How to successfully recruit IT specialists during wartime: our experience
Even in peacetime, IT recruiters had to go out of their way to find and hire new developers. With the beginning of a full-scale war in Ukraine, this task became even more difficult. Our recruiter and HR Manager, Nadiya Rakovska, shares her own experience in this blog. She tells in detail about how to recruit during the war and gives tips, thanks to which our company was able to reduce the employee recruitment cycle by three times.
In the first two weeks of the full-scale war, we were all scared for our lives and became “frozen”, not understanding how to be and what to do next. We did not know what it was like to live during the war. There were many questions that no one could answer clearly: whether recruiting in IT will be relevant, whether people still will be looking for jobs, and whether there will be work at all…
So when I heard that management was not planning to stop hiring, I was against it. It seemed to me that during the war, people think foremost about their lives, and only lastly about work. I was afraid to even think about writing to the candidates because my letter might be just untimely and inappropriate. However, at some point, I decided to look at the situation from the side not of fear, but of opportunities. And then the new decisions came.
How we hired employees: under the sound of sirens and from bomb shelters
We decided to start with candidates who were “in active search“: someone who lost his job due to destroyed offices, someone who previously worked for russian or belarusian companies, or someone who was planning to change jobs even before the war. I also carefully updated information on the candidates we were scheduling the interviews with before, but never had a chance to make them.
The next step was to move on to “passive” candidates. It is important to note that attempts to communicate with them were very careful. After all, we did not know where and under what conditions the person was, whether it was appropriate to write to him and what the reaction would be.
Then we decided to expand the geography of the search for candidates. Our efforts were facilitated by the fact that many Europeans now admire the steadfastness and determination of our people, and they would love to become part of the Ukrainian team.
I had great respect and admiration for the developers who went to defend the country. They spoke briefly about it in response to my messages. They are the pride of our country and we will be very much looking forward to their return after victory.
I had to conduct several interviews at my own bomb shelter. Thankfully, we have a dental office with Wi-Fi above it 🙂 There were also interviews when I could hear the sound of a siren through the phone.
As a result, we were able to hire 10 candidates in a few months. Before the start of the war, we had 20 people on our team, now we have 30. That is, we managed to increase the speed of hiring employees by three times because usually the process of hiring one Unity developer takes two months.
Communication with candidates has also changed. Every interview now begins with questions about whether the person and his family are safe now. Sometimes you have to hear stories, after which you want to hug the candidate and ask nothing more. But we will overcome all difficulties and become even better. We will manage because our people cannot be broken.
Tips for successful recruitment of IT specialists
It should be taken to account that in IT and game development, in particular, everyone is pursuing interesting projects. Therefore, the goal is to discuss the project the candidate will work on, why it is interesting and important and what’s its mission. By giving candidates the opportunity to choose a project that is more interesting to them (if you have several), you will get an even bigger plus in your favour.
The basic advantages of the IT sphere, such as remote work and competitive salary, are no longer surprising. But candidates will appreciate the stability your company can provide employees during this extremely difficult time. Be sure to be one of the first to discuss this topic.
Use your media and social networks to communicate your story, values, and culture. If one of the candidates has already managed to use your product or play your game, this will definitely increase their loyalty to you. And if they read a fantastic interview with your CEO or developers, it will help them fall in love with your team even before they meet.
In IT recruiting, even in peacetime, the speed of the company’s decision to work with the candidate plays a decisive role. Especially in wartime, try not to drag out the selection process – if possible, reduce the number of interview stages and provide feedback over several days.
Whether you’re in a bomb shelter or your home office, try to create a friendly atmosphere during the interview. The conversation should not resemble an exam, but a discussion of technical topics, an exchange of experience. Thanks to this communication, the candidate should feel with which people, in which atmosphere he will work in the future.
I wish you to stay safe and take care, I hope those few tips and our experience can help your company grow even in those tremendously difficult times.