iTunes U – Human Resource Lecture Series

It was one of those slow Saturdays… and I was just poking around iTunes. If you use iTunes, you may have noticed is a new category launched in Spring 2007 called iTunes U. Apple now hosts a wide range of podcasts of university lectures.

I found a lecture series on Human Resources Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This is a full semester comprising 26 lectures covering recruitment, selection, EEO, training, labor relations, HRIS, international HR and others.

The good. Like all other iTunes U offerings there is no charge for the podcasts. The bad. The date of the recording goes back to 1998. But, back to the good. It’s free and you get a full semester course on HR.

Building a Talent Pipeline through Internship Programs – Action Plans for Companies in Asia

Scores of reports, studies, and anecdotal evidence show that graduate hires have positive impact on organization. While corporations are increasing their graduate hires but attracting the top university graduates are getting more difficult.

In the context of emerging markets in Asia, companies have under-utilized graduate programs as a strategy for talent development and pipeline for hiring. Management commitment and human resource recruiting strategies must incorporate graduate programs as part of the total solution for organization capability planning.

Against the backdrop of emerging markets such as China, India or Vietnam the need for companies to attract and retain top talent is certain to remain competitive. Companies are facing high-turnover and spiraling wage spikes. The situation is compounded due to talent shortages. Schools are not well prepared, although improving, in training students for the workplace. As the market place expands employers struggle to meet hiring demands.

Internships are excellent programs giving students work experience and exposure to the workplace. These programs also give companies opportunities to assess students and skills for entry-level hiring positions. Many employers do not capture the full benefits of internship programs but end-up as community relations programs.

5 Point Framework for Building an Internship Program
A carefully crafted internship program can help an organization to achieve its long-term ability to attract and hire the best talent. Consider the following:

1) Leverage Internship Programs for Conversions

  • A strategic internship program should be designed so that top interns are pipeline feeder to graduate hiring.
  • When interviewing for interns select the best as if you were going to hire any other employee. Have a rigorous selection process.

2) Meaningful Internship Experience

  • Solid job content is important. Shadow programs or administrative work assignments are a thing of the past.
  • The discerning intern will look for employers who value their contributions to the bottom-line.
  • Work with business groups to design programs that will leverage students’ skills and teamwork to accomplish specific projects.

    Example: The internship program at Intel in Vietnam has 3 components:
    A) Work – Business managers are responsible for documenting specific internship projects. Those projects proposals are reviewed by the College Program Manager and subjected to approval by the general manager. Students conduct project presentations at the end of each 3-4 month internship period.
    B) Learn – Staffing and Intel University (corporate training) develop specific training sessions targeted for students. Topics are designed around gaps found in the traditional classroom.
    C) Community – This is a unique component where Intel has incorporated a community volunteer program. Interns participate in various charity programs and are designed to further develop student leadership skills. Interns also learn the importance of giving back to the community, being a good corporate citizen.

3) Incorporate Performance Evaluations

  • Hold students accountable for their work deliverables and performance. Specific project outcome should be made clear at the beginning of the internship.
  • Conduct evaluation sessions at the end of each internship period and provide feedback to students.

4) A Strong Commitment to Conversion – “Automatic Offers”

  • Top performers should be given job offers at the end of the internship period, before returning to school for the final course work.
  • Managers have already seen and had direct experience with interns and therefore, students should not be subjected to further interviews.

    Example: The Intel program does not subject interns to further interviews upon completion of the intern program. In fact, the top interns receive an automatic job offer (with a formal offer letter) before students go back to school for their final school semester

5) Manage the Program

  • Do not leave program success to chance. Anything that is measured gets done.
  • Put in place a program manager whose role is to manage the program outcome between business units and the interns.

Having an organizational foundation built on strong talent inevitably gives companies a competitive advantage in today’s environment. Graduate hires also tend to have a stronger record of company loyalty leading to lower turn-over rates. Thus, internships should be an integral component in strategic programs to attract top talent.

Recruiting Practices in Vietnam

See Related presentation slides on SlideShare.
Click here – Effective Human Resources Practices in Vietnam
Click here – Viable, Vibrant, Sometimes Vexing:  Vietnam Human Resources Insight

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. 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. 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 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.

International Work Experience – My LinkedIn Answers

I responded to the following question posted on LinkedIn today:

To what extent is the opportunity to work “overseas” important to young professionals?
It should be increasingly self evident that overseas experience is important in one’s career. Companies are establishing presence in emerging markets. A significant proportion of company revenues are generated overseas.

Being an effective professional in a global economy requires international experience. This means doing a stint and immerse yourself in cultural and business practices in a particular country.

