Five tips to write an effective job advertisement in Vietnam

In the previous post, job advertisement on such recruitment websites as Vietnamworks can be considered as the most popular and effective recruitment channel in Vietnam. As a result, it is very important to have an effective job advertisement since it usually lead to effective recruitment. By “effective”, I mean the job advertisement is able to attract the “right” candidates, the ones that are desired by the company in terms of their professional skills, mindset and culture fit, to read and apply. In this post, I will share some tips from my own experience that can help to write an effective job advertisement. Even though most of the examples given in post focus on the IT industry, I’m pretty sure that the tips can also be applied in other industries as well.

Tip 1: Appealing title – To click or not to click…

to_click_or_not_to_click
When being posted on a job website, our job advertisement is actually competing with hundreds or thousands of others out there. As a result, it is very critical to be able to have an appealing title (the title of the job advertisement, not the title of the role we are hiring) that can help to differentiate our job advertisement from the rest in the list, catch the attention of the candidates and encourage them to click on it. This is essential due to the simple fact that if candidates do not click on your job advertisement, they will definitely not gonna apply to it. There are several ways to make a title more appealing but the principal rule is to make it longer with more attractive information. For example:
  • Instead of just a plain title “.NET Software Engineer”, use something that is more interesting and creative such as “Rockstar .NET Software Engineer Wanted!” or “Talented .NET Software Engineer In Need!”.
  • If the fact that our company is a Silicon Valley based company can be considered as an advantage then we can also put that into the title.
  • If we have no problem revealing the salary range and we think that it is attractive then it can also be included in the tile.

So, if you are a candidate, which of the following job advertisement’s title is more appealing to you:
“.NET Software Engineer”
or
“Talented .NET Software Engineer Wanted! (Silicon Valley based company, net salary up to 2000 USD/month)”.
Which one will catch your eyes and encourage you to click on?

Again, the rule here is very simple: if the candidates don’t click on our job advertisement, they will definitely not gonna apply to it. So clicking on the job advertisement is the first essential step to get the candidates and this depends mainly on the title of our job advertisement.

Tip 2: Creative introduction – Do you see yourself here?

self_reflection

Having the candidates to click on and open the job advertisement is just the first step to effective recruitment. It is also very important to create a good impression in the introduction of the job advertisement to encourage the candidates to scroll down and read the whole ads. In our case, in order to find employee who are creative and can think out of the box, we need to show that we are also creative and think out of the box too. So instead of a normal introduction starting with some description about the company, we can ask our candidates a series of questions:

“- Do you want to work in an amazing office with professional working environment?
– Do you speak English very well?
– Do you like to gain more experience in cutting-edge .NET technologies?
– Do you like to work with co-workers who can be more talented than you?
– Do you want to see kangaroo and koala bear in real life?
If you answer Yes to those questions then <our company> may be the right place for you.”

This will be more likely to catch the interest of the candidates and if they can see themselves in those questions, it is also very likely that they will read the rest of the job advertisement and apply.

Tip 3: Informative job description – Let us tell you a story about a typical working day here.

once_upon_a_time

In terms of a boring list of bullet points, it is more interesting and also more creative for job description to be in a form of a story describing a typical working day of an employee in the hiring role. For example:

“Long Nguyen, a .NET Software Engineer, starts his working day at 8:00 AM by checking his emails. It is now noon in New Zealand so the Product Owner and the Application Architect, who are located in the Wellington office, have had enough time to send to the team several emails regarding to the new requirements and the solutions that the team just proposed yesterday. After replying to some of the emails, Long uses Lync from his workstation to join the daily Scrum meeting with other Vietnamese and Thai team members. After the 10 minutes daily meeting, Long opens Visual Studio and continues working on his current user story: there are several unit tests that have not been implemented yet. It takes him nearly 2 hours to fully complete the user story with all of the automation tests and does the code review for another team member. Feeling accomplished, Long goes to the pantry room, has a cup of coffee and chit chat with his co-workers in English. At 11:00 AM, Long and his team members go to the video conference room for the Backlog Refinement meeting with others in Wellington and Bangkok offices….”

