March 27, 2019 By Martin Hallworth 4 min read

As a blockchain recruiting consultant at IBM, I’m often quizzed on the subject. What’s Blockchain? What is it good for? What is the potential of blockchain? These talks invariably lead to discussions around the demand, technology, skills, experience necessary, and ultimately, “how do I get a job in blockchain?”

Let’s cover the first two questions quickly and then focus on the potential of this technology and ultimately, how to get hired in blockchain.

Basics of blockchain

Firstly, what is blockchain? Without getting too technical, it’s a shared distributed, decentralized digital ledger, that’s created by and accessible to trusted parties. Once written, it is immutable and can’t be changed. What is it good for? Blockchain’s more than a new piece of technology, it’s a new way of doing business that democratizes, transforms and improves business process. It strips away anonymity by increasing transparency which enables trust. It is a fundamental shift in the way we collaborate, transact, remove friction and grow.

Learn more about blockchain today

What is the career potential of blockchain? A quick Google Trends query shows search for the term “blockchain jobs” has increased dramatically in the last four years. Blockchain technology has become more broadly talked about and better understood since it is now discussed separately from Bitcoin. In a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, of almost 3,000 cross-industry C-suite executives showed, 33 percent are already actively engaged or are considering using blockchain.

Finding, attracting and retaining the talent to realize the true value of these projects is challenging and, guess what, there’s a skills shortage. Blockchain is a nascent tech so a limited talent pool to service the demand for those blockchain jobs and the laws of economics dictate that when something is in demand, prices and salaries go up! Salaries for technical and non-tech jobs are in the region of 10 to 20 percent above the median of equivalent tech roles.

So, what are you looking for?

Okay, now that we have some fundamentals established and before we dive into getting a blockchain job, let me throw a couple of questions back at you. Money aside, why are you looking to get into blockchain? Why would it suit you? What do you feel you can offer? What type of blockchain excites you? What type of company do you want to work with — finance, crypto, non-profit, start-up or an established mainstream company?

Now, let’s look at some of the tech roles and recognize how blockchain is different. A blockchain job requires competency around a totally new set of skills and tools, many of them unique. Seasoned developers with an established tech background will be competent around several languages and processes that could include, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Studio, .NET, MVC, AJAX, SQL, C, C++, C#, Javascript and MYSQL to name a few.

In addition to the above, you will need to quickly build a solid understanding of peer-to-peer networking, consensus algorithms, cryptography, distributed storage, consensus algorithms and smart contract development. Some of this new tech includes Node.js, JQuery, SOAP, REST, FTP, HTML, XML, XSLT, XCOD, Neural-networks, Regression and Agile Scrum, which will all be very beneficial. Learning, insights, courses, tutorials and seminar experience that you can accumulate, will mark you out as a potential standout candidate and get you a foot in the door.

Business-focused blockchain

Now let’s look at blockchain talent and focus for jobs that may not be as hands-on technical. above, a prerequisite and bare minimum is that blockchain knowledge — what, where and how does a (private, permissioned) blockchain add value. Having experience in roles with adjacent, complimentary competencies and skills will be advantageous. In addition, you’ll need to understand the commercial value of how blockchain can drive business outcomes. Here are some key roles.

Application Architects are responsible for creating the technical solution architecture and to know the capabilities of blockchain — for IBM it’s The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric technology, and experience in selecting components for the development of solution blueprints. Architects are responsible for design and implementation, creation of solutions architecture for business problems, and the development of solution blueprints, and more.

Business Sales and Delivery Executives will be identifying and developing opportunities. You may be a subject matter expert focused on a vertical, shipping, food safety, supply chain or healthcare. You’ll work with clients to understand their strategy and business objectives and leverage our blockchain as a service (BAAS) offering. You’re not selling a technical solution, you’re selling outcomes and transformation. You are responsible for building and maintaining relationships, account strategy and pulling the team together.

Business Transformation Consultants are vital for success. Here you will work with clients to define their blockchain strategy and determine the business value proposition. You’re developing the architecture of blockchain solutions. You will work with clients to ensure translation of the business requirements to solution requirements. To succeed, you will have experience leading the process and organization aspects of transformational programs and know the key metrics.

Blockchain is a team sport, be a team player

To summarize, the job roles described are by no means exhaustive and not detailed, however they are some of the most in-demand roles. let’s also not forget those essential attributes that are of equal value to all the above — great communication skills, growth mindset, a team player and passion.

As a leader in the blockchain service provider space, with over 1500 resources and six major blockchain platforms in production and over 500 blockchain engagements completed or underway, our goal is to work with forward-thinking companies to transform blockchain’s promise into bottom-line business results. To achieve this, recruiting, retaining, reskilling and training the best talent in the industry, is key to our success.

We would love for you to join our talent community. Connect with me on LinkedIn or @MartinHallworth on Twitter to continue the discussion.

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