Hiring IT talent in Romania - The complete guide

Anne-Lise Brown
Anne-Lise Brown ↓ citește în 15 minute
Nov 29, 2023
Citit de 270 de ori
IT

As much as it is exciting and motivating to expand your team to another country and launch new innovative projects with talented individuals, entering a market you don’t fully know is also quite challenging. Gathering all the data you need to understand it can be a time-consuming process, to say the least.

During our 12 years of experience in tech recruitment and consultancy, we dedicated our time to providing the best hiring experience to our candidates and the best possible results to our partners. Through this process, we built a database of more than 120K professionals and consolidated a strong developer community that embodies high working standards. Our experience contributed to a complex understanding of the Romanian tech talent pool that helped our clients reach their business and recruitment goals and we firmly believe that it can also help your organization better navigate the Romanian tech market and design the right processes to attract and retain talent.

As many companies are considering recruiting tech talent in Romania, we share this comprehensive resource that covers not just the local tech market but also the specificities of Romanian culture and professionals. This article will help you understand:

  1. The state of the Romanian tech market in 2023

  2. Cultural characteristics of Romanian developers

  3. How to attract the best talent

  4. What to expect in terms of salary and taxes

  5. Recruitment and hiring timeline to get the team going

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1. The state of the Romanian tech market in 2023

    Romania has become one of the most attractive IT markets in Eastern Europe and is especially renowned for software development outsourcing. In 2023, there are more than 220,000 ICT and tech professionals in Romania, and +30k companies in the IT industry, with most of the tech activity being concentrated in 4 cities - Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iași, and Timișoara. One interesting aspect of the tech industry in Romania is that women account for a quarter of tech professionals, placing Romania at the top of the countries that are making strides toward closing the gender gap, together with Bulgaria.

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    Romania has seen an immense increase in the IT sector in the past years. According to research conducted in 2022 by ANIS (the Software and Services Industry Employers' Association), the IT market in Romania was estimated in 2022 at 9 billion euros, compared to 4.6 billion euros in 2015,, and was predicted to reach 12 billion euros in 2025. It also stated that, compared to the average overall tendency of Romania's economic growth, the IT market has an annual growth rate that is 15 - 17% higher. Since 2022, a series of political and economic events happened that destabilized the state of the market, the most current one being the wave of layoffs that affected not just Romania, but the tech industry as a whole. However, the tech sector in Romania as a whole is still thriving and more and more entrepreneurs and startups from the EU and USA are exploring its market, especially because of the attractive combo of highly skilled professionals and competitive rates (but more on what competitive rates mean later). One example of a renowned brand and company that chose Romania as their prime destination for their tech operations is Estée Lauder Companies, which opened their new Technology Center in Bucharest in April 2023.

    As mentioned before, the cities that attract the most tech companies are Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iași, and Timișoara, due to the top talent available there. Reputable computer science universities, such as the University Babeș-Bolyai in Cluj-Napoca, the University of Bucharest, and Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași, are producing thousands of knowledgeable graduates yearly. A great majority of them start their careers by doing internships at big tech companies while in their final year and continue to work for them after graduation as well, growing into skilled professionals with amazing work ethics. On the other hand, these are also some of the biggest, most developed cities in the country, where companies choose to establish their hubs. Thus, many tech professionals used to choose to relocate to one of these tech-centered cities to pursue career growth. However, the now-rooted trend of flexible and remote work brought a 2-faceted change - first, it made it even easier for international companies to access top tech talent in Romania, by gaining access to professionals outside of these interest cities, and second, it offered the possibility to professionals to relocate in areas where the cost and/or rhythm of living is more satisfying for them.

    When it comes to the spectrum of professionals available in Romania, you can expect to find anything from technical support to management roles. You will find specialists who work with the latest technologies on pet projects and in production, and no matter how open source your code is, how greenfield your projects are, and how innovative your product is, Romania is a great place to find like-minded software engineers. Also worth mentioning are the learning events found here that help software engineers grow professionally: tech conferences, hackathons, code camps, meetups, and so many more.

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    Each of these important IT hubs in Romania exhibits remarkable versatility in terms of the industries they cater to, but there seems to be a differentiation nonetheless between them. In Bucharest, business services and financial services account for 31.5% and 30.8% of the industries catered to, in Cluj-Napoca there is a focus on information technology (67.1%), followed by financial services (21.5%) and e-commerce (17.9%). In Iași the medical sector takes the lead, with 47.2% of IT services directed towards it, followed by information technology (41.6%) and financial services (33.3%). However, a range of industries are covered in the Romanian tech market, from automotive to e-commerce, education, and logistics (to name a few).

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    2. Cultural characteristics of Romanian developers

      Every culture has distinct characteristics that impact the way we structure our lives, our values, and motivators, and these aspects also transfer into the behavior of organizations, the professional development plans of employees, and so on. Here is a list of a few such characteristics of Romanian developers that we both have noticed and were highlighted by some of our clients:

      • Romanians are reluctant to relocate to a different city, especially the ones with professional experience. There are merely no incentives that could convince Romanians to leave the city they have chosen whether because of the proximity to their family or friends, the availability of kindergartens/schools, or other benefits that shaped their decision to grow roots there.

