TFE - TIME FOR EXPERIENCE: recruiting agency for personnel in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies

interview Victor Gry

We all notice how far progress has gone, what kind of technologies humanity has. The era of technological progress touched all spheres of life, including finance. Today, the world of digital technologies has become so closely integrated into our lives that we can not only manage through the computer, various vital aspects of our life; but also make purchases by calculating digital money. But who are these mysterious people who make our life easier, and advance progress? Today, we will talk about this and many other things with a woman who not only knows our super heroes in the face, but helps them find each other by bridging the gap between employee and employer; sourcing the missing personnel in the organizations working with blockchain technology and crypto currencies.

Hello Aletha

- Search and selection of personnel in itself is a complex and scrupulous work that requires certain knowledge and skills. Changing frames in the block chain system is a very laborious process. Why did you decide to do this kind of activity. What steps led you to this?

- I’ve been involved in recruitment for 12 years and amongst my other colleagues at Bench IT we have over 40 years’ collective recruitment experience. I’ve always specialised in IT but have spent most of my time working for smaller agencies where you cover contract, temp, permanent and professional services recruitment across all industry sectors. This has given me a very wide perspective of IT skills, personalities and interdepartmental needs when companies have often required “hybrid” skills.

As a recruiter often focused on account management and new business activity you have to keep an eye on the latest trends but I actually first became interested in Bitcoin and, more importantly the capabilities blockchain technology offers from an investor perspective. I had some cash to invest and was priced out of Bitcoin. I decided to research the best altcoin projects instead in order to hedge my bets on which would prove the most fruitful to my investment but also, which had useful technology.

The more I researched the more fascinated I became. I stumbled upon a few that would disrupt banking, eCommerce, healthcare and recruitment.  I joined the respective slack groups and learned about the projects. I saw first-hand how invested the community were and how willing they were to support their investments and respective use cases by offering donations or contributing their time to assist with various tasks such as marketing, website development etcetera.

Eventually I decided to do the same. I wanted to put what I’d learned about Blockchain into practice and start merging my personal and professional interests. I started volunteering my recruitment services to alt-coins with limited capital but very advanced blockchain technology. I set up TFE – Time For Experience to find likeminded individuals who wanted to learn about the real use of blockchain technology but couldn’t gain employment in the corporate world because they lacked experience. The ambition was to “trade” talent for experience the volunteer could then reference later on their CV thereby making themselves more employable to companies with bigger budgets.

I saw this as a great opportunity to help give tangible experience to people who didn’t have the funds available to pay extortionate fees to enrol on courses or attend seminars.  It’s also a great way to really test if you want to work on crypto projects full time in future or not.

I should add, this group is aimed at anyone interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies – not explicitly developers. Granted, that’s where a lot of attention has been in global press about the skills shortage for blockchain developers but there’s also a lack of skilled “marketers” for instance.

- Tell our readers about your company.

- Bench IT is a London based IT recruitment and professional services companies that serves a wide range of industry Sectors.

TFE – Time for Experience is a free, global networking group on LinkedIn where people from all walks of life can knowledge share, and get involved with alt-coin projects / start-ups.

Many of these projects lack funds to pay full time resources but can trade valuable experience for the volunteer offering up an hour or 2 of their time. Any company can post about their project or jobs and any volunteer can post about their skills/what skills they would like to gain in exchange.  There is no office – all work is carried out remotely from the volunteer’s home directly with the project by coordinating through social media such as slack, telegram, Ryver, Discord etc. Some companies offer bonuses or “bounties” which are more like token gestures as a way of thanks. It’s up to the volunteer to negotiate and the reward can be paid in fiat or a cryptocurrency.

- Did big companies ask you to find an employee for them? Can you name them, and what kind of personnel problems did they face?

- I’ve started to get interest from large companies asking for help but many of them are still very much behind the alt-coins in their development stage. Many put trust in large consultancies to offer them blockchain advisory services who in turn, are the ones who come to the recruitment agencies to find the resources. I hope that by the time large corporates are ready to hire developers, marketing resources, writers etc, TFE will come into its own and there will be a “pool” of global talent readily available who have cut their teeth on some alt-coin projects – some of which already have working technology and have been established for over 3 years!

