Congratulations! You’ve taken the next step towards becoming a blockchain professional by applying for a position and receiving an invitation to a job interview.
Or perhaps you’re still doing research, trying to gain an understanding of the skills and experience a blockchain employer might look for.
Wherever you are in your journey towards a career in blockchain, James Scott, Engineering Operations Manager at blockchain technology leader nChain, has some valuable insights to share about transitioning into a blockchain career.
The key ingredient blockchain employers are looking for
Scott notes that the most important requirement to build a career in blockchain technology is to be fascinated by the technology.
‘What skills do you need to be a blockchain developer? It’s like asking what skills you need to be a developer in London. It’s the same work as you’d need to do in New York or Paris, but you’d have to learn a different language or dialect, get to know your way around town, and become familiar with the area’s unique challenges. And, of course, you’d have to have an interest in living in London.’
For blockchain employers like nChain, the level of your interest in the industry is a good predictor that you will be engaged from day one, and that you will bring all of your skills to the table.
Prove your interest
While a fascination with blockchain is essential, it will be even more helpful if you are able to demonstrate it to potential employers.
‘Everyone goes into an interview saying they’re interested in sewage works, or whatever you happen to be interviewing for. What will help you stand out is if you can demonstrate your passion for blockchain,’ Scott says.
He suggests having blockchain-related code in GitHub to show at an interview.
‘For a less technical role, you could reference the material you’ve read on blockchain, or acquire a type of blockchain certification,’ he says, referring to the Bitcoin Academy’s Theory, Development and Infrastructure courses.
Can you flourish in the flux?
Because blockchain is a new industry, there is a lot less order and a greater level of flux around work processes and requirements. Scott describes a scenario where there is likely to be a number of projects going on at once, each one dependent on customers’ readiness to give the green light.
‘When interviewing a candidate, I’d be asking them to give me an example of a time when they had to rearrange their priorities at the drop of a hat,’ he says.
‘Since it’s a very young technology, we’re in the phases where we need pioneers, and increasingly settler-type personalities who are interested in exploration, discovering new opportunities, and then settling in an environment where there’s little to no existing infrastructure.’
Individuals with ‘town planner’ personalities who depend on an ordered environment will become a bigger focus at a later time when it is time to scale things up.
‘People will naturally fall into one of these categories. If you’ve got someone with a town planner preference, they will be suited to particular roles, but they might be a bit early for the industry,’ he says.
Bring your entire skillset to the table
Though you will likely go into an interview pursuing a specific role, Scott highlights the opportunities that might become available if you are open to exploring a ‘best fit’ for your skillset instead.
‘There are so many things that need doing. In the past, we have hired people because they had beneficial skills, and then we created a role for them. We’ve also had people interview for a position and ended up giving them two or three different hats to wear.’
Scott sees roles becoming more focussed as the industry grows and enterprises become more established.
‘But for the moment, it’s more important to recruit people with valuable skills and allow them an opportunity to apply them to the projects they’re interested in.’
Upskilling for and transferring your skills to blockchain
Most of the roles within blockchain require the same core skills as any other technology industry. Just like a transition from one software implementation role to another will need you to learn the ropes and upskill, so it will be when transitioning to blockchain.
What is the best way to prepare to make the move to blockchain?
‘Just like with other industries, a major challenge is to overcome the myths and misunderstandings that are promoted on the Internet. There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s not clear which ones are legitimate and helpful,’ Scott says.
While nChain offers recruits a curated list of materials to study, their joint effort in launching the Bitcoin SV Academy with Bitcoin Association offers recruits the education they need to gain the knowledge and skills they need to ease into the industry. ‘When people have an interest in blockchain and a background in tech, the Bitcoin SV Academy’s online courses will get them up to speed in no time.’
Participate in Hackathons
Scott recommends participating in hackathons to grow your development skills and get an enterprise-level perspective. It is also an excellent opportunity to get noticed by employers.
‘Hackathons help us identify stars,’ Scott says.
If you think you have the expertise blockchain enterprises are looking for, sign up for updates about the bi-annual Bitcoin SV Hackathon event.
Bitcoin Association’s blockchain job board
Scott is enthusiastic about the job prospects and professional satisfaction the blockchain industry offers.
‘It’s a great industry to join, and we're actively educating and recruiting blockchain professionals. In my previous positions, I thought people were quite well engaged, but in blockchain the passion is palpable. The chance to work in an industry that could potentially change the world is quite exciting. I’d certainly recommend a career in blockchain!’
If this sounds like the kind of environment that ticks your boxes, take a look at our job board to see if the perfect blockchain job for you is already posted.