Tip 4: Highlighted benefits – Why we are better than the others.

big_benefits

This is where we “sell” our company to the candidates by listing out the things that can be considered to be better in our company comparing to others. The longer the list is, the better. The tip here is that there can be a lot of things that can be listed as “benefits” so some brainstorming activities may be required to identify all of them. Here are some examples that can be considered:

  • Flexible working hours
  • “Work from home” policy
  • No working overtime
  • Office is conveniently located in district 1 (Yes, that’s right, office location can also be considered as a “benefit” that we can put into the job advertisement)
  • Entertainment in the office: mini bar, table tennis, pool table, mini golf, table football, games (Play Station, Wii, Xbox, etc…)
  • English speaking environment (From my own experience, it is very interesting that many candidates consider an English only environment as one significant attraction of one company).- Travel opportunity to work onsite overseas
  • Overseas company trip
  • Good working equipments: MacbookPro, Macbook Air, etc…
  • Good vacation policy: 20 days of annual leave and 10 days of sick leave per year
  • Attractive incentive system: year end bonus, project bonus
  • Salary adjustment twice per year
  • Team building activities, sport clubs
  • Training programs

Tip 5: A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a million words.

a_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

The best way to show our working environment and organizational culture to the candidates is via photos or videos that capture the teams, the office, working activities and company events. A link to a web page that provides such photos or videos will definitely add significant value into the job advertisement. Such job website as Vietnamworks now also supports embedding photos and videos into the job advertisement. So, we should make use of this feature whenever we can.

Generally speaking, these 5 tips can help our job advertisement to differentiate and stand out from the crowd. However, an effective job advertisement is just the first step to effective recruitment, which includes many other factors. It is also noted that the tips are usually more helpful for company that doesn’t have a strong employer branding. Google, for example, doesn’t need these tips to attract talented candidates to read their job advertisement and apply.

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Recruitment channels in Vietnam

As mentioned in the previous post, we are now in the middle of the recruitment season in Vietnam. But how does the recruitment in Vietnam happen? Which channels are available? In this post, an overview of the available recruitment channels in Vietnam will be given, with comments regarding to their popularity, effectiveness, cost and recommended usage scenarios.

Generally speaking, there are six main channels of recruitment in Vietnam:

Recruitment channels in Vietnam

Recruitment channels in Vietnam

Job advertisement: This is the most popular and may also be the most effective recruitment channel in Vietnam. When using this channel, Vietnamworks should be the first one to consider due to its popularity. Other job advertisement websites that can be listed here includes CareerBuilder, CareerLink, Tim Viec Nhanh or Aphabe. In terms of pricing, a job advertisement that stays one month on Vietnamworks costs around 100-150 USD, depending on the options. Generally speaking, this recruitment channel is suitable for most common jobs when the employers have certain knowledge and experience in the labor market as well as know how to do recruitment in Vietnam.

CV search: A more proactive way to approach the candidates is to buy access to candidates database of such job websites as Vietnamworks, CareerBuilder or CareerLink. With approximately 150 USD, employers can search for and have contacts of 60 candidates from Vietnamworks’ database. From my experience, this channel is less effective than job advertisement due to the fact that many CVs are outdated and candidates may no longer look for a new job when being contacted. This should be used as a supporting channel together with the job advertisement or in the case employers know very well about the labor market and want to be more proactive in their recruitment.

Head hunting services: If the employers are quite new to the local labor market, they can also seek help from other firms specialized in HR services. Basically all of the job websites listed above also provide head hunting services, plus many smaller firms such as Tri Tri, Manpower or Anh Duong Talent. Commission fee for these services can vary between different service providers, with an average of 20% of the annual income of the candidate. The effectiveness can also vary depending on the HR partners that are selected. This channel can also be considered for high level positions or for mass recruitment in a short period of time.

Employee referral: Not every company in Vietnam takes advantage of this recruitment channel. Whereas the quality of the candidates are more reliable than from other channels, it may not be suitable for mass recruitment. Referral bonus is usually given to the employee after the nominated candidate passes his or her probation. The amount can vary from company to company, but a few hundreds of dollars is a common number.

Job fairs: This channel is quite low in terms of both popularity and effectiveness. Job fairs can be more helpful for mass recruitment of low-skilled employees or fresh graduates. Besides joining the job fairs that are organized by the government, companies with high reputation can also organize their own job fairs.

Internship program: Among the six channels that are presented here, this is the least popular one that focuses only on fresh graduates. The effectiveness of this channels depends on the affiliation between the employers and universities or training centers that offer internship program. With proper implementation, this can be a very good approach to attract young talents into the organization.

