Moscow Market Report

Source: Antal International

For those who fancied finding a new position in recent months, the capital is the place to be. There seems to be universal agreement among recruitment companies that in the last half year, Moscow has been a candidate's market. "No matter which job you take, from personal assistant to chief accountant to general manager, the market still is candidate- driven if you are looking for a highly skilled and motivated person," says Alexander Terpigorev, partner at Acuris, a retained search consultancy.

Recruiters speak of stable growth in the job market, dating from the 1990s and continuing today. Recruitment company ANCOR reports a 44 percent growth in demand for personnel in the first six months of 2005, compared to the same period one year ago, a trend that seems particularly pronounced among foreign companies here, showing 35 percent growth in demand.

Demand for personnel among Russian companies, by compari- son, shows only a 13 percent rate of growth over the same period.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it is the most highly qualified and competent candidates who are being actively sought out by all sectors of the market. Unistaff Personnel Services reports an oversupply of mediocre candidates in most spheres. "However, there is no oversupply of truly good professionals in any major sphere," says Dan Hill, managing partner of Unistaff Personnel Services. "Specific areas of undersupply exist for experienced specialists and managers in finance, banking, and sales.

"Most recently, because of a boom in the retail banking industry, there is a shortage of entrylevel staff and young graduates to take entry-level positions of product consultant, customer service clerk, sales agent, back-office specialist, and call-center positions in banks. Even though companies are not setting overly high requirements for such staff, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find enough qualified people to meet the requirements," Hill said.

Traditional giants continue to dominate the jobs market today, according to Elena Klekovkina, head of the marketing department at ANCOR. As in years past, the leading employers continue to be industrial companies with 31 percent of all positions, FMCG, or Fast Moving Commercial Goods, with 28 percent of all positions, the IT/telecoms sector with 13 percent of all positions, and professional services in fourth place, with 9 percent.

However, Klekovkina adds, the sectors with the fastest tempo of growth in the past half year have been IT/telecom, with a growth rate of 164 percent, hospitality, which grew by 156 percent, construction which grew by 115 percent, and real estate, marked by a 96 percent growth rate.

Each sphere of business has seen new branches of growth requiring new pools of talent. In the example cited above, a rising tide of retail banking has brought a corresponding demand for consumer banking specialists.

Sergei Razhev, the head of executive search company Penny Lane Consulting said, "In the financial sector demand is growing for internal control and audit specialists, especially those with Big Four experience.

"There remains demand for personnel with rare specializations and those specialized in two complimentary professional fields, such as financial lines and under- by Creelea Henderson writer (financial expert with knowledge of insurance products), head of bookkeeping department (specialists with business development as well as accounting knowledge), pro-audience mangers (IT, marketing and sales specialists)."

Source: Ancor

Due to improved standards in the FMCG sector, a qualified logistics specialist with supply chain management skills is a dream candidate, according to Tatiana Sosnovskaya of Flex Agency, a recruitment company specializing in executive search services. A significant leap in demand for technical specialists is also evident in the Moscow marketplace. Penny Lane Consulting's Razhev explains the deficit as the result of an emerging industrial sector, fueled by Western companies locating their factories in Russia, against a backdrop of declining quality of local polytechnic education.

Fresh graduates are the obvious pool of candidates to fill many of the market's entry-level positions. According to Ksenia Pakulova of Flex Agency, companies have begun cultivating specialists from scratch, according to the particular business needs: "Employers are attracting young personnel via advertisements, career days, and e-graduate recruitment programs. Among sectors we can outline tobacco companies, oil and gas, consulting companies (Big Four), and banking. Legal interns, advanced audit staff, banking credit agents, sales representatives, receptionists, and call centre operators are the main positions that welcome fresh graduates."

Thanks to an intensely competitive job market, salaries are soaring. Entrylevel positions can reportedly bring yearly earnings of $24,000, with the promise of a steady salary growth through mid-level positions. "Salaries like $100,000 for an upper-middle human resources manager in a major local bank no longer raise eyebrows. I would say that any skilled professional can find a salary to his or her liking," claims Terpigorev at Acuris.

Certain salaries that are not showing growth are those specific to major multinationals with pre-approved, inflexible budgets. The results, according to Terpigorev, can be a massive drain of the best talent, as employees disagree with their employer's belief that the company name is in itself a major benefit.

As to the foreign presence in Moscow's job market, demographics are shifting today as positions once reserved for expats are increasingly being turned over to qualified Russian personnel. However, Unistaff notes that leading Russian companies are more and more willing to pay for foreign expertise and in many cases Western management is still attractive to investors in questions of transparency.

The presence of a foreign employee in a leading company is still considered de rigueur for the moment, if only as a status symbol, as Tatiana Tchernozoub at Flex explains: "The vogue for hiring expats which was the red line in 1990 is recapturing its force. Though we, Russians, have learned to respect and value each other's experience and have grown in grasping business techniques, "expat on board" is a lavish sign that business is booming and the company can afford an oversees exotic feature."

Penny Lane Consulting's Razhev added that in recruiting top management, it is becoming more popular for preference to be given to Russian specialists with work experience in the West and an MBA. They might be slightly inferior to their Western counterparts, but they cost less and their employment is not plagued with the great number of bureaucratic headaches associated with employing expats.

Forecasts for the next six months are bright. Recruitment companies expect continued growth, with expanding service sectors led by entrepreneurial start-up companies, leading in turn to novel market niches that will require increased qualifications and greater specialization of their workforce.