Monday, August 24, 2009

Importance of life planning in Career

If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.

Your job search will be more effective and rewarding if you do a little life planning before rushing out and applying for jobs.

Recent science research has shown that in the absence of visible landmarks or cues from the sun, people who are lost can not walk in a straight line (Current Biology 2009). Dropped in the forest on a cloudy day, people will indeed walk in circles, and the same is true for people dropped in the Sahara desert during the day and at night. We are genetically programmed to wander around.

I have seen the same thing in people's careers. A 30 year old mid-career marketing professional I interviewed recently is an example. Without any clear focus this person wandered around from job to job in different industries and locations with out any clear direction of focus. Each time the person was seeking happiness and each time they ended up back where they started, unhappy and looking for change.

So if you want to walk the straight line to career success, don't count on luck or your own sense of direction, create a 'career compass' and set your direction. Of course it is true that the map is not the territory, so you will have to accept that sometimes you will be 'off-course', but overall knowing your direction will help you make smart career decsions when opportunities come along.

This post was inspired by this Scientific American 60 second science podcast.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Know what to order from your Head hunter

In this second installment of a six part series, Tom Vovers explains a little about the different categories of search available and gives buyers some tips on how to choose the best type of executive search in Vietnam for their particular business circumstance.

"Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person” - Edwin Booz

Take out a pen and pencil and list down the ways you expect using a search firm will add value to your business. Like any professional service you will be paying a fee. Be clear about what you are buying.

Have you got your list? Ok, your check and see which of your items fall into these categories;
  • Administration ease;
  • Access to a professional mechanism for decision making;
  • Access to labour market knowledge;
Choose a service from executive search firms or headhunters in Vietnam that fits these needs. Below are three types of service. Be clear about what you are buying from your Executive Search Firm.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing
With this service you are effectively buying administrative ease. Your service provider will carry out all the administrative steps necessary to fulfill your own recruitment process. Good companies will help you develop this process. For example, HR2B recently hired a sales team of over 10 people for an education company using this service. Our clients were charged a fee on the number of CVs process, the number of interview held, the number of offers made etc.
  • Good for lower level daily hiring needs
  • Good for project hiring
  • Fee for service

Contingent Search
With this service you are buying the ability of "matching" between your opportunity and the candidates needs and desires. There is some administration and some market knowledge thrown in. It is called 'contingent' because if there is no match, then no fee is paid. In 2008 HR2B placed over 150 people using this service.
  • Good for middle to upper level opportunities
  • Hard to find skill sets
  • Fee based on success
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact HR2B Executive Search in Vietnam

Retained Search
With this service you are buying market knowledge. Your service provider needs to understand completely the shape of your industry, the people involved and then use their skill of matching to suggest to you people who can deliver results for your company. At HR2B we will typically do this service for C"X"O searches (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.)
  • Good for higher level opportunities
  • Requires a lot of research upfront
  • Fee paid upfront and on success
Whatever service you choose it is important that you have a process to your hiring decisions. Our next article will deal with the standard search process. Happy headhunting,

Yours, Tom

Saturday, May 23, 2009

10 ways to Maximise your benefit from a headhunter

From a recent client survey we found that 60% of our customers had never used services of executive search in Vietnam before. For us it is important that our customers know how to use us and to understand about our business. In this first of a six part series, Tom Vovers shares with us 10 ways employers can maximise their benefit from an executive search relationship. What are your comments?

1) Be concise on needs
Be clear about what you want from a candidate. What will be their unique contribution to your company? Avoid ambiguity in our requirements. A good headhunter in Vietnam will help you do this.

2) Be decisive on candidates
Sort into Yes, No and maybe. Re-sort maybe into yes and no. Commit to moving a person on in the process or remove them from the process. Again, this is not time to be wishy washy.

3) Search is not sift
If you find a good person accept them. Don't wait for more candidates. You are searching for the right person, so compare against your ideal, not compare across candidates.

4) Team workUnderstand that your search is a team effort between the Headhunter, the line manager Decision Maker and your HR department. All 3 need to work smoothly together and ideally should have met at least once in the search.

