Are You Hiring or Only Pretending to?

Taisiia Mliuzan
01 October 2018

It was only three years ago when I would get the feeling that one in three employers complained about the difficulties in finding an employee in Ukraine, especially for a product company. Today, the only employers, who don’t have anything bad to say about recruiters are the ones who hire up to 10 new employees per year and those, who have a common tech stack.

Continuing to complain about a lack of intelligent recruiters, about the bright minds leaving the country, or about outsourcing powerhouses ready to employ anybody who had gone at least once to some shabby IT course is always an option. However, the better alternative is to focus on what you can do about your internal recruitment process, how you can build a reputation for your company in the market, and other factors, which you could afford to overlook before and did not have to allocate a budget for.

What we’ve got:

  1. Thousands of those who are eager to enter the IT industry or those who have finished questionable courses, with neither type of individuals capable of searching for a job or to sell themselves, without having any idea of where to find the first projects or get initial experience.
  2. There’s still a huge demand for Mid-Sr level developers. By the way, Jr level developers with pet project experience and a readiness to work for up to $500/month (we stress the “up to”) with an English level allowing them to watch Silicon Valley without subtitles are also able to find work quite easily.
  3. A “market of developers”, who dictate the terms and tempo of how quickly they could switch workplaces.
  4. An increase in remote roles, allowing developers the option of working on site or remotely as they prefer.
  5. An incredible increase in the number of IT recruiters, 90% of whom focus on brainless spamming. There are all kinds of extensions, which can find almost every email address out there and, as a result, developers not only delete their LinkedIn profiles or stop visiting the site altogether, but also receive tons of spam to their email. All of this leads developers to despair and to an even greater dislike of those, who hadn’t taken the time to familiarize themselves with their profiles.
  6. Instances of developers being presented with an offer 2-3 hours following their interview occur all the more frequently.
  7. The presence of popular and genuinely cool product companies, which understand the concept of Employer Branding, have a minimal staff turnover, fantastic compensation packages, 9 circles of hellish interview steps, and a small queue of people who want to join them. We can name up to 10 of such companies in Ukraine and they employ less than 1% of the entire market’s IT specialists.
  8. The constantly rising cost of employing each individual. Four years ago the cost of hiring Sr Java developer could be $2000-3000 per month; today, this figure could reach as high as $8000.
  9. Incredibly large financial losses whenever a company fails to hire the sought specialists within the required time span. One of Ukraine’s top outsourcing companies has continually endured loses in millions of dollars during the presale stages over the past few years as they haven’t been able to hire enough Embedded developers.
  10. A large number of clients/companies, who leave the market as quickly as they enter it after encountering difficulties in recruitment, management, and the quality of specialists sought. While we’re still a viable choice for some companies, many others decide in favor of the options which are cheaper/less risky/more convenient in terms of time zone. This results in something of a chaotic mess.
  11. The average length of time a developer spends working for a company is 1.8 years (1.2 for Mobile developers), which often happens due to being headhunted or the developer’s own actions that lead to them joining a company, which offers a higher salary. Other reasons include the conclusion of a project, which the developer had worked on or the disbandment of their company.
  12. A lack of readiness from potential clients to pay for objective and up-to-date information regarding the job market, salaries across all regions, and data about what the competition offers. A lack of readiness to pay for consulting.

All of this means that it becomes impossible to ignore the market and the terms it dictates, while sticking to a familiar recruitment rhythm and pretending to be Google.

If you have job openings, which have not been filled within four or more months, if your architects and team leads are busy chatting with potential candidates on various platforms, if the hiring process has burnt out your entire team and if you have a clear problem in a lack of fitting employees, which you can measure with a five-figure loss in dollars, the following triggers may help you identify and face the causes. Focus on your own company processes and it very well could be that the roots of the problems lie in the following:

