Seldom does the growth of a technology outpace the supply of developers, but blockchain is proving to be an exception. According to Ethereum experts, the market is experiencing a “tremendous” shortage of developers, which will only get worse as applications for blockchain technology continue to multiply.
Most of the truly seasoned shared ledger developers started early and have already either been captured by tech giants, or have started their own companies. Universities are ratcheting up with courses on shared ledger and cryptocurrencies, but they can only train so fast. The reality, today, is somber to say the least: if you need to hire a blockchain developer, you need to forget everything you know about recruiting programmers. Whether onboarding or contracting, hiring a blockchain developer for your project is going to take guerilla tactics.
In a market where developer salaries extend well into six digits, locating one who is qualified, available, and who won’t laugh at your budget requires a paradigm shift — not only in where to locate the talent you need, but how to engage them. You will not find these programmers among the usual list of suspects, nor will you attract them with the usual lure. The very nature of decentralized ledgers attracts programmers with a bent for nonconformity, and sometimes a distrust of authority. We are not saying that all blockchain developers for hire represent some unknown lifeform — only most of them.
Getting the blockchain developer skill set you need can be a lot easier once you understand what makes them tick. In this article, we examine the basics of locating, attracting, and working productively with the rarest of programmers.
Onboarding versus Outsourcing
Before you seek to hire any type of developer, you need to decide on the kind of work relationship you will offer them. Do you need to hire them on as permanent contributor to your team, or do you need to outsource a one-off project? The answer mostly comes down to two factors: cost and quality.
At first thought, hiring a developer — or even a team of them — may seem like a more-economical solution than hiring a development firm. However, the opposite is often true.
By the time you count the cost of recruitment, onboarding, benefits, and salaries, you can easily spend more to hire and retain developers than to contract with a firm. Even if your project requires ongoing development or support, outsource development providers often provide cost savings over the long haul. Depending on the outsourcing model you select, benefits and administrative expenses might be absorbed by the development company. Further, you can use a development firm only when you need them. Once you hire employees, you have to pay them whether you have work or not.
Outsourcing used to be synonymous not only with low cost, but with with poor quality as well. Such is still the case with many Indian-based outsource providers, but not necessarily so in Western Europe. Some of the best developers in the world work for Ukrainian or Israeli outsource providers, and the quality of their work is unsurpassed even by US-based firms. Quality is never a given, but many of today’s outsourcing providers have built thriving businesses by delivering services of the highest quality.
Moreover, reputable outsourcing firms use strict frameworks that guarantee quality every step of the project. When hiring programmers directly, you are responsible for ensuring the quality of your developers’ work, which requires additional personnel and financial resources.
Development Team or Sole Developer
If you decide that you want to outsource your blockchain project to a developer, you must decide if you will contract with a development company or a lone developer. The decision depends on more than the scope of your project.
If your project complexity justifies multiple hands on deck, you will find it easier to outsource your project to a development company. An outsource firm will have multiple developers on staff, and will have a framework in place to ensure excellent teamwork throughout the project. Your project will be lead by a manager whose job it is to get your project completed to spec and delivered on time.
If you choose to hire multiple individual developers, you will have to manage every aspect of the project yourself. You will likely find that getting two or three remote developers to work together efficiently is nearly impossible. Even if you hire a project manager to do the dirty work for you, the quality of the final product will be questionable at best.
For a simple project, a sole contractor may be able to build your blockchain for you. However, commercially-viable blockchains that are fast, scalable, and secure are rarely simple. While there are a few icons in the industry who have single-handedly built some amazing blockchain solutions, their breed usually picks their employers, rather than the other way around.
The Blockchain Developer Skill Set
A developer must possess a unique set of skills to work effectively in blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. Blockchain developer skills are unlike those of any other programming discipline. While blockchain developers work in code, just like those who work in Java or Python, the are some unique characteristics you must look for when seeking a blockchain developer.
First, every blockchain developer must have a solid background in blockchains, cryptography, cryptocurrencies, the Ethereum network, ledgers, consensus methods, decentralized technologies and P2P networks, data security, web technologies, and various high-level programming languages. Lack of knowledge in these areas translates into a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of distributed ledger technology.
The adoption of smart contracts across a multitude of industries requires a thorough knowledge, here, also. Even though your project might not have a legal or financial application, smart contracts could still be a crucial part of your offerings.
Speaking of legal and financial applications, since blockchains are seeing rapid adoption in these sectors, it is important for developers to understand the unique requirements and regulations of the industries they serve.
Finding and Attracting a Blockchain Developer
Chances are, you will not find qualified lone blockchain developers on conventional job boards, or Facebook. Blockchain developers like to hang with others of their species, and you will find them on geek job boards, at Bitcoin conferences, on Reddit or GitHub, or on similar sites.
Good blockchain developers are never idle, and you will find yourself in competition with other companies for those worth hiring. The supply-demand ratio is overwhelmingly in their favor, so you can forget about attracting a good developer with sub-par incentives. These guys and gals are building the data networks tomorrow’s industries will run on, and they know it. Rather than pushing good developers away with an insulting offer, it may be best to describe the job and then ask what their rate would be to do what you need.
If you are hiring a development firm, you can pick from companies in the US, Western Europe, Western Europe, or even China. A thorough online search, and some research, will reveal which companies might be best for taking on your project.
How Ignite Can Help
Blockchain may be a nascent technology, but its future is already decidedly bright. Virtually no sector or industry will be untouched by shared ledger technology. In the race for market dominance, having qualified developers on your team will be crucial if you want to thrive in this extremely-lucrative technology.
If outsourcing makes sense for your company, Ignite invites you to contact us for a no-cost consultation. We are experts in every aspect of blockchain technology, and we employ some of the best blockchain developers in the world. With six R&D labs located across Western Europe, we are well-positioned to serve you, regardless of your geographic location.
Whether your project involves Bitcoin, 3rd-party Ethereum solutions, or a custom private blockchain for your own organization, Ignite has the knowledge and experience to develop your project to spec, on budget, and with no surprises.
Why not contact us today?