Frequently Asked Questions

Middle and senior managers often ask us questions about how to correctly build a career and how to act in various situations. We have collected the most interesting questions and answered them. We hope these tips will be useful to you.
Changing jobs

What factors should I take into account when I decide to change jobs?

The most important factor is your motive. You must be sure that the new company will be able to offer you the things you need: income, career opportunities, job functions, opportunity to realize your ambitions, exciting challenges, and so on.

Secondly, it is necessary to assess the risks. You should determine the prospects of the business, and understand the task you will be assigned to fulfill, e.g. to develop the business or to prepare the company for sale. If you would like to make important decisions, you need to find out whether the company will give you an opportunity to do so, and then, determine your future scope of authority. It is important to understand whether you will be able to get on with your future line manager, since mutual understanding between him/her and you is essential. Finally, you need to consider the company's corporate culture and decide whether you share its values.

Is it worth getting MBA training?

How important it is to have a PhD in the relevant field and an MBA degree when building a career these days?

A doctoral degree is rarely a mandatory requirement for job candidates, and in most cases it will hardly make any difference.

As for an MBA degree, it is required of top-level managers, such as Chief Financial Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, and Chief Executive Officers. The most common wording used in advertisements for top-level managers is "an MBA degree is desirable", but it is rarely a must. However, a business school certificate will definitely be an advantage in cases when all other characteristics are equal.

Western business education is traditionally considered more valuable than Russian training. There are several reasons for it: foreign business schools take an entirely different approach to the training; there, you can communicate with peers from different countries, and learn how to think outside the box. Finally, foreign diplomas are much more in demand.

Getting education in Europe is more popular, since the European mindset is easier for us to understand than the American one, and training programs are less expensive. Another reason is that you can study in Europe while working in Russia. In addition, many employers tend to think that American MBA graduates are far too "expensive" and often overqualified.

As for Russian business education, employers usually do not make much of it. Generally speaking, it is far too early to speak of Russian schools as prestigious. On the whole, Russian employers tend to pay more attention to the work experience of a job candidate rather than his/her education. 

Are there still any job opportunities for expats in Russia?

Do Russian employers offer any job opportunities for expats? Are expats willing to go to Russia?

There are far fewer expats in Russia today than there were only two years ago;. numbers has decreased by around three quarters in the last few years. Whilst retain categories of expats find it interesting to work in Russia; on the whole, however, relatively few people in Europe would choose Russia, of all places, as a country for working, despite the dynamics of the market. The image of the country remains far from favourable, and many people mistakenly still think that it is dangerous to live & work here.

Expats come to Russia for the same reason as they would go to any other country – to earn money and to further their career. Nowadays, the reason why fewer expats come to Russia is simply that the demand for foreign top managers is not as high as it used to be several years ago. One of the explanations for this is that expats who receive their salary in dollars or euros have become twice as expensive as Russian employees, or put another way, a Russian will do the same job for a Ruble salary.

An expat is not a profession in itself. If someone wants to work in Russia, they must possess unique knowledge or else be able to do something better than a Russian, or cheaper. Otherwise, it is more economic for the employer to hire a local employee. This is all the more so in the last 10-15 years with the greater number of Russians who can successfully manage all the tasks in senior positions.

Overqualification

Employers say that I am overqualified for the position. How can I avoid this problem?

Do not rush to change jobs. Instead, wait for a vacancy where your experience and expertise will be much needed, or where you will be able to do something new. Otherwise, you'll become bored with your new job really fast.

Employers are usually rather cautious about hiring a professional who is more qualified than it is absolutely necessary for the business, since they are incapable of providing the person with interesting tasks, and long-term motivation in such case is doubtful.

Nevertheless, recruiters sometimes offer companies people with higher qualifications than the ones required for the vacancy. In some cases, a company may decide to hire such a person, if it has potential for growth and can provide the new employee with work. If the job applicant is a unique professional, and the company would hate to miss the opportunity of employing him/her, it can even go as far as revise its budget and the structure of the department, seeing a possible business advantage in it. 

