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 From my experience, this channel is less effective than job advertisement due to the fact that many CVs are outdated and candidates may no longer look for a new job when being contacted.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.

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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?

Cultural Literacy: Things you should know when working with Vietnamese

This blog post is inspired from the book “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands”, one of the bestselling guides to do business in different countries. It is used as the textbook in the “Negotiation” course of my MBA program. However, I realize that the book has focused mainly on doing business and failed to give enough accurate, useful and updated information for foreigners in order to work effectively with Vietnamese. As a result, the purpose of this post is to help people from other cultures to:

  • Know how Vietnamese employees think, work and behave.
  • Know how to communicate effectively with Vietnamese employees.
  • Know how to establish a good relationship with Vietnamese employees.
  • Avoid potential misunderstandings and inappropriate behaviors.

Originally, this is written to give my co-workers in Australia and Philippine with basic cultural literacy about Vietnam in a working environment. And since we are working in the software industry, the cultural literacy also focuses a little bit on that industry. This will be useful for those who will work as expats in Vietnam or for foreign companies that are going to open their business in Vietnam, especially in the IT industry.

So here are the things you should know when working with Vietnamese:

Religion
Confucianism (which is a philosophy more than a religion) has had a great effect on Vietnamese thought and tradition. Buddhism and Christianity are the two most popular religions in Vietnam. However, the majority of the population do not follow any religion, they just worship their ancestors.

Workship ancestors

Worship ancestors

Working
  • Vietnamese employees are quite punctual, especially in business meetings. However, a tolerance of about 5 minutes late is also normally acceptable in Vietnamese working culture.
  • Vietnamese employees usually take meetings at work seriously and look very tense (not relaxed) in the meetings.
  • Gender discrimination is usually not popular in the workplace. However, it is a fact that there are far fewer female workers than male workers in the software industry and this has nothing to do with gender discrimination.
  • Compared to Western culture, Vietnamese have a much higher level of tolerance of sexual harassment. This means a lot of behaviors that are considered as sexual harassment in Western cultures may not be seen as such in Vietnam. Generally speaking, it is quite common for Vietnamese to think that sexual harassment needs to involve physical contact. An induction or orientation may need to be conducted to align the understanding of Vietnamese employees in this topic.
  • Vietnamese employees usually need to build personal trust with others outside of the office in order to increase their teamwork and collaboration. This is the reason why companies in Vietnam usually have a budget for team members having dinner or drinking every few months or sponsor some sport activities for team members to play together. In business, a contract is more likely to be signed by inviting the business partner to dinner, drinking and other entertainment activities.
Drinking after working hours

Drinking after working hours

  • Influenced by the hierarchical structure in Confucianism, it is quite common that most Vietnamese employees think that they have the obligation to respect people who have a higher position or are older than them.
  • Vietnamese people are usually hospitable. It is quite common that as a guest, you will be treated to lunch or dinner by a Vietnamese host. However, Vietnamese people also expect the same in return when they are the guests.
Communication
  • Good topics for conversation are sports, travel, food, music, movies and weather. Soccer is the most popular sport in Vietnam and Vietnamese people call it “football”. Avoid political topics, especially Vietnamese politics.
  • A smile does not always mean “happy”. A smile can also mean:
    • “Hi”
    • I’m trying to look friendly
    • I’m feeling embarrassed
    • I’m sorry that I did something wrong
  • Handshake: Not all Vietnamese employees know how to shake hands properly because they may not have been taught that. Therefore, a loose handshake doesn’t mean that the person is  not confident or impolite, it may simply mean that he/she does not know how to shake hands properly. Females (especially foreigners) usually need to initialize a handshake with Vietnamese males. Males usually have a looser and quicker handshake with females than with other males.
  • Vietnamese developers usually don’t have good socializing skills.
  • Vietnamese names are written in this order: surname followed by middle name and then given name. People are called by their given name, even with the prefix Mr. or Ms. Common surnames in Vietnam are:
    • Nguyen: 40% of the Vietnamese population (FYI, Nguyen is also the 13th most popular surname in Australia and growing fast, especially in Sydney and Melbourne)
    • Tran: 10% of the Vietnamese population
    • Le: 10% of the Vietnamese population
  • Sometimes, Vietnamese can start their answer with “Yes” or “OK” but they may not actually mean yes or ok. It just means that they understand what you say or what you ask. The actual answer is after the “Yes” or “OK”. For example: – “What do you think about solution A?” – “Yes. I think that solution A is good but solution B is actually better.”
  • English speakers should avoid tag question because the answer from a Vietnamese can be confusing due to the different language structure. For example: – “Solution A isn’t good enough, is it?” – “Yes”. The answer “Yes” here means “I agree with you that solution A isn’t good enough”.
    We should ask this question instead: “Do you agree that solution A isn’t good enough?”
  • If a group of Vietnamese is silent after being asked for their opinion about something, it can be interpreted in two ways:
    • The group agrees (or at least has no objection) to what is proposed. This is the more likely case.
    • The group is surprised or shocked by what is proposed. This is a less likely case.
Entertainment
The following entertainment activities are quite common in Vietnam and as a guest, you can be invited to them:
  • Eating out and drinking
  • Karaoke
  • Bowling
  • Hanging out at a coffee shop
  • Hanging out at bar and pub
  • Massage (Even though it is illegal in Vietnam, some massage services also include sexual services, so it is better to check with the host when you are invited to a massage).
Karaoke in Vietnam

Karaoke in Vietnam

Dressing
Generally speaking, Vietnamese people dress more casually than Western people. This may be because of the hot weather in Vietnam, especially in the South.
  • Suit and tie are not very common. People only wear a suit and tie in very important business meetings (such as when signing a contract). The following picture shows what can be considered as “formal dress” for a common Vietnamese employee:
Formal dress at workplace in Vietnam

Formal dress at workplace in Vietnam

  • This is considered formal enough for job interview or wedding party. Usually at a wedding party, only the groom wears a suit and tie.
  • Dressing in the North is usually more formal than in the South, mainly because of the difference in culture and climate. Suit and tie are more popular in the North of Vietnam.
  • Developers usually dress more casually. Most of the developers in Ho Chi Minh City wear jeans and T-shirts in the office. Sandals and flip-flops are also acceptable. Some companies even accept wearing shorts in the office. The following picture shows typical dress in a software company in Ho Chi Minh City:
Dressing in IT company

Dressing in IT company

Annual leave and public holidays
  • According Vietnamese labor laws, employees must have at least 12 days of annual leave. Some companies can have up to 20 days of annual leave per year for the employees.
  • Vietnamese employees usually don’t save all of their annual leave for a long vacation. Instead, they usually take several short vacations during the year.
  • Vietnam has 10 days of public holiday and Tet (or Lunar New Year) is the biggest public holiday (like Christmas in Western culture). Even though the Tet official holiday is only 5 days, people usually take some extra days off using their annual leave during this time.
Tet, the biggest public holiday in Vietnam

Tet, the biggest public holiday in Vietnam