How to Win the Executive Search Game in Viet Nam

Ho Chi Minh 7215

• Use a Headhunter?

In the age of LinkedIn many business people think that Executive Search in Vietnam (the polite name for head hunting) is dead. These people have missed the point, and you have the chance to get ahead of the game by using Executive Search in a strategic way.

• Has LinkedIn Killed Executive Search?

Linkedin has definitely helped with the "Research" phase of Executive Search (see box). No longer can an industry insider 'sell' their little black book of contacts. These days the main value to your business from a headhunter in Vietnam comes from the other phases of Executive Search. It is no longer enough to 'find' talented people.

HR2B emotional map


The trend these days is for business to set up large in house "Do it Yourself" recruitment teams. These teams have fast short term cost savings as they are good at filling 'replacement' jobs where there is lots of talent in the market. In Viet Nam this approach does not work well. The best talent are often "passive candidates" who will not be actively seeking work. You may be able to find them on LinkedIn, but how will you get them excited enough by your business enough to make the move companies?

• Know Who You Are

When dealing with an external Executive Search Specialist, one of the first things they will do after signing a contract with you is to find out about your company culture. Having to explain to someone outside your organisation how you operate your business is a useful exercise for all managers and business leaders. Why would a talented person choose to work in your team? What is your employer brand anyway?

• Any Road

Headhunters in Vietnam are used to dealing with a wide range of companies, jobs and people. They are expert at helping you define what you want. To paraphrase of an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland "If you don't where you want to go any road will take you there". The same is true with Executive Search. Having a company outsider ask for a clear job definition will help you avoid big hiring mistakes into the future. Selecting the right person will be easier if you have written down your business objectives for the hiring before looking at CVs. This document is called a Job Order.

Alice in wonderland

• Process Matches Perfect

A key value from your Headhunter is their ability to run a 'matching' process. A skilled consultant will create a win-win deal for you and the candidate. Relationships that start out this way usually last longer than one sided arrangements.

Executive Search Professionals will give you a report showing how the person they are introducing fits with the Job Order defined earlier. They should show you how the person matches in terms of personality and company culture as well as skills and experience. Include the headhunters opinion to your selection decision. Ask them "Who would you hire? Why?"

• An Offer You Cannot Refuse

The best way to start a relationship with 'hard to find' talent is to make them a one time offer that is difficult for them to refuse. The trick is to make this happen. Unskilled handling of the 'negotiation' phase can lead to unhappy outcomes for all concerned.

Once you have selected the right person, involve your Executive Search Consultant in creating and presenting an offer to the person. This is especially true when dealing with the classic Vietnamese professional / manager 'passive' candidate who is happy in their job right now.

• After Sales Service

The first day of work is not the end of service from your headhunter. Good Executive Search firms will seek feedback from both sides of the relationship during the critical first few weeks of the relationship. For high level headhunting the Executive Search consultant can help create 'onboarding' job goals that address risks identified during the recruitment process. All good Search firms offer a guarantee that if the relationship does not work they will find another candidate free of charge.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact HR2B Executive Search in Vietnam


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