who have actually built blockchain solutions that solve real problems, then ask them to detail their solution step by step.

“Thanks to tools like GitHub, you have far better opportunity to test the skills and the knowledge of today’s tech people compared to ten years ago, and the talent pool is truly becoming global,” said Bernegger. “I think smart people focusing on blockchain have a very bright future.”

Dylan Love is an editorial consultant, contributing reporter, and fiendishly curious technology enthusiast. He owns no cryptocurrencies.