X Years of Blockchain Development Experience Is A Losing Requirement When Hiring

11 min readDec 11, 2021

Can we be real with each other for like 10 minutes, please? The workforce hiring dynamics within the blockchain industry are beyond misaligned.

Ethereum had its official release on July 30th, 2015. That is just 76 months of maximum work experience available since the day of Ethereum. Additionally, Ethereum did not really gain any kind of general-populous traction until 2017 where the first little bull market left a bunch of Blockchain OGs holding bags the size of their balls.

When do you think the smartest minds of other industries found the Ethereum ecosystem appealing as a job opportunity?

Does this time ring as a time that was filled with geniuses and people that would go on to be the future seniors of the industry?

Although Ethereum launched it sat without much nominal action when it comes to talent-appeal. The value of Ethereum was increasing at a rate that made it a great financial investment however the phase of being a great labor and time investment had not yet come. To get there, we have to fast forward 2 years to when we see the first glimpse of the Ethereum ecosystem as we know it today in 2021.

Let’s then assume the real start of Ethereum was March 17th, 2017 (the first day of market-impacting mainstream attention) and that brings our maximum work experience to just 56 months.

Following this little bull run in 2017 the market crashed for three years… That’s not exactly a market that the most-skilled individuals within external tech industries can or even want to take a bet on. After all, this is real-life, people. The metaverse is not real.

Finally on April 3rd of 2020 Ethereum finally sees market action again and the talent market finally begins to see sparks of the support it needs to draw talent inwards. It’s a self-feeding system. A chicken-or-the-egg situation.

  • For Ethereum to grow there had to be a reason for it to go up.
  • For it to go up developers needed to build value into the ecosystem.
  • For developers to find value there has to be a market for it to go up in.

Inevitably the cycle was broken which allowed us to step into the age of mass-appeal calling out to the most talented within many of the tech-driven industries we all know and love.

That is the time. Start the clock.

Officially, the talent pool was open. There was an appeal and extremely skilled individuals could finally prosper as the thesis did not just look like gambling or furthering the Ponzi. There was finally a genuine ecosystem that provided support for the products to be built and thrive within it.

With a Big Bang time established, we can see that an attempt to segment skilled individuals based on time in a volatile market is a holistically shit decision. There exists no reality where the “experience” of a blockchain developer can be the defining measure of skill nor serve as a qualification metric of a developer to be hired.

Let me put it as simple as possible for those that don’t know Solidity or haven’t worked with it to a considerable extent. Syntax, procedure, and concepts are as simple as every other language.

There is no world in which a developer can work in another language yet fail to understand the concept of proxies, what they are, how and why they are religiously used. Additionally, there is no competent developer that cannot become familiar with the syntax of the language within hours. This is the minimum bar of being a developer; not the bar for being a good developer.

However, there are developers that may fundamentally be incapable of understanding the importance of cost-crunching and utilizing the most efficient data structures available. Solidity is not a language that rewards copy-pasters nor is it one that is forgiving when mistakes are made. What proves to be relentlessly difficult is implementing new methods of logic and smart contract utilization without sending costs to the moon. This won’t change. This is will “always” be the case for any product built on Ethereum and/or Solidity.

Do you want a time-experienced developer that has been doing the same thing for the last three years in the development stream of concepts that were flawed from the very beginning?

Do you want a new developer that hasn’t experienced all of the bad practices of the industry for the last three years that can approach the problems with a new perspective while delivering a higher level of efficiency?

The best choice is obvious.

  • Defi 1.0 is not the land of Senior Developers.
  • Defi 2.0 is not the land of Senior Developers.
  • Defi 3.0 is not the land of Senior Developers.

The classification of experience does not work when you’re hiring to build a system on the blockchain. A developer can be top of the industry one week and be dethroned never to return in one swift swing.

Today anyone with an ounce of skill can get a low six-figure job within hours of walking into the larger blockchain industry. Even moreso, for an individual passionate about technology and the things within this space, it is genuinely possible to find one's dream job with their dream pay.

The industry is ripe with ineptitude, dreams, passion, and a huge helping of self-grandeur combined with an even larger lack of real-world experience. If you are skilled and want the job, you can get it. If you don’t get it and you’re as skilled as you think, odds are high you can and should build a better product than the decaying antiquity they are protecting.

Looking at the industry objectively anyone can identify that the vast majority of individuals working in the Ethereum ecosystem were “lucky”. There is a mass misconception that creators of these Defi protocols sat back 10 years ago and hatched this plan and that’s not the case. Ideas start in bedrooms, at dinner, with friends and family.

Ideas come at all times, but no developer that joined early into the 56 months of the talent pool running gain extra merit because they were in a position to take a larger risk.

They gain merit through the things built whether it was professional or not. After all, the means of professional environments and products were scarce and again less than an advisable business or life path to follow.

This is quite a different story than many organizations enforcing the chains of time-based experience to join a team would lead you to believe though.

  • Who 5 years ago believed the system would be here today to support the livelihoods of themselves and their families?
  • What skilled individual 3 years ago was willing to leave an industry they dominated for an extreme pay-cut and an incredible increase in risk-exposure simply by the industry change?
  • What type of person had the funds / strong enough desire to support a lifestyle that allowed for blockchain development within the first years of its life?

Who even cares about any of this though? In a few months, all the organizations that are hiring Senior Solidity developers today with a strict time-based qualifier.

