Recruiting in Russia could be a revolution for business

Being a recruiter in Russia can be a rewarding experience, but common concerns around operating in the country put agencies and businesses off from setting up there.

Thu, 24 Sep 2015 | By Graham Simons

Being a recruiter in Russia can be a rewarding experience, but common concerns around operating in the country put agencies and businesses off from setting up there.

Speaking at a RES Forum event yesterday Luc Jones, partner for Russia and Kazakhstan at FiveTen Group recruiter Antal Russia, told delegates one of the best things about doing business in Russia was the “very, very” little competition.

“I haven’t counted how many recruitment agencies there are there, but there’s not many. There are a lot of local ones – most of which are hardly worth dealing with.

“There’s also very little temp work. Temp work is not common, so agencies like Reed are not there – there’s no such thing as high-street recruitment. Getting people on temporary contracts is very uncommon compared to say here.”

But operating in the country is not without its pitfalls, Jones said. Adverse business conditions in Russia saw global specialist recruiter PageGroup wind up its operations in the country this spring.

According to Jones, recruiters and businesses looking to expand into Russia should consider:

• Russian is the business language of the country and not English, meaning workers and their spouses will encounter difficulties if they do not speak the language. 

• Workers moving to Russia should also have some previous exposure to another emerging market such as Eastern Europe or China so they are prepared for the culture shock.

• Russians tend to make “emotional decisions”, meaning they are prone to being swayed by counter offers from employers. 

• On the employer side, recruiting decisions tend to be made quickly with little regard for pay grades.  

• Job titles tend to be pretentious and workers expect to be promoted quickly. 

• Russians are direct and blunt – candidates tend to come across very matter of fact at interview because they don’t want to come across as desperate or too passionate.

• Workers commuting in and out of the country, known as ‘Tuesday to Thursday expats’, should be avoided by employers as they tend not to take the role seriously, according to Jones. 

• Russians quote salaries monthly rather than annually.

• Rules around firing workers are heavily weighted towards the worker.

• Russia suffers from a shortage of commercially-focused, English-speaking professionals.

• The Russian workplace is a “macho” environment in which men tend to occupy the most senior roles, while female workers can expect to have doors opened for them and flowers bought for them on their birthday, Jones said.

• Most importantly, Russians like to do business face-to-face with companies they trust and which have business partners on the ground.

• The RES Forum is a community of senior in-house global mobility professionals from more than 35 countries.

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