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July 7, 2022

Recruitment 3.0: What Does Web3 Mean for the Future of Hiring?

a person confused while looking at a laptop

You heard it here first: Web3 is going mainstream. 🦄

And from financial services to healthcare and even fine art, proponents claim it will revolutionize the internet as we know it. 

Even good ol’ Human Resources won’t be left out. That’s right, Web3 advocates have already started buzzing about how Web3 will transform the world of hiring. 

Thanks to blockchain technology — which we’ll touch on later — Web3, the metaverse and decentralized autonomous organizations are starting to sound less like sci-fi lingo and more like reality.

In the past few months alone, we’ve witnessed Facebook’s rebrand to Meta and watched as investors pumped millions of dollars into Web3 technology. But despite the headlines, the question for growing businesses remains:

Is this evidence of a coming revolution or is it just…hype? 

We can’t say for sure, but we do know that today’s employers should not remain uninformed. We’ve prepared this article to serve as a high-level primer for employers, hiring managers and recruiters curious about the potential impact Web3 might have on the way we hire today.

First we’ll take a look at the origins of Web3, then dive into what hiring in Web3 could look like based on what we know so far— including the possible benefits and drawbacks for companies and candidates.

Recruitment 3.0: What we’ll cover

  • What the heck is Web3?
  • How Web3 will transform the way we hire
  • The challenges of hiring in the world of Web3

First, what the heck even is Web3?

Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood and coiner of the term ‘Web 3.0’ (now shortened to Web3) is your best bet at finding a coherent answer to what Web3 actually is. 

“Web3 is really sort of an alternative vision of the web, where the services that we use are not hosted by a single service provider company, but rather they’re sort of purely algorithmic things that are, in some sense, hosted by everybody,” Gavin tells CNBC

To really unpack what Gavin is describing, we have to take a quick detour back to the early days of the internet. 

The early internet (now known as Web1) was rife with personal web pages and data that wasn’t controlled by any single entity. Popular tech companies like Yahoo, Hewlett Packard and even Amazon were just starting out during this era. 

During the days of Web1, most internet users and internet service providers like AOL were oblivious to the potential of the internet as we now know it. For Web3 proponents, this period was marked by decentralization where pretty much anyone could have their own web server and the internet “would act as a relay between browsers and servers”. 

Fast forward to the early 2000s, Web 2.0 was born. Companies like Google and Facebook became mainstream, websites became more ‘participatory’ and the first Web 2.0 conference was held in 2004. Web3 advocates claim this is when the internet became centralized, with a large number of companies essentially becoming “in charge” of almost everything that happens online.

But while the world was still transitioning into the Web2 era, pioneers like Satoshi Nakamoto were working on bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency. Bitcoin was launched in 2009 and this is arguably when the crypto era was born. 

Okay, so how does Web3 work?

In a Wired Magazine interview with Gavin Woods, Web3 is described as “a decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain.”

Blockchain technology is the same technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. A blockchain is, according to legal marketplace Lawtrades, “a data ledger that is built in such a way so that it cannot be changed or augmented retroactively—therefore, it is considered non-fungible.” 

If that last term rings a bell, that’s because non-fungible tokens (or ‘NFTs’ as they’re commonly known) were born from the same blockchain technology. Web3 advocates claim that the blockchain is special because the data stored on it cannot be erased. 

Here’s Gavin Wood again from the same Wired interview:

It's [blockchain] effectively a social construct. It's a set of rules. And the only thing that these rules have going for themselves is that there is no one with arbitrary power within the system. You can be reasonably certain, especially if you're a coder, that you can look at the code and know that it's doing the right thing.

The way Gavin and other Web3 experts see it, blockchain technology will change the world because there is no central point of control. You can’t erase what you have done or fake what you haven’t. Web3 will usher in a transparent, open, decentralized and peer-to-peer internet. 

Now that we’ve broken down what Web3 is and the role blockchain technology plays in it, the big question is how will this decentralized data ledger change the way we hire?

Let’s take a look at just some of the many possibilities. 

From resumes to digital IDs: How Web3 will transform the way we hire

If you think about it, today’s recruitment strategies follow a pretty straightforward process

You post a job ad, receive applications, review resumes, schedule interviews and make your hire. But each of these steps could change in the future of recruiting, if and when Web3 becomes mainstream. 

For starters, let’s take a look at the way Web3 companies themselves recruit and hire top talent. 

While traditional hiring heavily relies on job boards, Web3 employers tend to take a more active approach as a default — reaching out to candidates through Discord, Twitter and hackathons. 

And fortunately for employers, it’s pretty easy to verify a candidate’s skill set and work experience in the Web3 space. 

Top performers are visible from their activity on GitHub or Twitter, and have also amassed an on-chain resume of various activities. Nearly everything is open source and community-based. There’s a public track record and more ‘game film’ for employers to review. So unlike with traditional resumes, you can’t hide your past as an employee or fudge the truth, writes Morgan Beller, General Partner at NFX. 

