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Digital transformation has now turned pretty much every company into a tech company, however, a great lack of qualified tech talent continues to plague Western countries and shows no signs of slowing down. With the local supply of tech professionals being so sparse, employers repeatedly look to the east.
A growing number of European and US-based companies choose to hire software developers in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other Eastern European countries (we’ll only focus on the first three in this post). Partnering with a recruitment agency is often preferred as local recruiters will know the ins and outs of the talent pool you’re interested in tapping and will therefore provide a faster and smoother process of recruitment and, if necessary, relocation of tech professionals.
Below, you’ll find an in-depth overview of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus as hiring destinations. We’ll cover the number of tech professionals in each country, their salary expectations, things to consider when recruiting software developers in Eastern Europe, and much more.
Overall, the growth rate of the IT service and software R&D market in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus is four to five times greater than the global figure. Clients mostly come from Europe and the US.
As a rule, Ukrainian software developers easily adapt to working with international clients since most of them have experience working in outsourcing companies with clientele from all over the world. According to DOU, Ukraine’s largest online community for programmers, 80% of Ukrainian tech workers speak English at an intermediate level or higher. Since June 2017, Ukrainians have been able to travel to Europe visa-free, which has also resulted in higher English proficiency overall, as well as better cultural competence and openness to multicultural projects.
About 5% of vacancies posted in Ukraine require relocation. Ukrainian developers often move to the US, Poland, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Israel, and the UK. Approximately 5,000 tech specialists leave Ukraine every year. Getting the experience of living and working abroad is one of the most frequently cited reasons for relocation among Ukrainian programmers. Stability and social policies in destination countries are also high-priority factors for those Ukrainian tech workers who have or are planning to have families and children.
Every fifth Russian admits that they would relocate if given the opportunity, with the local political climate being the main motivating factor. Every 10th tech specialist (11%) with four to eight years of experience is ready to relocate abroad, and 3% have this experience already. The most popular relocation destinations for Russian programmers are Germany (38%), the USA (36%), the UK (27%), Australia (24%), and Canada (18%). If you want to hire Russian programmers, you should know that salary is the first thing Russian developers will look at when considering relocation opportunities. Social and cultural factors come second.
Software developers in Belarus are known for their exceptional expertise when it comes to hardware. Unfortunately, relocating them is quite hard due to the specifics of the local legislature. Almost a third of Belarusians would relocate if given the opportunity. Belarusians are tempted by more promising job opportunities available abroad, higher quality education for them and their children, as well as good security policies and retirement prospects. Despite the fact that many Belarusian programmers relocate to Russia, there are also those who are more interested in Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and the US.
Most Belarusian tech companies are outsourcing vendors, so good English is a must for Belarusian software developers, especially if the role requires direct communication with clients and stakeholders. 74.9% of Belarusian tech workers evaluate their English as upper-intermediate or above.
Software developers in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus generally earn much more than workers employed in other industries. They also get great corporate benefits (full medical insurance, gym and swimming pool memberships, free lunches, massages, English lessons, and more). Considering the cost of living and average salaries in Eastern Europe, a software developer feels more than comfortable living here. If an Eastern European programmer does decide to relocate, they’d expect to receive compensation that could provide a similar quality of life in a new location.
The average software developer salary in Ukraine is around $2,500–3,000 a month. The current average monthly salary in the country is $450. The monthly rate of a PHP developer is on the lower end of the spectrum, closer to $2,500 a month, while Java engineers tend to command the highest rates — over $3,000 monthly.
Average software developer salaries in Ukraine haven’t changed much as a result of the pandemic: C# developers have lost $50 a month and Java programmers have lost $100. Salaries of software developers specializing in other technologies have remained the same.
The average software developer salary in Russia ranges between $2,000 and $3,000 a month (the national average is $750). Salaries have decreased by 15% due to the quarantine. The average salary of an iOS developer in Russia is close to $3,000 a month, Android developers follow closely. The monthly rate of Java and C++ developers is about $2,500.
