Russia’s continued terrorism against Ukraine has drastically impacted the lives of millions of Ukrainians across industries. The IT sector has always been the most resilient, yet it has also undergone some transformations over these two excruciating months. Many talented Ukrainians lost jobs; some abandoned their high-profile positions to become volunteers or join the military, whereas others continued working to support the economy of Ukraine.
Let’s find out what the Ukrainian IT job market looks like three months into a fully-fledged war.
Ukrainian IT Sector Pre-War
Pre-war, the Ukrainian IT industry has been among the most prominent tech powerhouses in Europe, along with Poland, Romania, and Belarus. It has shown remarkable and steady growth, making it the second largest export service industry in Ukraine after transportation.
In 2021, the Ukrainian tech market reached $6.8 bln, with over 1.8 mln ICT experts making it possible. To compare, the export of computer services in 2020 was $5 bln. These stats imply only one thing – the industry quickly regained its pre-pandemic growth rate and was ready for a new wave of foreign customers and investors.
From the employer’s perspective, it was clearly a candidate-driven market. If we look at the line charts by DOU, one of the leading Ukrainian job portals, we can see that in 2021 the number of posted vacancies increased, whereas the average response rate dropped, which means recruiters worked extra hard to get candidates interested. In February, the dynamics changed to the opposite for obvious reasons.
First Two Weeks of War
The war readiness varied heavily from company to company. Some large international companies relocated essential team members abroad soon before the war. Others adapted as the events unfolded.
We at Redwerk knew that a centralized relocation abroad with all the relatives and pets could turn into a dangerous endeavor. Needless to say, there are people or dependents who don’t want or physically can’t leave their homes. So we informed our teammates beforehand to be ready for an independent relocation.
In February, we started giving away $2000 travel stipends to every employee who wanted to take precautions and move abroad. We also compensated expenses associated with relocation within Ukraine. As a result, now our team is fully distributed across Ukraine and abroad.
We actually took only a few days to recover from the initial shock and tried to bring the team back together. Our Redwerk team restored operations the next Monday after the invasion, albeit only with 40% of teammates working full-time. Some of our teammates were still traveling to safety and deciding where to stay.
In terms of the job market situation, it fell by 50%, with only 12K vacancies in the first week and about 18K in the second week, says Djinni, a popular job portal for techies. To compare, pre-war, this number reached as many as 35K job opportunities. This drop is also reflected in the number of hires.
Work.ua, another job marketplace, also reported a significant decrease in daily vacancies: from 4-5K pre-war to 150 in the first week, and slightly rising to 500 in the second week.
If we look at DOU’s stats, the weekly number of vacancies shrunk from around 3K to about 370.
After Two Months of War
Although some tech companies in Ukraine have resumed hiring, the number of posted vacancies is significantly lower than it used to be. Djinni reported about 44K job seekers for 15K available listings by the end of April, and this gap implies that employers now rule the job market.
At the same time, we can also observe a slight increase in the demand for non-tech specialists, such as HR, sales, and marketing, which indirectly signifies a slow revival of the IT job market in Ukraine.
Categories – Non-tech
According to DOU, seniors and middle-level specialists are still in demand, and their salaries haven’t been affected much. At the same time, the number of opportunities for juniors decreased by 64%, whereas for interns – by 81%.
We at Redwerk haven’t stopped hiring at all, and over these two months already onboarded 10 new team members for technical and semi-technical roles. This approach allowed us to renew the full-time capacity of our delivery teams.
Three Months Into War
The gap between the number of job seekers and posted openings still remains huge. At the same time, Djinni reported a 10% increase in the number of vacancies. Overall, about 22K jobs were posted in May.
Slowly but steadily, the market is regaining its strength. Here are the technologies and professions that have increased in demand compared to April.
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We at Redwerk didn’t waste our time and strengthened our team with 9 more incredible experts. In total, we hired 19 ICT professionals from the very start of the war, among which are iOS and .NET developers, QA engineers, an SEO specialist, SMM manager, copywriter, and PR manager.
Pre-war, we would have only 2-3 new hires per month. Now that many talented techies lost jobs because of the war, we felt challenged to employ as many experts as possible.
Because of our resolve to continue working from the first days of war and our activism on the informational front, we not only preserved our partnerships but also won a couple of new clients, breaking our performance record for the first time in 17 years.
Ukrainian Tech Companies Affected Most
At the same time, there are Ukrainian tech companies that work exclusively or primarily for the Ukrainian market. These companies were affected most as their operations and revenue streams halted on the 24th of February when Russia decided it could impose its rule on a sovereign and democratic country.
Here are the companies that were open about the difficult decisions to preserve their business in times of uncertainty.
