I “ve received an email from an American software company that operates from India. They found my old blog on Russian programmers and thought that I could offer them an advice. Here “s an excerpt from that email,
“We have been trying to hire a Tech Lead in India for quite a while unsuccessfully. It has occurred to us that we might be able to hire a software guy from Russia who would be willing to move to India. Is this tough to do? How does one find Russian talent? rdquo;
First, I “d like to make it clear that Russia as well as many other countries have programmers with good, mediocre and bad problem solving skills. But if you take a 33 thousand feet look at Russia and India you may see the following:
Pros: They speak English. They are very mobile and are ready to start a new project tomorrow anywhere in the world. There is a large pool of people with programming skills.
Cons: they have castes, which make people unequal. Programming is perceived as a way to quickly move up and get richer regardless of who are your parents rather than a working in an interesting field. There is a large pool of people with poor programming skills, which makes it very difficult to weed out good programmers.
Pros: One of the good parts of the communist regime was that having a college degree was available to everyone, and programming was just one of the respectful professions and not a way to get rich quick. Having good problem-solving skills is encouraged staring from the elementary school.
Cons: They are not mobile. Programmers in major cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg often earn three-four times more than programmers living in small cities. The latter simply complain about it instead of relocating. Spoken English is still a problem there.
Both India and Russia have large pools of excellent PhD-grade computer scientists that do not play this outsourcing game.
Yes, Russia has plenty of talented programmers, but finding a talent there is very difficult. I now this first hand because I speak the language, know people there and our company has developers working in several former Soviet Union republics. We cherry pick developers by finding references through people we know, and then carefully watching them. We have bad experience in hiring teams and prefer working with individuals.
Large Russian cities offer very expensive programmers as the cost of living is high there. That “s why we are looking for people in Ukraine and other republics.
But if I “d be running a company in India, I ‘d rather hire Indian programmers than trying to relocate someone from Russia.
The author of this email continues,
“There are a few reasons why we ‘re thinking that someone from an Eastern-block country would be a good match:
1. As a group they are paid much lower than Americans/Europeans
2. In pay they are probably on par with Indians, but are probably more
3. We suspect that they would have much better problem-solving skills than typical Indians do (Americans tend to have good problem-solving skills, but getting an American to move to India gets very expensive.)
4. The candidate would have the opportunity to work with a team in India and a team in the USA; both locations are great for a resume ”
If a good programmer from Russia decides to work abroad, s/he can find
better places to live than India and with better pay. India has people with different skills, and some of the programmers there are brilliant. I suspect that this particular firm is fishing in the low-end market, where people with beginners skills are willing to work for less pay, hence the quality is lower as well.
In this particular case, I “d rather offer a compensation that pays 20% more than prevailing wage for this kind of leadership position, which would bring more experienced local candidates. Yes, it “d cost more, but who said that the quality should be cheap?