Monday Morning Coffee: Recruiting in Vietnam

In this episode (MMC.008): The discussion about recruiting in Vietnam. How do you recruit? Where do you recruit from? What are the talents like? What are the challenges?

Recruiting in Vietnam is a premier thing on any CEO’s mind or anybody who’s running a company.

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Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability.

Listen to the full episode at links below.

Granger: Happy Monday! Good morning! It’s Granger Whitelaw with Monday Morning Coffee, and I am here with Cameron Lynch who rolled in from his weekend in Vung Tau.

Granger: Today, on Monday Morning Coffee, we are going to talk about recruiting in Vietnam, which is a huge subject. With the growth happening right now, it’s a premier thing on any CEO’s mind or anybody who’s running a company. How do you recruit? Where do you recruit from? What are the talents like? Because there are other issues now with all the HR, payroll and changes to the HR laws. Let’s just dive right in on this.

Overview of Vietnamese Employment Law & Recruitment

Granger: The Vietnamese employment law on recruitment is Decree No. 75/2014/ND-CP. It is the main piece of legislation that relates to recruitment and the management of Vietnamese employees by foreign organizations in Vietnam.

Granger: Foreign organizations have to use government approved recruiting agencies to hire Vietnamese nationals in Vietnam. So, if you’re an FDI company, you need to use approved organizations.

Granger: Eligible workers are any workers who are 18 years or older. They have to be able to have the full legal capacity to engage in their civil acts. And obviously, if they recruit through an HR company, they’re pre-vetted. So, that’s good.

What are the platforms that you can use to recruit talents in Vietnam?

Granger: What are some of the platforms that you use when you’re hiring?

Cameron: Predominantly, it was Vietnamworks. They do a really good job, and there’s a huge ecosystem there. There are lots of people actively searching for jobs there. There are no shortage of applications. Of course, there are also Facebook, LinkedIn recruitment, which is really good because that’s more about trying to find people in your sphere. So, you are looking for an IT Manager, you can find people who worked at FPT or one of these big tech companies, and you can find someone who has five years of experience.

Granger: Five years of experience is a lot.

Cameron: Well, this is just a hypothetical.

Granger: So, there are Vietnamworks, Careerlink, Jobstreet, Careerbuilder… Is Careerbuilder still here?

Cameron: I’m not too sure about that.

Granger: And of course, you can put ads in the newspaper and social media, right? Job fairs are big here. And I think job fairs are really cool, especially for a company to be able to meet the candidates in person. You see a large number of candidates. Going to a university and sponsoring job fairs is great. FPT does it, Viettel, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Intel, Samsung and all the big companies are doing for sure. And certainly, being a well known brand is very helpful.

Cameron: Yes, international brands really help. People rather go for Ernst & Young than an accounting firm that they’ve never heard before.

Granger: Or FedEx instead of a local delivery company. This causes a bit of a conflict if you’re trying to build startups or all these new entities and companies coming here because they’re not well known. They’re competing for the talent. In that case, you better have a really good pitch.

Cameron: That’s for sure. But one of the things I really like about the job fairs is that you see the candidate’s engagement and drive. To actively go up to a person and be like: “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I’m actively pursuing a career in this. Can you please direct me or give me some guidance on what I can do? Or maybe we can have a meeting after these conferences.” When you’re using one of these recruitment applications or web services, you don’t really know that engagement level. How long does it take to send in a resume? That’s one thing. And then you schedule a meeting and they never show up. That happens a lot. These are some factors to consider and it’s always this process of numbers when you use those platforms? You have to have many people applying, so you can view the resume, make an accurate decision and set up a time to meet. It really is a numbers game.

Job jumping is a challenge for recruiting in Vietnam

What is the recruiting process in Vietnam?

Granger: So, you start the process of recruitment and you post the ad, you’re probably going to get a lot of responses in the first one or two weeks. And then you need to meet and interview the candidates. Depending on the type of job, you may want to test them. There are some tests out there that you can give to candidates, even pre-interview, that will give you a look inside of their personality, how they work, their habits… And they’re pretty good tests.

Cameron: Yes, for a company I worked at previously, I did some of those tests. For me, it was a really good validation. I felt great after taking them because I got a pretty decent score. It also gives you feedback on what you can improve. I feel like sometimes you can game the system. It’s like: “That is not a good answer when you were talking about respecting leadership in the workplace.”

