This complete guide gives the tips you need for making the most of the job opportunities in Russia, writing a Russian CV and cover letter, as well as relevant Russian interview etiquette.
The post-communist Russian job market can be considered relatively new in comparison to other global economies, but it has already established its own practices and expectations for job seekers. Some of the practices are similar to other countries, but others are specific to Russia, so ensuring you’re up to speed on what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to preparing a Russian CV, covering letter and Russian interview etiquette will make sure you make the right impression during the recruitment process, whether you’re looking for jobs in Moscow, Russia, or another of the well known cities in Россия (Russia).
In this guide, you’ll find all the relevant information you need to make your application successful.
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Writing a Russian CV
The key to any successful CV is preparation, especially when you’re applying for Russian jobs as a foreigner. Before you submit your CV, you should consider the types of jobs you’re applying for and the language you’re writing in. As a rule, if you’re applying to a Russian company, your CV and covering letter should be in Russian, unless you specifically know the recipient speaks the particular foreign language. However, most international companies will accept CV’s in English or other foreign languages, but it is still advisable to translate at least your key contact information into Russian if not the whole document.
- When it comes to the layout, format and contents of Russian CV, employers generally want plenty of detail.
- Clearly divide your Russian CV into separate sections e.g. personal details, education, work experience that should be typed, listing details in reverse chronological order (most recent activities first).
- Begin with your personal information and contact details – include your full name, address, place and date of birth, nationality, marital status, contact telephone number and email. (Many CVs in Russia are kept on file for long periods of time, so make sure the contact details you provide aren’t likely to change in the near future).
- Next, list your education starting with the most recent first. This should include study dates, name of institutions, examination grades and qualifications and study specialities.
- Then detail your work experience with your most recent employment first. Provide the period of employment, company name and job title, and list key responsibilities of the role
- Next include additional skills and qualifications – computer literacy, oral and written language.
- Finally, include personal interests or activities
- With a Russian CV, it isn’t necessary to include references on your CV, but have them ready on request.
Russian CV tips: dos and don’ts
- Keep your Russian CV under two pages of A4 paper
- Make sure your CV is typed up, not handwritten and is in clear sections in a standard font – many CVs are scanned so it needs to be easy to scan.
- Provide as much detail as you can, but keep it relevant to the job
- Stick to the facts – don’t over-exaggerate or fabricate information you can’t verify or that isn’t true
- Always double check your spelling and grammar
- If writing your CV in Russian, get it checked by someone with proficient Russian language
Russian CV’s online
With modern technology, a lot of Russian jobs can be found online through recruitment agency sites, as well as individual companies. These facilities allow job seekers to upload a CV, search and apply for work in Russian online. Some of these sites also include professional help with writing a Russian CV, such as https://career.ru and provide examples of layouts and formatting. You can also get your CV checked by TopCV who will help you on your way to finding that perfect job.
You can also find a list of useful Russian phrases and vocabulary for use on your Russian CV here.
Writing a Russian cover letter
With most applications for jobs in Russia, it is necessary to accompany your CV with a covering letter, which should be in the same language as your CV (preferably Russian).
This is your opportunity to express why you are a good candidate for the job and to sell yourself to the employer, enticing them to read your CV and consider you for an interview.
In Russia, these are generally short, succinct, factual and formal letters, as a rule no longer than one side of A4 paper. They should not go into great detail about qualifications and experience as these are all outlined in your CV, but rather convey:
- how you found the job and why you are interested in the position
- what relevant skills and expertise you can bring to the role
- how you would add value to the role and company
In your Russian covering letter, be sure to use examples to show your ability and skills and should follow these formatting rules:
- Stick to a formal and professional tone
- Use a formal business letter layout. This involves listing your full name, address, telephone number and email address on the left-hand side of the page, followed by the date, then the full name (or department) and address of the recipient.
- Always use formal language when addressing the recipient e.g. Dear Sir/Madam (Уважаемые господа/Уважаемая госпожа) and where possible address them by name Dear Mr Smith (Уважаемый г-н Смидт). If you don’t know who the letter is going to use ‘To Whom it may concern’ (Уважаемые)
- The opening greeting is followed by the main body of the text outlining your reasons for applying for the job and skills.
- You should also include a closing paragraph, expressing your interest in the company and role with the hope of getting an interview.
- Finish the letter appropriately with a formal ‘Yours Sincerely’ or ‘Kind Regards’ (С уважением ваш)
The job application, Russia
Interviews are a standard part of the Russian employment process, but the number of interviews conducted varies depending on the position and company, as does the recruitment timeline.
