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Specifics Of Hiring Tech Talent In Ukraine: Tips That Work

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IT outsourcing (ITO) to Ukraine is gaining momentum – for several consecutive years the country has been one of the world’s top ITO hotspots. In 2018, 18 companies with offshore development centers based in Ukraine had made it to IAOP Global Outsourcing List, and Gartner currently lists Ukraine among the top 20 EMEA offshoring locations. Ukraine’s IT industry is thriving: it is expected to reach $5.4 billion in value in 2020, according to UnitCity. Historically, there had been a lot of prerequisites to that. Formerly one of the largest republics of the USSR, Ukraine has inherited its educational system, which places a high emphasis on STEM skills. The country boasts academic prowess and has a vast tech talent pool of nearly 185,000 IT specialists, with over 36,000 graduates joining it each year. For students willing to become a part of its bustling tech community, Ukraine’s regional IT clusters are launching educational initiatives in schools and universities in cooperation with local IT companies to coach highly-demanded AI, IoT, and Data science specialists. The investments in education are paying off. Over 100+ Fortune 500 companies choose to hire Ukrainian developers. Currently, global brands like Samsung, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Siemens, Microsoft, Huawei, Rakuten and many others are outsourcing their R&D to Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Odessa, and smaller Ukrainian cities like Vinnytsia with strong niche expertise.

Why Do Global Brands Choose to Outsource to Ukraine?

Admittedly, it’s not only about the vast tech talent pool: Ukraine is among the countries with the best programmers and developers, and with an average proficiency score index of 91,26%, according to SkillValue. Moreover, when it comes to skillsets variety, there is no country like Ukraine. However, Ukrainian origin doesn’t automatically imply that a particular specialist is right for your project. If you want to hire Ukrainian developers, there are some specifics you should take into account. 

Average Ukrainian Developer Portrait

A typical portrait of a Ukrainian developer is not that easy to average out. However, a survey conducted by Ukrainian IT Industry Portal DOU.ua has managed to fill in significant gaps. Here are some facts that should help you know what to expect from your prospective candidate.

Location

Ukraine is a relatively large country – having lost some of its territories to Russia, it’s still approximately the size of Texas. The largest city by the number of IT specialists is Kyiv, the country’s capital (37%), with Lviv ranking second (15%) but showing impressive dynamics in terms of talent pool growth. Kharkiv ranks third (14%), followed by Dnipro (8%) and Odesa (5%). These cities are large metropolitan areas with a population exceeding 1 million. Hence, your candidate is likely to be typical urban dweller with a corresponding set of values. In Kyiv, it will take about 40-60 minutes to get to work, and about 30-40 minutes in other cities. Approximately 80% of tech workers are office employees, and only 20% work from home or co-working space, so office location is likely to matter. Your prospect is also likely to engage in hobbies and recreational activities typical to city dwellers.

Age, gender and demographics

Young workforce is a characteristic feature of Ukraine. 63% of all tech workers are aged between 21 and 30, 18% aged 31-35, and only 10% aged 36 and older. Most older workers occupy managerial positions. Your prospective developer is likely to be male since only 24% of Ukrainians in IT professions are women. You are likely to come across more women in QA, Designer and Junior dev positions; also, a certain percentage of women are PO’s, Scrum masters and PM’s. https://8allocate.com/article/when-it-makes-sense-to-hire-junior-software-developers/ Only 38% of IT professionals are married, and about 21% are in steady relationships. Women are 12% more likely to be in a relationship or cohabiting with partners than men. Typically, Ukrainian tech workers live in small nuclear families, and only 23% of them have children. Most of them (77%) live in rented apartments, and about 50% of them have cars.

Education

Regardless of gender, your software developer candidate is 80% likely to be a university graduate. 56% of Ukrainian tech workers have been majoring in programming or STEM subjects. The rest are likely to have University degrees in fields like management and economics. Most of them, however, are dedicated to constant self-improvement: they take extra courses, participate in hackathons and bootcamps, engage in coaching and mentoring activities. 

English proficiency

An average developer or QA specialist in Ukraine has an intermediate or Upper-Intermediate command of English . You can expect senior developers, executives, and PM’s to speak fluent English. However, there are geographical differences: on average, people will speak better English in Lviv than in the country's easternmost IT hub Kharkiv.  Ukraine’s IT sector is highly dependent on outsourcing clients, so most of the established ITO companies will offer free English courses to their employees. Some go as far as providing personalized English classes on-premises for their Senior Devs and management staff. 

Motivation drivers

How to motivate programmers and developers in Ukraine is a frequently asked question. Ukrainian IT specialists are the country’s best-paid workforce, so your prospective candidate is likely to be driven by a high salary. However, the salary is not the main thing that matters: interesting and challenging projects and career growth perspectives are among the top drivers listed by Ukrainian tech workers. Understandably, Junior Devs are the ones most interested in career growth (73%) while only 51% percent of senior developers and team leads list it among the top things that motivate them.

Relocation and immigration

For relatively young Ukrainian workforce relocation is among the main motivation drivers. According to DOU survey, 45% of Ukrainian IT specialists are considering immigration. However, in Lviv, the country’s western IT hub, the situation is different, with the number of those who don’t want to relocate exceeding the number of those who do. For 34% of Ukrainian tech and engineering workers who don’t yet have any plans to immigrate, foreign travel and trips to a client’s office overseas are a great incentive to keep them loyal.

