Today a decision to hire developers in Ukraine isn't urged by low-cost rates only. With an over 250K tech talent pool and a mature tech ecosystem, Ukraine offers high-end services and expertise.
In this article, our talent acquisition experts share their savoir-faire of hiring developers in Ukraine. Let’s find out how to finetune this process and end up with a crew of bright, committed engineers.
10 Questions You Might Have About Hiring Software Developers in Ukraine
How easy is it to find software engineers in Ukraine in 2021?
If you're looking for the best place to find developers in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is a great option for several reasons
- Ukraine is second in the number of software developers in Eastern Europe after Poland
The latest statistics estimate that there are currently more than 250K programmers in Ukraine and 750+ IT service companies, of which 245 have 50+ employees.
- The competition for tech talent in Ukraine is less fierce than in other European countries
In comparison to Poland, there are fewer large international companies in Ukraine. This is an advantage because you won't have to face a severe competition with global giants while hiring developers in Ukraine.
You can hire the top 10% of developers in Ukraine by choosing an IT outsourcing vendor with a strong employer brand.
- The number of product tech companies in Ukraine keeps growing
In 2020, Kyiv takes 32nd place in the ranking of 1000 cities with the best startup ecosystems all over the world. That said, the majority of local software developers still work in large outsourcing companies rather than product companies.
- Ukraine is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in Europe
Due to the large number of tech universities and research centers that take their roots in the Soviet Union times, Ukraine is the 6th fastest growing tech hub in Europe. There are 40+ universities that offer computer science specializations and dozens of private IT schools that produce 23K+ programmers annually.
- Ukrainian tech talent is diverse
- Ukrainian developers are known for their critical thinking, creativity, and initiative
By contrast to other countries, the IT industry ranks high in terms of prestige in Ukraine, which means the market keeps continuously growing.
- You can hire developers in Ukraine fast
Though the demand for Ukrainian tech talent is generally high, hiring developers has become much easier during and after the quarantine as the number of available developers has grown.
Hire top developers in Ukraine
What does the hiring process look like in Ukraine?
In this section of the guide, we’ve collected some of the most common questions that business owners have about hiring developers in Ukraine.
Where to hire a developer full-time in Ukraine?
The main tech talent hubs in Ukraine are Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Dnipro. Kyiv, the capital, is the undisputed leader in the number of developers. Lviv takes second place, Kharkiv follows, and Dnipro closes the list of Ukraine’s biggest tech cities. A few more hot locations include Odesa (5%), Vinnytsia (3%), and Zaporizhia (2%).
How many developers are there in Ukraine?
Of course, software developers aren’t the only professionals you need to develop a product. The Ukrainian market has no shortage of other tech professionals, including project managers, team leads, marketing professionals, tech writers, etc.
How well do Ukrainian programmers speak English?
34% of Ukrainian programmers speak English at an upper-intermediate level, another 34% have an intermediate level of English, 13% are advanced English speakers, and only 4% have an elementary level. Most Ukrainian programmers cooperate with European and US businesses, so knowing English is a must.
Is it safe to outsource the development of my product’s core functions to Ukraine?
Outsourcing companies are a well-established type of business in Ukraine. There are many large outsourcing vendors that meet high security standards and have a variety of international security certificates.
For tech vendors, making sure the security of the services they provide is exceptionally high is a prerequisite for staying competitive. So if you outsource software development to a mature company holding several international certifications, you can rest assured that your business is in safe hands.
How did the global crisis influence the Ukrainian tech market?
Despite the global crisis caused by the 2020 quarantine, Ukrainian tech companies kept posting new vacancies and hiring new employees. In our own experience, the availability of developers in Ukraine has increased since the beginning of the quarantine.
Is it more cost-efficient to hire overseas developers in Ukraine than locally?
As we all know, great developers are expensive everywhere. So what will make hiring developers in Ukraine more cost-efficient for you than hiring programmers locally?
The taxes. In Ukraine, employment taxes are way lower than in the US, the UK, Germany, or the Netherlands. Employers only have to pay a single tax (5% of the salary) and a single social security contribution ($160 per year) per developer. And if you choose to hire developers in Ukraine through a reliable tech partner, you’ll still be able to save on development without having to get to know the local employment law and procedures.
Working this way, you won't have to pay any compensation after the remote developer's dismissal. Hiring developers in Ukraine adds flexibility — you don't have to wait an entire year to part ways with a developer you no longer want to work with. You can scale your remote software development team up and down whenever needed without any financial risks.
