When angling for a blockchain job, even veteran IT pros will probably run into a classic conundrum: It’s tough to get experience without a job, and it’s tough to get a job without experience.
What people commonly refer to today as blockchain might be ten years old, but its wider use cases – meaning beyond cryptocurrencies – are part of a more recent phenomenon, as various industries and businesses begin to more seriously explore its potential.
And as those industries and businesses increasingly look to hire blockchain talent, there’s a natural shortfall.
On the flip side, a skilled technologist might want to get into the field but feel they lack the bona fide experience necessary to do so. How do you put your best foot forward?
[ Read our related story, How to explain blockchain in plain English. ]
There are certainly ways to break into what remains a nascent field in the broader IT universe.
“The demand for professionals with blockchain skills will likely grow and outpace the number of formally trained professionals, so now is a great time for skilled developers, especially, to capitalize on opportunities,” says Jim Johnson, senior vice president for the technology division at recruiting firm Robert Half.
Here’s what Johnson and other experts recommend if you want to stand out from the pack when trying to land a blockchain job.
1. Spotlight skills that translate well to blockchain roles
Technologists looking to transition into a blockchain position will have to start somewhere. Fortunately, there are multiple inroads.
“There are many skills applicable to working in a blockchain-focused job role,” says Marta Piekarska, director of ecosystem at the open source blockchain platform Hyperledger.
The traits commonly lumped together as “soft skills” matter a great deal here.
“At a high level, as in any job, you should be open-minded and flexible, and willing to learn and solve problems,” Piekarska says. “It’s also important to be able to work with both technical and non-technical groups, as many organizations implementing blockchain are not technology companies.”
[ Read our related article, Top soft skills for IT leaders and how to master them. ]
From a technical standpoint, there are plenty of translatable skills. As Johnson notes above, blockchain roles are particularly ripe for people with software development backgrounds. Database, Linux and open source, and security experience are also a good fit.
Consider this listing on jobs site Glassdoor for a “Senior Software Engineer - Blockchain” at Akamai as an example. Among the required skills:
- 3 years experience with 1 or more of the following languages—C/C++, Java, Python.
- 3+ years experience with relational and/or NoSQL databases.
- 3+ years experience working on Linux/Unix platforms.
2. Take self-directed paths to blockchain experience
That same job listing also mentions “1+ years experience designing, implementing and deploying a blockchain, cryptocurrency, or something similar.”
How do you attain that if you don’t already have it?
Yael Tamar, founder at Top of Blockchain, points to a couple of possibilities here.
“Quite a few professionals work for ICOs in exchange for tokens in order to gain some blockchain experience,” she says. Tamar adds that there are various groups on sites like Telegram, Whatsapp, and Facebook that list these opportunities, some of which also offer cash compensation in addition to tokens.
“Most of these positions are remote, and so they are accessible to anyone around the globe,” Tamar says.
You can also follow a trail blazed by so many developers and engineers working with other technologies in the past: Build a pet project and put it online. In fact, this might be the better option of the two.
“To really stand out, I would advise posting a dApp, a smart contract, or [a] plugin [you] developed ‘for fun’ or personal [use] on Github and linking it to [your] resume,” Tamar advises.
3. Blockchain certifications and courses count
There’s debate about the value of certain IT certifications, courses, and the like, but blockchain is an area where these pathways can help set you apart from the hobbyists.
“Open online courses and certification programs are a great way to get into the industry and be marketable for companies as an employee,” Johnson of Robert Half says. “The most important consideration for employers is a passion for the space and a desire to continue to learn – that will be one of the key differentiators for someone looking to be in blockchain.”
Another value on this front: It’s verifiable effort in a space where, perhaps ironically, not everyone’s “experience” might be that credible.
“Complete formal training courses, pass certification exams, and contribute to open source blockchain projects,” Piekarska says. “Each of these activities has mechanisms in place for potential employers to verify they were actually completed.”
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