EVO is a Ukrainian e-commerce giant that launched several successful B2C and C2C shopping and service marketplaces (Prom.ua, Shafa.ua, Kabanchik.ua), a procurement platform for businesses trading with the state (Zakupki.Prom), a document management system (Vchasno), among other products.
EVO products are designed primarily for Ukrainian consumers, and that turned out to be a major liability during the first weeks of the war. Sellers from newly occupied areas could no longer carry out their business, whereas buyers, field technicians, and other service workers were busy relocating to safety. In March, EVO’s monthly income dropped by 15-20%. They had to freeze some of its fintech projects and lay off 30% of the team, 430 experts.
To keep the rest of the IT team employed, EVO changed its business model from a product company to a tech services provider, given its expertise in developing award-winning e-commerce solutions.
You’ll hardly find a Ukrainian that hasn’t ordered goods from this marketplace. Rozetka offers an abundant choice of products – from electronics and furniture to clothing and foodstuffs. This is a Ukrainian version of Amazon, so to say.
Rozetka lost many of its pick-up stores and had limited access to its warehouses in the suburbs of Kyiv, where not so long ago, active hostilities were taking place. Employees could no longer feel safe in those areas and relocated to other regions.
Another challenge is massive order cancellations and returns, logistics obstacles given the workforce shortage, military block posts slowing down the delivery, and disrupted infrastructure.
All these factors drastically impacted the profits: in 3 weeks the sales turnover decreased from 4 bln UAH to 23K mln UAH. As a result, Rozetka’s tech team took the hit – some were laid off, whereas others received pay cuts up to 60%.
Nova Poshta is Ukraine’s number one delivery service. It’s been loved by Ukrainians for the speed, transparency, affordable pricing, and customer-centric approach. Pre-war, Nova Poshta had over 9K offices across Ukraine. The company also takes care of international shipments.
Like Rozetka, Nova Poshta lost many of its departments and observed almost no goods turnover by the end of February. Many of its employees quit rushing to safety, so there were no hands to process deliveries even if an office remained operational.
As for the team, some had to involuntarily take a vacation or apply for unpaid leave in March. The company gradually restores operations, yet its income is only 5% of the pre-war number. Despite the difficulties, the company launched Humanitarian Nova Poshta: it uses its warehouses abroad to collect and deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Tech Companies That Left Russian Market
Having seen Russia’s unimaginable crimes against Ukrainian civilians, foreign businesses, small and large, started pulling out of Russia as a way to condemn the war and show solidarity with Ukraine.
But what about Ukraine itself? It’s no breaking news that many of our tech companies also operated in Russia and had large user bases over there. Here are the companies that said goodbye to their millions to stop sponsoring the aggressor.
Jooble is an international job search platform with over 90 mln monthly users. It was founded by two Ukrainian students back in 2006. Jooble is represented in 70+ countries, and Russia was the second market after Ukraine where Jooble expanded.
Since the very start of the war, Jooble announced their exit from Russia and Belarus and used their platform reach to fight Russian propaganda until their website was blocked by Roskomnadzor, the aggressor’s infamous censorship machine.
Djinni is a job search portal for ICT experts from Ukraine and Europe. It quickly became popular among IT folks, primarily because of its option to stay anonymous while searching for jobs. The candidate can reveal their contacts only to select recruiters, which is a lifesaver if you don’t want your current employer to find out about your intention to quit.
Djinni informed the public about ceasing operations in Russia and Belarus via their newsletter. The users from these countries now see this page, encouraging them to protest against the war and donate money to support the Ukrainian military. The company also removed the Russian interface from their website.
With the start of the war, Megogo removed all Russian movies from its library and made some of the movies, cartoons, and audiobooks free for Ukrainians.
Readdle is a Ukrainian developer of productivity apps primarily for iOS and macOS devices. Its portfolio includes a PDF editor, an email app, a document scanner for iPhone or iPad, among several other products.
Readdle responded to the war by stopping sales of their products in Russia. The existing users will retain access to their apps, but there will be no feature or maintenance updates and no customer service.
Reface is a Ukrainian AI/ML startup that developed a mobile solution for swapping faces in videos, gifs, or images. It has quickly become the number one app in the US App Store. Pre-war, Reface was used by two mln Russian users, so the team used this opportunity to inform Russians about the truth of the “military operation” in Ukraine through push notifications.
They also added a banner to the Notification Center showing the real losses of the Russian army and encouraging the citizens to join protests and act to stop the war. Having received only backlash and no signs of looking beyond the Russian propaganda, the Reface team left the market altogether.
Serpstat is an all-in-one platform for SEO and marketing professionals based in Odesa, a port city in the south of Ukraine. The SaaS provides tools for comprehensive backlink analysis, keyword and competitor research, website audit, and rank tracking.