I’ve already tried outsourcing, and my experience was unsuccessful. Why should I outsource to Ukraine?
Cultural fit is crucial for a remote collaboration to work. What makes Ukrainian developers great for Western European and US businesses is that they share a similar mentality and work ethics, so you're unlikely to experience any major differences throughout your communication.
Ukrainian developers are also known for their initiative, proactivity, and curiosity. If a Ukrainian programmer has trouble understanding some of your requirements, they’ll simply ask for clarification.
And don’t expect Ukrainian programmers to keep silent if they see a better solution than the one you’re suggesting — they’ll care about your product’s success first and foremost.
What city will be optimal for me — Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv? Any others?
The best cities with software coders for hire in Ukraine are Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Dnipro. These cities collect 74% of all software developers in the country. They all have populations around a million as well as well-developed city infrastructures, convenient flight connections, and a large number of tech universities.
All of these factors facilitate the emergence of new IT companies and attract hundreds of international businesses annually. So if you want to know how to hire developers in Ukraine, it's most convenient to choose one of these cities:
Hiring Ukrainian programmers in Kyiv
Hiring Ukrainian programmers in Kyiv is one of the most viable options for business owners, because Kyiv is the largest software development center in Ukraine and houses 37% of the country's IT talent. There are around 56K software developers in Kyiv. The majority of large companies are located in Kyiv, which means the competition for talent is higher here than in other Ukrainian tech hubs. Besides, Kyiv has the highest number of programmers per 1K citizens in Ukraine — 9.7.
Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine, so the city naturally has convenient flight connections with all the key European tech hubs, including Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Paris, and London. And since Kyiv leads in the number of software developers in Ukraine, most international companies choose to open their offices in this city.
Finding Ukrainian developers in Kharkiv
Finding a developer in Kharkiv is not hard, because there are already 480+ IT service and product companies in Kharkiv that employ 26K+ professionals. The IT industry in Kharkiv grows at an average 20% rate per year. The main IT outsourcing marketplaces for Kharkiv are the US (74%) and Eastern Europe (19%). The development of E-commerce products, entertainment programs and games, travel services, banking, and fintech are traditionally strong domains for Kharkiv’s IT companies.
Kharkiv is an enticing option for businesses in terms of cost-efficiency — the city takes 2nd place in the number of programmers after Kyiv, yet developer salaries in Kharkiv are lower. Traveling to Kharkiv is also comfortable as the local airport carries regular international flights. The competition for talent is less fierce here, while the talent market continuously grows thanks to the great number of tech universities. Kharkiv is often referred to as the city of students due to the fact that it has multiple research centers and education institutions taking their origin back in the Soviet Union times.
Hiring Ukrainian software developers in Lviv
In comparison to other Ukrainian tech hubs, Lviv has the most comfortable geographical location — it only takes an hour to get to Warsaw by plane from Lviv. Lviv is a pro-European city with a vibrant tech community, so it attracts tech professionals from all over Ukraine. No wonder Lviv's tech market has tripled in size over the last 5 years.
Recruiting Ukrainian engineers in Dnipro
Dnipro is one more proven destination to hire web developers in Ukraine — there are 378 IT companies in Dnipro that employ between 15K+ programmers. Almost 97% of the market is taken by small and medium companies. However, one out of 3 developers in Dnipro works in a large company. 62.6% of IT companies in Dnipro are service providers, 20.4% are product businesses, 9.2% are startups, 4.2% are service and product companies, and 3.4% are international giants.
Though the number of software developers in Dnipro is lower than in other Ukrainian tech hubs, the city keeps growing rapidly. It's expected that the number of programmers in Dnipro will double by 2025. It’s also worth noting that 40% of Dnipro’s developers are seniors.
What should I know about the special aspects of cooperation with Ukrainian developers?
There are 4 core remote collaboration models — hiring freelancers, establishing an R&D center, building a dedicated team, or outsourcing your project to a vendor. Depending on your business needs and expectations, you can choose to work with Ukrainian developers through one of these remote collaboration models:
Remote collaboration models comparison
Hiring freelance developers is a great option if software development isn't at the core of your business and the scope of development tasks isn't broad. However, keep in mind that freelancers usually juggle several projects at a time, which means they might miss deadlines and won’t be fully dedicated to your product. If that won’t be too big of an issue for you, you should definitely try hiring a freelance developer in Ukraine. The country happens to be 2nd in the number of freelance developers in Europe, so it won't take long to find one here.
