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Christopher Matta, Goldman Sachs

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Vitalik Buterin
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13.08.18
Articles

Russian IT-recruiters on hiring in blockchain start-ups

How to choose employees, how much to pay them and what are the risks

Our “Casting Couch” at: B. Novodmitrovskaya, 36

Following the footsteps of the crypto-battles going in the Russian segment of Facebook, our unit “producing wonderful content for Jury.Online” went to the personnel department and asked real crypto-HRs whether everything is as bad as it seems and how to live with it.

Spoiler: Yes, everything is that bad.

Pavel Vashpanov (HR Krypton.Moscow):

If an ICO is engaged in fraud — a team of one programmer and a couple of managers is enough. If the project is really planning on releasing some product in the foreseeable future, then only the team of developers will count no less than 3-7 people


Ekaterina Bolbat (photo: @adazzling_ph)

Ekaterina Bolbat (HR Jury.Online):

Let’s speak frankly: if a specialist, being hired in a blockchain start-up, overemphasizes the importance of contracts, benefit package, absolute legality of all procedures – it is likely that he has no idea and experience in the industry.

Speaking about crypto start-ups, it will be more correct to apply not one of the classic segmentations of personnel (linear, functional, etc.), but the “general” one, which divides 90% of all employees into three categories, let’s call them:

  1. Technicians (programmers, team-leaders, technical directors).
  2. Humanitarians (managers, salespeople, advertisers, PR, SM).
  3. Humanitarians with classical expertise (accountants, lawyers, financiers).

Let’s try to list the main risks for each of these categories. The items are grouped not in order of priority, but in the order in which they came to our bright minds.


Jury.Online back view

Technicians category

  • Stolen portfolio. Young solidity programmers often do not hesitate to sneak someone’s work – a smart contract, and sometimes even use publicly available publications for this purpose. In classical IT recruitment you have time for fact-checking, which you don’t in the crypto sphere, and that check itself can cost a penny;
  • Adding the word “blockchain” to any of his competencies, the applicant aims for double, and sometimes triple payment. A comparison with classical IT world will look something like this: in Moscow a junior specialist, coming to a small “garage” project or to a conveyor for producing low-quality code for foreign markets, requests 40 to 60k russian rubles per month from the start, the same “expert” in Solidity, coming to the aid of a team-leader in an ICO project, wants to receive from 100 to 120k russian rubles;
  • Real money. Find out what were the applicant’s previous working terms. If a significant part of his salary was made in the project’s tokens, you should be cautious, because this may both be a sign that the candidate is an engaged and enthusiastic specialist who sincerely believed in the success of his project, as well as a sign that his previous employers didn’t think his expertise wasn’t worth more than a bunch of worthless coins;
  • In classic IT, self-assured “techie” regularly updates his resume, attends interviews, does not forget to ask for a raise – and that’s fine. When it comes to an ICO start-up, it is important to understand that the project has a short life cycle (either death or transition to the classical phase), and if a person is looking for a job at the early stages of a token sale sale – it can hurt his team’s reputation and causes critical damage to the project in which he was hired;
  • If the applicant is way too excited in demonstrating his passion for “crypto” and blockchain, and tells us ecstatically that soon the revolution is coming and every grandmother will pay her utility bills with bitcoin – most likely, in front of you is a beginner who has picked up superficial pop headlines. Some degree of scepticism for the techie is mandatory;
  • You should be very careful when letting-go highly skilled technicians: their opinion and feedback about the project may be much more important than your feedback about him as an employee. Investors and communities closely monitor the behaviour of a start-up, and imprudent dismissal can become a red flag, scare-off investors or crash the rate of exchange.


Team-lead Igor is plotting something evil, and junior developer Vasya is not yet plotting

Humanitarians category

  • There are no unambiguous criteria for assessing the expertise of an advertiser, salesman, PR man. Portfolio is often comprised of projects, where the applicant himself performed a rather small role. In the crypto-currency sphere you can’t have an extensive experience at all – this industry is no more than five years old;
  • The image of the industry at the moment is between “financial pyramids” and network marketing. It is difficult to condemn specialists who are afraid of being involved in frankly fraudulent schemes, and it is not possible to determine the decency of a start-up even for large funds. It is quite natural that an experienced marketer, for whom publicity is one of the main tools, tries to stay away from such risks. There are two ways out: to hire on personal trust and relationships, or to offer a paycheck for which he is willing to risk his social capital;
  • The need for a marketing infrastructure in the team is often manifested at the stage when the project has already proved its viability, and perhaps, has even received its first serious investments. Which, as usual, leads to needing to work out something as quickly as possible. Accordingly, the time-constraints to fill a position can be so tight that there is no time to conduct a thorough assessment of an applicant’s professional qualities, not to mention his personal ones – adequacy and compatibility with the team;
  • Any new fast-growing industry attracts many adventurers, and crypto-currencies are not an exception. One distinctive thing is the fact that the applicant can really be considered a top employee without working a single day in a large company, real sector and a real business, after all. Howso, you ask? Having launched four successful ICOs. And there are a lot of such cases. It is extremely difficult to integrate such a specialist into the team; managing, influencing and even setting tasks becomes a real challenge;
  • Experience 2.0. To hire in a crypto-currency start-up an applicant who has worked for 10+ years in a classical corporate structure (no matter whether it is a commercial or state structure) is no less hopeless than to take a person with no experience at all. The working habit of working 9 to 5, having a one hour lunch break and expecting the same from all colleagues often turns out to be “incurable”. Perhaps because it’s not a disease at all, it’s just normal life, but we’re doing start-ups;
  • It’s trite, but if a specialist is really able learn quickly and adapt to the the pace of the team – he has a huge advantage over the majority of applicants. Remember, no one understands anything in the crypto. The only question is whether the applicant is ready to grasp new information and knowledge;
  • The crypto hype of the previous years have given us a number of new bitcoin-millionaires. The employee you hire will have access to insider information and may well have the means to dispose of this information for speculative purposes. He knows when it is advantageous to buy a token, and when it is better to get rid of it. Remember that the temptation can be quite high;
  • Unlike techies, dismissing marketers is easy and enjoyable. But not the tops. Tops can not only damage your reputation, they can completely destroy it. Let’s part on friendly terms and keep consultants.


“Not-so-dear editing room” of jury.online

 

Humanitarians with classical expertise category

  • The least difficult group of employees: accountants, financiers, lawyers – nevertheless require some attention in terms of formalizing the employlent terms. They want official pay, social packages, a contract which gives confidence and job security. Tip: just give them what they want, its that simple;
  • Not a flaw, but an opportunity. Hire the most diverse candidates for these vacancies. The region of residence should not be limited to the CIS and Europe, show the project audience that you are working in Asia, United States and Latin America;
  • There are no simple crypto start-ups. Every project in our sphere expects to conquer the whole world or at least are striving in this direction. Accordingly, we need specialists with expertise in international law, who are able to find information on the specifics of accounting in a variety of markets. Knowledge of one or two foreign languages is a must. Yes, there is no other way;
  • If you demand work according to international standards – be ready to pay according to the same standards.

Where to search

  • Blockchain meetups, conferences and forums
  • Hackathons
  • On the ruins of other projects (applicable mainly to technicians, since the project probably collapsed not because of them)
  • HeadHunter.ru
  • Habr.com – Moi Krug
  • Linkedin and Telegram (and forget about Facebook – the search there is clearly not the most convenient, and the whole IT-hangout is firmly in LI)

Lifeprotip

Cancel you hh.ru subscription for a while to get out of your comfort zone and test new recruitment tools