Talent attraction remains among the most pressing concerns of any organisation, especially newly-established companies that are not familiar with local work practices. Vietnam, as an emerging economy, has a “hot” labour market due to its rapid growth compared with the region, meaning new companies must look closer at the talent pool to adopt an appropriate people strategy.
Recruitment needs in Vietnam are still high despite being impacted to some degree by the economic downturn, especially in “front line” and “scarce” positions. “Front line” positions are jobs that have a direct effect on business performance, such sales, business development, marketing, and market development, whereas “scarce” positions are those that are still in a new phase of development in Vietnam as regards reaching a professional standard, such as human resources (HR) management, and technical positions (electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, process engineers, software developers) in specific industries like oil and gas, manufacturing, and hi-technology. It is much tougher and challenging to hire people for middle management positions, as the supply of qualified people is limited and fails to meet the demands of a booming market and employee localisation strategies have become more common than three years ago.
Regarding qualifications, thanks to fast tracking, the qualifications of Vietnamese employees have improved a great deal over the last three to five years, in techniques, knowledge and soft skills. Vietnamese employees are known as hard-working and fast-learning, gaining knowledge and experience quickly when working for MNCs in the country. There is no doubt that most global MNCs see Vietnam as a good destination for foreign investment, which promises the further development of Vietnamese employees. The gap in qualifications between Vietnamese and Thai, Indonesian, Filipino and even Taiwanese and South Korean employees has been bridged significantly and even totally in some cases. These days most senior officials would be confident in relocating and working in other countries. In our 20 years of experience in the local labour market it has become common for us to see senior Vietnamese personnel, particularly in technical functions in the oil & gas industry, for instance geophysicists, and even those in supporting functions like HR and Finance, be appointed to work in regional offices or oversee tasks performed in three or four countries in the region.
However, how to work in a disciplined, well-structured and organised manner must be imparted to junior-level employees, while investment is needed in instilling strategic and supervisory thinking among senior officials. Firm decision making based on evidence, facts and figures is needed among local employees, so that they and their employer can keep pace with other countries.
Newly-established companies must therefore understand the insights and expectations of their targeted employees. Expectations vary from level and function. Career development, job satisfaction, and remuneration are the most important factors for most employees. Technical people appear to prefer working in a stable environment and pay greater attention to jobs connected to their educational background, while people in business functions focus on job experience and enrichment.
On the other hand, senior officials with in-depth experience in Vietnam would love to engage more with the company. It is important for new companies to recruit qualified managerial people to drive the business in the right direction, so they must share their vision, long-term roadmap and commitment with their employees to encourage a sense of being a “trailblazer” for the company.
For specific positions where recruitment is difficult, like in R&D, potential candidates should be allowed to obtain expertise from expats before the company fully carries out a localisation strategy. Headhunting and networking are the two channels for new companies to optimise in approaching senior officials, whereas job websites or jobs fairs at universities can be used to engage junior-level employees.