Other Related LindedIn Answers:
How did you “internationalize” your life and career? The world is getting more complex and is a borderless world. Getting experience outside the US and internationally is important in developing your business acumen and also, for personal development. I got in the international work (primarily in human resource recruiting) by accident. It was being at the right place, right time. And a lot of luck. This opportunity has given me the opportunity to work the hottest emerging markets in Asia (China and Vietnam). Being successful in making a transition to living abroad is not easy. You’ll have to prepare yourself for family, financial, personal commitments and adjustments to the new country. Back at the office, you’ll have to make extra efforts to connect back to corporate headquarters. You’ll have to link your colleagues to the work important in the assignment country. International work has given me tremendous personal and career satisfaction. It’s been a constant “high.”

In the next few years, I would like to live and work in Asia, particularly Singapore, China, Malaysia, or Hong Kong. How do I prepare and set this type of opportunity up? First, see if there are any internal transfer opportunities within [your current company]. Consider moving to these locations as a local hire (local payroll) vs. an expatriate assignment (very costly for the company). Singapore is probably the easiest place to adjust to in Asia and Hong Kong is next. These two countries have a very easy process of obtaining work permits and higher wages (and higher cost of living too). Alternatively, you can conduct your own job search via the internet and/or use of search agencies. Key to making adjustment is making a personal, psychological, family, and financial (2P & 2F) commitment. Missing any one of those components will spell doom. Hope this helps.

What is the best way to get introduced to International Recruiting for someone in the U.S.? Hi, I’ve working in PRC, Brazil, Singapore (Asia Pacific) and now in Vietnam recruiting. One of the best ways to get exposure and experience is to relocate to a country/region. You can attend HR conferences or association/news articles initially to get started. But, I strongly encourage on-the-ground experience. In Asia, Singapore is the best location for Asia-regional experience.

Do overseas-students deserve higher salaries?

The topic of appropriate salary for overseas-educated students (or overseas-students) is a concern for industry especially in emerging markets such as Vietnam. On the one hand, companies struggle to find qualified talent to fill vacant positions. Yet, companies are faced with new-graduates expecting higher salaries.

The population I am referring to are those Vietnamese students who go abroad for their university education. These are not the overseas-Vietnamese, born or immigrated overseas but, those who were born in Vietnam and studying abroad. The overseas-students apply through scholarship programs or self-fund the overseas education through financial support from parents or other means. Many graduates are choosing to return home to Vietnam after completing their degree program.

Graduates returning home have an expectation of higher starting salaries. On average, overseas-students expect 67% more then their local counter-parts. These students tend to feel they deserve more for having studied abroad, whether it is from USA, UK or Australia. They believe that employers should value the overseas experience. Others feel that their internships or other extra-curricular activities have a certain value compared to locally educated students who do not have the same exposure.

This expectation is a dilemma for industry. A colleague and I recently conducted a simple survey in an attempt to understand company practices versus student expectations. We sent a survey consisting of 10 questions to HR professional and spoke to company HR staff directly. In addition, we searched online forums for a glimpse into public discussion. The results are a mixed.

We did not find any consistent practice when it comes to compensation policies for overseas-students. Companies who do not differentiate between overseas and local-educated have hiring policies based on demonstrated performance, regardless of where one was educated. They pay the same salary for overseas and local students.

Firms who specifically recruit for overseas-students tend to hire for specific skills not easily found in Vietnam. Examples include finance analyst and SAP skills. Moreover, the financial market is red hot right. Banks and investment capital outfit pay more then double the going market rate at $600-$800.

However, when we asked if overseas-students demonstrated better work performance it was a different story. Survey response show this cohort do not out-perform their counterparts. Local students’ performance is about the same. This is consistent with my own observations with interns and fresh-graduate student hiring. Perhaps, the only difference is command of the English language.

Companies doing business in Vietnam face real issues dealing with wage-spiral, re-training and retention issues. More and more companies entering the Vietnam market only exasperates the demand for talent and thus, leading to rising salaries. Companies and industry as an aggregate must continue to manage cost to maintain the bottom-line. Firms should consider the following when hiring overseas-students:

  • What is your company’s philosophy towards overseas-students?
    • Do you value their overseas education sufficiently to provide a premium?
    • Or, is it a skills-based differentiator?
  • What are the skills and competencies required by your company, which is a gap for local students?
    • Are the skills gaps, if any, trainable to narrow differences?
  • What are the longer-term implications of higher salary rates?
    • Fixed compensation costs and equity issues with staff who are experienced-hires.
  • How do you sell the company’s total-compensation including, training and other development opportunities?
    • Many new graduates (including overseas) do not understand value of longer-term career planning.