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The truth about the shortage of IT specialists and recruiter refusals

December 19, 2023
10 min.
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According to surveys by the largest job search service, hh.ru, in 2023, one in five people wishes to become an IT specialist due to hearing about the shortage of professionals in this field and the high salaries. But how realistic is the deficit in the field of information technology? Why do salary expectations ultimately not align with reality? And what effort will novice professionals have to put in when searching for employment?

To find answers to these questions, we spoke with our HR, examined the general trends in the market, and drew from our own experience in hiring employees. Spoiler for those who dream of living like Scrooge McDuck after completing programming courses – slow down. It's better to read this article to the end.

The paradox of the shortage of IT professionals


Many who have already undergone paid training have felt the sting of rejections from recruiters. There it is – the desired position. And another one. The tenth already. And it's been hanging for six months. Yet, candidates end up without a single offer from over 76,000 posted vacancies. That's the number of job openings from IT organizations on hh.ru by the end of 2023. According to the words of the political figure Anton Nemkin, the Russian market is lacking half a million specialists overall. So, why aren't they getting hired?

To address the demand for IT professionals, it's essential to break it down step by step. Firstly, it's crucial to understand who is disseminating information about the shortage of workers and their sky-high salaries.

Educational organizations and hired bloggers

Online school sellers place their ads, covering almost all of the internet space. They offer to learn a profession in six months and immediately earn 100,000+ rubles per month, all from the comfort of your home. They promise to teach you programming, management, engineering, design from scratch, and even provide a 20-30-50% discount on classes. Moreover, they claim to assist in finding a job by guiding you on creating a resume and portfolio. Thanks to active promotion, people believe in the ease of entering the IT field, only to drop out of courses without even reaching the diploma defense. And this is just the first stage of attrition. 

Politicians and the media

We've already cited one figure of the shortage from a political figure. Earlier in the press, other officials mentioned a shortage of 1 million IT professionals in Russia. The origin of these numbers is unclear, but journalists eagerly inflate the issue to oceanic proportions.

Acquaintances working in IT companies

Or their relatives, who proudly declare the incomes of their sons, daughters, or siblings. While the specialists themselves usually emphasize how challenging and time-consuming the path to "success" is, their close ones boast about how easy it is to sit behind a computer and make money.

One cannot rely on words not backed by facts, and as of 2023, here are the facts: ~76 thousand job openings and >500 thousand resumes of applicants on hh.ru. Where is the demand for IT specialists in this picture? But the strangest thing is that it does exist nonetheless.

The widespread dissemination of false information about IT professions has led people to believe that companies are ready to hire them right after the first month of training. However, most agencies do not need such developers, designers, managers, or testers, even after successfully completing courses.

Why companies don't hire after IT courses


The main reason for rejecting young professionals is a lack of experience, knowledge, and skills. Not every agency has the time, resources, and opportunities to train newcomers, especially considering that projects are already underway and need attention. Therefore, if an applicant lacks cases to demonstrate, the company automatically loses interest. Even when cases are available, skills may not align with the employer's requirements.

In 2023, companies aim to hire mid-level professionals with at least 3 years of experience in commercial or product development, particularly in the case of programmers. Backend specialists in Python, Go, PHP, and C++ are in high demand, as well as full-stack developers in Java. However, these are general trends across the country, and each team has its individual criteria. For example, many studios exclusively focus on mobile development using Flutter and React Native, and they consider candidates aligned with their specific stack. It's crucial to understand that companies do indeed face a shortage of specialists, but they are selective in their choices. A similar situation applies to design, engineering, and management.

The final significant reason is the discrepancy between the desired and offered salary, once again attributed to disinformers. The monthly income for a junior developer ranges from 50 to 70 thousand rubles, depending on the company's specifics and regional location. However, after completing courses, you won't even possess the skills of a junior specialist. Junior professionals often have a relevant higher or secondary education, knowledge of several programming languages, and approaches. Yet, they typically receive an average of 60 thousand rubles. Therefore, there's no talk of earning 100-150 thousand. However, HR opens a resume, and there it is – salary expectations of 90-100-120K with zero or six months of work experience.

Salaries for IT specialists can indeed reach 1 million rubles. However, it's crucial to consider that the candidate must possess the skills to justify such a million.

There are only two ways to secure a position in a company during or after IT courses – undergo training directly with the employer or seek employment through personal connections. There are isolated cases of success that typically begin with phrases like "I used to do programming for 5 years, then I quit...". People who have received an offer in such cases usually had some prior foundation. If you only have online school courses under your belt, you'll have to set aside thoughts of a luxurious life in the near future and acquaint yourself with the realities of the IT field.

What to do after IT courses


The field of information technology is not about making big money quickly. Entering it requires a serious commitment. The lingering question remains: what should those who have completed courses and lack connections or success in job hunting do?

Don't give up and keep moving towards your goal

If you're not ready to part ways with your desired profession and are determined to secure employment in it, here's a checklist of our advice.

  1. Don't overestimate your expected income. Now that you know the real salaries of junior specialists, assess yourself realistically.
  2. Consider internship opportunities or ask a company to take you on as an intern. To gain initial experience, you might even consider unpaid internships. Choose agencies based on the skills you need.
  3. Join professional IT communities where you can engage in discussions on topics of interest and make connections. These communities are not only populated by developers and designers but also by HR professionals, managers, and directors.
  4. Continuously study new approaches, literature, libraries, frameworks, and anything else that will enhance your skills. In IT, you can't afford to stand still.
  5. Strive to attend any interviews, complete all test assignments, and request feedback on them. Practice independently and showcase your work in communities so that experienced IT professionals can provide comments and advice. This way, you'll build a strong portfolio.
  6. If you've accumulated enough cases and well-received projects but haven't received job offers yet, consider freelancing. Not immediately after completing courses, but after gaining substantial real-world experience. Keep in mind that a bad reputation spreads like poison—negative reviews can quickly tarnish your professional image.      

We're not trying to dissuade you from taking IT courses; rather, we're sharing the harsh truth that others might not convey. Whether to enroll in online education and what to do afterward is entirely up to you.

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Publication author:

Lubov Azarnova

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