Recruiting Practices in Vietnam

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Several members of the public have asked me what it takes to recruit effectively in Vietnam. While there is no magic formula it takes a disciplined approach focused on the recruiting fundamentals. Vietnam is an emerging market and continues to utilize traditional methods in recruiting and job hunting.

Know the Market
Vietnam is the new hot-bed for business development in Southeast Asia. It is often billed as the “alternative to China.” While the China and India engines continue to capture the interest of the world as the emerging markets Vietnam is only second to China in GDP, and often rivals India as the 2nd or 3rd economic engine.

Vietnam continues to integrate into the global markets and became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 2007. Multi-national firms continue to enter the Vietnam market. As more companies enter the market, hiring key personnel to help establish its presence, this is creating a sky rocketing demand for talent.

Recruiting Channels
Below are discussions based on my recruiting experience.

Newspaper and Online News – The daily news continue to be a popular channel of getting the word out. Tuoi Tre is the local Vietnamese-language paper of choice for the majority of firms announcing job vacancies. Thanh Nien is another option. There is not a “career” section or specific day to post job ads. However, job descriptions should be posted in Vietnamese language.

The local English paper is Vietnam News and may have limited job listings for senior management-level positions. The Lao Dong news may be a good option for entry-level and production/manufacturing staff.

The VN Express is the leading news web site and is one of the top 3 traffic web site in the country. Vietnamworks.com is now hosting the career section on this site.

Company Web – Posting on company career web-site is another popular destination for job seekers. Other than finding out about vacancies, job seekers seek to learn more about company culture, strategy, and products. Companies without a Vietnam homepage or careers web-site may leverage external job boards (see below) to set up “landing pages” providing applicants with company specific information.

External Job Boards – Third-party job boards are fast emerging as another platform for job seekers. Vietnamworks.com is probably the more established of the job sites out there and is targeting job seekers who are conversant in the English language. Other job boards include HRvietnam.com. The majority of submissions are from entry to junior-level applicants. This is true of the other job sites as well and it is rare to find senior level candidates who apply via this channel.

Executive Search – This is a bit of a misnomer in Vietnam. Recruiters in the local market having limited recruiting experience may not practice or utilize more strategic recruiting methodologies. Search firms work on contingency basis and may work on project-basis as well. The more reputable firms include Navigos and TalentNet (a recent spin-off from PwC). Bo Le Associates is new in the local market but has a good reputation in Asia.

Networking – Building a network is crucial to successfully placing candidates. There are a number of associations and organizations located in Vietnam. An excellent business networking groups are the Chamber of Commerce including, American Chamber of Commerce and European Chamber of Commerce. These groups will have chapter meetings, sub-committee forums and networking nights.

Examples of professional groups include Vietnam Association of CPA, Vietnam HR Club and Purchasing Club of Vietnam.

Many Vietnamese professionals participate in regional conferences when their employers send staff overseas for training. Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are popular destinations for Asia regional conferences and seminars. You will find Vietnamese professional in attendance.

Employee Referral – It is an incredibly small market for top talent in Vietnam. As the old axiom goes, people know people. This is one of the best channels to identify qualified applicant. Leverage your existing employees as an extension of your networking base.

For corporate recruiters, you will want to leverage your General/Country Manager for contacts. Moreover, if you have the opportunity, do make a trip to the country and get a lay of the land. Have your GM explain the industry and best methods of developing key contacts. Vietnam has a culture that values social interaction and personal contact is important.

On-line Professional Networks
Use of professional and social networks is still very much in its infancy. CyVee is building itself as the LinkedIn of Vietnam. For the Gen Y, Facebook is a very popular destination for the young Vietnamese.

Final Thought
The hunt for human resource in Vietnam is incredibly dynamic. Companies entering the market are fast snapping up talent. Existing firms are finding it difficult to retain key personnel and with increasing wage spirals. Our task as recruiters is more crucial due to the imbalance of available talent and the demand for qualified workforce. This is not unique to Vietnam but it is also true in other emerging markets.

There is significant work recruiters contribute to the sustainability of human resources in an organization. We are often on the front-line of understanding prospective employee expectations. This requires recruiters to build and strengthen their relationships with HR leadership and business managers for employee development and retention. Having a strong employer reputation is a powerful recruiting tool.

*Mentions of third party affiliation are by no means of endorsement of their product or services. I do not have any vested interests in these organizations. I am simply providing a recommendation based on my experience recruiting in Vietnam.

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