One lesson recruiters must learn is that as soon as they are recruiting in a foreign country they need to play by a new set of rules. The trick is in learning which rules are different and which remain the same.
Russia’s unique culture is — perhaps surprisingly — not such a big issue in recruiting there. In the U.S. we tend to think of Russia as a very foreign place, yet Moscow is in Europe and culturally is not so dramatically different from Western Europe. According to Julia Repryntseva, compensation & benefits and talent director for Alcoa Russia (a company profiled in depth in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership), the cultural differences between Russia and Western Europe are no larger than those between, for example, Germany and the UK.
What might be a bigger surprise are the enormous differences in compensation between Moscow and the outlying areas. In the U.S. we expect salaries in the big cities to be higher than in rural areas, but managing regional salary differences is mainly a matter of fine-tuning. In Russia, pay levels in a village may be less than half what is paid in Moscow. Recruiters need to be very aware that the location of the job and the place the applicant is coming from will have a huge impact on what makes for an attractive starting salary.
As in the U.S., job boards are important for sourcing, although rather than Monster and CareerBuilder, the big boards in Russia are Headhunter and Jobs.ru. What is surprising is that it’s hard to find engineers using these job boards. Engineers typically work in the plants, not offices, and as a result are not as plugged into the Internet as we would expect. Other sourcing methods, such as newspaper ads, are needed to reach engineering applicants.
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It’s hard to predict how recruiting in a foreign market will differ from recruiting in your home country. The key is to recognize that basic assumptions (such as that all engineers will be Internet-savvy) may prove false in other markets. Going in with an open mind and speaking to people with experience on the ground is essential for successful recruiting outside the U.S.