Moscow, Russia, is a city of romance, mystery, and culture. It’s also a modern city that continues to embrace capitalism and commerce. While there may be more opportunities for foreigners than ever before, there are still some challenges. Here’s what you need to know.
Promising employment sectors
- Teaching English is by far the biggest opportunity for English-speaking foreigners. English is commonly used in business, so there is a big demand for teaching services. You could find employment with a school, a business, or even a private family.
- Some industries are growing by leaps and bounds, and that growth makes it easier for foreigners to find employment. Those industries include oil, natural gas, metals, timber, manufacturing, defence, electronics, IT, banking, and the service industry.
- There is currently a shortage of talent in teaching, IT, construction, engineering, and transportation, so skills in those areas will make you more competitive.
Looking for a low-paying job in a restaurant, bar, etc., is probably futile. The visa procurement process is complex and lengthy – employers have to apply for a permit from the Ministry of Ethnic and Migration Policy – and most employers won’t go to the trouble for non-professional positions.
- Speaking both Russian and English is a highly desired skill.
- Networking matters. Finding employment in Russia, especially for foreigners, can be largely dependent on whom you know.
- If there is a branch of a Russian company in your home country, working there for a while can help you establish important connections.
Where to find work
- Newspapers are still a common resource for finding work. The biggest is The Moscow Times.
- Many jobs are filled through recruitment agencies. You can learn more through The Russian Connection.
- Just as in many other countries, job posting sites are popular. However, most are in Russian. If you read Russian, you can take advantage of these sites (and have a competitive advantage over people who don’t read Russian): career.ru, eGraduate, Headhunter, job.ru, and Rabota.ru.
How to apply
While some Russian companies have moved to online applications, the standard is still a cover letter and resume. The tone of the cover letter should be formal, and you should stick to the facts without overselling yourself. And the best thing you can do is to write your resume and cover letter in Russian.
Visas and other red tape
It’s not easy to get a visa to live and work in Russia. You can usually only obtain one if you’ve already been invited by a company you’ve contacted, but you can’t count on that company being a lot of help in actually procuring the visa. The ideal situation is to have letters of interest from several companies, and then to visit the Russian embassy or consulate nearest to your home to apply for a work visa.
A work visa can be valid for anywhere from 90 days to three years. To get one, you’ll need to show both an HIV test certificate and documentation from your prospective employer(s). Once you’re living and working in Russia, you can apply for a residency permit.
The facts of (daily) life
There are a few things you need to know about living and working in Russia.
- The possession of even small quantities of drugs can carry lengthy prison sentences.
- You’ll be expected to produce your original passport upon request. Not being able to do so can incur fines.
- Photographing airports or anything having to do with the military isn’t allowed.
- Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Russia.
- The typical work week is 40 hours.
- The non-resident tax rate is 30 percent. You may also be required to pay taxes to your home country.
Finding a job in Moscow and securing a visa may not be easy. But if you’re looking for an adventure and the opportunity to get to know a beautiful country with amazing people, it’s well worth the effort.