4 Industries Hiring New Workers in the Crisis

MTAntivirus analysts working at the headquarters of Kaspersky Labs, which has hired so many new employees that it recently leased a second building.��
Stanislav Shevchenko, head of the antivirus division at Kaspersky Labs, is a busy man these days.

While the crisis has largely spared Russia's IT industry, there are still a good number of programmers out of work, some willing to use nefarious means to make a ruble.

"There are people out there who know a great deal about Internet security," said Shevchenko, sitting behind his desk at the company's sleek office in southern Moscow. "In tough economic times, many are tempted to go to the dark side."

A need for increased Internet security is one reason why Kaspersky Labs is part of a small group of companies that are actually growing -- and hiring new personnel -- during the crisis.

No one keeps precise numbers for which industries are growing the fastest in terms of new hires -- and companies themselves protectively guard employment data as a commercial secret. But a few bright stars are emerging amid the economic gloom, primarily in the IT, consumer goods, fast food and debt collection industries, according to a series of interviews with companies and recruitment agencies.

For Kaspersky Labs, a leading antivirus software and Internet security company, the recent surge in hiring has led it to lease a second building to complement its headquarters on Volokolamsky Proyezd in southern Moscow.

"I can't say that the crisis changed our hiring policies very much," said Tatyana Solovyova, vice president of human resources. "We're growing as quickly as we have ever been."

Malicious programmers aren't the only reason why Kaspersky Labs needs more people.

"Companies have started to cut costs, and one of the ways to optimize their business processes is finding effective high-tech solutions," said Yevgenia Glikina, a senior consultant specializing in executive search at Neumann International, a worldwide human resources consulting firm.

Solovyova said the company was looking for a wide range of new personnel, including systems analysts, sales managers and experts in antivirus protection.

"I'm happy to be here at a time when most of my friends have had pay cuts and a few are out of work," said Viktor Chebyshev, a recently hired antivirus analyst who says he has never been tempted by "the dark side."

"The company offers plenty of room to grow, and I love the work," he said.

Another sector hiring aggressively this year is consumer goods.

A recent look at the "Careers" page of cigarette maker British American Tobacco Russia's web site found a total of 18 vacancies for positions ranging from "Supply Chain Analyst" and "Talent and Insights Executive" to "Assistant Machine Operator" -- the latter requiring no previous experience.

"We're hiring for positions at all levels, just like we did before the crisis," said Anna Urnova, head of human resources at British American Tobacco Russia. "However, at the moment, we're primarily interested in junior and midlevel managers."

Other consumer goods companies that said they were hiring were beverage maker Sun Interbrew and food manufacturer H.J. Heinz.

Igor Tabakov / MT
Stanislav Shevchenko, head of the antivirus division at Kaspersky Labs
"Consumer product companies had one of their best years ever in 2008, so they are in a good position to expand their businesses this year," Glikina said.

While the crisis has led people to cut spending on leisure activities such as dining out, fast food restaurants, which are easier on the wallet, have enjoyed a boost in sales. McDonald's announced recently that it was opening at east 30 new restaurants in Russia as part of a European expansion, hiring 50 people per restaurant.

The sagging economy combined with the struggling financial sector has spelled good news for Sequoia Credit Consolidation, the country's largest debt collection agency.

Banks are facing more and more delinquent loans that they must recover in order to survive the crisis, said Irina Poddubnaya, the company's deputy general director for business development. At the same time, they have been forced to cut costs and let independent agencies handle loan collection.

As the number of outstanding loans grows, Sequoia has to hire more employees and maintain a reserve of personnel, she said.

But even with these few bright spots, a tighter job market has brought a whole new set of rules for those seeking employment.

A lack of jobs has shifted the bargaining advantage from the candidate back into the company's favor, Glikina said.

"Before, the company use to try to sell the candidate [on working for them]," she said. "Now, it's the other way around."

Expatriates, she said, should curtail their expectations as well.

"Most companies will not be willing to pay expats a 50 to 100 percent premium over Russians," Glikina said. "Also, full expat packages, where not only housing but all additional costs like school fees, for example, are included, will be much harder to come by."

In general, job seekers should prepare to be flexible when it comes to compensation and expect to be asked about their long-term plans, Glikina said. "Companies want to know that you want to work for them, specifically, and are not just looking for a place to sit out the crisis," she said.