Do Your Part… Recruit Ukrainians For Remote Work

(The complete guide for recruiting Ukrainian refugees)

Feeling helpless? Here’s a 2 for-1 opportunity to bolster sourcing and aid desperate refugees. 

This is an action piece – whose goal is to nudge the reader into taking immediate action.

If you have a strong desire to help the Ukrainians, here is an opportunity to do your part. Directly help Ukraine through hiring its displaced citizens into your current or newly created remote work opportunities. Of course, everyone already knows about the plight of the millions of displaced Ukrainians (totaling nearly 10 million, including 3.3 million refugees and another 6.5 million displaced within Ukraine). However, all of the smartest recruiting leaders should have already realized that this disaster also has a positive side. It is also a once-in-a-lifetime recruiting opportunity. 

Companies that can offer acute remote work now suddenly have an active candidate talent pool of literally millions of working-age Ukrainians. And all of them are likely eager, active job seekers now that they are suddenly penniless. They are desperate to begin earning income again for themselves and send it back to their family in Ukraine.

Action Steps For Starting A Ukrainian Recruiting Effort

Before you even start your refugee hiring effort in this chaotic environment, you must plan on a high level of ambiguity. That ambiguity will include learning quickly about the ever-evolving “ability to work” rules and regulations that you will encounter. You will also have to learn how to identify the Ukrainians with the skill sets you need. The top eight additional action steps that US companies will need to take her listed below.