      • Unlike people from North Europe, Romanians are very sociable. They know each other, they talk and share opinions. If a candidate is not pleased with the process of an organization, they will be very vocal about it and talk with other colleagues/friends from the field, which can cost the organization in terms of employer branding and reputation.

      • Our living expenses and expectations are different than what is projected internationally through emigrants. No, an entrepreneur from Sweden can’t employ 3 Romanian professionals for the cost of 1 Sweden professional. Hiring Romanian software engineers might be a little more cost-effective, but the discrepancy is not that big.

      • Romanians like to socialize a lot outside of work as well. They enjoy knowing their colleagues, gathering with friends, and having a well-deserved work-life balance.

      • When it comes to parties, reunions, or events, Romanians are very generous with all things protocol - there will be plenty of delicious food, a variety of drinks, and the attendees are going to feel truly welcomed. Just a drink and go won’t do with Romanians and might impact the way they feel treated.

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      3. How to attract the best talent

        For a very long time now, the tech market in Romania has been a passive one. While the recent political and economic events translated into more applicants than before, the market remains predominantly passive and there is still a major need for strategic sourcing and complex approaching messages to attract top talent.

        However, by successfully doing IT recruitment for the past 12 years, we gathered so much valuable information and we know what are the most important aspects to consider in attracting the best talent for your company.

        When asked about their motivations to leave their current job, candidates pick at least two of these:

        1. The project

        2. Technology stack

        3. Benefits and Compensation

        4. Responsibilities

        5. Team and management

        After reaching at least a middle level of seniority, the majority of the candidates will be more likely to change their jobs if:

        • They can work with modern technologies;

        • Have prospects of more contribution to the team, besides development;

        • Be part of a great team, where they can both grow professionally and create bonds;

        • Work on an exciting project with the least maintenance tasks possible;

        • Financial gain;

        If your focus is on highly skilled senior developers, the priorities change, and you are most likely to attract the talent you need if:

        • Your project poses a technical challenge, effectively contributes to solving problems, or is using complex logic;

        • The responsibilities of the job involve elements such as mentoring, coaching, technical leadership, architecture/design of an application, knowledge-sharing sessions;

        • You use modern technologies - although, keep in mind that it is common to find senior developers who have a different approach to programming and believe that good developers can quickly learn a new framework or technology;

        • The team’s composition has a high ratio of senior developers;

        • A frequent phenomenon that we see is that senior developers are not interested only in raising their salary because many of them already have a high level of compensation. Interestingly, senior-level candidates can also accept hiring offers a bit lower than their current earnings if the project or their responsibilities are challenging enough.

        Besides the above aspects, there are a few more things to consider when you expand your organization globally. What can be done differently to make a job listing stand out in a different culture? How can talents that will not only perform but also thrive in a remote environment, be attracted?

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        • Employer branding: The company’s reputation is at the core of recruitment efforts, and the pipeline can and will shrink if investments in marketing tactics that will secure the company’s positioning and differentiation in the market are not being made. According to LinkedIn, a company with strong employer branding can decrease its hiring costs by 43%. This can be viewed as a matter of “Who picks who?”, an investment that will translate into candidates recruiting the company they want to work for - and everybody wants to be that company! This is an action that has to be perceived beyond social media posts and paid advertising. It also means the employees believe in the mission of their company and are encouraged to get involved by using their voices to speak openly and honestly about what they do.

        • Roles outside the box: Rethinking roles by highlighting the impact they have on the project, and then, on a larger scale, on the society, is going to attract candidates that resonate with the mission and the culture of the company. People no longer want to work for the sake of money, and especially in the IT industry, there needs to be a greater drive to work. Software engineers need autonomy, purpose, and the opportunity of mastering their field, to be highly motivated in their work. However, this does not exclude the aspect of money. Good talent has to be valued accordingly, and the following statement should constantly dictate managerial money decisions: investing in employee retention (and yes, that sometimes means raises), will more often than not cost the company less than onboarding somebody new for the same position.

        • Smart recruitment: Deciding to recruit in another country is a brave move towards diversification, which usually brings with it growth and success. But who knows the local market better than a local recruitment company? By partnering with a local recruitment company, businesses can find good candidates and make the first hires on the ground much faster. Recruiting locally will provide more reliability to the candidates, a better understanding of the open roles and the company’s mission and products, and an overall process that feels more approachable, and flows more naturally, from sourcing all the way to programming the first interviews.

        • A well-rounded recruitment and hiring process: A successful recruitment process is dependent on strategic sourcing and approaching messages that cover in detail the project/product, the team, and the company. Technical people are more connected to technical people. This is why the recruitment team needs to be just as informed about the specificities of the role as the team lead when talking to prospective candidates. The technical interview is also a key part of the process as it’s the first encounter of the candidate with the team and can shape their expectations about working with them. Read this in-depth article about structuring a thorough technical interview. Don’t forget to always get back to the candidates after the interview, no matter the decision. Besides the fact that they all want to know how they did and how they can improve, it is also a sign of respect for a candidate’s time and effort and speaks volumes about your organizational culture.

