VanHack Waives Placement Fees and Fuels Global Opportunities for Ukrainian Tech Talent

Jason McRobbie

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As the Russian invasion in the Ukraine continues to draw global condemnation and sanctions from world leaders, individuals and industries alike are looking for ways to make a positive impact. We sat down with Ilya Brotzky, CEO of VanHack to talk about how their team is helping wave a global talent flag, while waiving traditional fees.


  • For employers seeking to hire Ukrainian tech talent, VanHack is waiving placement fees and leading the way with its Ukrainian Talent Hub and encouraging payments in lieu to verified charities.

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Marc Mallet, UI Developer from South Africa arrived in Toronto with his family on March 2nd, 2022.

With headlines echoing the daily horrors within Ukraine, tomorrow has never seemed more uncertain for those within its borders. One Vancouver tech CEO has reached out to the broader tech community with a heartfelt and business-smart way forward.

For Ilya Brotzky, CEO of VanHack, a leading provider of technology recruitment in North America and Europe, that way forward lay in waiving their traditional placement fees to help tech talent from Ukraine get jobs abroad. In lieu of those fees, VanHack is encouraging employers to donate to verified Ukrainian-based charities.

Founded in 2015, VanHack’s mission has remained steadfast—to help companies grow faster by providing them access to qualified, pre-vetted tech professionals ready to make the move or work remotely. With more than 1,500 lives changed around the planet, the company is equally committed to diversity and the rights of all in a borderless world.

Positioned to Make a Difference

“We’re in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, and the top concern at this sensitive time is to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the people of Ukraine and surrounding regions while offering our support where we can,” said Ilya. “Being in the global tech hiring space, VanHack is uniquely positioned to help improve the lives of many Ukrainian tech professionals and we hope through collective efforts with employers that this will lead to as many lives changed as possible.”

And while finding Ukrainian talent able to interview for opportunities at present is understandably challenging, VanHack has already waived considerable sums.

“I think we’ve waived around $100,000 in fees so far, which is a significant amount, but it’s also not really about the funding right now,” said Ilya. “The idea actually came from someone on our team in the first place.  The way we look at it is that in the long run, what goes around, comes around and hopefully this leads to positive things for the business and all involved. We’re in a situation where of course we want to make as much revenue as possible and have goals to hit, but we’re in a solid position where we can afford to do something that matters. Plus, it has never been tougher to find the tech talent, so this helps employers too.”

Fittingly, VanHack has also set up a Ukrainian Talent Hub showcasing its community of 700+ Ukrainian developers and made additional tools and resources available to help expedite their opportunities.

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From Afghanistan to Ukraine: Candidate Pool Deepens

“We’ve always been about helping tech talent relocate, whether that is just to find a better place to raise their kids or help people fleeing a terrible situation,” said Ilya. “Last year when there was the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan we did a similar initiative. So when we saw the situation in Ukraine, it just made sense. The difference between then and now is that we have a lot more candidates on our platform and Ukraine is known as a tech hub around the world.”

Encouragingly, the response from employers has been overwhelmingly positive and strong. With over 60+ employers reaching out in the first week of VanHack’s announcement to learn more about how they can help and hire Ukrainian talent looking for remote and relocation opportunities, Ilya is both realistic and optimistic.

“I think the Canadian tech community has always been very welcoming, very diverse, with people from all walks of life. It’s a reflection of the country really, who we are as a people. That diversity is one of our core values and something we live all the time. We have people from 14 or 15 countries in our company and many are immigrants, including myself and my co-founder,” said Ilya, who left Russia to come to Canada with his parents in 1993. “So it’s really just part of the DNA of who we are.”

Garrizaldy Santos, PHP Developer, from the Philippines arrived in Toronto with her family on Jan 23rd, 2022.

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Making a Complicated Process Human

As more countries, including Canada already, continue to speed Visa processing for Ukrainian nationals, VanHack’s global mobility team is also set to provide full support by offering emergency immigration and relocation services for candidates, as well as additional financial and logistical assistance through its partners.

“We don’t just do the hire, but the whole relocation process. We have a global mobility team that takes care of the Visa for both employer and candidate. We help them get connected to their S.I.N. number, medical, finding a place to live. We even pick them up from the airports sometimes,” said Ilya. “It’s a big process, but an even bigger one for them.”

Living Values on the Invisible Walls

Holding true to values that have never had walls to be written upon, being 100 percent distributed since inception, VanHack was most recently recognized as a LinkedIn Talent Awards Winner 2021 and Canada’s most respected recruitment company. Ilya is both happy and humble in his acknowledgement of the recognition, but the winning metric carries a message for leaders recruiting within any industry.

“I think the award was based on our response rate from our in mail. We send a lot of messages to our candidates on LinkedIn and we get about a 40 per cent response rate which is about twice as high as normal,” said Ilya. “It’s a nice reflection of the service offering we have for candidates. A lot of companies just disregard anyone who is not in the country or doesn’t have a valid work permit. Some just consider it too much of a headache to go through the Visa process.”

“So when a candidate gets a message from us that says, ‘Hey, we have all these opportunities that provide Visa sponsorship’ and details all the benefits that we provide, I think they are grateful for that and that’s why they reply.”

That culture of appreciation lies at the heart of VanHack culture, serving as both a magnet in the talent market and a warm network of human support when needed most.

“I think a big part of the culture at VanHack and why people join us is that they want to make the impact in people’s lives and we see it. It’s not just an abstract concep.,” said Ilya. “We see people arrive at the airport with their families. We’re part of those moments and I think people are pretty proud of that. It gives us motivation when we come to work even on the tough days.”