Personal experience: does Russian citizenship interfere with finding work abroad - ForumDaily
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Personal experience: does Russian citizenship hinder you when looking for work abroad?

A former employee of Yandex in Russia, and now the head of the European marketing team, Stanislav Ivnitsky, says Forbes, what nuances need to be taken into account when working abroad.

Close up interviewer interview candidate apply for job at meeting room in office


Stanislav began his career in 2009 in the Moscow office of the advertising agency BBDO. He came to the position of assistant in the strategic planning department and in five years rose to senior strategist. Subsequently, he got a job at Yandex, where he spent a year launching the Bringly marketplace. What social skills should be included in a resume to get a job, we wrote in our article.

Heading for Europe

In 2019, the project was closed because its main competitor, the Chinese marketplace Aliexpress, increased investments in the Russian market several times. Stanislav was offered other tasks in the holding, but he decided to leave because he dreamed of living and working abroad. That same year, he took a job as a senior consultant at the international consulting company Interbrand and moved to Berlin. And from there, in 2020, Stanislav moved to the German marketplace Zalando to the position of head of the marketing strategy group in Europe. How to make useful contacts on the Internet and offline, read our material.

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Since Stanislav was taken on maternity leave, two years later he had to look for work again. He looked at vacancies both in the market as a whole and within Zalando. As a result, after a series of interviews, in February 2022 the company signed a long-term contract with him. Now Stanislav is responsible for marketplace marketing in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Quality resume

“The first thing I realized when looking for work abroad was that it is important to constantly adapt your skills and knowledge to a specific employer,” he notes. — I still have a folder on my desktop where 40 versions of my resume are stored. Without them, it would be more difficult to stand out among applicants.”

The fact is that the hiring manager receives dozens of letters from candidates, and he only has a couple of minutes to evaluate each one. Therefore, the more familiar words in the text, the higher the chances that the recruiter will pay attention to you and you will receive the coveted invitation to an interview.

“For example, I had to change the position of “senior brand manager” at Yandex to “marketing lead” (leading marketing specialist) - this title is more understandable and familiar in Europe,” Stanislav clarified. — When I was looking for a job, I spent several hours adapting the text. Now this can be done in a few seconds. To do this, just upload the job description and your resume to ChatGPT or another service based on neural networks.”

The power of networking

A high-quality resume is half the battle. You will increase your chances of getting an interview if you find people you know in the project you are interested in. When Stanislav was looking for a job, four of the five companies to which he sent documents through current employees invited him for an interview. If he applied for a vacancy through the site, he received half as many responses. Already being a hiring manager at Zalando, Stanislav learned that everyone who comes through the so-called referral programs ends up “in a separate folder” and is evaluated first, since they are more trustworthy.

If you don’t have friends in the right projects, it doesn’t matter. You can find them through social networks, including Linkedin. Stanislav did the same. These contacts will also be useful to you at later stages of selection, for example before the interview. Employees can tell you about the real challenges of the company, what language to speak with the hiring manager, and so on. This will greatly increase your chances of impressing a potential employer. Contrary to popular belief, people willingly share information. Current employees tend to be motivated by a desire to share their experiences, while former employees tend to want to speak up because they are no longer constrained by a non-disclosure agreement.

Reviews from one of your former colleagues can also work in your favor.

“During the interview at Zalando, I learned that one of the final interviewers was a former colleague of my manager at Interbrand. I contacted her and asked her to write a recommendation. She was one of the reasons why they chose me among the applicants,” shared Stanislav.

Local nuances

“I still remember how relieved I felt when, after months of preparation and interviews, I received the coveted offer. However, this feeling quickly gave way to uncertainty bordering on impostor syndrome,” the man admitted. “The first time after joining Zalando, I asked myself a question that worried me: how can I do marketing in Europe if I had previously only worked with the Russian market?”

In fact, this experience turned out to be an advantage. In Russia, some industries, such as e-commerce and fintech, are more developed than in Europe. Therefore, a Russian specialist better understands where the sector is heading and will more accurately plan the company’s next steps. Stanislav's knowledge and experience in performance measurement, acquired at Yandex, turned out to be useful for working at Zalando.

“Over time, I realized that the lack of local expertise is my strength. When you know local influencers and cultural codes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of your own preferences,” he emphasized. — A person from the outside primarily focuses on numbers. They can give a more objective picture and suggest which direction is best for the team to move.”

In addition, as Stanislav says, people overestimate the differences between countries. Many people believe that geography determines a person's needs and interests. In fact, the young Czech entrepreneur has more in common with the Russian startup entrepreneur than with his older compatriot. In the case of clothing, the needs are also not much different. Regardless of the country, people buy dresses and shoes for the sake of self-expression, and when choosing a store, they are guided primarily by price and assortment.

However, he recommends that you should not rely solely on Russian experience and intuition.

“For example, when launching the pre-owned category, I mistakenly recommended that efforts be directed toward “normalizing” second-hand shopping. This turned out to be unnecessary: ​​in Europe, the mass consumer is more open to vintage things than in Russia,” Stanislav emphasized.

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The team helped him compensate for the lack of local expertise. According to Stanislav’s experience, the combination of “local specialist and external manager” gives the best results in business.

“The way we work at Zalando is that employees bring strong ideas for local sponsorships or influencer selection, and I help make the right choice based on objective factors, such as the size of the actual audience, the bloggers’ alignment with the brand’s strategy, etc.,” he said. “And vice versa, they correct me if they believe that this or that step that would help in Russia will not be beneficial in Europe.”

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