How To Interview Developers in Ukraine: Best Practices

Regardless of your engagement model, a reliable IT outsourcing partner will let you participate in the process of hiring developers for your dedicated development team. You do want to make sure that your prospect is genuinely interested in their work, shows proper level of motivation and engagement, is dedicated to continuous professional development and has a positive outlook on life in general.  

Are you looking to hire pre-vetted software engineers, testers and PMs in Ukraine? Let's discuss how we can help!

  What also matters is how organized they are, capable of prioritizing tasks and proficient enough to fill the position. 

Tricky and useful questions to ask at a job interview 

What's your ideal workday?

This question helps reveal which tasks a candidate is interested in the most, what are his priorities, and how much time he usually dedicates to work and recuperation.

Why do you think people choose IT careers?

We tend to project our own inclinations and motifs onto other people unconsciously. The answer to this question could be very revealing as to the prospect’s motivation drivers.

How has your mindset changed while working in IT?

The answer to this question will help indicate if the prospect is aware of the current IT trends and understands the importance of continuous learning and development. If nothing has changed in his outlook or mindset over the years, it is potentially alarming.  

Why did you leave your previous job (or Why do you want to leave the company you currently work for)? 

Another alarming sign is a prospect badmouthing his former colleagues and bosses. This question could also spill light on how eager the candidate is to reveal details of projects he used to work on. If you plan to work under NDA, this could show if he is trustworthy.

What are your most significant achievements (both professional and personal)? 

If the candidate has no personal success stories he is willing to share, or his biggest achievement had happened years from now, this could indicate low ambition and a lack of drive.

What do you usually do when you have too many tasks on your agenda?

This question helps reveal if a candidate is a team player. If a prospect says he would talk to a PM and prioritize tasks, it is an indication he is open to communication and is likely to work successfully on a team. 

How soon is the code from a repository deployed to production?

This question will help you understand if the candidate is used to continuous integration and container technology and whether they're accustomed to reviewing their colleagues' code. Who maintains the project’s documentation? How often is it updated? Answer to this question will give you a good insight into overall work ethics of each candidate and how they comply with coding standards. This way, you can also check whether they're accustomed to documentation-driven software development (aka read-me development).

Check out more good interview questions here.

While the answers to these questions will speak volumes of the prospect's personality, there are also questions targeted at revealing how experienced they are with using a certain tool or technology. Such questions will differ depending on a project and usually pertain to certain features and specifics only a person with an excellent working knowledge of a programming language, framework, or software could be aware of.

Competence-based interview

It's highly recommended that you conduct competency-based interviews when hiring Ukrainian developers. Such an interview helps you better understand how the candidate has used specific skills and knowledge in their previous experience, how they've approached problem-solving, tasks and challenges. The interview consists of the so-called behavioural or situational questions that simulate a certain case. A competence-based interview is structured in a STAR way:
  • Situation: ask the interviewee to briefly describe an occasion when a particular result has been achieved within the team.
  • Task: what was the interviewee's particular task or activity on the project (you'll measure the scope of person's involvement and committment).
  • Action: ask them to outline the action that led to the result.
  • Result: let them summarize the result and measure the impact on client's business.
Competence-based interview gives an excellent opportunity for a software developer to reflect on their role in making an achievement in the previous workplace(s) and allows the interviewer to better understand whether or not the candidate is a good match for the client's project as well as define their weaknesses and strengths to capitalize on. Some companies choose to start with a test task right away. Some would have a candidate work for a couple of hours alongside another developer on a team to see if they can get along and be on the same page. Such practice reveals a lot about the candidate’s knowledge and experience, and (stress factors aside), about the way he would behave on a team.

How to Attract Ukrainian Software Developers

If you are wondering where to find good developers in Ukraine, marketplaces like Clutch can offer listings and ratings of top Ukrainian software development companies based on verified client reviews. How to attract engineering workforce in Ukraine and convince them to work for your company is a little bit more challenging question, though. Ukrainian IT sector is booming, and good developers usually have a range of offers from companies to choose from. Below are some tips you can use to attract Ukrainian developers.

If you aren’t a big brand name, you need to pitch your project

People tend to choose something they already feel familiar with. Go to the field (hackathons, events, contests, etc.), mingle, talk about your project, and build rapport. If devs feel a particular affinity to a project or a company, it becomes easier to attract them.

Focus on motivation drivers

Ukrainian software engineers and programmers are driven by challenging projects, professional development opportunities, trips to client’s HQ/core dev team office, intrinsic and extrinsic motifs. Make sure to allot a separate budget for these activities and promote them in the interview. 

Communicate the value of your digital solution 

As said above, remuneration is important, but for most Ukrainian devs it will not be a decisive factor. That’s an ideal option for startups and SMEs who struggle to find and attract the right developers locally because tech giants have drained the market and snatched the best talent. Wrapping up, Ukrainian developers are picky, but what matters the most to them is the meaningfulness of the solution to be built and the opportunity to grow professionally. Most of them aren’t just spaghetti coders, but people who think outside the box and want to deliver business value to clients. Just give them a try and you'll see it for yourself!  
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