Getting a job with competitors

I'm not entirely happy with my company, and started thinking about changing jobs. Should I consider competing companies as potential employers? How will my transition to the competitors affect my resume and my future career?

Many people think that a transition to another company to work with a similar product or service is unethical. To ensure that such a transition will not affect your reputation, you should choose a company from a related or the same industry, but engage in the sales of a different product. If the market you specialize in is rather narrow, it will not be easy for you to find the desired option, as all companies can compete in one way or another, and you will need to be very careful choosing the right one.

Many employers send us requests to find them new employees by soliciting them from competing organizations. Few professionals, however, are willing to accept such job offers. We try to find candidates so that in the new company they could sell a different product or service to the same end customers, or the same product, but to other end customers.

During an interview with a potential employer, you should be careful when talking about your customer base (although your customer portfolio is usually the competitive advantage due to which the new company wants you for the job). Speak of your current employer in a most ethical way, and try not to sell yourself as a person who knows all the secrets of the company you intend to leave, and is ready to share them. Otherwise, the potential employer may have a suspicion that after a while, having obtained access to their customer base, you would wish to sell yourself to another competitor at a higher price.

As to managers from other professional areas, a transition to a competing company can play a cruel joke on those occupying strategic positions. In addition, employers are suspicious of people who have often moved from one competitor to another, or whose CV mentions a transition to the primary direct competitor. Remember that many large direct competitors enter into agreements prohibiting them to employ each other's personnel.

Professional certificates

How to invest in myself best? Is it worth spending time and money on obtaining professional certificates?

Professional certificates are proof of not only a job candidate's knowledge in a particular area, but also his/her willingness to grow professionally and to invest in his/her education, which is highly appreciated by employers and adds to the value of experts in various areas. This is why it is worth considering how much time and money you are willing to invest in getting such further education.

Professional certificates are becoming all the more sought after in the financial sector (diplomas such as ACCA, CPA, ACA, CIMA, and others). Many companies filter out the CVs with no certificates mentioned, regardless of the work experience. This is particularly the case for the CVs considered in the company's head office located abroad.

Also, professional certificates give certain advantages to applicants in particular areas, for example, in IT services. They may be beneficial to those applying for positions in consulting (since such experts are better perceived by the clients), to IT specialists in the financial sector (FSFR certificate), or project managers in charge of big-budget projects (PMP certificate). 

Getting a higher income

My salary stays the same, despite growing responsibilities. What should I do to increase my income?

You should adequately assess your competence level and the benefit the company gets from your skills and abilities. Find out the market value of the experts with similar qualifications. To do this, analyze the vacancies for similar positions on the Internet or contact recruiters, who see the market from the outside and can objectively determine your worth.

Before you talk to the management, think thoroughly of your argumentation (the chances of getting a pay rise will increase if you raise the issue after you have successfully implemented a project), e.g. overachievement, brilliantly accomplished assignments, extra duties, etc. Try not to sound too categorical; rather, be reasonable and polite. It is hardly a good idea to inform your management that another company has offered you a better salary. If you do so, you might be given a raise, but, in the long term, this step will backfire on you — companies need loyal employees who are not driven strictly by material interests. Do not expect your superiors to raise your salary twofold right away. Also, be prepared that you may be offered a change in the bonus scheme or the amount of bonus payments instead of an increase in the fixed part of the salary, since it is much more beneficial for any company to pay the employees for achieving specific targets.

If your current employer is not willing to give you a raise, you can start looking for a higher-paying job. According to Antal Russia, you can expect an average salary increase of 15–20% when changing jobs.  But remember that neither the new employer nor recruiters who will consider your CV will appreciate it if the only reason for the change is money. 

