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Half of Job Seekers Need up to Ten Weeks to Find a Job

Using the internet does not facilitate or speed up job search


In Brief

Situation: As of September 2021, there were 72.3 million employed and 3.3 million unemployed people in Russia. Both groups may be looking for a job. While the unemployed are seeking employment, the employed may be interested in changing jobs or increasing their income.

In reality: A person’s position on the labour market, that is, the status of being employed/unoccupied/unemployed, can impact not only attitudes toward the job search (choice or necessity), but also employment conditions and the methods and length of search.

In Detail

Besides search strategies, these three groups differ in their socio-demographic characteristics. Viktoria Ovsianik from HSE University compared their profiles: their common place of residence, age, educational level, and marital status. For the employed, she also analysed areas of employment, years of experience, salary level, length of working time, and job satisfaction. She looked at job search channels and confirmed the power of personal connections, which is traditional for Russia, and unexpectedly – the low popularity of online job searches among young people over 25. The paper covering her research results was published in the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey — HSE Review.

What Is This All About?

In the study, the people who had jobs at the time of the survey, including part-time jobs, were considered ‘employed’. People who did not have a job and were not looking for one due to lack of interest, health condition, old age or a focus on household responsibilities, were considered ‘unoccupied’. Those who wanted a job but could not get one were considered ‘unemployed’.

People who were looking for a job were defined by the question ‘Have you approached any individual or organization with the purpose of finding a job in the last 30 days?’

How Was It Studied?

The study used the database of the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey — HSE (RLMS–HSE) – a national representative survey of households that has been conducted since 1992. A 2019 sample was studied: 10,404 participants aged 14-75. Of this group, 35% had a job (including 5.9% who had intermittent side jobs only), and 47% did not, including the unoccupied and unemployed.

What Were the Results?

The unemployed are mostly young and not married. 60% of them do not have a spouse. The biggest age group is 14-24 (37.2%).

One out of five individuals (21.8%) has a university degree, but the majority of the unemployed have only completed secondary or vocational school.

Unemployed people in Russia:

 Gender: slightly more women (52.1%) than men.

 Age: 58.4% aged 15-34, mostly younger people aged 14-24.

 Education: most graduated from a secondary school (34.1%) or a vocational school (28.9%).

 Marital status: most are not married (60%).

 Place of residence: over 60% live in big cities and regional capitals.

Source: RLMS–HSE, 2019

In the second group (unoccupied) women make up a considerably larger share: 62.2%. ‘The gender disbalance is due to the fact that a certain share of unoccupied women is actually occupied in household work and childcare,’ the researcher assumed.

A ‘comparatively older age’ is more typical for this group. A considerable part (35%) lives in big cities and regional capitals. Compared to the unemployed, there are fewer people with university degrees in this category, but more without any secondary education. It is hardest for the latter to find a job, but quite often they are not interested in doing so: there are 3% of them among the unemployed and 14.7% among the unoccupied.

Unoccupied people in Russia:

 Gender: mostly women (62.2%).

 Age: almost one third 14-24, almost one out of five 55-64.

 Education: about 53% are secondary or vocational school graduates.

 Marital status: not married (60.3%).

 Place of residence: mostly rural areas (34.7%) and big cities (35%).

Source: RLMS–HSE, 2019

Unlike the unoccupied and the unemployed, employed people are mostly married. One out of three has a university degree. The share of vocational school graduates without a secondary school degree is 6.7%.

As in the case of the unoccupied, there is no imbalance towards females. But compared to men, women have longer work experience and earn lower salaries.

Employed in Russia:

 Gender: 50.5% male; 49.5% female.

 Age: over 84% — 25-54.

 Education: in most cases a university degree (33%); individuals without a secondary school degree and graduates of vocational and technical schools are a minority.

 Marital status: officially married or unregistered marriage (66.8%).

Source: RLMS–HSE, 2019

The study divided employed people into six groups: executives (senior and mid-level), highly and semi-skilled professionals, the military, skilled workers, and unskilled workers.

The military and executives are leaders in terms of working time duration. They also ranked first in terms of salaries in 2019, with the average monthly salary equalling 43,200 roubles.


Skilled workers earn more than semi-skilled professionals (e.g., office staff, service staff, etc.): 30,500 roubles as compared to 25,800 roubles per month. Unskilled workers, i.e., employees with a secondary school degree, are the least paid, with an average monthly salary of 18,600 roubles.

Although they earn less, women take side jobs more frequently, which are usually related to their main jobs – as loaders, cleaners, etc. Women have additional earnings more often. ‘For example, 9% of women in high administrative positions said they had a second job, as compared to 2% of men in the same field,’ Viktoria Ovsianik said.


Satisfaction with one’s current job was studied indirectly through the share of people who are employed but searching for new positions. The biggest share of job seekers is among the unskilled workers – over 27%. The lowest (6%) is in the group of top executives and government officials, i.e., those who have a good degree, long work experience, decent salaries and are more inclined to identify as entrepreneurs.

Generally, most employed and unoccupied individuals are not especially eager to find a job. 80.7-85% of RLMS HSE respondents in total responded negatively to the question about whether they were trying to change jobs.

A key requirement for accepting a new job is the amount of pay. Those who are unemployed are ready to work for 29,800 roubles a month, and for those who are employed the figure is 47,600 roubles. Job seekers who have a position and a better education are more demanding. For example, top executives are looking for a salary that is 2.5 times higher than their current one.

On average, employed individuals agree to change jobs if doing so brings them a salary 1.6 times more than their current one.

People spend a long time looking for jobs. Half of people who are currently jobless spend ten weeks looking for a placement, while those who are employed take up to eight weeks to do so.

Job search methods are traditional for Russia, with about 77-83% seeking help from family and friends. The second most popular method (70%) is going online through job ads, and much less often, via social media.

But going online does not mean the process is faster. The theory that using the internet ‘speeds up or facilitates the process of employment’ was not confirmed. The same is true for the seemingly obvious assumption that younger people, as active consumers of the internet, use it for job search. The study concluded that ‘a considerable decrease in interest in online job searches is observed in the 25-44 age group, which includes a lot of internet users.’

How is This Useful?

Comparing demographics depending on employment and attitudes toward the job search is helpful when it comes to identifying ‘the most vulnerable groups on the labour market.’ Comparing employed individuals in terms of their experience, salaries, job satisfaction, and other attributes contributes to information on popular employment fields or, on the contrary, on those fields that people are looking to abandon as quickly as they can.

Author of the study:
Viktoria Ovsianik, Research Assistant at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, HSE Institute for Social Policy (2020)
Author: Svetlana Saltanova, December 24, 2021