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HR Departments And The Crisis


In many companies, after downsizing due to the crisis, the official list of duties for the remaining employees has grown significantly. According to a study by the research center at SuperJob.ru, 57 percent of respondents have noted an increase in workload assigned to economists, financiers, and logistics managers, and 56 percent have noted an increase for PR managers and marketing professionals.

Every second HR manager has complained about the excessive increase in their workload (50 percent). SuperJob.ru quotes one of the respondents as saying, “If before employers divided HR work between personnel records management and personnel selection, now they want everything ‘on one plate.’”

At present, 10 percent of Russian companies are continuing to cut staff, while 9 percent are maintaining their current numbers. HR specialists say the financial crisis has changed the labor market. Various sectors where there has traditionally been a deficit of qualified labor have seen that deficit cut. Companies are actively using this opportunity to strengthen their staff structure, especially by hiring experienced mid-level managers who will place the company in a stronger position after the crisis is over. In other words, HR managers have the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and professional competency.

On the other hand, upper management often does not particularly give a lot of credit to HR managers. According to the results of a survey conducted by Moscow School of Management Skolkovo and Monitor Group, management gives the role of the HR department in resolving strategic problems in Russian Companies a C grade, and that they consider the possibility of promoting HR workers to higher administrative positions to be very low.

The income of HR specialists with average qualifications is 25,000-35,000 rubles in Moscow, 22,000-30,000 rubles in St. Petersburg, 17,000-25,000 rubles in Yekaterinburg, and 16,000-22,000 rubles in Novosibirsk. According to SuperJob.ru the maximum income is 70,000 rubles in Moscow, 60,000 in St. Petersburg, 50,000 in Yekaterinburg, and 40,000 in Novosibirsk. Moreover. Demand for HR managers is not high, and most are concerned about maintaining their current positions.

Also, according to a survey by HeadHunter.ru, more than 50 percent to sacrifice their conscience in order to further their careers (the most popular acts are having sex with one’s boss and taking others’ credit). Another 38 percent said they would only resort to those things “in extreme circumstances.” Only 11 percent claim that they would not act immorally under any circumstances. However, HR managers have an excellent means of proving their talent – by finding highly qualified professionals for kopecks.

Recruiters admit that right now several companies are expecting to hire “star” candidates for low salaries and with high requirements. For example, a position might require that a candidate be fluent in foreign languages that are not expected to be used on the job. Another example is the requirement that a candidate have a certain number of years of experience regardless of what was accomplished during those years. It’s not uncommon to find the most watered-down requirements for top managers (the most popular requirement is that they need to have experience in a director position).

Elena Sidorenko, Head of the Investment-Banking Department of Staffwell, also says that employers are increasing their demands. For example, in companies with foreign managers, when selecting a candidate for the position of head accountant (whose main tasks will be preparing financial reports according to Russian standards), employers often require the candidate additionally be a CPA, which is an American issued qualification. Or they might require that sales managers, who will sell Russian goods on the Russian market, have fluency in a foreign language.

The process of searching for the “best of the best” drags out for an unreasonable period, and candidates are pulled into a whirlpool of never-ending interviews. As SuperJob.ru’s survey shows, 18 percent of Russian companies have three interviews with candidates before hiring them, and 13 percent have four or more, and the same percentages additionally test candidates.

Recruiters try to justify their clients. Olga Brukovskaya, Marketing Director of HeadHunter, says HR managers’ aggressiveness shouldn’t be exaggerated. “There’s no doubt that employers increased the requirements for applicants with the onset of the crisis. But ‘10 years of experience for the courier vacancy’ is not being asked for,” notes Brukovskaya. HeadHunter filters all new vacancies and resumes for various markers, including how well they the stack up against the current market realities. According to Sidorenko, “the requirements are often lowered within the course of discussions with clients.”

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