  • Learn about the capabilities of your Ukrainian recruiting targets – if you’re not familiar with the country, Ukraine is a modern industrialized and service-oriented East European economy. With a population of proud, self-sufficient, well-educated people, modern and hard-working. 
  • It’s also true that nearly 20% of them speak English. So naturally, both its refugees and its displaced citizens are eager to get back to meaningful work as quickly as possible. 
  • Realize that remote work is the easiest option – its refugees are currently located mostly in Europe. US-based companies can avoid the complicated visa and travel issues and the need for an office by initially offering them mostly remote work opportunities. 
  • Determine which work areas are best adaptable to remote work – fortunately, multiple work areas are appropriate for remote work and fit their skill sets. With the highest likelihood of a match, the first choice is programming and developer opportunities. Ukrainians are known for their computer capabilities (one startup CEO wrote that “the Ukrainian software engineering talent pool is one of the best on the planet”). Other next choice work areas include forms of digital work, including customer service, IT support, administrative processing, tourism support, and call center overflow. And if you’re targeting refugees outside of Ukraine, be aware that you needn’t be concerned about computers, mobile phones, or Internet access. Most of the refugees now live in nearby industrialized countries with widespread technology access. Working remotely will also minimize any potential Covid spreading issues.
  • Plan on some amount of on-site work – because hundreds of thousands of the refugees are now physically located in each of these countries (Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Czech, Germany, England, and Ireland). If your organization is fortunate enough to have established offices in these countries, the refugees may be able to do on-site work in your facilities. Any on-site work will depend on the evolving but improving work permit process in each country. Some Ukraine refugees have already made it to the US, so they should be considered for on-site work.
  • Consider initially hiring them as gig workers – because the remote work you offer them may be short-term or sporadic. It makes sense to at least initially hire the displaced as contractors, freelancers, or gig workers. This “try-out” opportunity also gives you a chance to determine better which of the workers you want to keep for the longer term.
  • Consider utilizing a local employment agency – unless you already frequently hire in Europe to get your refugee hiring up to speed quickly. It may make sense to use a local employment agency in the city/country where the refugees that you are recruiting are physically located. This will initially save you the time and expense of having to learn the local employment laws and rules. 
  • Be sure and include a special focus on supporting women – most of the refugees are female. Finding corporate work for them is especially important. It will help many women and girls completely avoid any involvement in sex trafficking (which has historically been a significant problem among refugee populations).
  • Understand that keeping their skills up to date will help Ukraine after the war – even temporary work opportunities will allow both men and women to keep their skills current, which will be extremely beneficial during the rebuilding of Ukraine after the war.
  • Consider recruiting Russians that currently live outside of their home country the powerful sanctions on Russian businesses are working. And as a result, many high-tech and other internationally competitive businesses are drastically cutting back on production, operations and innovation. This lack of future opportunity has encouraged many professionals to leave Russia (when they can). So from a strictly recruiting point of view, it makes sense to recruit Russians that now live outside of Russia for either remote work or European job opportunities that have a minimum of visa issues.
  • The most important action is finding the individual Ukrainian refugees looking for work? – even though there may be thousands who would want your jobs. It will still take some effort to reach these individuals. There are so many of them, but some of them are located in hard-to-access refugee camps. So if you happen to have sourcers that work in Europe, start with them. But also consider the following recruiting sources for finding Ukrainian refugees and displaced candidates.
  1. Continue to use global job boards – at the time this was published, International job boards like Indeed and Monster were still operating in Ukraine and the surrounding countries. So work with their advisors to identify the best ways to recruit in Eastern Europe.
  2. Ukrainian job boards should be a primary choice – there are dozens of country-specific job boards in Ukraine (that were still operating at the time of publication). Placing your open jobs on these will be especially helpful if you’re seeking those that are displaced within Ukraine. However, the refugees outside of Ukraine will likely also still be reading them. You can find a complete rated list of Ukrainian job boards on this job board finder site.
  3. Use this job board designed specifically for refugees residing in surrounding countries – there is one job board, jobs4ukr.com, that focuses exclusively on job openings for Ukrainians that are now forced to reside in the countries that surround Ukraine. Since refugees will likely want to stay with their families, this particular job board should be the primary choice.
  4. Use job boards created for Ukrainians since the war began – just last month, the head of a UK charity launched Jobs for Ukraine. This basic site lists all the Ukrainian-related jobs that the site’s volunteers can manually find online. The site currently has thousands of openings, which cover the range between hourly and professional jobs. There is also a brand-new tech-focused private job board for anyone escaping Ukraine called listing tech jobs. An NGO has also developed a new job board that focuses on placing Ukrainian refugees. Its site jobs for refugees have been operating since the beginning of the war.
  5. Find the best job boards in each country where refugees are placed – most refugees have mobile phones. Those residing in every adjoining country can access the best job boards housed in that country. You can find country-specific job boards by choosing the country on this job board finder site.
  6. Also, utilize country-specific government employment sources – unfortunately, most of the tracking and support of individual refugees is specific to the country and/or state where they currently reside. So it would be best if you worked with both the refugee agency and the state employment departments. Of course, in every country, there are also private employment agencies that use the focus on metropolitan areas. 
  7. Don’t forget recruiting at professional associations – if you’re seeking working professional refugees, another effective approach is through the job boards of their national and global professional associations. 
  8. Even global social media sites may help – nearly 1/3 of the Ukrainian population utilizes Instagram. And more than half the population of Ukraine utilizes Facebook. Facebook, in particular, offers many possible ways to identify and communicate with job seekers (for example, The Facebook group, “Pomoc Dla Ukrainy” (a.k.a. Help For Ukraine, has over 550,000 members). 
  9. Referrals are always effective – even with its large population, the citizens of each Ukrainian geographic area are a tight-knit group. So it makes sense to encourage those you have successfully hired to make referrals of other top candidates among those still in and outside of Ukraine. Even though they don’t currently live in the same area, these connections remain strong. In addition, most have mobile phones that allow them to keep in constant touch. 
  10. Ask at a Ukrainian consulate or embassy – many major cities have a Ukrainian consulate or office that can guide you to the best current sources for Ukrainian talent in the area. For example, here is the consulate in San Francisco.

A Benchmark Company Example 

Shortly after the invasion began, the digital ad agency known as “Dept” demonstrated that it was a natural fit for recruiting Ukrainians. It is a global company with 2000+ staff. Each of its 250 job openings was designed to allow for remote work. To sweeten its job opportunities, Its executives decided to offer each new hire and their families travel reimbursement and visa support. Within the first week, they had 10 excellent Ukrainian applicants.

If you can only do one thing – during any tight labor market, a suddenly available talent pool of this size would be looked upon as a godsend. So if you want to gauge the interest in your work opportunities, simply post a job on the leading Ukrainian job board (WORKua) or the local Ukrainian version of Indeed. And then apply metrics to determine if your new-hire performance is superior to that of your traditional recruiting sources.

Final Thoughts

Given the constant dearth of qualified candidates recently found using traditional sourcing, it makes sense to provide your corporation with a distinct competitive advantage by sourcing and offering remote work to those displaced by the Ukrainian war. It’s easier than you think. And even a single hire will have an impact on the Ukrainian cause. At least at present, the competition from other corporations will be almost nonexistent!

Author’s Note 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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