Some companies can take weeks to process applications and arrange interviews, and even after the interview process, offering a job offer can also take weeks. That being said, it isn’t always the case, but the key is to stay in contact with interviewers regularly throughout the process and be patient. You will hear back formally either way eventually, it just might take longer than you’re used to in your home country.
If you are offered a job in Moscow or anywhere else for that matter, be sure to respond quickly, as in a competitive job market, if you wait around longer than a week, the offer may have already been withdrawn and the position filled.
Job opportunities in Russia: Interviews
On the whole, the job interview process in Russia is relatively formal and the standard interview rules apply in terms of acting professionally and being prepared. However, the Russians do have a reputation for being hard-faced and direct in business, but this needn’t be daunting. View the interview as a mutually beneficial process and make sure you adhere to their core values of honesty, trust and hard-working to come across well.
- Prior to the interview find out the full name of the interviewer and practice pronouncing it correctly.
- Dress to impress: Always dress in formal business attire for a Russian job interview and be sure to look your best.
- Be punctual: Turning up on time or preferably early to an interview is incredibly important, but if you are going to be late be sure to phone ahead and let them know
- Do your homework: Do plenty of research before your interview – not only on the company, but on Russian culture and history – reeling off a little knowledge of Russian arts or music will demonstrate a greater understanding of the country as well as the role.
- Be enthusiastic: A key part of a selling yourself to the interviewer is to show eagerness and drive for the job.
- Be sincere and smile: Russian’s value honesty and sincerity very highly in business, so try to act as natural and relaxed as possible.
- Take your paperwork: Be sure to have all relevant documents with you including: a copy of your CV (in both languages if applicable); qualification certificates; employer references and any other relevant paperwork they may have requested; a business card to leave behind.
Russian job interviews online
There may be situations where you’re applying for a Russian job from outside the country, which can make a face-to-face interview unachievable, so many Russian and International companies will offer online interviews instead.
However, this doesn’t mean the process will be any more informal or relaxed. You should still maintain the same level of preparation, attire and approach.
- Ensure your surroundings are business-like, quiet and well-lit to see your face
- Practice your interview on camera beforehand to get used to talking at the camera. This will not only help you to be yourself, but also to be aware of looking into the camera at the interviewers.
- Make sure you have a good, high quality internet connection and device for the interview
Interview tips for working in Russia
Applying for any job can be a nerve wracking experience particularly with jobs in Russia where there’s a different business and social culture to consider. However, the key to any Russian job interview is to be prepared:
- Expect to answer some tough questions. Russian interviewers want to test candidates’ knowledge and ability, as well as how they cope in stressful situations so they’ll likely ask you a mixture of general and technical questions about your knowledge of the company, your work experience and personal life.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Employers don’t just want to hear how great you are, showing humility and self-awareness of flaws is also a keen attribute in Russia, providing you can demonstrate how you manage any shortcomings.
- Learn about Russia – you’re already at a disadvantage to local job seekers as a foreigner, but you can score some credit by learning about the country you’re planning on working in – brush up on local history and culture and learn as much Russian as you can to make a lasting impression.
- Have questions prepared for the end of the interview, these should centre around the company background or the position and should allow the interviewer to talk and show you have a genuine interest in them.
- Never say money is your motivation for the role and don’t ask about it unless the interviewer brings up the question. If they do, be realistic with your salary expectations and don’t appear greedy.
Common questions at a Russian interview:
Having a good idea of the types of questions you may be asked in a Russian job interview can help you be better prepared. While some you can prepare ahead of the interview, some are specifically designed to surprise you as they want to test your reaction, as well as your answer. Some common questions include:
- What do you know about the company? What can you do for us?
- What are your current responsibilities? How did you get your last/current job? What did/didn’t you enjoy about your last/current job?
- What are your greatest achievements? Why did you leave your last job? What are your long term professional objectives?
- How would you describe yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What things are important to you in a job?
- Do you think you’re under/over-qualified for the job? Why did you get promoted in your last role? Why do you think you’re right for this job?
With a little insight on what to expect from this guide, you should feel much better prepared and ready for your interview in Russia.
Russia has a number of agreements with other states regarding the recognition of international qualifications, such as degrees and diplomas. More information can be found on The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation site.
One important element is to ensure you have the original copies of your qualifications to present at a job interview, as even notarised copies should not be accepted.