Svitlana Sych, Head of Recruitment at N-iX, talks about how to attract the best software engineers in Ukraine

Svitlana Sych, Head of Recruitment at N-iX, talks about how to attract the best software engineers in Ukraine
N-iX
1970-01-01T04:09:25+00:00

Svitlana Sych is the Head of Talent Acquisition Team with 12 years of experience in recruitment, 6 of them in IT.  Svitlana has relished the opportunity to grow along with N-iX,  helping to bring top talent into the company and fill it with highly professional and good-natured people. IT t...

Svitlana Sych, Head of Recruitment at N-iX, talks about how to attract the best software engineers in Ukraine
By Tetiana Boichenko, Svitlana Sych March 12, 2019

Svitlana Sych is the Head of Talent Acquisition Team with 12 years of experience in recruitment, 6 of them in IT.  Svitlana has relished the opportunity to grow along with N-iX,  helping to bring top talent into the company and fill it with highly professional and good-natured people.

IT talent market in Ukraine saw an increase of 26% in 2018. And over the last 2 years, it has augmented by 60%. How can you comment on such progressive dynamics?

Undoubtedly, the IT market in Ukraine is booming. The number of candidates is growing as we are nurturing a rich pool of specialists, and the number of clients and successful partnerships is on the rise too. In fact, each year, 38 tech universities give the country around 16,000 qualified IT professionals. On the other hand, we can see intense competition for the talent and the rising number of IT job openings. This means that more and more overseas clients (from the USA, the UK, and the Nordic countries) choose to partner with Ukrainian IT outsourcing companies, and plenty of IT product companies and startups set up their offices in local IT hubs, and stay here.

Each year, 38 tech universities give the country around 16,000 qualified IT professionals.

 

What are the personal and professional qualities of Ukrainian developers? Why do customers set up teams in Ukraine?

When talking about the Ukrainian mindset, people here are highly motivated, conscientious, responsible and tend to keep their word. If something is not feasible, they won’t promise to achieve it. Also, they tend to be proactive, meaning they not only follow the customer’s guidelines while solving issues but also think out of the box and come up with their own solutions.

Another important fact about Ukrainian software engineers is that they learn to programme at the universities and start coding at a rather young age on their own. Students start working as trainees in IT companies, freelancing or creating their own projects. Therefore, when they graduate at 21-22, they already have a few years of hands-on experience under their belt.

software engineers in Ukraine

Is there anything that was important for Ukrainian software engineers, say, 5 or 10 years ago but it’s not anymore? What attracts the specialists most of all now?

10 years ago the IT industry in Ukraine wasn’t as well developed as now, and all the software engineers wanted was stability and financial security. They weren’t eager to jump ship. They were holding to jobs where they felt secure and confident. Nowadays, the IT domain in Ukraine sees its golden times, and young specialists are hungry for innovations and game-changing solutions. They want to be part of something big, something that makes a difference, and they choose the companies that provide them with challenging projects and ample opportunity for learning and growth. And that’s what helps our company to lure the best specialists.

Nowadays, the IT domain in Ukraine sees its golden times, and young specialists are hungry for innovations and game-changing solutions.

Are there any approaches in your company to hiring people of different generations? Is it really more difficult to recruit and retain Millennials?

Obviously, we need to use different communication approaches when recruiting people of different generations. Some need to be spoken to more emotionally, some – more rationally. But the key shared principles we apply to everybody are honest and open communication and respect.

When talking about millennials, they are ambitious. They want to be seen, heard, and recognized. These are the people who are asking for challenges and already have an inner drive for learning something new. They need companies that are flexible and can offer room for growth and challenging projects. Our core task here is to facilitate and assist the process, eliminating all the bureaucratic bottlenecks which they genuinely hate. They don’t want the system to be rigid and unclear, especially when they decide to transition to another technology or position. And having qualified HR business partners is what they truly value.

software engineers in Ukraine

What specialists are the easiest/the most difficult to find? Which approaches do you take to hiring people that specialize in different technologies – popular vs rare ones?

Surely, there are some technologies with a solid background and a large talent pool in Ukraine, such as Java, .Net, JavaScript, C, C++, Python, and Quality Assurance – these specialists are easier to find. But, in fact, hunting for ‘rare’ and ‘common’ specialists differs only in using different channels of search that are more effective than others in specific cases.

For example, we typically use such channels of search as internal company base of candidates that we’ve been building up since 2002 and which now comprises over 57,000 candidates, Linkedin, Dou.ua, Djinny, work.ua, rabota.ua, special communities (a game dev community, for instance), recommendations (both internal and external ones). By the way, we are now taking an effort to increase the number of recommendations from our own employees.

However, there are some specialists that like to ‘lie low’’. To spot them, we take part in tech conferences and professional events, host tech talks, make lists of the attendees, and look through the lists of specific certificate holders, such as Oracle, Microsoft Stack, find specific communities on Linkedin. Spotting these people is just the first step. Then the most important part starts – correct and engaging communication with a potential candidate (about a client, team composition, responsibilities). Employer branding and various tech talks and conferences also go a long way in developing brand awareness and attracting ‘rare’ specialists.

What are the approaches to hiring people of different qualification levels?

