The state of hiring in the crypto and blockchain space

Rob Paone is the founder of Proof of Talent, a crypto and blockchain-focused recruiting firm.

It might strike one as obvious, but interest in careers related to cryptocurrency is directly correlated to the price of Bitcoin and the crypto markets. With prices and interest nowhere near the 2017/2018 highs, it’s important for companies to get creative when hiring for talent instead of expecting job seekers to find them.

LinkedIn analyst Devin Banerjee recently plotted the hiring of blockchain developers against the average monthly price of BTC and illustrated the point:

                                         Source: Devin Banerjee/LinkedIn

In LinkedIn’s 2018 Emerging Jobs Report “Blockchain Developer” was the #1 emerging line of work with 33x YoY growth, while "Blockchain Developer" was nowhere to be found this year on the report.

Logically, the correlation makes sense. Not only do individuals want to invest their personal assets into Bitcoin and other cryptoassets when the markets are hot, they also want to invest their careers into the industry as well. As the investment market cools, so does the interest in cryptocurrency related careers.

For hiring companies, it’s important to remain resourceful when recruiting in times of crypto market cooldowns. Yes, inbound interest will slow down, but if companies are creative with candidate sourcing and outbound efforts, there is excellent talent on the market.

Engineering remains king

While the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry has made significant progress in the past 2-3 years, we’re still very much in the nascent stages. The nascency of the industry means that the vast majority of available opportunities are engineering related. More than 60% of the available opportunities are engineering related, while the last 35% or so are split between Operations, Marketing, Business Development, Legal and Design.

Much of this is due to the stage at which many companies are currently at within their lifecycle. Most companies in the blockchain industry are building some type of software or technology that has yet to hit product-market fit. In the stages prior to hitting product-market fit, the most crucial hires are engineering related as there isn’t much for the company to do besides build the product.

As companies in the industry grow with a solidified product that's being used by customers, you begin to see a more diversified set of opportunities outside of engineering such as business development, marketing, operations, etc.

Post-bubble talent migration

2017/2018 not only saw an increase in the price of cryptoassets, but also an influx of talent into the industry.

Close to two years later, a large number of entrants that joined the industry during the wild, bubbly times have either moved on from their original roles or are looking for new positions.

There have been many notable executive level moves in this time such as:

  • Catherine Coley moving from Ripple to BinanceUS
  • Hunter Merghart moving from Coinbase to BitStamp
  • Adam White moving from Coinbase to Bakkt
  • Christine Sandler moving from Coinbase to Fidelity Digital Assets
  • Tim Plakas moving from Coinbase to Galaxy Digital
  • Bobby Cho (Cumberland) and Dan Matuszewski (Circle) to CMS Holdings.

The average job tenure for individuals within the blockchain industry is less than 1.5 years, according to LinkedIn, a state of affairs that is exacerbated by the pivots and stumbles that some of the larger companies in the industry have faced since 2018.

Centralization of talent

You may have heard the phrase “decentralize everything”. One thing that has most certainly not been decentralized is the distribution of talent and job opportunities within the United States.

The vast number of opportunities related to blockchain still exist in two cities, San Francisco and New York City.

Yes, there are other notable cities with talent in the US, such as Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, but New York City and San Francisco still dominate the pack. Considering the cryptocurrency world is a unique blend of technology and finance, it makes sense that the financial capital of the world, New York City, and the capital of the tech world, Silicon Valley/San Francisco, lead the way.

And for as much hype as Wyoming’s blockchain efforts have received in the media, I believe we’re still far away from seeing any type of talent migration to the state – no matter how friendly the regulatory environment may be.

© 2023 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.