A step back in the career

Will my potential employers understand my reasons, and will they be interested in me as a job candidate if, being the head of a retail merchandising department in the fashion industry, I decide to go one step back? I prefer being directly involved in the work process, using not only my brains, but also my hands, and spending more time working in stores rather than in the office. Employers tend to think that in this case the employee is not motivated enough.

In fact, companies value people who truly love the work they do and choose the job functions they enjoy over career growth. In business, such people are perceived as high-class specialists who can develop and train less experienced personnel. If you want to "use your hands", your motivation is very clear. The employer should appreciate it as, among other things, you are able to develop the team and be their mentor.

A step back in a career is a quite common phenomenon. Still, there is a certain risk of being filtered out at the CV stage, because some employers prefer candidates with a consistent career path. The reasons for it vary, but if you explain to your potential employer why you have made such a decision, that you are really interested in what you do and not just want to sit out the tough times, then you will avoid problems when applying for a new job. Recruiters from specialized agencies are usually aware of the situation in a particular company, and can guess why you have taken such a decision. 

"Overstaying" in the same company

I have been working in the company for more than 10 years. I came to work here when it was barely established, helped develop it, and grew together with it. The company has become one of the leaders in its segment, and I've become quite reputable in the industry. And yet, the time has come for me to leave the company. However, I have difficulty finding a job in any of the competing organizations, because they perceive me as the owner of the business and are not ready to hire a competitor. It is next to impossible to find a job in a related or even different industry, too: many people and recruiters in particular tend to think that a person who has worked for more than two or three years for a company lacks ambition, does not aspire to professional growth, etc. Besides, a vast majority of vacancies indicate that they need someone with experience in a specific industry. What should I do?

Two to three years of work in the same company without a significant career growth is the term when middle managers can start considering new job offers. 4 years is a period when managers have learned everything they could in the particular position, have achieved a lot, and usually start seeking new opportunities more actively. The time frames are much broader for higher managerial positions. In fact, if all these years you've been growing professionally and going up your career ladder within the company, it doesn't mean that you've stayed for too long, especially if the company has developed fast. You have gained deep expertise, and your contribution to the company's success is evident. Nevertheless, certain concern on the part of employers may be reasonable; it is believed that you may have difficulty fitting into a new organization.

If you can't find a job in a company in the same sector, it's best not try to switch to an entirely different industry. You are right — when it comes to such top positions as the managing director, employers tend to consider candidates from the same market segment. Transitions from, for example, FMCG to B2B do occur, but those are rather exceptions than the rule. It is advisable that you consider sectors related to the one in which you have worked for so many years, where your expertise may be in demand.

It is true that recruiters and employers really see certain risks when considering job candidates who have worked in the same company for more than 5 years with no visible growth. There is a probability that the candidates will refuse the offer at the last stage of the interview, being afraid of letting down the manager they have worked together with for so many years, or change employers again in search of the conditions they've become used to.

Changing a career

I've been working in logistics for a long time now, but I would like to change my career. Is it possible? Will I have to start from scratch?

If you are bored with your job, do not make rash decisions about radical changes; rather, think about what exactly you are not happy with, what areas you may be interested in, and where you would be able to fulfill your potential.

If you have worked in some area for up to 3 to 4 years, it will be easy enough for you to leave it for a new one, but if the period is 10+ years, the change-over will be much more difficult. You could try extending your duties within your current position or moving from one department to another in the same logistics company. It may be that you've just got tired of what you've been doing and fail to see an opportunity for further growth.

If, however, you want to radically change the area of your activities, try and do it within your company, where people know you and where you have an established reputation. For example, you might be interested in procurement or sales and be familiar with this work, or, maybe, you started your career in this area and now you realize that this is exactly what you would like to do.

It is more difficult to change the career by getting a job in another company, since most employers look for candidates with relevant experience to fill their vacancies. You should be ready to start from scratch, lower your expectations regarding the salary and position status, e.g. from a managerial position to that of a specialist. It will be easier for you to get a job in a small company. In this case, good references will play an important role in your employment. Ask your business contacts for references.