Even though Serpstat lost some of the Ukrainian consumers affected by the war, the company refused to operate on the Russian market. It blocked all Russian users and suspended subscription refunds until the war is over.
Top 7 Ukrainian IT Market Trends
It is way too early to make forecasts about how the Ukrainian tech industry is going to develop in the following months, yet it definitely doesn’t stand still. Let’s break down where Ukrainian IT is headed and what it means for the economy of Ukraine.
New Offices Abroad
Several large Ukrainian IT services providers confessed their clients demand at least 10-30% of their teams to work from abroad. This prompts international software development companies to open new R&D offices beyond the borders of Ukraine.
For example, Intellias plans to open three new offices in Poland and explore other geographies to expand to, such as Croatia, Bulgaria, Latin America, and Asia. Ciklum also confirmed they are going to increase their workforce in other Eastern-European countries.
Is this a positive trend? Well, clients get the needed reassurance that their dedicated teams are safe. The latter is a major prerequisite to business continuity.
As for individual Ukrainians who fled Ukraine and are looking for employment abroad, that’s also an excellent opportunity. However, this trend hurts the Ukrainian economy, and it means that techies remaining in Ukraine have fewer opportunities to get employed. More so, Ukrainians living abroad spend their money outside Ukraine, thus supporting the economies of host countries.
Hiring Ukrainians within Ukraine
This trend is completely opposite to the one above. Rather than moving the business to the neighboring countries, some IT companies choose to stay in Ukraine and hire Ukrainians who can’t or don’t want to leave their homeland.
Why is this so important? The tech sector has proved to be one of the most resilient industries, generating the expected revenue despite the war. Streamlined remote workflows, flexible scheduling, cloud infrastructures, and the agile nature of IT are some of the reasons making it possible. Given that Russia caused $560 bln in damage to Ukraine’s economy, we need businesses who will continue working and pay taxes to fill that enormous budget gap.
More so, Ukrainians with jobs will have the means to support local economies by purchasing goods and services and thus keeping the small business alive, whether it’s retail, food, or health & beauty.
We at Redwerk won’t open an office abroad because we’re much needed here, in Ukraine. We hire only across Ukraine and encourage everyone to do so. To continue hiring and creating livelihood opportunities for more people, we need to expand and work at maximum capacity.
This is why we launched the #workwithukraine informational campaign, asking foreign businesses not to be afraid to partner with Ukrainian IT vendors. This is the most meaningful support for Ukraine as you indirectly strengthen our economy, keep talents and their families well-fed, and most importantly, give reassurance in a better future. In return, you get a quality result from grateful and highly motivated people.
Companies promoting return to the office after the pandemic were forced to embrace a new way of working as many of their employees went back to their hometowns or moved abroad. Remote work and distributed teams have become ubiquitous once again.
We at Redwerk had been familiar with work from home and flexible scheduling long before the pandemic. When Covid hit, we started to fully shift towards the work-from-anywhere model. This helped us to return to work quickly, without the need to undergo a significant transformation. Even though we hire within Ukraine only, our teammates are free to choose where they want to work.
Now the better part of our team is located in safe cities in Ukraine, and some employees are scattered around the world, temporarily working from Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and Sri Lanka.
“February was very tense information-wise, so I started looking for places with the nearest flight dates to wait out the impending crisis. I chose Sri Lanka because some of my friends were already on workation there, and it’s a cost-friendly destination, and an extended stay wouldn’t be an issue.
Given the time difference with Ukraine, my workday started at 1 p.m., so I had the first half of the day to enjoy beautiful nature and birds singing. On the flip side, the Sri Lanka time zone is not the best for working with US-based clients, as I had to stay up late to sync with the team.
As for significant drawbacks, the country was going through an economic crisis, so we had power cuts almost every day, sometimes over 10 hrs. I didn’t always have the time to charge my laptop in-between,”
Was relocation to Europe any easier? Let’s find out.
“I was considering only the neighboring countries as I wanted to be safe, but I also needed to be close to home. Just as I started planning my relocation, I received an invitation from a colleague who had already moved to Slovakia from the very first days of the war.
I love Slovakia for its picturesque scenery and friendly people; they are open, responsive, welcoming, and laid-back, enjoying every moment of their lives rather than rushing through it.
Of course, my first weeks were not as productive as they used to be. I was adapting to a new place, dealing with registration bureaucracy, and still felt some anxiety, so I mainly worked in the evenings. But now, I really enjoy this place and get inspired every day, which is vital for a creative like me, ”
Striking a long-term partnership with a multinational corporation or an industry giant has been one of the most sought-after outcomes for many established IT services providers here in Ukraine. Some IT services companies lost their million-dollar deals because of the war and received dozens of rejections from big corporate players like Accenture and SAP. At the same time, smaller projects worth $20-40K are still possible to win.
