This article outlines some specifics of finding a job in Russia.
Legal status. To be legally employed in Russia you need to have certain legal status (visa) allowing you to have employment. This article does not cover legal matters of employment for expats. There are regulations on issuing work visas and there is good number of professionals who can help with this. Normally hiring company takes care of all the visa formalities for expats.
Language. Speaking Russian is essential if you are looking for a job in a typical Russian company. If you are targeting international companies, Russian language may not be required, depending on nature of a job you apply for. Many international companies require proficiency in English, but quite a few speak other European languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish and others.
General situation with jobs in Moscow and larger cities. I assume most expats opt for office positions or professional jobs that require higher education and extensive experience and expertise in a specific area. This is an important distinction as for low-profile jobs there is always loads of available positions. Those positions are filled by local candidates or candidates from former ussr republics, who can obtain job permit on their own.
Below information is applicable for office, professional or managerial positions.
Current labor market is very competitive and tough. Simply said, finding a job is not easy. I suggest to allow 6-12 month of active search to lend a good office position. If your profession or area of expertise currently is in a high demand, your chances obviously increase.
Important to understand that Russian business is predominantly relationships-based. Most positions are filled internally or by recommendation. Networking and having lots of good connections (“svyazi”) is what you need to find a good job in Russia. You need to know a good bunch of people who can introduce and recommend you.
This does not cancel conventional ways of seeking a job. You still can research websites, post resumes and respond to job ads.
Who would hire you? Small-sized to mid-sized offices of international companies doing business in Russia. Non-profit organizations, local businesses run by foreigners. Russian companies, doing business internationally. Larger Russian businesses trying to diversify employee population or looking for candidates in specific areas of professional expertise that are hard to find in Russia.
Larger international businesses try to fill positions internally first. When for whatever reason they do not find candidates internally, they turn to the local labor market. Primary channel of sourcing candidates is thru agencies, but direct hiring is not unusual. Most companies have job openings listed on their website, so it’s a good idea to research them first. Larger businesses would be willing to get you work visa if they hire you as for them this is a well known process.
Websites. There are quite a few Russian websites with job listings. All Russian websites have Russian interface and you need to understand Russian to navigate them. Most of them are used to advertise basic, low-profile and low-pay jobs. “Headhunter” seems to be the most useful one when it comes to professional and managerial positions. Linkedin is an excellent source of international job openings in Russia. Most larger companies and recruiting agencies have presence in Linkedin and actively use it as a recruiting tool. Having good profile on Linkedin is essential, as well a resume on “headhunter” website. Do not discount non-Russian websites like Monster, as they sometimes list international jobs.
Job fairs take place regularly but they are useless for the most part as they advertise low-pay, low-profile jobs no one wants.
Agencies. One most important thing to understand about agencies is that any agency only works with job openings they have at this very moment. Meaning all the resumes they receive are of no value for them unless they came in response to a specific position they have in working. It is advised though to email (or submit on their website) your resume to as many agencies as possible, hoping that your resume will be stored in their internal database. This database is the first source of potential candidates for them. However this strategy works in a long run only.
Faux job openings. Some jobs are advertised with no intention of hiring anyone. This happens for a multitude of reasons. To name a few, it can be a way of researching labor market. Another common reason is that company policies often require to go through a hiring process even if they have a candidate to fill specific position. This can be someone brought by recommendation, but internal policies still require position to be advertised and to have some interviews. HR people would do all this for the sake of following the rule, but not intending to hire an external candidate.
Resumes. There is no common standard in resume writing in Russia. Some employers require one-page resume, some want ten-page memoir of all your life. Some require a photograph attached to your resume, some do not. Safe bet would be one-two page resume that can be easily tweaked to fit specific position requirements. If you are asked to submit a long and detailed resume covering all your life from cradle, general advise is to stay away from companies with such requirements.
Cover letters. Almost never a part of hiring process, no one knows how to write them and what’s a use of them. Some websites (and few employees) require cover letters, but those letters I’ve have seen so far look like short notes to employers.
Job descriptions. Accurate job descriptions are rare in Russian businesses. This is often reflected in job ads, which sometimes does not list all requirements to candidates or includes something that in reality is not needed or not significant. Do not be surprised if your resume is rejected even if it seems to be a perfect match for a job. There is always something hidden, unwritten that is in a consideration when employer makes assessment of job candidates.
Communication with employers. For a resume submitted you normally never receive any feedback except maybe an automated rejection letter. If your resume is of interest to an employer, they might call you or email you. If you are located outside Russia, online video interview can be an option, although not every business is comfortable with them. Phone interviews are not common in Russia. After the interview normally you never receive any feedback unless you ask for one. If they are interested in you, employer might contact you proactively advising on next steps of the selection process and its timing. They may contact you with some positive feedback saying they are interested in you as a candidate and then disappear for ages. They may invite you to the interview and cancel it at any moment. You can come to an interview just to learn that position has already been filled. There can be a number of other mishaps as hiring is a mess in most Russian companies and agencies and this is normal.
Interviewing and hiring processes also have their own specifics. I will write about interview specifics in later articles, so stay tuned. Do not forget to follow Russia Simplified Facebook page to comment, share and receive notifications on newly published articles.