5) Be clear on lines of responsibility
If it is everyone's responsibility then it is no-ones responsibility. Assign decision making authorities in advance of the search. Be clear with your headhunters in Vietnam what you expect.

6) Grant access to management team
Ideally the headhunter should be able to meet with everyone who will work with your candidate. This enables them to match on company culture and personal motivations as well as skills and experience.

7) Show interest in the search
If you are sent a confidential report, read it. Don't outsource responsibility for filling the role to your headhunter. It is a team effort and they will work with you in making the best possible placements.

8) Give prompt and complete feedback
Part of showing interest is to give prompt feedback. Good candidates have options. If you take time to give feedback the best candidates may have moved on to other companies. Be as precise in your feedback as possible. Simply saying "not suitable" leaves the headhunter and the candidate guessing. Use rejected candidates to be more precise about what you are looking for.

9) Use one firm per job

Avoid confusion in the market place and with your candidates. Having two firms searching for one role sends all the wrong messages to candidates and can lead to damaging your relationship with the headhunter.

10) Make job offers quickly and clearly and in writingUse your head hunter to come up with an offer that the candidate will accept. Make one clear offer and then put it in writing. Don't waste time over terms and conditions.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact HR2B Executive Search in Vietnam

Thursday, May 7, 2009

5 mistakes Job seekers make

Some great advice from the USA that applies to Vietnam too.

From Heather Boerner, for Yahoo! HotJobs

Mistakes People make when they are laid off or retrenched:

1. Not recognizing their feelings. Losing a job is a major stresser. Aside from the obvious effects on your financial security, there are all those feelings of low self-esteem and despression to deal with. Don't ignore the feelings. Accept them and get on with the business of getting a new job.

2. Don't make your only goal just getting a job. Make smaller increments your goals. Boerner recommends:

* Instead of "I will get a job in X field this year," try "I will send out five resumes this week."
* Instead of "I will have three job interviews this month," try "I will call five people for informational interviews today."

3. Don't apply for every job you're remotely qualified for. That will only increase your chances of getting rejected and further erode your self-esteem.

4. Avoid negative people and experiences. If there is someone or something in your life that drains you emotionally, avoid it.

5. Don't put yourself in a "settling" state of mind. You didn't ask for it, but being laid off offers you an opportunity to figure out what you're really passionate about. Don't always go for the job you know you can do — go for the one you want to do.

see full article

Friday, April 3, 2009

Falling at the HR Department Hurdle

Executive Search Service for professional level opportunities involves handling softer less tangible selection criteria than can be found on a person's or by conducting a general interview. Our clients are looking for people that will fit with their company culture. This is where HR2B and other reputable firms of Executive Search in Vietnam can really add value to your business.

We specialize in "getting under the skin" of our candidates, to know them, to understand their feelings and motivations and to help them decide what is best for them in their working life decisions. We verify our experienced perceptions by reference checking and fact checking.

We match this with our client's requirements. That is why it is vital for us to meet, discuss requirements and get feedback from the hiring decision maker. The hiring manager.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact HR2B Executive Search in Vietnam

Human Resources departments play an important role in facilitating this relationship, and in providing us with the confidence that the manager we are talking to does in fact have the authority and permission to make a hire. Many HR departments try and stay in the middle of this relationship leading to slow process, unclear communications and a missed opportunity to make the best possible use of resources and talent.

Recently one of our fortune 500 customers changed their policy. We have been working with them for over 3 years providing a steady pipeline of talented people to their business in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

This client employed a new Vietnamese HR manager who interpreted a global policy as saying that line managers could not talk to executive search companies. He had this inserted in our scope of work. We tried to operate like this for 3 months and had many difficulties. We met with this client and explained the difficulties of slow process and inaccurate or incomplete feedback. Our old route of problem escalation via "Regional HR" had been downsized due to the recent economic crisis. Last week we had the line managers of this company contacting our consultants directly, and asking us to provide them with candidates for review before the "HR Department Hurdle".

Today I have ended the contract with this firm. The reason is that we have an obligation to our candidates to be their partner through their job role change process. The actions of this fortune 500 company prevented us from keeping our promise to our candidates.

