Stas Shihov, CEO at ITExpert, tells us about recruitment during the Russian invasion.
First of all, how are you and your family doing?
Stas Shihov: Thank you for the question! Fortunately, we are all healthy and as safe as I can think about it in Ukraine. My family and I are staying near Vinnytsia (a city in the west of Ukraine). Recently there were rocket explosions, and many civilians were killed and injured. But the region is still quiet.
Tell us about your career and how you founded ITExpert?
Stas Shihov: In 2015, my friends and I founded the ITExpert recruiting agency in Kyiv, Ukraine. We work globally and help IT companies find IT specialists — Software Developers, CTO, QA, Support, DevOps Engineers, and so on. We help to find top tech talent in Poland, Ukraine, and all over the world.
Before we started, I had already gained experience and knowledge in the IT field. I noticed the market’s most frequent and critical mistakes of similar companies. I also used to be a client myself. It helped me to realize that technical recruiting can be a real headache: the passive market of candidates, the specifics of their technical skills, getting them involved, and so on.
My business is based on the idea of making hiring IT specialists easier. That is why our company employed a CTO who advises clients and sets up an accurate search. The team has 42 competent recruiters who quickly deliver results without compromising the client’s reputation. They also check candidates’ English levels to ensure the clients will not encounter communication difficulties.
We solve problems for our clients, not create them.
How does ITExpert market its services online? What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Stas Shihov: Service B2B businesses primarily focus on building a reputation and making contacts with clients.
Reputation consists of both rating services and the so-called “word of mouth.” For the last one, you must ensure you provide quality service and give the best result (even during the war/pandemic). Then your customers will trust and recommend you so that you will be well-known in the market.
On the other hand, you should develop an online reputation and presence. For example, such a tool as Сlutch is popular in our niche. This site shows the rating of the company, reviews of real clients, and the approximate cost of services. Thanks to the moderation system and extensive feedback form, managers can understand if they want to communicate with some service provider.
For example, this is the page of ITExpert in Сlutch:
B2B businesses also should pay attention to their own site. It should contain all the necessary information for the client and position you as an expert. You need not only to say that you are an effective and reliable partner but also explain why you are and use reasons to believe. For example, we say that we show quick results in recruiting process. How? Our team of 42 recruiters and tech candidates’ database helps show the first resumes in 3-5 days of work on a vacancy.
The other important point in marketing strategy in our field is a connection with sales activity. To make it conscious and effective, we use such tools as LinkedIn Professional, Leadfeeder, HubSpot and others. We pay particular attention to creating personalized offers and analyzing the results.
How the Russian full-scale invasion affects your business, and how did you get through?
Stas Shihov: We were preparing a plan in case of a full-scale invasion. In practice, we did not have time to talk about the plans. On February 24, we wrote to the team that we would not be working in the nearest weeks, so they could freely leave their location and take laptops from the office. The recruiters also received financial support in advance. A little later, we made a call with the company, where we explained how we would work, gave advice on critical thinking and news resources, and asked not to panic. We also tried to help with important information — we provided first aid resources, doctors and law enforcement agencies contacts, etc.
In just 2-3 weeks, we fully resumed work from safer regions. We have adapted to the new reality and take responsibility for our work. We are least interested in profit right now and most interested in keeping our team as long as possible and being able to pay them salaries and financial aid. Despite anxieties and threats, we give high-quality and stable results to our clients.
At first, we had difficulties with the number of vacancies and clients. Now the situation has stabilized. I am glad that Western clients are returning to hiring in Ukraine. This shows their trust in specialists and their desire to help our country. And so we get strength and confidence in victory. For this, we thank our clients in words and with our work.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Stas Shihov: Now our main competitor in business is not other recruiting companies. On the contrary, I will be glad if any Ukrainian business develops and grows. Our difficulties rather consist of fear of some clients cooperating with Ukrainian specialists. And I understand business, but I would say that experience, expertise and other advantages of cooperation justify the risks. Some clients are already returned to hiring in Ukraine! These are the most common reasons:
● a more acceptable ratio of salary and experience of candidates,
● fewer legal difficulties in cooperation with programmers (you can work without a local entity),
● a faster time to start work with a specialist (less than 2-4 weeks).
We plan to show our best and win both in business and war.
Your final thoughts?
Stas Shihov: We have taken true inspiration from the volunteers, organizers, aid workers, and everyday heroes worldwide who are making extreme sacrifices and leading with empathy and compassion. We do not cooperate with Russian and Belarus companies and urge organizations around the world to stop collaborating with specialists who support terrorism and the war in Ukraine. Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all who this horrible tragedy has touched.
“How can we help you?” was the question we got from our clients during the first month of the war. And “Give us more work” was the reply. That helps us support our country, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, our families, and Ukrainian IT specialists’ families.
So if you are reading this and are interested in hiring software developers, our team will be happy to help!