Why blockchain

Technically, we could implement Job Protocol as a classic web2 platform. We could rely on legal contracts with clients to guarantee payment on hire, we organize payments using existing payment rails like Stripe, and we have an open API to access all data and build integrations.

However, a system like this can never become the ‘infrastructure layer’ of recruiting, for the same reason that Facebook is not the social graph of the internet (but Lens Protocol has a chance to become it).

To become the infrastructure layer, the incentive to build on top of Job Protocol needs to be larger than to build besides it. This requires the following key features:

  • Composable. The system needs to do one thing, do it really well, and make it easy to attach to other systems.

  • Dependable. No sudden business plan changes (e.g. from a referrer-first to a candidate-first, stealing past candidates), no abrupt commission fee increases, no fluctuating policies around who can and cannot make use of the system, no swift shutting down of the API etc.

  • Minimally extractive. To increase adoption, the ‘rent’ should be as low as possible to make the tail of potential parties as long as possible.

In web2, these features are dependent on trust. In web3, they’re baked into the system.

The requirements are met as follows:

Composability The core function of Job Protocol is to:

  1. Keep track of which candidate was referred by which referrer to what role, and

  2. Keep track which candidate are being considered for a role and who’s been rejected

  3. Guarantee payment on hire

Because this system is implemented in a set of smart contracts, the programming interface is open and anyone can interact with it permissionlessly. Furthermore, data is stored on-chain and thus accessible to anyone. These two features guarantee maximal composability.

This composability enables the system to be a small part in a much bigger ecosystem (see below).

Dependability To attract the best talent partners, Job Protocol needs to:

  • Guarantee ownership of candidates (no stealing of candidates)

  • Guarantee correct attribution of candidates and their hiring journey to referrers (referrer reputation)

  • Guarantee payment on hire

  • Guarantee open and equal access to refer candidates (no preferential treatment)

  • Guarantee clear & fair policies around commission fees and other network parameters

Because the system is governed by open-source smart-contracts, it’s fully predictable, it’s functioning auditable and its programming interface is static and anyone can interact with it permissionlessly. The data it uses is on the blockchain and thus transparent to anyone. This removes any platform risk present in web2 systems.

Clients pay bounties up-front into an escrow smart contract, so referrers are guaranteed it's there. Due to the encoded incentives, payment on hire is guaranteed, and there is an extensive challenge mechanism in case of suspected fraud.

The smart contracts and its parameters are governed by the Job Protocol DAO that is democratically run based on verifiable past contributions in the network. This guarantees long term alignment between the network and the people using it. Minimally extractive The system runs autonomously and is governed by the Job Protocol DAO which can set the various settings of the network to guarantee long term alignment with its users.


These properties guarantee a trustworthy and transparent infrastructure that can host a vibrant recruitment ecosystem on top. A few examples:

  • Different kinds of interfaces on top of this infrastructure. E.g. Job Protocol jobs could be shown on Stack Overflow, as an ad on social media, as a set of messages in a Discord community #jobs channel… Anyone product that has access to talent can monetize it through integrating with Job Protocol jobs.

  • Job Boards can rely on Job Protocol to list more roles with a potential reward. They can pull any jobs that are relevant for their audience, and rest assured that any applicant they sent through will result in a payment on hire.

  • Anyone can build an AI that based on public information matches candidates and open roles.

  • A proof-of-hire system based on the open Job Protocol data.

  • Greenhouse based on a company’s public hiring information, e.g. how fast candidates are being interviewed after applying.

We believe the best way to build decentralized infrastructure is to follow the ‘progressive decentralization’ playbook described by a16z. Projects start centralized, enabling a small team to iterate quickly to figure out the intricacies of the system they’re building, to then gradually decentralize it and hand it over to the community for expansion and government.

Today, the first version of Job Protocol is accessible at https://jobprotocol.xyz. We’ve implemented early versions of many of the concepts of the recruitment network in a centralized web application.

As we learn what works, we want to gradually decentralize this system. The rest of the document explains our current thinking on how this might come to be.

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