This model works best for large companies that are looking to tap into foreign markets with their services or products. Establishing your own R&D center is not too different from building a company from scratch — you'll need a great number of professionals, from HR managers and PMs to software engineers with different specializations. This means you'll have to hire about 50 professionals from the get-go.
Offshore software development with dedicated programmers in Ukraine is a viable alternative for businesses that want to hire full-time programmers, yet aren't ready to build their own remote R&D centers. Similarly to your local software engineers, dedicated remote developers work on your product only and are an integral part of your in-house team. You can manage your remote dedicated developers with the methods and tools you like and come to visit them whenever you want to, while your tech partner will manage all organizational matters.
This model fits business owners who have strict and predictable tech requirements. Project outsourcing works as follows: you provide the outsourcing vendor with all your project requirements, determine the deadline, and agree upon the budget. The vendor engages their current employees in your project and undertakes all the managerial and organizational matters. It’s important to note that making changes in project requirements throughout the development process will most likely increase the initial budget.
What should I pay attention to when choosing an outsourcing vendor?
Choosing a reliable outsourcing vendor for IT outsourcing to Ukraine is a foundation for successful collaboration with remote software developers.
To select a reliable outsourcing vendor, check your potential tech partner according to the following criteria — maturity of the company, positive feedback from clients, all-round expertise in versatile domains, similar values, well-established employer brand, and international certificates.
- Maturity of the company
Make sure the outsourcing vendor you’re considering is a well-established company with at least 5 years of experience on the market. Mature vendors know how to find a developer, how to cope with crises and have the necessary expertise to help you grow your business.
- Positive feedback from clients
Good outsourcing vendors usually have multiple case studies and client success stories on their websites. Besides, you can always connect with the vendor's clients directly and ask them for recommendations.
- All-round expertise in versatile domains
Check whether the vendor has had experience with businesses from different industries: Healthcare, E-learning, E-commerce, Telecom, Fintech, etc. This showcases a broad business expertise of the vendor.
- Similar values
It's important to be on the same page with your vendor value-wise. Do you believe in transparency and flexibility? Check whether your vendor agrees. In the long run, it's crucial to move forward with like-minded people.
- Well-established employer brand
And this isn’t just about marketing. Tech partners who really care about their developers will have high retention rates and employee satisfaction levels, which in turn will make it easier for them to hire developers in Ukraine for your project.
Which language is used for internal communication and technical documentation?
For more than two decades of successful outsourcing, Ukrainian software engineers have become well-versed in both spoken and written English.
In the outsourcing industry, all forms of internal communication is usually done in English: daily sync-up meetings, email communication, task management, etc. Therefore, if you and your in-house team are used to communicate in local language, it’s highly recommended to switch to English in advance, so that your team will be comfortable with communicating with their new remote peers once they join the team.
The same goes for technical documentation: it should be put down in English or translated into English (in advance or gradually).
That said, discussing and putting on paper all aspects of collaboration is a key action to anticipate any issues that might (or might not) arise. If needed, don’t be stingy and involve a lawyer to help you with organizing the conditions of the contract.
What do I need to do to attract good developers?
After aligning on a client’s business needs and desired team structure, a client is to get job descriptions ready on their side. Based on these job requirements, the vendor’s recruiters create a job profile and start looking for candidates.
Here is a handful of tips on writing job descriptions from Grid Dynamics talent acquisition experts:
- Focus on a candidate’s role
Dedicate 30% to describing a company’s mission, the department a candidate will join, main stakeholders. The other 70% should be dedicated to a candidate’s job responsibilities.
The goal - let’s face it - is to sell your company and project to a candidate. Because, given the high demand for software engineers across the globe, it’s the candidate who is choosing a company.
- Dig deep into the project
Nothing irritates more than well-worn phrases like “we need digital transformation,” “bring cutting-edge technology,” — you know the type.
Describe the status quo: the product you’re currently developing, what’s the goal, what has been already done, what you expect to achieve. Also, you can describe the team composition, stakeholders and customer profile.
- Be specific about technical skills
Try to be as specific as possible. Write down each programming language and framework needed for the role under a “Required” section name.
