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How to Hire and Grow your Business during a Pandemic

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Stas Shihov ITExpert

Stas Shihov, CEO at ITExpert tells us about full-cycle recruitment services. 

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Stas Shihov: Thank you for the question! We are now devoting more time to each other and, fortunately, we are all healthy.

Tell us how you founded ITExpert.

Stas Shihov: In 2015, my friends and I founded the ITExpert recruiting agency in Kyiv, Ukraine. We work globally and help IT companies find and hire IT specialists — Middle/Senior Developers, CTO, QA, Support Engineers, and so on.

Before we started, I had already gained experience and knowledge in this area. I noticed the most frequent and critical mistakes of similar companies in the market. I also used to be a client myself and realized that sourcing and recruiting IT specialists can be a real headache for many reasons. I mean the passive market of candidates and the specifics of their technical skills or getting these candidates involved in the first stages of their work for a new company.

My business is based on the idea of making the hiring of IT specialists easier. That is why our company employs a CTO who advises clients and sets up an accurate search. The team has 19 competent recruiters who quickly deliver results without compromising the client’s reputation. They also test candidates’ English to ensure that the client will not come across communication difficulties. We solve problems for our clients, not create them.

How does ITExpert help businesses to innovate?

Stas Shihov: Micromanagement and recruitment cost businesses a lot of resources and time. As long as a company lacks key programmers, it is not making any profit. We help our clients to deal with this issue. While we are engaged in the search, selection, and assessment of specialists, clients are busy with business development.

We search for tech specialists, hire a core team or entire departments of 50+ employees. We help clients open offices in Kyiv or other Ukrainian cities and advise on legal, accounting, and HR issues.

I’d like to draw an example. For six months already, we’ve been helping a well-known bank in digital transformation, regularly providing it with specialists. We have closed rare vacancies for Pixi Developers for the gaming industry. There are only 100-150 such specialists in Ukraine. Our clients can also address us regarding a search for technical experts: Support Representatives, Project Managers, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Business Analysts. We can help regardless of the vacancy specifics and the client’s needs.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business and your clients?

Stas Shihov: At the beginning of the pandemic and quarantine restrictions, everyone was cautious, people didn’t know what to do and what would happen next. The number of vacancies decreased by 32% in April. This period was especially challenging for outsourcing companies. They were forced to lay off staff, suspend hiring plans, and maintaining a team spirit appeared to be extremely difficult.

Fortunately, the business quickly adapted to these new conditions. Since August, we have witnessed the “spring effect” when the market has grown due to deferred demand. Already in October, the number of offers has increased by 141% compared to April. On the one hand, companies that had returned to their usual workflow began to intensively hire specialists for their team. On the other hand, the offline business quickly moved online. For example, more and more organizations from the banking sector became our clients. The demand for programmers for e-commerce, delivery services, and smart home solutions has grown significantly.

The opportunity of remote work and health insurance has become a must-have for tech candidates. The demand for IT specialists has grown exponentially. Candidates now can simultaneously receive 3-4 offers and a counteroffer from their current job. At the same time, specialists are more willing to keep their jobs. That’s why the development of the employer’s brand and the creation of an attractive offer have become essential.

The crisis slightly affected ITExpert. Even though the number of vacancies and profitability declined at the start of the pandemic, we did not give up. The challenges inspired us and even united our team. So, we managed to grow by 30% in a year and didn’t stop hiring recruiters to our team even during the lockdowns.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?

Stas Shihov: Growth is always challenging. Sometimes it is hard to get out of your comfort zone, delegate, and outsource important functions in your business. However, you will always stay put without this. People you bring to the team and how they feel about challenges make a difference.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Stas Shihov: Our effectiveness is based on a deep analysis of results. A unique ATS helps us with that. It captures all fluctuations in the candidate funnel and allows us to perform at the highest level.

 We usually find the first candidates within 48 hours from the start of work. Our team sends more than 15 CVs to different clients per day. Every day, 400 potential employees receive job proposals. This is how we help our clients’ businesses grow rapidly. If we notice an issue, a bottleneck, at some stage, we try to solve it immediately. Having feedback from recruiters and candidates at hand, we can offer our clients to adjust the recruiting process. Factual data tells us when there are too few candidates and how we can expand this number.

Your final thoughts?

Stas Shihov: Covid-19 has become a serious challenge for the IT business. Regardless of how you had worked in the past, the quarantine affected you anyway. The growth in such conditions requires adapting and focusing on opportunities. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people and build a team of talents who are willing to develop. While the first task is fully yours, we can help you resolve the second one!

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Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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