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        4. What to expect in terms of salary and taxes

          If it’s the first time you do business in Romania, you probably need some guidance in sailing the tangled administration and bureaucracy and understanding the taxing system. There are several types of collaboration available in Romania: PFA (sole proprietorship), SRL (LTD), CIM (employment contract). When it comes to CIM, we decided to make it easy for anyone to understand taxes by creating Cipher - the IT salary calculator! Using Cipher, you can calculate the budget required for a CIM collaboration and adjust to the expectations of the candidate, seeing the exact amount you will pay in taxes and the NET salary the employee will receive.

          Here are the salary ranges you can expect for a CIM collaboration for different roles, according to the experience of the candidate:

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          However, almost 50% of Romanian candidates opt for a B2B collaboration through either PFA or SRL, and the ranges are slightly different in this case since the candidate has a series of taxes to account for as well.

          In order to better understand the 3 main types of collaboration available in Romania (CIM, PFA & SRL), and why the the ranges differ from CIM to B2B, let’s assume a Romanian software engineer has a gross annual income of 150.000 RON, which is around €30.000. This is how the breakdown of taxes would look like.

          CIM - employment contract

          150.000 RON gross annual income means a monthly gross income of 12.500 RON (≈ €2500). Out of this monthly sum, the employer has to pay 25% for CAS (social insurance contributions), 10% for CASS (health insurance contributions), and 10% income tax, leaving the employee with a NET salary of 7.312 RON (≈ 1400/month.

          So the employee actually earns 58% of the entire sum.

          PFA - sole proprietorship

          For the same gross annual income, if the candidate has a PFA, they contribute 10% of their annual income for CASS, 7920 RON for CAS (a tax cap for everybody with more than €25.000 gross income), and 10% income tax (10% out of their income - CAS - CASS).

          This leaves the PFA with 69% of their gross income, around €20.800/year.

          SRL - LTD

          If the professional chooses to open an SRL and get himself employed in it, his business is considered a micro-enterprise. In this case, the taxes are as follows. They have to pay themselves the minimum wage salary monthly, but this expense is subtracted from the gross profit. They also have to pay 3% income tax (from the gross annual income), 8% for the remaining dividends, and the cap CASS just like the PFA, accounting for 7920 RON. This leaves them with 89.508 RON net from dividends, plus the total net salaries cashed monthly - 24.948 RON.

          Their total income is then 76% of their gross income, around €23.000/eur.

          5. Recruitment and hiring timeline to get the team going

            Of course, here we can only talk about how we, at Human Direct, recruit.

            But we’ll let the pictures speak for ourselves:

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            Our recruitment process consists of 6 steps:

            1. First, we meet, thoroughly evaluate your recruitment needs, and sketch the job profile: starting with the internal processes and procedures, projects and products, the organizational culture, and teams.

            2. Our team of consultants, in close collaboration with the Team Lead, Hiring Manager, or a technical member of the team, build a complex profile description that comprises both the technical skills required and the desired personality traits and soft skills.

            3. We design the recruitment strategy. This is a very complex process that focuses on the means and methods that can bring us the desired results in the shortest possible time. The more accurate the recruitment strategy, the higher the conversion rate and the shorter the estimated timeframe.

            4. After we receive feedback for the calibration profile, we are ready for the head hunt! We usually approach over 100-300 candidates from our extensive database and send the first recommendations after 7 days from the beginning of the sourcing campaign.

            5. Interviewing the candidates is next. The goal of these interviews is to filter the candidates whose motivations do not match your company’s objectives.

            6. You meet the candidates for the technical interview. We can also assist you in the offering stage and discuss with the candidate aspects of his potential to join your team, which can help you create an offer with a higher chance of being accepted.

            As you’ve seen from our case study, as your recruitment partner, we will be quick to put you in contact with the relevant candidate pool, which reduces the research time and energy investment of your internal team.

            Most of the time, this means we help you hire within a 30-day time frame.

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            Need more reasons to choose Romania?

            A fun fact about Romania, that maybe not many know is that we have the fastest internet connection in the EU, and WIFI available almost everywhere in the biggest cities (including in parks and public places). This aspect could highly influence an organization’s decision to expand to Romania and benefit from the asset of having the best Internet infrastructure.

            Another great plus is that seeking English-speaking candidates will not be an impediment, as EF’s global English proficiency report ranks Serbia, Romania, and Poland first on the high-proficiency level. Spreading one’s business across countries and cultures is a must for resilience in global markets, and has major benefits for the business like heightened creativity, proficient problem-solving, and efficiently embracing different perspectives that can lead to growth and development.

            If this guide sparked your interest in hiring Romanian software engineers, we would love to immerse you even more in the local tech market by scheduling a 1 on 1 meeting and sharing the knowledge we gathered in 12 years of tech recruitment in a way that can cater to the needs of your company.

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