Reasons IT professionals leave but come back
Facing panic and instability at home, many IT professionals are now deciding to leave the country. We hear the word “relocation” during kitchen conversations and Zoom meetings over and over again. People are actively engaging in online discussions on moving to Armenia, Turkey, or Azerbaijan as the most affordable options. Georgia, UN member states and CIS countries are considered possible but problematic places to move to. Are these options good? Should we really make impulsive decisions?
Quick decisions are bad decisions
Any decision should be thought-out. The decision to relocate is no exception. It proves the rule. Both domestic and external migration has always been popular among IT professionals. In the past, most people tried to make decisions consciously, choosing between options, taking into account their own skills and resources, considering pros and cons of every step. In most cases, a thought-out relocation process could take several months. Now everything’s changed, and people are willing to act quickly, but panic-based decisions are rarely right. Not everybody is able to relocate, and some of those who have already left will later come back. Of course, there are agencies that provide special business relocation services and help collect a set of required documents and licenses, but by no means all of them give clients realistic timeframes or warn them about the costs. Relocation will take at least six months, and the potential cost can amount to up to €20,000 per person.
According to Valeria, who’s been living in Georgia for nearly a year, “over the past month, due to currency fluctuations, the rent has increased from 30,000 rubles to 51,000 rubles.” “At first, everything was totally fine. We didn’t experience any problems trading rubles for the Georgian lari. Now people are considering looking for jobs that are paid in local currency. But because the competition is so high, there are literally no homes to rent, even if you’re ready to pay such an exorbitant price.”
By no means everyone who’s now making impulsive decisions is also planning to look for a new job. Many foreign partners harbor certain preconceptions about everything related to Russia and couldn’t care less about the countries Russian citizens are currently staying in. And whilst Russian companies got used to work with remote employees during the pandemic, they are still reluctant to hire professionals that reside in other states and have no opportunity to promptly come to the office to sign the required papers.
There has been an increasing number of reports concerning special programs for IT business international integration. For many people, this information becomes the primary reason to relocate. These tools do work. However, we barely hear anyone talking about both the fact that the likelihood of entering such a program is extremely low and how hard it is to receive this kind of support. Rental of premises, paying taxes, creating jobs for the citizens, all of it accounts for only a small fraction of total costs that can bring down even the most stable business.
Freelancers that work remotely from abroad and receive salaries in rubles are having trouble withdrawing money from Russian bank accounts. The current trend is to relocate to Armenia, a country that’s considered the closest to Russia in terms of mentality and the way of living. However, it presents its own challenges, such as trouble opening local currency bank accounts, currency conversion fees, money transfer fees, skyrocketing rental prices, and strikingly high competition.
Finding a job in a European company is even harder. Starting a career in a foreign country from scratch requires language proficiency and great communication skills. Remember, your social circle will be gone, and both temporary and permanent migration can create immense challenges that affect the person’s living conditions. And is it really that easy to leave your family, parents, your nearest and dearest and feel comfortable being that far from home?
And for those who decide to stay, things won’t be easy either. But let’s face the truth. In Russia, the IT sector is rapidly evolving, and even now, the first support measures are geared to the needs of the IT sector, which means that IT professionals will be much less affected by the general crisis. And they most definitely shouldn’t fall into despair. Here’s why.
IT as a privileged industry
Over the past ten years, the demand for IT professionals has been extremely high. High school graduates have been enrolling in IT degree programs, HR managers willing to work with developers and analytics have been attending special courses, and the benefits of working for the largest IT companies, such as sleeping pods, yoga studios and massage parlors, are still the stuff of legend. Also, the city of Innopolis was built. It’s a place with unique infrastructure, in which all the residents work for the same industry, self-driving cars are moving through the streets, and food is delivered by delivery robots. Here, IT experts are respected and appreciated, their wishes being met halfway, and an employer goes to great lengths to make an IT professional part of the team.
Now, the IT sector experiences great pressure. It’s vital to promptly repair the damage caused by sanctions, which means that qualified experts will be more in demand than ever. And if earlier, real experts in the field were just appreciated, now, employers will compete for qualified workers to the bitter end. It’s a perfect reason to start a career, or, if you’re already an experienced professional, to achieve even more.
The first set of anti-crisis measures announced by the government is geared to the needs of the IT sector. This means that the authorities will focus on the development of information technology. For now, we’re talking about the right to receive a deferral from military service, resources provided to improve the living conditions of IT professionals, and tax benefits for IT companies included in the register for accredited enterprises. Most employees are probably not particularly concerned by the personal income tax exemption, zero income tax rate or tax audit exemption. However, these measures will allow companies to preserve jobs and pay salaries appropriate to the current market situation.
In Russia, the digital transformation process continues to advance, and it will require a lot of effort to make up for the losses caused by the exodus of western companies. However, this will also shape the demand for qualified workers. Now is probably the right time to generate your own career breakthrough here, at home, in the country that needs your professional skills, so you don’t risk losing your job or deal with uncertainty in a strange land.
So, if you’re considering relocating, think through all possible pros and cons and remember this:
1. Do not panic. Panic-based decisions cannot be right.
2. Invest in your professional development. This will surely pay off.
3. Do not decline what’s being offered. This applies to both bonuses and responsibilities.
Go for it. Now is the best time to create something new.