How to get a Blockchain job without a ton of experience
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?
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 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.”
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.
You can also find out more about the languages you need to be a blockchain developer as highlighted in previous articles:
- Blockchain Coding: The Many different Languages You Need!
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.
If you’re a developer and needs a guided approach to learning Blockchain, we recommend you Join our Developer Circles.
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.”
We’ve put together a blockckhain tutorial to get you started on Blockchain.
4. Prepare for interviews by doing extra homework
Here’s one convention that blockchain isn’t going to disrupt: The job interview. Do your homework, just as you’ve done in the past for other competitive IT positions. All that’s really different here is the subject matter of said homework and the amount you may have to do.
“While there is nothing that should be too different about interviewing for a blockchain job versus any other, there are some questions that are fairly predictable to be prepared for,” Piekarska says. She shares three examples of questions that commonly come up:
- “Why should our organization use blockchain?”
- “What are some prominent use cases for blockchain?”
- “What is the ROI of blockchain?”
Piekarska points out another classic bit of interview wisdom: “Strong applicants should also be prepared with questions of their own,” she says. “You want to think about things that would help you prepare for this job and improve your understanding of the dimensions driving the organization’s selection of tools.”
As an example, Piekarska says you might ask about the company’s use of public versus private ledgers, or permissioned versus non-permissioned chains.
“This not only will help demonstrate your understanding of blockchain but make you better equipped to start the job running if you are hired,” Piekarska explains.
5. Don’t be a know-it-all
If a company is looking for someone who can consider a wide range of business applications for blockchain, walking into an interview and obsessing over, say, a particular cryptocurrency probably isn’t the best tactic.
“The best applicants are going to be well-rounded ones,” Piekarsa notes. “They should know about the entire blockchain ecosystem, not only one or two systems.”
ell-rounded has a broader context, too. While specialization can pay off in certain fields, there’s not currently much value in enterprise IT for someone who touts themselves as someone who lives, eats, and breathes blockchain. Which is more good news for IT pros looking to change direction.
“It is important to demonstrate knowledge and expertise outside of blockchain, as it can’t solve every problem an organization may be dealing with,” Piekarska advises. “At the same time, applicants should not act as though they know it all, and should remain open to learning as the field continues to evolve rapidly.”
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