Other Web3 enthusiasts have also weighed in. For example, Greg Isenberg, CEO of Web3 design company Late Checkout, tweeted that getting a job in Web3 could look like this:

You apply for a job, it scans the blockchain and rates your set of on-chain experiences and credentials, [if it's] above a certain rating, you’re hired within 60 seconds.

No prejudice, no wasted time, no pain

Just a quick yes or no

This is a big deal

Raad Ahmed, CEO of Lawtrades has hinted at a more radical extension of Greg’s vision.

“Maybe resumes themselves will become obsolete in favor of a new system—a digital ID token of sorts. Who you know (connections), and showing your work (a portfolio), will be greater than your resume.”

But it’s not just the resume that’s set to be transformed by Web3. 

Let’s dive into some of the other ways HR professionals could find themselves playing a completely different game.

#1. HR management will have access to an “objectively verified” talent pool

Web3 enthusiasts have proposed that since employers will be able to directly view a candidate's profile and experience via the blockchain, they may not have to go through the process of waiting for job seekers to contact them via traditional job posts and application processes. 

And since results can’t be faked on the blockchain, employers will be able to objectively assess a candidate's skill and experience through their Web3 profile. 

This may fast-track the hiring process and reduce time spent on things like assessment tests and multiple interviews. In this episode of the HR Tech GTM podcast, Aleksi Loytynoja, founder of Web3 talent company Kleoverse described this as the ability to “build a profile of objectively verified talent”. 

Experts like Aleksi believe companies will be able to leverage the blockchain’s objective and ‘trustless’ chain of proof as a recruiting tool to find talent that can be assessed for job description fit in a matter of seconds.

#2. Job boards will play second fiddle to active sourcing

Currently, the majority of Web3 communities are hosted on the chat app Discord, with Web3 founders and enthusiasts congregating on social media via Twitter. And since coding is hands-on work, it’s understandable that today’s Web3 employers are more interested in Github profiles than resumes.

“We also check the GitCoin profile (a platform where you can get paid for working on open source software) sometimes. At times, you don’t even ask for the resume,” Muskan Kalra, Developer Relations Lead at Polygon, tells Money Control.

“For me, if I see someone participating in a hackathon, and I’ve seen the project, I’ll simply approach and ask if they want to work with my team," Kalra explains.

While it’s easy to write this kind of immediate, view-to-job-offer recruiting process off as a trend that might only apply to companies that are actively hiring developers, any employer targeting a niche pool for talent acquisition can take a page from this Web3 hiring handbook.

#3. The gig economy will get a major shakeup

With the emergence of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), many Web3 recruiters see potential employees as collaborators rather than actual employees. 

For example, Braintrust, the self-described ‘first decentralized talent network’ is on a mission to democratize the gig work environment for both companies and talent. 

Freelancers on Braintrust don’t have to contact clients via marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr that collect a percentage of the fees they charge.

Braintrust runs a decentralized governance process, doesn’t charge talent anything, and charges clients a set 10% fee to cover operational costs. Each network user earns tokens for putting in work — like referring talent and clients to Braintrust — to grow the network. 

If companies like Braintrust break into the mainstream, talent that can usually be accessed via popular marketplaces could start opting to connect with clients via decentralized networks rather than the more well-trodden freelance sites.

The challenges of hiring in the world of Web3

It may seem like these Web3 recruitment trends are part of the rosy future of the internet we’ve all been waiting for. But of course, there is no rose without thorns. 

On the aptly titled site ‘Web3 is going just great’, a series of documented Web3 mishaps shows us that it may not be the glossier version of the internet proponents claim it is. In fact, many Web3 critics say that some of the claims about Web3 are speculative at best and completely impractical at worst.

We’ve rounded up some of the top challenges that may come along with the Web3 hiring model:

  • Candidates may take on multiple full-time jobs and this may reduce their dedication to the growth of any single company. This could also cause serious problems for early-stage startups who need highly dedicated employees in order to grow. 
  • The Web3 compensation model which relies on cryptocurrency as the sole form of payment can be discriminatory against job seekers who don’t want to get involved with crypto. It may also affect job seekers in countries with crypto bans. 
  • Web3’s anonymity can make it difficult to deal with identity issues, especially as it relates to people from marginalized groups. For example, how do Web3 companies plan to create a safe space for women in a visibly male dominated space? 
  • In Web3, it may become harder to retain employees as workers are actively sought and incentivized to jump ship to companies with more enticing packages. Of course, this also happens in Web2 but due to the decentralized nature of Web3, it may be much easier for employees to make these transitions.
  • Candidates and companies with different views on privacy may not be comfortable publicizing their entire work history on the blockchain. 

Web3 may revolutionize hiring (or…it might not) 

Is Web3 the next hiring game changer?

Frankly, it’s still too early to tell. But with blockchain technology now becoming mainstream, it’s possible the hiring process as we know it may look markedly different — and sooner than we all might think.

At Breezy, we can't predict the future. But we can help you break down the trends in the world of work to create a candidate-friendly hiring process that brings you top-quality talent today.

Because ultimately, the future of hiring belongs to the companies that give candidates the hiring experience they deserve.