Originally published on Tech Crunch, February 02nd, 2022
The internet is undergoing a drastic facelift thanks to surging interest in web3 and the metaverse. But the journey to the internet of the future is so complex that companies are struggling to find people who can do the job.
The augmented reality team at Microsoft saw 100 departures in the past year as many engineers jumped ship to work on the metaverse at Facebook. Apple has had a similar problem and still needs to fill about 10,000 roles.
In the yet-to-be-realized Web 3.0 space, there are at least 18,000 active developers, but talent is mostly concentrated in specific verticals or businesses. More than 20% of those developers work in cryptocurrency, on Ethereum projects.
In the coming year, finding skilled engineers will be a challenging feat. Recruiters have to fully understand the evolving digital landscape, the expectations of in-demand talent, and the potential of upskilling current teams.
Having spent more than a decade hiring in the rapidly-changing tech world, these are my insights to finding the people that will create the internet of tomorrow.
Distinguish your Web 3.0ers from metaversers
Web 3.0 and the metaverse are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different concepts. The metaverse is a virtual reality computer domain where users can interact with three-dimensional experiences. Web 3.0 is a decentralized version of the internet where users can create and manage digital content and assets.
Engineers don’t want to only be putting out fires, they want to create and pioneer projects.
Web 3.0 engineers should have experience in blockchain development and be familiar with Solidity programming language, which is used to write smart contracts. Because of blockchain's immutability, projects in Web 3.0 will grow by adding layers to the tech it already sits on. As a result, candidates should have dealt with Layer 1 and Layer 2, the scaling infrastructures that will support the stacking of elements in Web 3.0.
Candidates should also have worked in building full stack dApps, (decentralized applications that run on blockchain systems) using Ethers.js and Hardhat environments. Try to target engineers who can prove their ability to design and implement complex distributed systems operating under high load, and who can demonstrate the ways they prioritize cybersecurity.
For the metaverse, developers with gaming domain knowledge are more appropriate. The virtual nature of the metaverse means that experience with virtual reality and augmented reality is valuable in engineers. As too, are other connective technologies that focus on immersive worlds and storytelling. Metaverse engineers need a hands-on approach, detailed attention to UI, and preferably be confident with gaming engines like Unity and Unreal.
Make your positions remote and offer real rewards
Like any hiring process, finding talent to construct the next generation of the internet isn't one-sided. Metaverse and Web 3.0 developers are highly sought after, and have the luxury of choosing the roles they step into. Recruiters therefore need to really hear and meet the requests of these individuals.
The tech space is no stranger to remote work, and in recent years, 75% of engineers say they want the option to work remotely. Remote options shouldn't just be offered for small one-off projects, just as full-time work shouldn't mean a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. Recruiters have to stop framing positions through these old optics. Instead, job flexibility, genuinely challenging problem-solving, and learning opportunities will better attract candidates.
Salaries for metaverse and Web 3.0 engineers are naturally on the higher end. The average annual salary for Web 3.0 engineers in the United States is $104,329 according to Glassdoor, however, engineers I've recruited have told me that they want more than financial compensation. Most hope to join a project that genuinely excites them and allows them to make an impact in the world - whether that’s building the infrastructure of the future from scratch or contributing to societal progress. Engineers don't want to only be putting out fires, they want to create and pioneer projects.
To tap into niche, pre-vetted Web 3.0 and metaverse developers, recruiters should use talent marketplaces like Index.
Train your in-house engineers
Considering the limited pool of Web 3.0 and metaverse engineers, it's in companies' interest to upskill their own teams. After all, training people will increase retention rates, and could give organizations a head start in the modern web development race.
Web 3.0 engineers have to master good UI/UX building, so will need to spend a lot of time in React. The software was actually built by an engineer at Facebook (John Walke) who wanted a way to create reusable UI components. Interacting with smart contracts only requires basic JS knowledge, which most engineers already have. Nonetheless, companies should provide a budget for training in both areas, as well as encourage peer-sharing and shadowing, and involve engineers in more user feedback sessions.
For the metaverse, engineers will need opportunities to experiment with deep learning, computer graphics, computational imaging, and C++ language. Security will also be a focal point of the metaverse - both technical and psychological - making it important for upskilling engineers to work with legal teams and advocacy groups to process the threats and alleviate them. Hackathons and forums could then be held to create solutions to the problems.
The internet is pending a transformation, and with it comes the need to change how engineers are hired. Much like how the next stages of the internet will unfold, recruiters need to be aware of nuances, always offer value, and leverage their existing tech foundation.