Granger: But I think that those tests know that. And if somebody doesn’t have the right answer, you’ve got a problem. But they ask the questions in three or four different ways.

Cameron: I mean that’s just supplementary to the interview. But one thing that I really like that I’ve seen companies do is make discreet case studies. They take one of their largest clients if they’re an agency and they handle marketing, for example. They can make a fake case study for the potential hiring and say: “Hey, could you look at this? We have a data set here. Could you give us some of your thoughts?” That’s a big thing too. It opens up more communication and it allows to really understand how their heads work.

Granger: It’s kind of like long division, right? Do they do the work? Do they show the work? It’s a better way instead of them just give you the answer. So, seeing how they think, the process they use, that’s super important. And it’s important to match them with your culture. You don’t want to have somebody who was trained differently, then you work and you find out it’s not a good fit for the culture, even if they are very intelligent.

Cameron: That is a big thing too, having a counter-culture person. I’ve been in teams where that has been the case and it just doesn’t work. A big thing is treating it like a family. A small team really needs people who are passionately based on the product.

Granger: And matched your team, right? You have helped hiring a lot of people in the last 10 months in different companies, and you’ve gone through the process. It’s interesting. There are a lot of good candidates out there. But for high tech jobs or skilled labor, it is different, right? You might use a recruiter. There are many executive recruiters in Vietnam. They’ll go out, they use LinkedIn and referrals. They’ll even contact people who are at current jobs to headhunt them and go through the processes. And that’s a different process because those are really more known entities.

What are the problems in recruiting in Vietnam?

Granger: One of the problems you get here, if you’re listening to this and you’re coming here or you’ve just come here and trying to figure out how to hire, there’s this job jumping or resume jumping happening here. You have to pay attention to how long they’ve worked somewhere because I’ve heard many stories where someone went from being an intern to a head of marketing in 2 years. Well, how did that happen? It’s not realistic, right? That’s a Vietnamese thing. They’d change jobs, they’d get changed of the title. They’re very title focused, so they can make more money. But it’s also a prestige thing and it needs to be based in reality. You have to be careful to vet your potential candidates closely.

Cameron: Two years is a long time because I’ve seen so many resumes and it’s a year. And it’s always from the end of Tete to the beginning of Tet because as soon as they get their bonus, they’re like: “It’s time to go.”

Granger: I don’t understand it. So if you’re listening here and you don’t know this process, tet comes at the end of January or the beginning of February every year, the same time as Chinese New Year. And there are a lot of job turnover at that time. You can see 20% of your employees turnover at that time because in the 13th month, they get their 13th month bonus and they may go to another job. That sucks too, because you lose productivity in December and early January because they’re out looking for a new job. They must be to get their bonus at the end of January. Or actually, they get it in December, they have more cash to spend in January. And then they go on their vacations and they quit, then they have a new job in March. That’s a big issue here.

Cameron: It’s cyclical, obviously. But how can a business function when it always has to train new employees and onboard them? That’s a podcast in its own. The retention of employees is one of the hardest things.

Granger: We’ll definitely do that. But, for recruitment, there are some good platforms out there. We’ve talked about a couple of the platforms, let’s research and maybe on Friday, we’ll talk about the biggest which is Vietnamworks.

Cameron: I’ve had a lot of success on Vietnamworks. It’s helped a lot.

Granger: I have more success on Facebook. And it’s always a thing that you and I go back about.

Granger: All right, everyone. How can you recruit more efficiently? Certainly, looking at the qualifications of the potential candidates. I would use more than one platform. Try to use two or three platforms so you get some variation. If you need to hire someone who’s very highly skilled or experienced, certainly it’s worth a recruiter. They charge around 25% of the yearly salary or somewhere between 20 to 25%. Just be aware of that but you get more vetted and qualified candidates. And certainly, your head of HR will do as long as they’re not just hiring their friends or their sister’s nephew. You want to make sure that those candidates are qualified too, because it costs money to onboard, to train and it costs money to lose because then you have to replace. And that’s real money. Those are your thoughts for the week. Have a wonderful week!

The Lotus Talks is produced by The Vietnam Group. This episode was produced by Granger Whitelaw, Cameron Lynch and Toan Tang.

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