As crypto values ballooned to $3 trillion over the past year and half, numerous jobs have also been created in the sector. One person who specializes in helping connect employers with crypto-savvy applicants is Dan Eskow.

Eskow has been recruiting for 10 years, previously focusing on tech roles at banks and quant roles at hedge funds and other trading shops. He made a shift into crypto in early 2020, as he noticed an increase in both demand for talent in the space and interest from applicants. Up Top was founded to help bridge the gap.

We caught up with Eskow, and he answered some questions for us about the crypto-related finance job market and what experience employers are especially interested in seeing from applicants. Here is what he had to say. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Business of Business: Tell us about your work as a recruiter. What types of jobs and industries do you focus on? 

I’ve been working in the recruiting space for about 10 years. When I started, I was working on generalist tech positions for investment banks, and later moved into more quantitative and engineering-heavy roles at hedge funds and proprietary trading firms. About 9 months ago, I realized I had the same candidates that crypto hedge funds were looking for, and have never turned back! Since I have pivoted into crypto, I’ve slightly expanded on the types of engineers I recruit, but I try not to stray too far from my core strengths.

How would you characterize the market right now? What qualities are employers looking for especially? 

The market for talent in crypto / DeFi / Web3 right now is absolutely exploding. The smartest people in the rooms of our most successful “Web2” and “TradFi” (TradFi = traditional finance) companies have made the pivot to become the founders and builders of this new space. They are attracting an incredible amount of venture capital money that is being used to hire and scale.

The demand for qualified candidates is very high across the board. For the most part, I find that people get hired in crypto for one of two reasons. Either they have immersed themselves deeply into learning about crypto (e.g. building a crypto trading strategy, learning Solidity or how to write a smart contract) OR they are so strong in their core skill set AND are passionate/enthusiastic about crypto, that if hired for the right role, can add value on Day 1.

An example of the latter would be a software engineer who is highly skilled at building trading systems in TradFi. There are many strong candidates who can certainly build similar systems for a crypto fund, but since the market is highly competitive, the candidate who is more excited and has done more research in crypto will likely have the edge. 

What kinds of employers, based on your experience, are trying to hire more people with crypto experience? 

The types of employers I’m seeing that are looking for people with crypto experience are either crypto hedge funds or DeFi protocols. A crypto hedge fund will be more inclined to hire a trader who has a proven strategy on digital assets already. A DeFi protocol, on the other hand, will not require someone who trades crypto, but rather a pure software engineer who has used the programming languages and techniques that are relevant in blockchain (Solidity or Rust, mostly).

What kinds of crypto-related experience are the employers you work with most interested in? Are there particular tokens or platforms that people care about more than others? 

In addition to the trading and engineering positions, there is also a high demand for non-technical roles as well. At the end of the day, someone has to bring the products to market and sell them! I see a lot of my clients hiring for marketing, business development, and “community managers,” which would be comparable to a social media manager position, but more focused in popular crypto hangouts like Discord, Telegram, Reddit, etc. 

How do you see the job market for people with crypto experience changing in the future? Does it appear clear that the companies that you work with are building big teams for the long haul? Or is this more experimental? 

In the last 5 years alone, the hiring landscape in crypto has changed dramatically, and there is no doubt it will continue to evolve. There are certainly teams that are experimenting in this space every day – some more successfully than others. We’ve already seen a handful of companies move from experimental to having a dominant presence very quickly. On the other hand, there is a lot of competition amongst first-movers, and with the technology evolving so fast, it’s fair to assume that many companies that exist today will not last.

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