After having missed the 6σ+ individuals in the talent pool they will be left with significantly less skilled talent. The interesting situation here is there is no reason anyone should ever be “second-grade” (3σ — 6σ) in this industry.

So, if we approach this a with a tad more reality attached we quickly realize we are dropping down to 0σ-3σ potential and there is nothing we can do about it besides putting a smile on and truck through another miserable interview. All because as an organization we chose to hire a blockchain developer based on experience. Bonuses for the whole C-team!

As the talent pool within the Ethereum ecosystem begins to enter a stage of equilibrium it has been amazing to watch a few specific groups make decisions that justifiably got them crucified, yet so few learn from their mistakes. What’s up with that?

You see more and more hiring posts get shared and you hear more and more about individuals getting paid what they are worth. Yet, how often in this industry do you hear people today say “That interview was awful.” or “They can’t afford to pay me enough.”

The few organizations following this outdated method of potential member validation based on time-spent is far and few between yet each time I see an encounter the truth appears more solid than before. Experience is not a measure of any kind of quality when it comes to Solidity developers.

The traditional confines of a professional workplace can evaporate at the measure of skill and personal level of determination. This space is not a hard one to conquer conceptually.

time wasted != time spent & time spent != time wasted

That is to say, a physical body may have had a presence in the blockchain industry, but how many actually had an impact that deserves to come with the acknowledgment of genuine experience and thus merit?

There are of course exceptions both ways.

Yet the overwhelming majority of those in the early days of the Ethereum ecosystem were not contributing to any level of impact that deserves significant or future-earning recognition.

  • The industry is constantly evolving and thus the methods used do as well.
  • Solidity as a language is constantly evolving.
  • The utilizations and interactions of smart contracts have evolved incredibly for months on and end and that will not stop.
  • The industry and ecosystem are still so premature the migration of primary talent has not begun because there simply isn’t the level of security offered to have allowed extremely skilled individuals extended periods of time working within the bubble.

An organization that prefers time spent over merit is an organization that is asking to get passed by people with half the skill. Welcome to the blockchain.

For some, there exist the unfortunate situation where one has spent time but genuinely does not have the skill or wherewithal to share the professional perspective that time-driven seniority should not exist. Thus, these individuals perpetuate the system of a meritless system driven by egos, assumptions, and people management philosophies that were outdated 165 years ago. These individuals aren’t the brightest minds of the industry.

Yet, they are the most sought-after developers within the space. Not on purpose by any one individual though. They and the organizations' desire is merely a product of the system. Simply due to the fundamental flaw of time-focused hiring criteria. With the posting of a job ad for a blockchain developer position that has time spent as a qualification, the system continues to grow as more doors are opened into a reality that leads to constant struggles and self-handicapping. Are you beginning to see the problem?

Let me put it more clearly.

An organization that says: “I want to hire the best. That means Senior developers with 3+ years of experience.”

Is also an organization broadcasting that they are not in touch with the genuine state of the ecosystem nor will the work experience be anything close to ideal.

Maybe a real-world example within this industry will convince you?

Just a few days ago Joseph Delong stepped down as Sushi CTO and released a super sappy article on his failures. While the article released by Joseph is filled with a massive load of nothing it’s such a wonderful example of how there are certain individuals currently in a position of leadership that simply should not be there.

The manner of mistakes made by Joseph at Sushi is precisely the same type of mistake as choosing to qualify a blockchain developer based on the time they’ve spent...

So, if I have such a tent to pitch with Defi organizations posting hiring ads focused on time-based experience requirements why don’t I have a solution? Interestingly, the solution has been in front of our faces the whole time.

Take it to the court.

The best basketball players in the world did not become the best by saying they were the best. They showed it on the court and let the swooshes leave an echo louder than their words ever could.

That is how the blockchain industry works for individuals that have the skills to prosper within this space. Anyone without the ability to show their worth on the court is on a ticking time clock. Yet again we see how including time-cuffs on job applicants is an incredibly easy way to hire the wrong person.

The incredible thing about the blockchain is we do not even need GitHub or anything of the sort. We don’t need fancy testing whiteboard sessions that test our understanding of complicated data structures you definitely won’t use in your time of employment.

Just check the chain.

Instead of operating with convoluted and entirely invalid hiring criteria, all an organization needs to do is head to an individual's Etherscan (or the equivalent) and see what has been deployed/worked on. The code is right there. The usage metrics are right there. The optimizations that could have been made can’t be hidden. The commitment and design practices of the developer sit right there where no one can argue the quality.

In an industry where there is the constant praise for the use of on-chain data and individual identifiability, it is a confusing situation to find that so few Web3 companies use any kind of modern hiring practices. Use it!

As a blockchain developer if you find yourself in an interview with someone asking you about your “time experience” that is a red flag and it is time to find somewhere that is going to align more with your blockchain development desires. The organization you’re interviewing for won’t make it past a few cycles and that’s a guarantee.

As an organization hiring with strict time-based requirements I would highly recommend taking a good hard look into why you are doing that and if continuing that will prove to be the best path for your future. You are fixing to get lapped by people with a larger internal drive and more open minds.

The real risk for blockchain developers is not that the Ethereum ecosystem won’t be there to support you and your dreams. The risk is tying yourself to a ship that was sinking before you even stepped on or had the knowledge needed to identify that.

My advice? Bet on yourself, follow your heart and wait until the dream offer comes along.