Generally speaking, job advertisement can be considered as the most popular and effective recruitment channels in Vietnam. With the rising demand for high quality employees, the usage of head hunting services is also increasing significantly. However, an effective recruitment strategy may need to combine and utilize all of the six channels that are available in Vietnam.

Are you ready for the recruitment season in Vietnam?

Starting in late February, at peak in March to April and last until May is what so-called the “recruitment season” in Vietnam, applicable in most industries. During this 3-months period, the job market is booming significantly and is extremely dynamic. This can be illustrated by comparing the number of job posted on Vietnamworks, the biggest job website in Vietnam, in February and in April last year:

Number of jobs  in February vs. in April

Number of jobs in February vs. in April

It is clear that there is a significant increase in the number of job opportunities in all categories during this recruitment season, ranging from 30% in Software and Administrative to 50% in Sales or even 63% in Marketing. That is on the labor demand side. On the labor supply side, a similar trend is also observed. From my experience, job application rate is appropriately 50% higher during the recruitment season.

job_demand_and_supply

So what are the reasons behind this recruitment season? Here are some in my opinion:
  • In Vietnam, the fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. February is the time when the new fiscal year budgets are finalized and coming open, which may lead to the new demand of recruitment.
  • February and March are also the graduation time of many universities in Vietnam, pushing a whole bunch of fresh graduates into the labor market.
  • February is the time of Tet, the start of the lunar new year when employees re-evaluate their current work and life situation and plan for the future. In Vietnamese culture, the start of the lunar new year is also a good time to start new career plan and objectives.
  • Tet in February is also bonus payout time (the 13th month salary). Once employees receive their year-end bonus, they know that they can’t get another bonus for a full year. This payout reduces their incentive to stay at their current firm.
  • Tet holiday in February also provides employees with a lot of networking opportunities which may lead to new job opportunities.
  • Most companies in Vietnam implement their performance appraisal and salary adjustment in January. Employees who are disappointed with their salary adjustment will start looking for new jobs in February.
  • The last but not least reason is the fact that the increase in job hopping also increase the number of job opportunities since companies need to fill up the empty vacancies, which in turn, may encourage more job hopping.

The person jumps on puzzles

So how companies deal with this recruitment season in Vietnam? Here are some suggestions to considered:
  • Understand the nature of this recruitment season and be prepared for it in terms of budget planning, project planning and resource planning.
  • HR and managers should pay more attention to staff’s motivation and morale during this time.
  • Have some kinds of counter-offer policy to keep key employees in case they receive job offer from other companies.
  • Keep employees busy with their work during this time. Employees who have a lot of free time are more likely to look around for other job opportunities.
  • Schedule the performance appraisal and salary adjustment in June or July, when the recruitment season is over.

Alright, so are you now ready for the upcoming recruitment season in Vietnam?

Why should you send your HR staff to a marketing course?

Simply because there are so many things in common between a recruitment strategy and a marketing one:
  • They are both created to promote the organization: the marketing plan promotes products or services whereas the recruitment plan promotes organizational culture and working environment.
  • Both of them have targeted audience: potential customers for the marketing plan and potential employees for the recruitment plan.
  • Both are very critical to the organization: customers are the main source of revenue while employees are the most valuable assets of the organization.
  • And last but not least: Most of the strategies that can be applied in marketing can also be used in recruitment. This will also be the main focus of this post.

So let’s look at how each step in a marketing strategy can be applied in a recruitment strategy:

Market segmentation
In order to reach the potential employees effectively, the labor market should be categorized into different segmentation using different bases:
  • Demographic bases: age, gender, education background, ect…
  • Geographic bases: country, city, etc…
  • Behavioral bases: programming language, mindset, working attitude, interests, etc…

Market targeting
After categorizing the labor market into different segments, the company should identify its targeted segment basing on those demographic, geographic and behavioral bases. By identifying the targeted segment, organization can focus its resources in order to reach out to its potential candidates more effectively.

