The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

'You won’t understand, the millionaire is in front of you or the seller in the store': Belarusian about life in Silicon Valley



Almost three years ago, Belarusian Victoria Borodina and her husband Mikhail moved to California. The family settled in Mountain View, not far from the offices of IT giants and hundreds or two of startups. Mikhail has already changed Google to Amazon, and Victoria is engaged in recruiting and runs the ProgBlog YouTube channel about her career in the United States. I contacted the couple and figured out how to get to that very Valley and why you shouldn’t indicate your age and marital status in a resume for an American company.

Photo: Shutterstock

Visitors expect something incrediblewow And this is not

- How did you move to the USA?

Michael: Through EPAM. It turned out like this: I worked at EPAM, but on a Google project and in their office. The salary was charged by EPAM, and Google, in turn, paid EPAM for me. Since I was not formally at Google, they paid me less, and besides, the project was uninteresting. So after a few months I decided to go to Amazon and now I'm doing search advertising.

Victoria: We moved on an “H” visa, which allows only those who are transported by the company to work. That is, to my husband, but not to me. Recently, I finally got a work permit and became a freelance technical recruiter: I am looking for people for specific projects for different companies. In addition, together with Fedor Sokolov, founder of a language school in New York, and Yegor Khmelev, CTO of the startup SweatCoin, we launched an online English course for developers ELK Developers.

- California is considered the main IT center of the planet. Is it somehow noticeable in everyday life?

Victoria: Usually people who come here expect to see something incredible. But here is just a one-story America, and it does not seem "high-tech" at all. The only thing is that there are a lot of chargers for electric cars, even in the parking lots of shops and residential complexes.

Michael: Actually, startups test their products here. Therefore, it feels like a lot of new things are emerging. For example, Waymo autonomous cars drive the streets.

- What is the reason for such a concentration of start-ups and IT-companies in this particular state?

Victoria: It probably happened historically. There are many good universities here: Berkeley, Stanford. Plus, cheap land, so it was profitable for companies to open offices here. Now there are many investors and developers in California, they are pulling each other up.

Motor homes near expensive residential complexes

- Is there social stratification between IT people and everyone else?

Michael: It seems to me that yes. Actually, we see few people on the streets: they still walk around San Francisco, and in our “villages” the sidewalks are usually empty. You just don't see non-IT people: the only place you meet people is in the office.

Victoria: Everyone gets into the car in the garage and goes to the office. If you work freelance from home, then you don't see people at all - except when you go to the store. Yes, there is a bundle. Due to the shortage of programmers and the struggle for them between companies, salaries in the IT industry are overheated. People of other professions, especially low-skilled ones, have a harder time. Between them and IT specialists, of course, the difference is noticeable.

Michael: A lot of people, for example, live in roadside trailers.

Victoria: Our city is not cheap even for the Valley - there are mobile homes next to expensive residential complexes. But outwardly, there is no social difference.

Yes, someone has a better car, but people dress so simply that it is impossible to say whether the millionaire is in front of you or the seller in the store. Usually on all sneakers, jeans and T-shirt of the company in which the person works.

In a year for two you need $ 100 thousand

- IT people earn good money - this is understandable. What amounts are we talking about? How much is needed for a comfortable life?

Victoria: I think from one hundred thousand dollars a year for a family of two. Developers have a wide range of income. There are many factors: they work in a startup or in a company, for how many years they have been in one place. In five years at Google, salaries can go up dramatically.

If it is very averaging, then a good middle-developer in a prestigious company will have income from two hundred thousand. And the very start for those who work in bodyshop, is somewhere $ 75 — 80 thousands.

Michael: Before tax deductions will be $ 200-250 thousand. The managers have a little more.

- Taxes are big?

Michael: They are progressive, income dependent. The more you earn, the higher the percentage. Roughly speaking, an average of 35%.

Victoria: With a non-working wife and a small child, the rate can be reduced to somewhere around 26%. In general, taxes in California are very high: 50% should be given by people with a salary of two million dollars a year, but this is if they do not have children and some benefits.

- Is there any discrimination in terms of salaries? For example, between Indians and Americans.

Victoria: When an Indian and an American interview on Google for the same position, there will be no difference in salaries - of course, if they have a comparable level of education and skills.

But there are firms, especially Indian ones, that transport developers here and “sell” them to companies at a high price, while the people themselves receive little. Still, the standard of living in India is low, and many are ready to travel even for little money.

- You mentioned that in five years the salary in Google can grow greatly. This is a long period of work in one place according to Belarusian standards. Do Valley IT professionals have high loyalty to employers?

Victoria: All large companies spoil developers very much, it is enough to look at their offices: free lunches, gyms and other amenities. In addition, they often offer promotions, and the system is tricky. You can cash out, for example, after two years. After receiving money for the first block of shares, a person is immediately given a new one, which will be available again after several years. This is the rod that many have been sitting on for years.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to get a decent salary increase, so many every two years go to another company somewhere with an 20% increase in income. Another category of people is those who, in general, do not like corporate culture and go into small start-ups.