Don’t forget to mention if a role supposes managing direct reports and what type of methodology you’re following. If needed, ask your job description to be reviewed by a technical person in-house or consult your outsourcing vendor.
Who’s responsible for job interviews and onboarding?
How to hire a Ukrainian programmer for your vacancy, follow our checklist:
- Apart from the technical prowess, check soft skills too
- Use the tools and methods you know and love
- Don't delay feedback
- Hold an additional interview to make up your mind
- Introduce your new developer to the team
- Apart from the technical prowess, check soft skills too
Obviously, it's crucial for the candidate to possess all the necessary tech skills for the job. But keep in mind that working with like-minded people brings the highest productivity levels and contributes to team morale, so make sure you actually like the candidate as a person.
- Use the tools and methods you know and love
When hiring remote developers in Ukraine, you extend your local team with full-time employees. Thus, you can approach the recruitment process pretty much the same way you would locally.
- Don't delay feedback
Ukraine’s tech talent pool may be large, but so is the number of companies interested in hiring them. The developers you're interviewing can be considering several other projects at any given moment, so don’t hesitate to contact the candidate you like immediately. Otherwise, your competitor may steal them from right under your nose. If the feedback is negative, don’t delay it either so the candidate knows where they stand.
- Hold an additional interview to make up your mind
You're looking to hire software developers in Ukraine for long-term cooperation, so you need to be 100% sure you hire the right person. If you’re considering several candidates and are having trouble making the final decision, hold additional interviews.
- Introduce your new developer to the team
If you've finally decided to hire a developer in Ukraine, ask them to come to your office and work there for at least a week. If that's not possible, try to visit your new employee to discuss the next steps in your further collaboration and get to know each other in person.
How can I be sure that remote developers have everything they need for work?
Once you’re done with setting up your development team with a vendor, the next step is to build building an open and productive relationship with your remote developers. And here’s when you need a mediator. For that reason, we at Grid Dynamics assign a dedicated HR/Client Manager who is always in contact with both you and your developers. The key role is to proactively help build effective collaboration and solve any issues that may (or may not) arise on the go.
A Client Manager’s responsibilities include:
- facilitating performance reviews of your engineers
- evaluating their job satisfaction after one, two, six months, a year after the start of employment, and biannually if your cooperation extends 12 months
- analyzing your feedback regarding their work quality and professional growth
- collecting feedback and identifying areas for improvement
Are there any outsourcing success stories that I can refer to?
We talked to business owners who already outsource to Ukraine and asked about their experiences. Below you'll find insights from our clients who know how to make the most of hiring remote programmers in Ukraine.
2 Java developers, 2 Ionic/Angular developers
"One of the surprises I had working with my Ukrainian team is that getting the developers engaged was actually very simple. The engagement is already here. I don’t know if it is because they are Ukrainians or hired by Grid Dynamics – from the very beginning they were not just interested in the technology and development of nerdy stuff, but they were also interested in our product."
Head of Products at Carerix
3 senior full-stack developers, 1 senior UI/UX designer
"Don't go for remote cooperation thinking that it's cheaper – do it for the flexibility and capacities you'll acquire. It's easier to cooperate with Kyiv instead of trying to hire someone in the Netherlands. Even if you manage to hire in the Netherlands, there will always be the possibility of that person being hunted by the top attractive companies."
CTO at CuriosityStream
1 front-end developer, 1 Android developer, 2 iOS developers, 1 QA automation engineer, 1 PHP developer
"iOS and Android developers are working on background playback. Background playback is where you can have the video playing while you open and use other apps, just like on YouTube. After Valentyn developed the video feature, we saw that the number of hours watched has increased on our web app. And the new onboarding flow that was also developed by Valentyn lifted the paid subscriber conversion rate."
RightNow Group Co-founder
1 team lead, 2 senior software developers, 1 middle software developer
"We have daystart calls to align on topics such as the general quality and expectations, discuss things, and answer questions. We are a 2.5-hour flight away and it is important to work together, stay very close in touch, and make sure we know what is going on in Kyiv and that our developers know what's new in Germany."
globalHMA and Workhorse Development Owner
1 full-stack developer
"The technical skills of Ukrainian developers are unbelievable. It’s as if I hired someone young with a lot of experience. In my opinion, Tetiana is smarter and more capable than anybody I have worked with so far. I’m sure some of that is because she can concentrate just on the app in front of her and not worry about a whole lot of other difficult work. For me, the technical skills are amazing."