Latest Update: August 18, 2021
This is relevant for: Foreign companies planning to employ staff in Vietnam
The recruitment process in Vietnam is not much different from other countries. This article is a guide on how to find and employ staff in Vietnam.
Step 1: Preparation a Job Description
A job description will deliver the first impression about the employer. It should be easy-to-read and short containing information about the employer, job title, tasks and requirements. Salaries are mostly not disclosed BUT including a salary range might significantly raise awareness of the vacancy. So, that's the basics but it should be kept in mind that Vietnam is a growing economy and labor is contested. Therefore, candidates want to see why they should leave their current job for a new opportunity: What is the employer offering as a benefit package beyond the salary? Is there a chance to learn and develop themselves in the company? Last but not least, a friendly working atmosphere will make the employer more attractive with the candidates. Descriptions or links to website/videos about company facilities, working areas and team activities should therefore be included. The job description can be written solely in English, examples of other employers may be found on the job platforms listed below. A report of trends for employee benefits by Navigos is linked here.
Step 2: Advertisement of the Open Position
As in many other countries, the most popular way is to advertise the vacancy on online job portals. Some reliable portals are (click to go to respective website):
ITViec (for IT related jobs)
Advertising here, the employer and the position can be exposed to a large number of job seekers. In our experience, depending on the position the number of incoming CVs can actually be quite overwhelming. Screening and evaluation of the applications may therefore consume a considerable amount of time.
Advertising on job platforms is mostly effective for recruiting non-managerial positions. For high-level or specific positions, the service of head-hunters is recommended. They have large databases of candidates in all industries and wide connections. Some headhunt companies in Vietnam are:
Besides these "traditional" recruitment services advertisements in social media such as Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook also become more and more common. It can also be worthwhile to participate in job fairs and similar events.
From our point of view, it is important for an employer to "have a name". Because the Vietnamese labor environment is an "employee's market", employer-branding is becoming an important topic. European companies are at an advantage here because they carry an excellent image. Still, even newcomers from there may find it hard to attract highly skilled personnel because they do not (yet) have a history or a brand.
The best time to advertise open positions is the three-month period after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year "Tet", which is also called “The Golden Period of Recruitment”. This is the time when potential candidates have received their annual bonusses and are willing to seek for a new job with better benefits. The employee turnover rate during this period is highest, especially in the manufacturing industry. The worst time is before the above-mentioned Tet festivities because potential candidates might lose a full-year's bonus if they change jobs in this time period. There is a bit of a summer break in Vietnam but not as pronounced as in Europe. Thus, basically any time after Tet until the start of the fourth quarter should be fine to advertise openings.
Overview: Hire periods over one year (red: negative, green: positive)
Step 3: Evaluation of Candidates
For newcomers, it might be hard to "read" Vietnamese CVs. As in other Asian countries, there are a couple of big-name universities. If a candidate has undergone education here, it implies that she has either has excelled in high-school or that her family has an excellent social standing. Both should be considered favorable factors. On the other hand, there are myriads of other universities, technical schools etc. We recommend letting a local do an initial screening of degrees.
Another issue that foreigners might stumble upon is CVs with a lot of short-term positions at different companies. Life-long employment does not have a tradition in Vietnam and the locals are quite opportunistic. If another employer offers better benefits and/or a higher position they will happily take on the "risk" of changing jobs. Hence, it can be a positive sign if people have worked many jobs because they might be "risk-friendly" which might be an advantage for some positions. On the other hand, these employees could be prone to leaving again soon. Here, too, we recommend having a local with industry experience having a look at the employer line up in the CV.
Foreigners might also be irritated by a lot of typos or format mistakes in Vietnamese applications. This should be taken with a grain of salt. Vietnamese are pragmatic and forward-looking folks. They show a “relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles” (Hofstede Insights). Hence, preparing a perfect-looking CV in English might not be that important to candidates. What counts is that a potential employer receives an expression of interest into the open position and that the employer understands the candidate's background.
In most young and/or small foreign companies in Vietnam, management abroad or a foreign GD will make the decision on employing personnel. As pointed out above, we highly recommend letting a local screen the CVs and make a pre-selection. If a job requires spoken English, we furthermore advise letting capable junior staff making phone calls to check language know-how. Oftentimes it will turn out that spoken English is not on par of what a CV (e.g. through a TOEIC score) promises. The pre-selected candidates should then be given to the management team who will create a shortlist. For qualified staff, this list may be boiled down to five to ten high-potential candidates.
Step 4: Job Interviews
Unusual pre-COVID, online job interviews are now widely accepted. Naturally, in-person meetings are still preferred by employers as well as candidates. For foreign attendees, interviews can be hold in English. However, we recommend commencing at least part of the interview in Vietnamese with a mother-tongue speaker. Aim is to learn a bit more about the candidate's personality which might not become apparent in English.
Step 5: Initiate Employment
If a final candidate is chosen, a labor contract can be prepared. It is worth considering to ask a lawyer to support drafting it (click here for German lawyers list). Information on remuneration and benefits can be found in our FAQs on employing staff in Vietnam.
Typically, the candidate will be able to start her employment two to three weeks after signing the labor contract.
And there you have it: The recruitment process in Vietnam is pretty straight-forward. For newcomers, we heavily recommend getting local support. 📣 Commercial break: We can offer it. More info here. 📣 More established companies will likely be able to manage most of their personnel without external help.
The whole process of employing new staff should take roughly ten weeks from preparing the job description to first day of work. It can be rushed by paralleling some processes. For example, the evaluation of candidates may be started while a job opening is still active on an online platform. Shortening the recruitment process to six or eight weeks seems feasible if need-be.
Overview: Timeline of the recruitment process