How to not create a resume for a company in the Valley

- In your materials you said that American recruiters, unlike colleagues from the CIS, do not like long resumes. What else is different?

Victoria: In Belarus and Russia, CVs are distinguished, firstly, by size, and secondly, by indicating personal data. It is not customary to add a photograph to an American resume, for example. Plus, you can not indicate age, marital status, the presence of children. All this can lead to discrimination: suddenly you seem attractive to the recruiter, and he is more willing to choose you. Of course, this cannot be ruled out with personal contact, but at least the first stage of selection is impersonal.

Why do recruiters often not miss a resume? Just because of the availability of such information. This immediately indicates that the person has not found the correct model, there may be problems with communication with him.

Usually in the CIS they write about their duties, working process. And here there should be only the result and achievements - the more numbers and indicators, the better. Probably, that is how American individualism manifests itself. They are able to highlight their contribution from the overall result of the team. This is not even a mentality, but simply a developed and efficient system.

No matter what you had to do. The main thing is what you brought to the company. Gradually, such a system comes to Europe. I think there is a similar tendency in some Belarusian companies.

Michael: They rarely interview on specific technologies. In Russia, where I come from, you are hired for certain tasks and technologies. In the United States, they hire a person who generally knows how to program, and if anything, they teach him new technology.

- What about education? Does a diploma mean something or, on the contrary, love nuggets more?

Victoria: Specifically, there is a shortage of developers, so everyone is loved. If a person has knowledge and experience, then it doesn't really matter which university he graduated from. Russian universities, not to mention Belarusian ones, few people know: Moscow State University, St. Petersburg ITMO.

It seems to me that universities here help more in terms of networking: good acquaintances appear during my studies. Who is looking for work - throws a cry among his own, and former classmates vouch for him.

Michael: A top American university like Stanford is always a plus. If you have a state university, it doesn't matter anymore.

There are no correct answers to the questions of recruiters.

- According to your video impression that recruiters look more at the overall adequacy, rather than professional skills. This is true?

Victoria: In general, yes. The recruiter should check for adequacy, knowledge of English and compliance with the culture of the company. There are technical questions, but more are asked about your behavior in a given situation. People often think that there must be a correct answer, but in reality it is not. It's just that different teams suit different people: some are resistant to stress, others need relaxation.

By the way, cultural conformity is viewed here more than in Belarus. Here they can refuse to god of programming, but with some strange behavior. And in Belarus, I'm sure, his eyes will close on his strangeness.

- Several years ago it turned out that Belarusian HR managers have (well, or had at that time) black lists of applicants. Does anything like this exist in the Valley?

Victoria: I have no confirmation, but there are rumors and conversations. It happens that a person has gone through an interview perfectly, but he is suddenly denied. There are no lists that recruiters send to each other. But this is a community where there are many acquaintances - perhaps information is transmitted in this way.

Michael: There are such lists within the companies themselves. There is a story for each candidate. If someone gets a job at Amazon, I can watch all of their previous interviews with that company.

The man failed at the interview, received a super-negative feedback - at least a year he would not be invited again. But there is a policy that such a stain should not be for life. After a couple of years, it is reset.

- What are their attitudes towards workaholism and processing?

Michael: Americans love to work, recycling is in the order of things. In startups, it happens that people work 14 hours a day. At the same time, a friend worked in a Berlin startup, and they have strict working hours, no one is even half an hour late. The US has a different culture. But there is no such thing that an employee is forced to be at work in excess of what is supposed to be - this is his initiative.

About compliments to colleagues

- Tell us about the fight against harassment, ethics in companies. What topics are not customary to talk about, to joke? Except for the obvious.

Michael: We do an online ethics training every year. There are no specific lists of “do's and don’ts”. It is clear that you should not compliment your colleague's breasts, but the usual compliments are not prohibited.

Victoria: As a rule, compliments are neutral: “I like your shoes”, “you look good today”. This, of course, is very different from how sometimes office workers in Belarus and Russia communicate with colleagues.

- Relationships between employees are allowed?

Michael: Google has banned romantic relationships between direct bosses and subordinates. And if people work in one team, please.

- Give advice to answer some purely recruiting question.

Victoria: I am very often asked how to talk about my shortcomings. In fact, everything is simple: you only need to know two points.

The first. It is advisable to talk about things that were in the past: “I used to do like this.” And be sure to emphasize that now if you have not solved the problem, you have significantly corrected it.

Second. Disadvantages should not be directly related to your work. If a programmer says that he cooks borscht badly, it will be a mockery. But do not say that you have problems with concentration and coding - that is, with the fact that you need to work. Choose an intermediate: let's say, "I was not very good with public speaking." This is not the main task of the developer, but sometimes there are meetings where you need to speak with other people.

And tell me that you worked on yourself and everything got better. The scheme is simple, but effective.

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