Expat Stories in Russia – Ilya Polyakov, Antal Russia

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Written By Ilya Polyakov

I am Russian by blood but my mind is from somewhere else. It could be from traveling to 37 countries, growing up as an “expat-kid” in Singapore and Qatar, or working in 5 different countries already. My home, and safe haven, is and always has been Denmark. Living in Denmark for more than half of my life with a very secure job, I decided to turn everything upside down and move to Russia!

My Motivation for Moving to Russia

On August 31, 2019, I landed at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow as an expat and took the first steps into my new reality, new life, and a very exciting future. The border control officer looked at my passport and asked about the purpose of my visit to Russia. Wow, I thought. I could tell him for hours, with great enthusiasm, about my reasons for moving to Russia for work.

Part of my family actually lives close to Moscow. My wife followed me to Moscow as well and with her, we plan to build our own family and future here in Moscow. I have lived in big cities before, and I love the chaos, the morning routine of pushing into the metro, and the stress that comes with living in a megacity like Moscow. Many foreigners say that Russians don’t smile, but they actually do. You just have to work a bit for it.

Russia is an interesting country with many adventures and challenges. Russia inspires the urge to uncover more of its secrets. Discover the culture, the people, and the unexpected. I like the work culture in Moscow as well. Everyone works hard, sticks to deadlines, and takes work seriously and professionally.  

Working at Antal Russia

I never worked in Russia and with Danish citizenship, it was a long fight to make it all happen. In summer 2018, I met Michael Germershausen, Managing Director at Antal Russia (a large international recruitment firm). Michael decided to help me in pursuing my dream of working in Moscow and advised me on how to find a job in Moscow. After 9 months of searching seemingly everywhere, I finally found the next step in my career. Michael himself hired me to work as a business development manager at Antal Russia. The next chapter in my life went from simply a dream to a reality.

When I joined Antal Russia, I had little knowledge about the firm, the office atmosphere, or even the services they provide. Of course, I knew that they did recruitment, but besides that, I had to learn the business from scratch. I was nervous about starting a new job. Up until this point, I had worked in the hospitality industry my whole career, so it was a huge step for me to change industries. When most people change jobs, they just change their company, but I had a new country, a new industry, a new work culture, and a new company! All in all, I am very happy that I took a step into the unknown. I have absolutely no regrets! 

Antal is a leading recruitment firm, based in the UK, specializing in mid to senior-level management roles across an extensive range of professional disciplines and industries. Antal Russia is part of Antal CIS, and we have offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Almaty, Tashkent, and Kyiv. We are, therefore, able to assist in recruiting across the entire CIS.

Antal Russia covers recruiting in all industries with a specific focus in fast-moving consumer goods, retail, agriculture, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and professional services. More or less, we are able to help all candidates regardless of the sectors where they have worked. 

Business Development in Russia

My job at Antal Russia is to be the international face of the firm and help develop business. Typically, I attend several events per week where I mingle with the business community in Moscow, building my network and awareness of Antal Russia.

Michael, the general manager of Antal Russia, told me that the most important task for anyone is building a personal brand. People have to know who you are and this will create business and new clients.

In addition to events, I am very active on LinkedIn. I write articles and connect with candidates and potential clients. My LinkedIn network has tripled in just 6 months (and I already had a lot of connections). In January, I was featured on Moscow FM 92.0 radio, where I was interviewed about my experience being an expat in Moscow. It was a scary experience I must say, but I learned a lot from it. I never thought that I would end up talking to hundreds of thousands of people but it is just part of the job as a business development manager.

From all the events, networking, and cold calling (sadly this must be done to find new clients) I arrange and attend meetings. My business Russian is still a bit wobbly and my knowledge of recruitment is still growing, therefore, I often bring along colleagues to most client meetings. Together, we are able to “sell” Antal Russia and bring on new clients. 

I enjoy my job, talking to new people every day, and getting a “kick” out of signing new clients. Working as a business development manager in Russia is definitely not the easiest job, and I often encounter language and cultural barriers. I have learned to just appreciate this as part of the reason I look forward to going to work every day! Working abroad is a constant challenge and it is hard to imagine going back to a career in my home country. 

How Can I Help You?

I get many messages and resumes from people hoping to become the next expat in Russia. At first, I got 1 resume a week, then 2, and now more than I can count. I would love to help everyone, but the are many challenges to getting a job in Russia for expats. But, I can say that from my experience, perseverance is by far the key to unlocking a career in Russia. 

Unfortunately, I can not promise that I or Antal Russia will be able to find you a job. What I can promise though, is that I will look at every resume that comes through my inbox and forward them to relevant recruiters. We have around 120 recruiters, so I will make sure that your resume ends up in good hands. We are always here to give you career advice and explain the do’s and don’ts for the Moscow job market.

I also encourage you to check out Expatriant Jobs, the only expat job board currently available in Russia. 

With this and future articles, I would like to help everyone who wants to become an expat in Russia. Hopefully, my posts are informative and have practical advice. Feel free to send me your resume, and I will do my best to get it in the hands of my clients. I look forward to being your guide in this complicated world of international recruitment.
Feel free to add me on LinkedIn or email me.