The reaction of the Vietnamese HR management was to be 'administrators' of a global policy rather than trying to add value to their employer organisation and partnering with us in the difficult endevour of finding the right people for their business. They have made themselves into an obstacle rather than a resource. A wasted opportunity.

Hopefully soon this company will change and we will have the chance to partner with them again. In the meantime we can already see their employer brand becoming less shiny in the Vietnam market. This will surely be costly to that organisation, but more importantly it is bad for the good people who are working in there whose reputation will be dragged down along with their employer.

In this new connected world where LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites allow instant communications between people of all levels, it is quaint of HR departments to think they can stand between their managers and the outside world. Yes there has to be controls and monitoring, however modern organisations have to open themselves up to allow value adding activities to happen faster and easily.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ebb and Flow of Power Erodes Trust in Relationships

Changing economic times have created a tidal change in the balance of power between the employer - employee in Vietnam.

In the 'good old days' before 2001, talented Vietnamese would join with an organisation and pretty well stay there. Sure there was the labour contract, but there was also the unwritten emotional contract between employer and employee. The employer would continue to provide meaningful work with adequate salary and the employee would enthusiastically apply their skills and experience to the business success.

During the 'over-heated days' of 2007/2008 the tide flowed to the employee side. Talented people left the stable life to join fast growing companies who offered a different contract of high risk / high reward. Employers who did not have their retention programs in place suffered, either by losing talent or by over paying to keep good staff.

In 2009 the tide is turning towards employers having more power. As economies slow around the world, employers are faced with a wider range of candidates for fewer roles. Skilled overseas Vietnamese are returning to their home country, and they are affordable. New foreign firms have slowed their plans for Vietnam while things are uncertain at home. Salary demands have slowed. However can employers offer true job security in these uncertain times?

For the future I am sure the tide will once again change. Employees will again have the upper hand as the pace of economic growth increases in Vietnam and around the world.

So what is the lesson here?

For both sides it is important to remember that whatever the current level of the tide, eventually it will change and probably sooner than later. The speed of these changes recently has meant the erosion of trust, which will take longer to return.

For employers, take actions to build the level of trust with your keys employees (this assumes you know who they are already). Make sure this group is protected in your cost cutting measures.

For employees, understand that your employer or future employer might lack trust in you. Build trust by continuing to work on a strong track record of achievements in your current role. Not only will this increase your employ-ability, but it will also provide you with the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Job Search Techniques - Prepare

People looking to change job roles or move to a new organization need to prepare in two main areas. Know yourself and know what you are applying for.

Firstly is self knowledge. You need to make an honest assessment of yourself in terms of skills and competence. A good way to do this is to make a skills audit and ask friends / relatives / co-workers for honest feedback on your level. You need to understand yourown motivations, dreams and desires.
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Where are you heading in your career long term?
  • What about your family / life balance?
Answering these questions will help guide you to which companies and which roles you should be applying for.

Secondly is knowledge of the company and role you are seeking. Do your research.
  • What is the core business of the company?
  • How does the organisation make money?
  • What is the job you are applying for?
  • How does that job add value to the company?
By having information on these two areas you will be able to match your skills, experience, hopes and desires with the opportunity at the company. You can prepare interview question answers by listing your recent career achievements and showing how these fit to the job you are applying for.

The key element of a job search is passion. If you are passionate about the opportunity you are applying for, it will show in your communications to the company. You will submit a perfect CV, you will turn up to interviews on time, you will ask sensible questions and give detailed answers, and you will have enough information to make the right choice on a new job.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Connect the Dots

Here is a story, based on a real life account, that demonstrates the importance of the Human Resources function ensuring adequate communication between all people involved in the hiring process.

Mr X is a talented overseas Vietnamese with over 10 years IT marketing experience gained in Europe where he grew up and in the USA. He had decided to return to Vietnam for family reasons and is looking for a suitable position that will allow him to continue his career.

Company ABC is a large US multinational in the IT field. ABC has been in Vietnam for over 10 years. Recently the company promoted it's first Vietnamese into the role of country manager.

Through his job seeking activities, Mr X found out the ABC had a vacancy as head of business development. A role he would be well qualified to fill. About two weeks after submitting his details he was excited to be called in for an interview.

