Just a few days after Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine, Val Voshchevska identified a need: Companies, universities, and other institutions were trying to hire Ukrainians, but with little to no coordination, making it hard for Ukrainians—fleeing war, sheltering from shells, or in shock at their new refugee status—to make use of the opportunities.
Voshchevska, a 29-year-old head of digital at a UK-based charity, sprang into action, rallying support from friends and other volunteers. Less than two weeks after the invasion they launched Jobs for Ukraine, a bare-bones site that pulls together all the jobs and other openings they manually find online. They could have made the site “shiny and pretty,” Voshchevska said, “but instead we were like, we just need to launch whatever we can and see where it goes.”
Already there are more than 2,000 vacancies for roles ranging from graphic designers to tattoo artists, and it’s growing rapidly, while the founders work on further automation of the site. ”We’re getting about 200 new opportunities every day,” Voshchevska said.
Visas for Ukrainians remain hard to come by
The rise of remote work helps with the availability of roles, but getting visas for those trying to flee Ukraine remains a tricky business in many countries.
“A lot of companies that we reach out to or that come to our website are [asking] practically how do I do this? How do I hire someone to either move to the UK, or freelancers from outside the UK?” Voshchevska said. One volunteer on the Jobs for Ukraine project is a lawyer at a boutique London law firm with a specialist business immigration team. She’s working on a guide for businesses that will aim to answer some of those questions.
Of course, not everyone in Ukraine who needs employment will want to relocate from their country, which is why Jobs for Ukraine is trying to find more freelance opportunities.
“No one knows how long this is going to go on for,” Voshchevska said. “Not everyone wants to move forever, for a permanent job, to San Francisco, or to London, or to Dublin.” But they still need to earn money, she said—often more than they need anything else.
Instagram is a major referrer
Jobs for Ukraine has had about 100,000 page views since launch. Instagram sends more people to the site than any other route, suggesting that the demographic using it is younger than the average internet user.
Jobs for Ukraine is itself a coordinated effort. It was co-founded by Severija Bielskytė, a Lithuanian freelancer living in London who is expert in gender-based violence, and by Nikita Logachev, a software executive from Malta now based in Prague, who built the site. Voshchevska negotiated time off from her job at Amnesty International so she could focus on helping Ukraine and her family.
The site isn’t the only one attempting to coordinate the jobs being offered. Fuzzboard, a site which originated in Portugal, is now listing tech jobs specifically for Ukrainians. The Instagram account Job Offers For Ukrainians also has shared some opportunities. Jobs4ukr.com, meanwhile, is sharing jobs more focused on countries close to Ukraine. And of course existing charities and NGOs that help refugees have also extended help to Ukrainians since the war began.
Looking for Ukrainian software engineers
Individual companies, too, have been trying to spread the word about their efforts to hire Ukrainians.
Cutover, a UK startup with a tech team of around 80, put up job ads specifically targeting Ukrainians soon after the war started. “All of our job vacancies are open to Ukrainian applicants, but as a software scale-up company, we know that the Ukrainian software engineering talent pool is one of the best on the planet,” Ky Nichol, Cutover’s CEO, wrote on its website. While many tech companies have a history of hiring from Ukraine’s active sector, Nichol makes clear that the effort now is also humanitarian: “We’ve opened a separate ‘fast-track’ Software Engineering role specifically for displaced Ukrainian engineers.” Cutover is offering a package that includes a job, plane tickets, visa help, two months of accommodation, and language lessons.
Larger companies also are reaching out. Dept, a digital agency with over 2,500 staff globally, told Quartz that because it was “fully geared-up for remote working,” all 250 of its open positions were available to Ukrainians, and the company would help them with the visa process as well as offering support where possible for things like travel costs for those hired and their families. It’s offering that any Ukrainians in the tech sector who need a place to work can use its 30-plus offices—the closest of which to Ukraine are in Germany and Croatia.
Are Ukrainians applying? “We are so happy to see that in just a week of publishing information about the opportunities, we have 10 excellent applicants who are now being considered further in our recruitment process,” said Amanda Schmidt, chief people officer at Dept.
Academia helping Ukrainians
Universities have been among the first to offer openings to Ukrainians, possibly because they already have a clear pathway for visiting fellowships and other forms of academic exchange.
The International Task Force for Displaced Scholars met virtually for the first time three days after Putin moved against his neighbor. It keeps minutes of its meetings on a public Google Doc. According to the doc, the inaugural meeting was attended by 45 students and scholars representing eight countries and dozens of institutions. Their first action item: To begin identifying potential funding and organizing to get Ukrainians hired.
“Academics are highly privileged in their ability to move about and overcome international and language boundaries, and visa limitations,” said David Zeevi, a senior scientist at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. “In that context, it’s very easy for us to help our peers out when they’re in a bad situation like the one in the Ukraine.”
“I think what touched me here is how fragile things are,” Zeevi told Quartz. “One minute you’re going about your business, and the next a nuclear superpower is racing towards your capital. It’s hard to imagine, and I want to do what I can, as an individual, to help.”