We talked to Nikita Bragin of Soshace, an online recruitment platform that connects IT professionals and companies. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nikita Bragin: I moved from the office in 2020. I have been working from home for more than a year. Now I see my family more often, and I can spend more time with my kids. I used to work late, so working from home is definitely better for me. When I worked from the office, I left early morning while my children were still asleep and came home when they had already gone to bed. The only quality time we had was weekends. Working from the house, I have breaks when we talk, play board games, assemble Lego. Working from the office has its advantages – you can focus on work, and no one distracts you on family matters. However, you can always agree within the family of the work schedule. In my case, I changed the bedroom to a mini office and have my conference calls from there.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Soshace.
Nikita Bragin: In 2009, I was a third-year student and worked as a layout designer. I became a front-end developer in 2 years. I held this position for about 3 years. I took the first order on Elance (now Upwork) in 2014; in January 2015, I rented an office; I opened a legal entity in Russia under Web Development Agency in March 2015. We hired full-time developers and grew 2 times by 2018. In 2018, I switched our business model to recruitment, as I believe this market has more potential, possibilities of growth, and automation of business processes.
How does Soshace innovate?
Nikita Bragin: Being a recruitment agency, we strive to know as much as possible about the technical skills of a specialist for the shortest possible time. Time is a decisive factor in recruitment – the faster the hiring company makes a decision, the quicker the specialists will receive offers. Even if your offer is not the best in the market, if you make it faster than competitors, you get good specialists in our team. Information about the candidate is automatically entered into our CRM as soon as he responds to the offer.
Next, we offer a specialist an online test using the software that performs proctoring during testing. This type of online testing enables obtaining results and analysis of the candidate’s behavior immediately after testing. We analyze questions after every 50 tests performed. If statistics show that the specialists do not respond to a question correctly regardless of the competence and vice versa, everyone responds correctly, we remove this question.
Finally, a technical specialist will interview the specialist. We offer a detailed report on the results of all stages of interviews for each candidate, whom we have conducted testing with from the beginning of 2019.
This month we plan to complete the automation of the resume assessment process and the automatic translation of the candidate for online testing. We plan to start a technical interview automatically based on online testing results. Thus, the candidate will be able to pass online testing and choose the time for a technical interview on the day of response on any site where the vacancy is posted.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Nikita Bragin: Our turnover declined more than 2 times in 2020 compared with 2019. 4 customers did not pay us at the end of 2019, which affected our financial stability.
Business practically stopped at the beginning of 2020, and I was forced to dismiss most of the staff. We have been actively hiring specialists since October 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Nikita Bragin: Yes, I had to dismiss the majority of our full-time employees, as I mentioned previously. It was a tough but necessary solution for the company.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Nikita Bragin: We initially worked remotely, so nothing has changed much in this area. Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become more popular.
Speaking about ways to improve interaction with the customer, our main method is an immediate definition of who we are dealing with and what the requirements are for the candidate. Next, we find a specialist as quickly as possible and the easiest way for the customer. Time is a key factor in recruitment, which radically affects business survival.
It is important to understand that if we offer a specialist who does not fit – this is time that is lost for the customer and for us.
I try to make at least one video call with the customer to better understand the project’s tasks. Even a short call will reveal more details about the project and the company that you may miss while texting.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Nikita Bragin: Our company received tax losses like most companies in Russia. No additional support was provided. Pandemic poorly affected our operation, as we have worked remotely for more than 2 years.
Your final thoughts?
Nikita Bragin: I believe that the pandemic will significantly slow down the growth of megacities and increase the number of people preferring a suburb and, accordingly, a remote business format. Remote work and online interviews will become standard in the IT industry. Our company has been working for more than 6 years in this direction.
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