To hire specialists of different qualification levels and be ready to staff big software engineering teams, companies need to take proactive measures and we’ve devised an elaborate system that covers all qualification levels. They include:

  1. Traineeship and nurturing trainees within the company to fill the junior and middle vacancies.
  2. Bench and talent management to retain strong middle and senior specialists that are hard to recruit in our competitive IT talent market. Another important thing when recruiting senior specialists that are in high demand is to recruit fast. As when you find a strong technical specialist, it’s important you are the first one and the last one they get the best offer from. That’s why we have technical interviewers that assess and approve of tech specialists and help to find the appropriate specialists faster.

software engineers in Ukraine

What is the software engineer recruitment and interview process at N-iX?

The recruitment process at N-iX comprises several steps: role/job description elicitation, candidates search, screening, technical internal interview, customer interview, and a job offer.

During the phone pre-screening, we validate the English proficiency level and motivation to join a new project. If a candidate passes pre-screening, they are invited to the internal interview at N-iX office with one of our technical experts. Then follows a discussion with a Delivery Manager to cover the cooperation approach and negotiate employment terms.

All short-listed candidates’ profiles and detailed feedback on technical and soft skills are provided to the Customer for review and approval. Upon customer’s request, it is possible to organize a direct conversation with the technical expert on a customer’s side. As soon as the candidate is approved by both N-iX and the Customer, the talent acquisition team arranges the Job Offer meeting between the candidate and Delivery Manager.

How does the recruitment process differ when staffing a software development team from scratch and scaling an existing development team?

The recruitment process doesn’t change. However, when we recruit from scratch, we often don’t have clear info right away, and before staffing a team we need to understand and formulate the requirements towards candidates in collaboration with the client. So we start from an investigation phase involving the Software Development Office and Architect Group. During this process, we help a client to choose technologies, discuss a solution architecture, team composition, etc. Therefore, it takes more time than extending an already existing team.

What are the must-haves of a company that has good recruitment capabilities?

In the oversaturated Ukrainian IT market, brand awareness is critical. That’s why N-iX is hosting, co-organizing or participating in many local and international IT events. For example, we hosted and co-organized Garage 48 – hackathon 4 years in a row. Every year, we take part in IT Arena, the biggest tech conference in Ukraine, and last year we were among its co-organizers. The company also participates in GDG DevFest, .Net, JavaScript meetUps, Games Gathering, Data Science conference, just to name a few.

Second – the size of the company. Not only does the size of the company matter but the number of different projects as well. Candidates find the companies with a variety of projects in different technologies the most appealing ones. That’s what N-iX uses as its strong playing card. We’ve got now 100+ active clients. The company has projects written both in common technologies such as Java, C#, C++, Javascript, PHP, Python, and rare ones such as Golang, Xamarin, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Scala, BizTalk, Hybris.

And last but not least, the size of the recruitment team. To successfully staff job openings during the first month, a recruiter must work with up to 5 vacancies. If the number of vacancies per recruiter is more than 5, it means we need to increase our recruitment team, and we start doing it.

What are the recruitment KPIs and the selection process at N-iX?

Most Ukrainian companies have standard recruitment time for most technologies. It takes around 4-6 weeks from the moment we open the position until the moment a software engineer starts working on a project. Of course, it always depends on the tech stack and the qualification level. If we are talking about rare technologies – the time to hire a suitable candidate is around 6-8 weeks.

As a rule, during the first 2 weeks we are working on the internal pool of candidates that we contact, during the third week we conduct internal interviews, on the fourth one – a customer interview, and at the end of the fourth week – we usually get the decision on the customer’s side.

Another important thing is the pool of candidates the client can choose from. Usually, that’s 3 candidates per customer interview. However, the selection process is very rigorous and meticulous. For example, to invite 3-5 qualified and well preselected Java specialists to an interview, we need to contact 100 people. However, if we have 5 Java job openings, we’ve got rotation in the pool of Java candidates, and the process of finding the right specialists speeds up.

How does N-iX attract top IT talent?

The pool of specialists working at N-iX has exceeded 900 people and is projected to reach 1,000 this year, which means we are competing with the big guys for the top IT talent.

A strong trump card N-iX holds is the portfolio of 100+ active clients and a wide selection of different technologies, business domains, and tech trends, including fintech, agritech, blockchain, AI, and more. Thanks to this, we can engage a large number of endowed and experienced IT specialists. A wide range of partnerships and challenging projects makes us a highly competitive and appealing employer, both for potential candidates and our current employees.

Another critical selling point is a comfortable and home-like atmosphere. That’s because N-iX hires good people, both professionally, and personally. Our people are intelligent, motivated, and kind. And they choose us as we offer an optimum work-life balance, open-minded mentors, transparent processes with a clear organizational structure and minimum bureaucracy and paperwork.

Also, the company has a special entrepreneurial company culture and employees here enjoy the spirit of freedom and proactivity. Every employee is encouraged to push forward their ideas and drive initiatives. At the same time, they take ownership and responsibility for their implementation. Our people are always ready to speak up, try new technologies, and come up with creative solutions while collaborating with a client. I believe these are the major things that allow us to attract and retain the best talent.

software engineers in Ukraine

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By Tetiana Boichenko, Svitlana Sych March 12, 2019
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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European provider of software development services with 900+ expert software engineers onboard that power innovative technology businesses. Since 2002 we have formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders including OpenText, Novell, Lebara, Currencycloud and over 50 other medium and large-scale businesses. With delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, and Belarus, we deliver excellence in software engineering and deep expertise in a range of verticals including finance, healthcare, hospitality, telecom, energy and enterprise content management helping our clients to innovate and implement technology transformations.

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