Is Russia the Next Hot Spot for Tech Talent?

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While it has certainly had many negative consequences, the coronavirus pandemic has also had done some good for the IT industry. One of its most positive side effects is the creation of new opportunities for IT employers around the world.

The massive shift to remote work has removed many of the barriers to international talent that employers used to face, greatly simplifying the process of hiring specialists from around the world. This is particularly true for Russian IT professionals. Based on my experience, developers from Russia are an excellent solution for employers from the US and Europe. Here’s why:

1. Companies From Western Countries Have an Advantage Over Their Russian Competitors

Today, Russia is going through an economic crisis. The ruble is falling, and working conditions are becoming worse for many. It has become much more difficult for Russian employers to lure talented candidates to their companies. Few people will agree to leave a stable job, as they are not sure that a new company will be able to provide them with a decent standard of living in the next year or two.

Foreign IT companies — even startups — are an exception. While Russian tech talent will often refuse to move from one Russian IT company to another, these specialists are often willing to join foreign companies. This is because the Western market is faring better, so Russian specialists are more confident that a Western company will provide stability.

The team at my agency is constantly hiring specialists for foreign companies. For example, we recently filled a senior iOS developer position for an IT company from London in just two weeks. The job involved remote work, and the salary was in pounds. Since the employee was paid in the employer’s local currency, the company paid taxes at a fairly favorable rate. According to local legislation, the tax for this specialist only came in at 6 percent.

It’s important to note here that you are not required to pay specialists in local currencies. If you wish, you can register the salary of an employee from Russia in the world currency. Russian legislation does not prohibit this, provided that the candidate is an individual entrepreneur and cooperates with your company based on a contract. This cooperation format obliges you to pay taxes for a specialist in the minimum amount, which is only about 6-7 percent.

However, if you hire a Russian tech specialist as a full-time employee, you’ll have to pay them in local currency. The tax is up to 40 percent in this case.

2. Russian Tech Specialists Are Open to Relocation

The coronavirus pandemic has made remote work popular, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relocate specialists. Relocation still remains an attractive opportunity for many Russian IT candidates.

For example, this past August, my team found a .NET developer for an IT company from Berlin. This position required relocation, but despite the difficult global situation, we found a suitable specialist in just 16 days.

3. Russian IT Professionals Are Some of the Best in the World

Developers in Russia are ranked second in HackerRank’s list of the best developers in the world. Providing a high level of IT education and a sufficient amount of resources, Russia is one of the few countries in the world capable of leading advanced development projects across domains. According to HackerRank, Russian developers are in the top five in domains such as algorithms, Java, C++, data structures, artificial intelligence, and much more.

4. Russian Tech Specialists Can Save You Money

Hiring IT specialists from Russia can be good for your budget — and not just in terms of the money remote work can save you on office space and equipment. The salaries of Russian IT specialists tend to be slightly lower than those of professionals in Europe and the US, meaning you can get top-tier talent for a lower cost. As for taxes in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States  countries, they are also slightly lower than taxes in the US and Europe.

5. Your Competitors Are Already Hiring Russian Tech Talent

I have been working in the IT recruiting market for 13 years, and my time in the industry has taught me that foreign companies have always hired Russian IT specialists. In my personal experience, demand for Russian developers has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. Over the past six months, we have filled about 50 positions for companies from Europe, the US, and Australia — roughly a 50 percent increase from the number of foreign positions we were filling prior to the pandemic.

A Few Quick Tips for Hiring Russian Tech Talent

Most technologically developed regions are facing shortages of IT talent. Employers would do well to look to a market like Russia, where talent is more plentiful and more interested in working for foreign companies.

Finally, before you embark on a quest to hire an IT specialist from Russia, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Pay attention to the Telegram messenger  app. This is one of the most popular platforms for Russian IT specialists.
  2. Try to screen resumes and schedule interviews as quickly as possible. Top specialists from Russia often have several job offers at the same time, so it is important to make your offer first.
  3. If you do not know the market well, I recommend you partner with a recruitment agency that does. It can save a lot of trouble to have the help of a recruiter who can act as a vital intermediary between you and your candidates.

Tatiana Melnichuk is founder and head of Lucky Hunter.

By Tatiana Melnichuk