Cracking the Web3 Code: Insights from OP Labs' Talent Wizard

Cracking the Web3 Code: Insights from OP Labs' Talent Wizard

Discover the unique hiring practices in the Web3 space with Harper Garvey of OP Labs. Learn how to stand out and secure your dream crypto job.

The Web3 space remains a relatively small niche with a notable talent shortage. This scarcity extends beyond just developers to include Web3-savvy managers and creative talent. As more individuals immerse themselves in the crypto world, those who have navigated through at least one complete market cycle emerge as particularly valuable, provided they possess the necessary hard skills.

The hiring process in Web3 diverges significantly from traditional methods. Academic credentials often take a backseat to practical knowledge and industry expertise. In many cases, candidates with deep insights into the Web3 ecosystem can bypass lengthy interview processes if they demonstrate essential skills.

Networking plays a crucial role, making word-of-mouth referrals a common hiring practice. Engaging with desired projects as a volunteer is another effective strategy to get noticed. Nevertheless, some companies maintain rigorous hiring protocols, where prior contributions can give candidates a distinct edge.

We’ve talked to Harper Garvey, the Talent wizard at OP Labs to learn more about the current recruitment practices in the Web3 space and OP Labs hiring ‘secrets’.

Can you share your background and experience in HR, particularly within the blockchain industry?

Optimism is the first ecosystem I’ve contributed to full-time in the crypto ecosystem! Prior to that, I worked in people /talent at early-stage NYC startups.

How has the pool of job applicants evolved over the past year for roles at Optimism, and what trends are you observing in terms of candidate profiles and backgrounds?

There are more people we’d consider “crypto-native”, which, in my opinion, means they’ve been through at least one full cycle.

In your experience, what are the most sought-after skills or competencies in the blockchain industry today?

There will always be an appetite for T-shaped engineers in blockchain. The industry would also benefit from more exceptional leaders and managers. Folks in comfortable positions at traditional tech orgs are in no hurry to move.

Can you walk us through the typical recruitment journey for a candidate applying to join Optimism, from application submission to final selection?

  1. Our team reviews all applications
  2. Screening conversation with a member of the talent team
  3. Hiring manager screen
  4. Full loop of interviews (one culture/communication, 1-3 facet interviews based on the role)
  5. Final conversation with a member of the founding team
  6. Background/reference check
  7. Offer!

What advice would you give candidates interested in joining Optimism to stand out during the application process?

Engage with the ecosystem. We build infra and touch most major corners of the space. Spend some time with the stuff that interests you, and figure out what it means to engage with Optimism and the Superchain.
We hire people that we believe will best fill the open roles, but familiarity with what we’re working on is a great way to stand out.

How does Optimism differentiate itself from other employers in the blockchain industry to attract top-tier talent?

Great people want to work with great people. We are deliberate in our hiring and set a bar at the beginning of every hiring process that we do not lower. Sometimes it’s slow, but we think the trade-off is worthwhile.

How do you assess candidates' knowledge of blockchain technology during interviews?

It depends on the role. For technicals, we have blockchain-specific technical questions. For partnerships, we might do a case study or ask to hear about a project you are deeply familiar with.

Could you share a successful hiring strategy or approach that has proven effective for Optimism in sourcing top talent?

Define excellence and identify people who fit your definition. It’s a small space, there might be 15-20 people that you’re excited about. Start by reaching out to all of them!

It all starts with the process of defining excellence. This is an often-overlooked part of the process. What does a good hire look like? What does a bad hire look like? Take your time figuring these things out. You won’t always get it right, but that’s okay.

What are some key growth areas or departments within Optimism where you see the most hiring activity?

We’re always hiring engineers. Product, security, and devrel are also seeing big growth. Check it out :)

What exciting projects or initiatives is Optimism currently working on, and how might these impact your hiring needs?

We are building the interoperability solution for the Superchain! Basically a protocol that allows all OP-stack based chains to communicate seamlessly with each other. It is a necessary and exciting update that will require a lot of sharp minds.