Redwerk’s take on smaller projects is a bit different. Rather than chasing enterprise-only contracts, we like to diversify and eagerly work on smaller projects. The reason is that you never know what product will become the next hit. If you do your job well every day, the project will likely be a success, and you’ll suddenly become part of something way bigger.
A case in point is Unfold. Our sister company QAwerk started working with Unfold about three years ago. They turned to us with a request to test their simple story-making app for Android and highly appreciated the depth of our work. With our professional QA team by their side, they achieved app stability, gained more time to work on business expansion, received a couple of awards from Apple and Google, and eventually became part of Squarespace. Now Unfold is loved by about one bln active users.
It happened so that the war marks a new chapter of our partnership with Unfold. Due to the sanctions, they could no longer work with the dev team from Russia, so they turned to Redwerk for help. We are now entrusted not only with quality assurance but also with iOS development.
Doing business with a team residing in a war-torn country is risky; there’s no denying that. Software development companies in Ukraine had to wrap their heads around mitigating war-related risks quickly.
Since men in Ukraine cannot leave the country’s borders because of martial law, relocation abroad is not an option. However, relocation to hostility-free districts of the country is a feasible and well-received-by-teammates alternative.
Because many ICT professionals independently moved to the west of Ukraine, large software development companies focus on hiring from cities like Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Rivne, and Khmelnytskyi and open new offices or rent coworking spaces there.
“We continue hiring across Ukraine. At the same time, if a candidate is located in a town near the active hostilities, the job offer is possible only after relocation to safety,”
Immunity Against Mobilization
Ukrainian IT services providers are unanimous in that the IT industry will be the first to recover after our victory over Russian usurpers. Even though it is also affected by the war, its remote-first and agile nature gives tech workers enough flexibility to continue working from hallways, bomb shelters, and literally any corner of the planet.
Given the high impact of the tech sector on keeping the Ukrainian economy rolling, Mykhailo Fedorov, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, signed an unusual proposal. He appeals to government bodies and enterprises responsible for mobilization efforts to consider IT experts part of the cyber army of Ukraine and allow them to fight on the informational front. That implies that IT experts should be mobilized as a last resort, or at least a certain number of tech workers should have immunity against mobilization.
Although this is only a recommendation and not an enforced law, this letter gives IT companies in Ukraine the grounds to negotiate a deferment of military service for mission-critical employees.
Spike of Offers from EU
The talent shortage in the EU has been a known problem for several years now. According to the Eurostat 2020 survey, ICT is among the top 10 hard-to-fill vacancies. In 2019, 55% of SMEs and enterprises experienced difficulties hiring IT experts. And the pandemic did not make it any easier.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, about six mln people have fled to the neighboring countries, such as Poland, Romania, and Hungary. Even though only a fraction of these people represent the tech sector, they could partially fill the EU labor shortage void.
Such an influx of refugees has created the need for host countries and Ukrainian volunteers to generate livelihood opportunities for all these people. As a result, many new job portals featuring EU vacancies have appeared. For example, one can find tech and semi-tech roles on platforms like:
- UA talents
- Remote Ukraine
- Jobs for Ukraine
- The Female Factor
- Best Jobs EU
- Turing College
Another trend we noticed is that many Ukrainians, including those still residing in Ukraine, receive Facebook ads about vacancies and relocation opportunities abroad. Such behavior can be regarded as an attempt to help unemployed Ukrainians. On the flip side, luring talent from Ukraine during the war is quite controversial as we also need a skilled workforce to keep the Ukrainian economy afloat and rebuild the country.
Nevertheless, only 9% of Ukrainians who moved abroad because of the war are not willing to go back; 57% are affirmative about returning home once the war is over; 15% are crossing the border as soon as their hometowns are considered safe again, whereas 18% are still undecided.
In a nutshell, a heightened interest of foreign employers in Ukrainian ICT specialists proves that our people are valued around the globe for their high expertise, resilience, and well-developed communication skills.
Russia’s ruthless invasion and continued shelling of civilian infrastructure stress-tested one of the toughest industries in Ukraine – IT. Even though product companies working primarily for the Ukrainian consumers had to scramble, IT services providers were quick to restore their operations and reach 80-95% of pre-war capacity in a matter of weeks.
Our Redwerk team stays in Ukraine and continues hiring from Ukraine. And we encourage everyone to do so. If every agency stays committed to strengthening the economy of Ukraine, we’ll have a bright future. Our foreign friends, if you truly want to support us, partner with an IT vendor from Ukraine. Let your product be made with love by talented, courageous, and grateful people.
Stand With Ukraine by Working With Ukraine
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