I can’t name names, but I will tell you that those companies ready to pay good money for developers tend to be hiring directly and tend to be start-ups with seed capital. Some of the well-known “software houses” are looking for java or .net developers with an “interest” in block chain technology but are not necessarily paying salaries reflective of an experienced hire.  It seems many are trying to ramp up their staff with people who are researching the technology on the premise they may win some client projects that require outsourced development. However, I think there’s still quite a lot of uncertainty around bitcoin and its derivatives for companies to be openly going “full throttle” in their recruitment activity; and those that are; are still very tentative and are putting trust in the large BPOs for advice / research before undertaking any development.

- For the selection of personnel, one must be not only a psychologist but also have certain knowledge. How do you manage to combine and find a common language with programmers?

- My 12 years’ experience sourcing IT staff across support, testing, development, implementation, change and operational management to upper management and service delivery has meant I’m used to talking to all types of personalities. I also have an interest in technology so I think this helps when communicating with more technical people as you can find some common ground.

- Your initiative, Time For Experience (TFE) reduces the growing gap between demand and supply around a set of new technologies. How much did you manage to do this? And what companies have you helped to date?

- Some companies have preferred to remain anonymous but I can tell you I’ve spent 6 months helping recruit skills in and outside of IT which has been a nice new challenge! Marketing staff, writers, Art Director, Social media, web developers, SEO and graphic designers. I should add, Bench IT are now officially Bitbay’s Recruitment Partner but the relationship did start off on a volunteer basis and some of the volunteers we introduced, negotiated themselves to become core members of the team.

Other projects I am currently helping, I am looking for full stack javascript developers with node, react and angular. There’s another prospect (not launched yet) by a well-known cryto youtuber who will be looking for financial analysts. He has asked me to keep an eye open for them and proactively add these profiles to TFE if anyone is interested.

A “corporate” company based in Swansea, Wales has asked me to help them source Ethereum developers; and outside of this, I’ve had lawyers, writers and sales people ask me to connect them to relevant projects they can get involved with.

- Many people, having basic knowledge in programming came to the world of crypto currencies, but do not have a diploma. How do you test candidates before building a portfolio of experience, before showing potential employers?

- Truth be told, this is and always has been a limitation for recruiters.  There are online tests you can do or the client can devise technical questions we can then use to test candidates on the phone but generally speaking, I think the trend has been to use github and ask the candidate to participate in a specific task. Some projects do this anyway by way of “bounties” which offers small rewards for community involvement and based on that, the candidate can be further invited to become part of the team.

I think as the gap closes between corporate companies, and alt-coin start-ups we may see this approach become more readily used in the mainstream and why not; especially if the project is to be open source?

- Correctly to guess a niche and on it to build the business, it is the keystone to success. You have chosen the right sphere of activity for yourself. How do you see how much these specialties will be in demand in the future?

- I think it will be a while before many corporate clients catch up to some of the alt-coin startups already in existence. I think this is another reason some companies have chosen to partner will well known initiatives instead such as Ethereum, Ripple etc. Some, that are willing to try new things still have to jump through internal governance hoops and due diligence which can delay decision making processes; and realistically, how often would someone on the ground level see the full decision making process at a corporate company?

TFE will continue to offer people a place to “cut their teeth” on projects readily working on tangible blockchain solutions whereby the learning curve is steep and the approach is very much an agile one with, in some cases, a flat hierarchical structure offering more scope to learn; all the while, directly engaging with your target audience (the investors) and getting constant feedback/suggestions etc. Some of these people (I hope) will become experts in their field by experimenting with new initiatives/ways of working and will set the standard for marketing, (for example), cryptocurrencies.

- Can you make a forecast for crypto currencies? What do the developers themselves say about this? Crypto currency, is it for a long time or for a while?

- Well currently, there are over 2000 alt-coin projects and this number is growing with all these new ICO’s; some good, some bad. All this change is driving the need for regulation so we are at the cusp of seeing global change across potentially every industry sector.

I think many software engineers choose to develop because they want to create things or provide solutions to problems. Crypto offers a fantastic opportunity to do this across a multitude of languages from JavaScript to python to of course newer creations such as Solidity.

Crypto is going to be a wild ride for some time. And we will see a bubble like we did with dotcom. But when the dust settles, we will also see the next Giant company like google, facebook or amazon emerge from it.

Thank you for the interview.

Talked Victor and Aletha (Berry) Kellond