Mr X was interviewed by a young and inexperienced HR administrator. The interview went well however the administrator could not tell him about the details of the job, the strategy of the company, and Mr X did not meet any of the people he might be working with if he was successful.

A week later Mr X was thrilled to get a call from ABC company asking him to come for a 'technical interview'. He met the technical director, Mr Dung, of ABC company and they had a long and rambling interview of over one hour.

About 10 days after that Mr X was called by ABC company. His technical interview had gone well and he was told that Mr Dung was impressed by Mr X skills and knowledge, something that that Mr X was happy to know as he knows from experience that in the IT field different companies have different requirement levels in this area. The next step would be a meeting with the Regional Manager Mr Tan in Singapore.

It took a further 3 weeks to arrange an interview time with Mr Tan who was busy managing activities in 11 countries across the region. Mr X and Mr Tan had a good interview, again over one hour in length. At the interview Mr Tan explained that the role in Vietnam was more about attitude and personality and less about technical skill.

Back in Vietnam the HR manager of ABC had heard about Mr X and decided she should meet with him. So Mr X went along after returning from Singapore for another one hour interview. Three days later Mr X was excited to get the call from ABC that his next and final interview would be with the Country Manager.

It took another 10 days for the appointment with the Country Manager to happen. The meeting went well, however it was the first time he had been interviewed by ABC company in Vietnamese (all the other interviews were in English). Mr X was also surprised that the interview was so short, only 15 minutes. He took that as a good sign.

Let's re-cap here. Mr X has been in the ABC recruitment process for over 65 days. He has had 5 interviews. He has been flown to Singapore and back at ABC expense and met their most senior manager in Vietnam.

Imagine Mr X surprise when the HR administrator calls him to say that ABC were not interested in continuing his recruitment because his Vietnamese language skills were too weak and that he did not have a strong enough technical background for the job.

Wow. Mr X is now gaining a certificate of Vietnamese language from a university. He is also updating his facebook page and his 300 friends now know about his treatment with ABC company. He has re-started his job seeking activities and has committed to not getting too excited about any one opportunity.

ABC goes on recruiting in this unstructured way. They waste people's time (mostly their own) and build up then crush hopes. ABC has not yet woken up to the fact that now we are in a connected society. In the past these sorts of things would be known by only the job applicant and their family and friends. These days good job seekers will search the web for information about prospective employers.

In the Executive Search industry companies such as ABC are referred to as 'banana clients'. Consultants are reluctant to send their best candidates to such clients for fear of the treatment Mr X went through.

For large companies internal communications is one of the biggest obstacles to business. HR has a pivotal role in connecting the dots, streamlining the recruitment process and protecting and building the employer brand of their company. Good companies partner with their professional services firms to ensure good quality 'candidate care' and to build a strong reputation in the market.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When to hire and when to fire

Whether you employ one person, or fifty, choosing the right employees can be a challenge. How do you know which of the candidates will be worth their weight in gold, and which will waste your money? Well, the "secret" to hiring the right employee is to give equal weight to five different factors:


Sometimes, the best applicant is not the one with 20 years of experience. Sometimes, the best applicant is not the one with the Master's degree. Focus your interview questions around all five traits, and the "right" employee will emerge.

What if you cannot decide? Look closely at the experience, because past experience is the best indicator of future success.

If you're struggling with current employees, here are four guidelines to determine it's time to let someone go:

You are doing (or re-doing) their work
They fail to reach their goals on a regular basis
The employee has not taken your feedback to heart
They negatively impact other employees around them

Business owners do not have the luxury of keeping poor or mediocre employees. You must keep only the best employees for your business. And, don't feel guilty for letting go of inefficient or unproductive persons. You're growing a business, not running a charity.

Plus, I've learned by experience that I'm not doing anyone any favors by keeping a bad employee around... not the employee, not my customers, not the rest of my staff, and not me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HR2B Begins Year of the Ox

HR2B is a Vietnamese company. In addition to giving world class customer service to our clients and candidates, tradition is very important to us. Here on our first day back at work, the 8th day of the new lunar year of the water buffalo HR2B staff and management pay their respects and pray for a good year ahead.
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