Sourcing for Vietnamese Overseas Students: 7 Steps of Highly Effective Recruiting Practices

The number of Vietnamese students studying overseas has grown by 380% since 1999. The Open Doors 2007 Report, by the Institute of International Education (IIE), show that Vietnamese students enrollment in US colleges and universities have increased by nearly one-third to over 6,000. The British Council report that 1,700 UK visas were issued to Vietnamese students, a 24 percent increase from 2006. Australia, boasting the world’s largest Vietnamese student population, hosts approximately 8,000 students.

Interest by students in an overseas education has seen a parallel increase. Schools from European, North American, Asian countries have increased their recruiting presence in Vietnam to attract student enrollment. The IIE Open Door Report showed a 40% increase by US colleges and universities from 2006 levels.

News reports and surveys show that students studying overseas plan to seek jobs back home upon graduation. Improvement in social and economic trends has increased the opportunities for students to develop promising careers. Cultural traditions based strong family-ties is another pull-factor for students to return home.

All this is good news for enterprises, both domestic and foreign, doing business in Vietnam. Companies have longed complained of the shortage of talent to meet company requirements. Returning students bring a set of education background and experiences which are considered to be beneficial to the hiring organization. They can also bridge gaps in cultural understanding and language barriers in cross-cultural interactions.

Identifying Students
Companies in Vietnam are increasing their commitment to recruit and hire students with overseas education experience. However, identifying those students may not be as straight forward. Firstly, Vietnamese students are highly dispersed making it difficult to find a critical mass of cohorts. Secondly, once identified students may have high compensation and role expectations due to their unique circumstances with overseas exposure.

In this writing, I will explore avenues for identifying overseas Vietnamese students. The latter was covered in a previous blog.

Dispersed Students
Students tend to enroll in disciplines mirroring growing industries back in the home country. Majors of choice include majors such as marketing, finance – banking, IT (i.e., e-commerce, web development), and tourism and hotel administration. Many more are enrolled in English language courses.

If you have done any sort of recruiting for overseas Vietnamese students you’ll quickly notice that students are spread out far and wide. Countries of choice for studies include the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, Germany and France. Not only are students dispersed around the world they are scattered throughout various college and university campus, without identifiable critical mass.

At times, recruiting for overseas Vietnamese students does feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But it’s a small world.

#1) High School Alumni
Companies with a strategic vision in tapping into overseas student talent begin their recruiting efforts at the earliest stage possible. Top high-schools in Vietnam have a very high percentage of their graduates getting accepted to prestigious colleges and universities abroad.
The Hanoi-Amsterdam High School Alumni Study Abroad Club has a website of locations of their students who are studying aboard.

#2) Social Networks
I mentioned earlier that students are highly dispersed. A great channel to connect with students is with social network sites.
• There is an extensive network of Vietnamese student groups on the social networking site, Facebook. A quick search through Facebook Groups, you’ll find:
o Le Hong Phong High School. These are connections of former students from this top-tier high school.
o Sinh Vien Vietnam-UK. This is a group of students associated with studying in the UK.

#3) Student/Information Exchange
Students have been organizing themselves for mutual benefit for university enrollment and career development purposes.
Viet Abroader is a student-organized group aimed at providing information, guidance and network to Vietnamese students for admissions and scholarship for U.S university admissions. The group has organized Career Conferences in Ho Chi Minh City during the summer for students networking opportunities with multi-national companies.
Association of Overseas Vietnamese Students (OVS) also a student group is aimed at providing the overseas student population with internship and related career planning opportunities.
Melbourne Overseas Vietnamese Student Association (MOVSA) is a student group comprised of Vietnamese students currently studying in Melbourne, Australia.
ACT Vietnamese Overseas Student Association is another Australian-based organization that gathers all Vietnamese students at all the education institutes in Canberra.
Vietnamese Students Association in United Kingdom is aimed at assisting Vietnamese students in the UK in a wide range of activities including career and job search.
Sinh Vien Vietnam is a forum for students exchanging information on various topics related to their overseas studies.

#4) Governmental Agencies
Various governmental-based agencies have formed associations with primary objective of providing education and study abroad information to students. These organizations are interested in sharing career related information for their students. Leveraging on these agencies may prove beneficial in networking with students and alumni with overseas education experience.
British Council (UK-based)
International Institute of Education (US-based)
Vietnam Education Foundation (US-based)
Study Australia (Australia-based)

#5) Alumni Associations
Alumni groups are the obvious groups to connect with for students already having graduated.
UK Alumni Vietnam (UKAV) is a student alumni group comprising of Vietnamese students who have studied in the UK. The website states there here are around 850 members. Search the member registry for contacts.
Vietnamese Graduate from Australia Club (VGCA) is another network of Vietnamese alumni from Australian universities and colleges and currently has over 3,500 members of five chapters in all regions of Vietnam.

#6) Campus News and Student Profiles
Schools may post articles and highlight top students on school or department websites. Do a good search on Google and other search engines for such profiles. Below are two examples:
• University of Melbourne in Australia has a website profiling their international students:
• The University of Illinois Urbane Champagne has an article posted highlighting their successful enrollment of Vietnam Education Foundation scholarship students.

#7) In Vietnam’s Own Backyard
Education institutions providing top-rate education are increasing in Vietnam. These schools provide a learning experience at international standards.
Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has been enrolling Vietnamese students for the past decade. Their students are well trained and are required to pass stringent entrance requirements. This school trains graduate students only.
• University of Hawaii, Shidler College of Business has partnered with the Hanoi School of Business, and most recently, the Vietnam International University to deliver its first-rate Executive MBA program that will train, guide, and prepare Vietnam’s top executives. Students enrolled are full-time executives and most are sponsored by their company.
Royale Melborne Institute of Technology (RMIT), an Australian based school, has been providing undergraduate leading to bachelor degrees in Vietnam. They are the only licensed private undergraduate program with dedicated campus facilities in Ho Chi Minh City.

Developing A Long-Term Outlook
Having a long-term outlook is vital to recruiting efforts. Final-year students may want to work in their host countries for a few years, to gain work experience, before returning home.

Companies can leverage internship programs as an additional component in their recruiting efforts to attract and recruit students. Leading companies are sponsoring events including Proctor & Gamble and Unilever.  Leveraging on the relationship companies can keep track of students and eventually attract students to work full-time upon their return to the home country.

Hopefully, what I have been able to accomplish here is to provide insight into strategies and tactics in recruiting overseas Vietnamese students. Corporate recruiters will need to fine turn specific approaches to meet company objectives.

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