Bitcoin's price is all over the place these days, but that hasn't slowed demand for crypto-related jobs in the traditional financial sector, which increasingly sees a future in the space.
Earlier this week, Boston-based asset manager Fidelity announced plans to expand its digital assets unit by 70 percent with 100 new hires in Salt Lake City, Boston, and Dublin.
Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, told Bloomberg that the hiring spree is a response to demand from institutional investors for greater access to cryptocurrencies. That demand spiked last year during bitcoin's last bull run, he said, but has held strong ever since.
"The competition for talent is greater than ever before, so there is a heightened focus on recruiting and retention," a spokesperson for Fidelity Digital Assets told Cheddar.
These hires come amid a longer-term effort by Fidelity to expand the number of technologists, software engineers, and data scientists on staff to meet customer demand for new products.
“Growing our U.S. footprint and expanding our technology teams will allow us to source diverse and innovative talent to meet our customers’ changing financial needs today and, in the future,” said Mark Barlow, general manager of personal investing at Fidelity, in a statement.
This isn't the first time that a rise in bitcoin's price led to a surge in demand for crypto-jobs. The last bull run in 2017 spurred a wave of hiring that lasted through the cryptocurrency's price drop the following year.
A study from Glassdoor in August 2018 found that blockchain-related job openings increased 300 percent from the previous year, even as bitcoin's price sank well below its 2017 peak.
Neil Dundon, the founder of Crypto Recruit, explained that over the years the crypto job market has steadily detached from the wild price swings of popular digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
In 2017, he said, the connection between price and hiring was stronger than it is today.
"The crypto job market was up and down, like the prices are," he said. "Hiring was up and down. A lot of the projects were really tethered to bitcoin when it came to hiring."
Dundon said the number of employer listings that are susceptible to price swings has dropped since the beginning of the 2020 bull run, as more capital and institutional interest have improved bitcoin's fundamentals.
He noted that demand for crypto-related positions has increased by a factor of 10 this cycle. While not all of these positions are actually filled, actual placements still tripled this year.
Despite these gains, fly-by-night companies continue to impact the crypto job market.
"There's still a fair bit of spinning the wheels going on when it comes to crypto projects reaching out to us," he said. "A lot of [companies] are saying they want to hire, but quite a big portion of them are not pulling the trigger on the hires."
Crypto Recruit, however, is just one of a growing ecosystem of job boards, recruiters, and training programs looking to facilitate the demand for crypto jobs.
CryptoJobsList, for example, is a job board that lists exclusively cryptocurrency and blockchain-related positions. As of July 15, it had 3,077 jobs posted and more than 44,000 applications.
A quick survey of the postings shows a mix of employers, including major crypto exchanges such as Binance, data-trackers such as CoinGecko, and smaller concerns in the greater decentralized finance space, with numerous positions in smart contract development.
But the latest cycle of hiring has distinguished itself not just for the volume of growth but for the number of employers without a large footprint in the crypto space ratcheting up their hiring.
Scan through job sites such as ZipRecruiter and Indeed, and the presence of financial giants such as PayPal, JPMorgan, and MasterCard is notable.
Dundon said New York is leading by a wide margin in the hiring of financial professionals in the crypto space. San Francisco, meanwhile, continues to lead in technology jobs in crypto.
At Fidelity, the new positions will run the gamut.
"The new hires will support a number of functions – tech and engineering, operations, product, sales and marketing, finance and compliance," the Fidelity spokesperson said.
Whatever the current price of bitcoin, the narrative around crypto's increasing relevance is driving interest in the market.
"Over the past year, the increase in mainstream coverage of the digital assets space has helped expose an even broader set of candidates to the industry and the opportunities to grow with it," they added. "New perspectives drive innovation, so attracting talent from other industries – whether they’re coming from the traditional finance side or tech – will help move the industry forward."