For example, a software company can identify its potential candidates for the .NET Developer position as the followings:
  • Demographic: 22-30 years old, college or university degree
  • Geographic: Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
  • Behavioral bases: .NET programming language, open mindset, proactive, critical thinking, interested in high tech

With such targeted segment in mind, we can know exactly which job ads websites or forums should be used to reach the candidates as well as how to communicate with them (such as how to write the job ads that is interesting to candidates who are proactive and have critical thinking)

Market positioning
This is how the organization is perceived (or how it wants to be perceived) by the labor market and potential employees. Determining the market positioning can help organization to decide what and how it should present itself to the potential employees. Market positioning can be identified by selecting important attributes of the organization in terms of culture, environment, benefits, policies, ect… and determine its position basing on those attributes.
For example, here is where a company is positioned basing on two attributes: culture and benefits. Other attributes can also be used and additional attributes can also be added to form n-dimensional map.

market_positioning

It will be much more helpful if organization can have preference map of the labor market associated with the selected attributes. This can help organization to predict the ease of recruitment: the bigger the overlap between its market position and the preference map of the labor market, the easier then recruitment will be. Organization may also adjust its market position to make recruitment easier. Here is an example:

preference_map

Promotion mix
Basing on the previous steps (market segmentation, market targeting and market positioning), it is now the time to decide the channels that can be used to promote the organization to the labor market. Interestingly, all of the channels in marketing can also be used in recruitment:

promotion_mix

  • Advertising: Job ads on job search website such as jobstreet (international) or Vietnamworks (Vietnam)
  • Public relations: Sponsor community events (such as Barcamp Saigon, Agile Vietnam, Agile Tour, Mobile Camp, etc…) or organize our own events (hackathon and other programming contests)
  • Personal selling: CV search and head hunting performed by internal HR
  • Sales promotion: referral bonus program or using external head hunting agencies
  • Direct marketing: blog, website, social networking pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), forums, etc…

Branding
Branding is also very important in recruitment. By promoting the company’s brand name, organization can attract new talents easily whenever it has a hiring demand. For recruitment purpose, company’s branding should be supported by public relation and other CSR programs. In the software industry where I am currently working in, organization’s brand can be built by sponsoring such community events as Barcamp Saigon, Mobile Camp, Agile Tour or organizing our own events such as hackathon and other programming contest.

So now we can see how marketing strategy can be applied to recruitment. Should we send our HR staff to a marketing course?

Characteristics of an employee that a startup should hire

“Employees are the most valuable assets of a company”. This statement is correct for most organizations and it is extremely correct for startups, in which no other assets such as branding and products exist yet. As a result, hiring the “right” people is very essential for the success of a startup, especially where one employee can represent 20% or even 50% of the company’s workforce.

startup hiring

After working for two startup companies and reading articles about startups’ recruitment, I come up with a list of characteristics of an employee that a startup should hire:
  • Top talented: Startup is all about innovation, creativity and differentiation and you really need the top talented team members to achieve those. You will need what is so-called the “A players” because “A players” will attract other “A players” whereas “B players” only hire “C players” due to the fact that “B players” are less confident in their talent and they prefer working with people who are not better than them.
  • Flexible and agile: Startup is all about trial and error to figure out the business model that works. As a result, your team members need to be flexible and agile enough to make the changes or at least to adapt to changes. In a startup company, people should be willing to pivot, even when that means they need to throw away all the existing progress.
  • “Can do” attitude: Startup is usually about new products, new technologies, new solutions; something that have never been done before. As a result, it is very important that the team members must have a “can do” attitude, the willingness to try new thing and do not afraid of failure. In my opinion, young employees are usually better than senior employees in terms of this “can do” attitude. From my experience, senior employees, who have more knowledge and experience, usually use their knowledge and experience to prove the impossibles the ideas, not the other way around.
  • “Get shit done” attitude: For a startup, it is more important to get the task done than to follow certain process to achieve it. As a result, team members should be willing to do whatever it is necessary to achieve the result. It is quite normal in a startup that: I don’t care how you gonna do it, I just need to get it done.
  • Risk-taker: Startup is all about opportunities, and of course, about risks. Working in a startup company is a risk itself. Team members should be willing to take risks to seize the opportunities.
  • Self-motivated: It is very important for a team member to be self-motivated in a startup company due to the fact that others (including the founder) will not have enough time, and also responsibility, to motivate him. Self-motivation can be achieved if team members have strong belief in the vision of the company. From my experience, employees without self-motivation can not wait until the startup succeeds.
  • Multi-roles player: Members of a startup should be able to play multiple roles at the same time due to the fact that startup usually has just a few people in the early date. In the first startup company that I worked for, I played the roles of a Developer, a Project Manager and a HR Manager, all at the same time.

Some of the characteristics in this list are good for every type of organization, not just the startup ones, such as top talented and self-motivated. Others may only be appropriate for startups such as risk-taker and multi-roles player. One more important thing is that it is essential for the employees to fit into the startup culture, which is driven by the strategic plan.