The average software developer salary in Belarus lies within the $2,000–$3,000 range. The average salary in the country is $505. The quarantine has had a tangible effect on the salaries of Belarusian programmers: C++ developer salaries have gone down by $300 compared to the start of the year. Android developers now also make $150 a month less. Meanwhile, the monthly rates of iOS and Java programmers, as well as developers specializing in a few other technologies, have actually gone up.
Software development companies in Ukraine mostly focus on providing development outsourcing services. 21 of them made it onto the 2020 Global Outsourcing 100 list by IAOP.
The five largest IT companies in Ukraine are service providers that develop software for companies all over the world. They collectively employ nearly 27,000 people. Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Boeing, Cisco, and other global giants are among their largest clients.
However, it’s not all about outsourcing. There are also a number of product companies and startups in Ukraine that have earned worldwide recognition:
Grammarly develops one of the world’s best AI-powered writing assistants. Over 20 million people use their Chrome plugin daily. The startup has received more than $200 million worth of investments, and is currently priced at $1 billion. In 2019, Grammarly was the most desired IT employer in Ukraine.
Petcube creates interactive toys that allow pet owners to feed and play with their pets when they’re away. Petcube’s products repeatedly make it onto the list of Amazon’s best sellers.
GitLab is a platform that allows software developers to collaborate on code. The company has representation in 47 countries, and over 100,000 organizations use their product, including Qualcomm, NASA, Nasdaq, and Interpol.
People.ai creates an AI-powered platform that analyzes the effectiveness of sales departments. Last year, the company got onto the list of top five most desired AI employers in the world.
GitLab and People.ai are also among the 100 most-valued Y Combinator alumni.
Readdle builds macOS and iOS apps. The overall number of downloads of the company’s products from the App Store has exceeded 100 million.
MEGOGO, MacPaw, Ajax Systems, Preply, Genesis, Depositphotos, and TemplateMonster are also among Ukraine’s most well-known global players.
The largest R&D centers in Ukraine are Ring Ukraine, DataRobot, Snap, Plarium, Samsung, Playtika, and Wargaming.
Here are some of the most prominent software development companies and startups in Russia:
Yandex is mostly known for its search engine (fourth largest in the world), however, it also provides over 50 other services, including email, weather, maps, news, movies, and more. Yandex’s technologies are hard to replicate, and many of their services use machine learning and neural networks.
Kaspersky is a cybersecurity and antivirus provider with 34 offices and representation in over 200 countries. The company is one of the world’s four leading providers of endpoint protection solutions.
Mail.ru is a communitainment corporation with over 30 tech companies under its roof. The services and products it provides include social networks (VK, Odnoklassniki, My [email protected]), email and instant messaging, games, search engine, e-commerce solutions, and a lot more.
Telegram is one of the world’s largest instant messaging apps with over 300 million users.
The biggest software development companies and startups in Belarus include:
Rakuten (Viber), a messaging app with over 800 million users worldwide. The company has development and support offices in Minsk and Brest.
Wargaming, a developer free-to-play MMO games. Over 200 million users play World of Tanks, World of Warships, and other games by Wargaming.
EPAM, one of the largest outsourcing providers in the world with a total headcount of over 30,000 employees. In 2017, Forbes included EPAM in its list of 25 fastest growing public tech companies in the world.
Skillers is an IT recruitment agency based in Ukraine. We specialize in filling challenging technical positions of middle, senior, and managerial levels. Since 2005, we’ve helped more than 90 companies close 1,500 vacancies. For the past eight years, we’ve also been helping clients from Europe, Asia, and the US find and relocate Ukrainian developers.
Our clients are mainly R&D centers, product companies, and startups, as well as IT service/outsourcing companies with executive and rare talent acquisition requests. We’re also open to helping banks, telecom vendors, and any other companies that have IT at the core of their business.