  1. An inconsistency in requirements and offerings in comparison to the state of the market. Depending on the time you have available to fill a certain position, focus on allocating a reasonable budget first and foremost, and only then consider your internal hiring process. For example, if you are looking to hire an English-speaking Sr Java developer in Kyiv within a salary budget of $3500/month, you should be ready to search for a long time and to lose such a specialist after half a year or so of employment as there is a great chance of them being headhunted. If having conducted interviews, you come to the conclusion that the Sr developer is closer to that of a Mid-level, be aware that there is always competition out there, which is not as picky and would be happy to present such talent with 3 years of experience to their client as a Sr or Team Lead-level and not think twice about it. If you are searching for a Rust developer for the fifth month straight, it may be a better idea to relocate such talent from Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Vietnam, or another country. The critical lack of Product Managers could be resolved by, once again, bringing in an expat from Hungary, Estonia, or even the U.S. Bringing foreigners into the country is definitely realistic and comparatively quick.
  2. The lack of familiarity of your company within the market and the lack of understanding that Employer Branding requires systematic effort, which the universally known companies in the market are careful to hand over to a separate group of specialists and to provide them with substantial budgets. If such steps are not taken, the market will not understand the reasons why it may be a good idea to work for you. There are plenty of word-of-mouth and low-budget PR options out there. However, in this age of Millennials, this is a very vital subject to consider both in terms of strategy and annual budget allocation. Become accessible and take good care of informing the market about your uniqueness in the proper way.
  3. An excessively long recruitment process with a lack of flexibility. You have an exact list of things you’d like to see on a CV, a certain way that a test task should be completed, and for all of your 17 team members to have the chance to speak to every potential candidate. However, effective recruitment should consist of no more than three steps and take no longer than two weeks. Better yet, shorten the process to two steps and one week, which would give you the chance to hire those actively looking for work and those who may have fallen in love with your company at the first interview. No, all of these things aren’t meant to favour recruiters; they are steps that companies, who are after top talent or those who have not invested in their employer brand are already implementing.
  4. Incompetent and self-asserting interviewers. Unfortunately, even the most professional and knowledgeable of your team members may behave inadequately during interviews. They actually do know all of the smallest details of every framework and are able to write the most challenging of code with perfect syntax by hand. They take the time to prepare or even memorize things. It’s important for them to be seen as the all-knowing gurus by those who they interview. They may even go out of their way to hire someone below par for a certain position in order to accentuate their superiority and make sure that they always have the ‘god’ status in this working relationship. If you’ve handed over the interview process entirely to one of your team members or have never seen the way it’s organized by someone who seems to be unable to fill the necessary roles, make sure to inquire about taking part in one or two interviews; you may discover plenty.
  5. An internal recruiter, who doesn’t ask questions and fills one in 15 positions every 3 months. If the individual who helps you out with recruitment provides you with the wrong type of candidates for the tenth time, it may be that they still do not understand the requirements of the role or simply do not have the competency to do so. Unfortunately, such an individual may not have understood the requirements initially, or may not have received or asked for feedback, and had not provided their evaluation of the chances for the role to be filled altogether. Such an individual should be provided with training or be replaced by a competent one. If the right candidates are presented, but do not accept your offers or do not show up to work after accepting them for whatever reason, the causes hide in the points described previously.
  6. An external recruiter, who doesn’t value your time. If an agency or freelancer hadn’t provided you with a hire within two months and hadn’t advised you on how to improve the recruitment process in order to reach your hiring goals, you should look for a different option, which will suit you both in terms of their approach and results. You should personally meet the individuals, who are in charge of your recruitment and be prepared for the results to not be as predictable as before if your hiring team or responsible individual becomes uninvolved for whatever reason. You should systematically allocate your time to such a cause for once in order to select a hiring team of at least three individuals, who would be able to cover for each other during their vacations, sick leaves, etc. If such a team genuinely understands your needs and goals, knows your company inside out and presents it in the best possible like to the market, make sure to genuinely value them.
  7. Your company’s damaged reputation. Bad reviews, negative articles in various online IT communities, terrible stories spread by word-of-mouth and blatant ridiculing of specific individuals or situations in private convos; when all this takes place without any counter-actions by the company’s representatives, it usually means the end of any hope of successful recruitment. Set up a Google Alert for your company’s name, react to every curious or negative comment coming from those, who had taken part in your interviews and hadn’t been hired, as well as from those, who had been dismissed and were left visibly distraught, and even those who have had no direct interaction with your company, but felt like speaking their mind anyway. If you aren’t sure about how to deal with such things or don’t have enough time for them, hire a PR agency to help or someone who can provide examples of their work in the IT market, where a formal tone and the absence of a sense of humor is simply not an option. If you are unable to deal with the negative forces, it’s easier to rebrand your company, or to be ready to overpay for recruitment services or in terms of salaries you offer.

In conclusion, from the point of view of personal experience, we can declare the following things, backed up by straightforward examples: filling job openings quickly with top developers in Ukraine is realistic; not every bright individual has left the country; bringing over developers and C-level executives from other countries is also a possibility and there are established processes which could be followed to make it happen within as quickly as a month; smart recruiters, who establish long-term relationships exist.

Consider whether everything is actually fine inside your company and whether you really control your its standing in the market. If you’re not a recruiter and the individual responsible for your recruitment hasn’t been able to come up with fitting candidates, or if the average period for your company to fill a position is over four months, it may make sense to allocate the time to find the right professionals, who have been in the business for a number of years.

*All of the data provided has been derived from CNA International IT experience, the daily practice of a recruitment team of ten members, a community of approximately 450 individuals, and a database of over 140,000 candidate profiles, which had been processed within four years.