• Executive hiring firms and headhunters come in different sizes and types, but all of them work for their client – the hiring company
  • As a job seeker, it is essential for you to be familiar with how firms and headhunters work.
  • Like with most relationships, building relationships with Vietnamese headhunters can take time but being able to do so will be beneficial to you.
  • Sometimes it is not a candidate’s lack of skillset that affects their chances of getting hired but how they handled themselves while working with executive headhunters.
  • Most recruiters work at a national level in Vietnam. Limiting your job search by geography will also limit your opportunities.


Working with executive headhunters might be a little tricky, seeing that the job market is a little too competitive. On top of this, most job seekers get invested in job descriptions too much that they often forget about those who help them get it – the recruiters.

As job seekers, it would be helpful to know more about what headhunters do and how they do their work. This will not only increase your chances of connecting with those who may list you up for a job but also increase the chances of your success in your job search.


Beginning your job search

When you first meet or interact with a headhunter, they will ask you a myriad of questions, including your job history, your education, your interests, and where you see yourself years from now.

Headhunters get such information to see how fit you are for the positions they are currently representing. Naturally, you would also want to know more about them as well as what they do.

Unlike the preset programs and applications used for recruitment, headhunters and recruiters have different personalities and characteristics that could well reflect in their recruitment strategies.

With such diversity in the characteristics of recruitment firms, there could be several encounters with overseas recruitment agencies in Vietnam that university or experience may not have taught you how to deal with and resolve, especially if there are several opportunities for miscommunication.

For example, you may have connected with a top headhunter in Vietnam, but now she is not replying to your emails. Do you follow up? Are you simply not a good fit for the job? How could that be when you are fully qualified for the position? Is it because of miscommunication?

You can always ask and talk to your headhunter. To make things better, you can also try knowing more about them through the experiences of other job candidates or simply by reading more about what they do.


What should I know about headhunters?

Like with most relationships, building relationships with headhunters could not be done overnight. Doing so successfully, however, could prove to be advantageous for you. What better way to do this than by knowing more about them?

Here are five facts to help you work effectively with and know more about how executive headhunters espouse their executive leadership solutions in Vietnam.


Fact 1. An executive headhunter always works for a client – the hiring company.

It should be clear that an executive firm works for a client and not for you, the job seeker. Even while some firms offer work advice and assistance like Curran Daly and Associate, their primary service requires them to fill vacant positions of their clients.

As a job seeker, it is essential to understand this arrangement. If the headhunter, for example, finds you to be a good match for their client, they will give you attention and prepare you for an interview with the client.

On the other hand, if the headhunter no longer considers you a match for any of their clients, they will keep your records and may find other matches with their other clients.

If they do contact you and you are not interested in the position offered, you can recommend other professionals you know who might. This would be favorable to both parties as a result.


Fact 2. There are different kinds of search firms.

We have been talking about headhunting and executive search a lot, but as jobseekers, it is essential to know precisely what you are dealing with when it comes to recruitment in Vietnam.

There are two major types of firms, according to Cornerstone International Group, and knowing about them will give you some know-how in approaching the recruitment processes of executive headhunters.

Retained search firms are hired by client companies exclusively for a certain number of days at a fixed rate regardless of the results of the job search. For example, a retainer firm is hired for job openings typically for higher-level positions in Viet companies.

Thus, if you are working with a retainer company and they consider you for a position, you will be a part only of a small pool of candidates. However, no other recruiter at that firm could contact you even if you are the best match, making you “off-limits” for other opportunities. This is why it is vital to work with several search firms during your job hunt.

Contingency search firms, on the other hand, usually search for positions for junior and mid-level executives. Unlike retainer firms, contingency firms are paid only upon a successful hire.

They usually do not sign contracts with a client on an exclusive basis, allowing them to work fast and collecting a large pool of candidates to submit to their client company. Contingency firms, therefore, allow you more exposure to positions and are thus more friendly to the unemployed beginners.

However, if you are happy with your current job, be careful in distributing your resumes, especially at the risk of it being distributed blindly without discussing the roles with you first.

Knowing the nature of the executive search firm could be challenging but is important, especially when you are allowing a recruiter to distribute your resume. What you can do is ask the recruiter explicitly where and whom your resume is going to go to. 


Fact 3. With some significant differences in functions, executive search firms also differ in the levels of their specialization.

While there is a wide array of search firms in Vietnam, they all vary according to function. There are generalist firms that offer recruitment services in various fields and management functions.

Some firms and individual recruiters specialize and look deeper into specific industries, allowing them to dedicate their recruitment work.

As a job seeker, it is up to you to know the coverage of the recruiter you are working with. To make your job hunt more effective, you should consider recruitment firms who specialize in the industry you intend to work in.

General recruitment firms in Vietnam, however, should not be forgotten, especially on higher level positions.


Fact 4. Be professional with the headhunters, even when you are set to meet them at a casual neighborhood café

Meeting an executive headhunter instead of an actual hiring manager does not mean that the meeting is less important and has less bearing on your application. It is just like any other interview.

You should still dress appropriately, be well-groomed, and exude a pleasing, personable attitude once you greet them with a firm handshake.

It is still as significant as any office interview because the headhunter is there to look if you are presentable enough to be introduced to his client, both in terms of appearance and qualifications.

Sometimes it’s not your lack of skillset that affects the selection process, but how you handle yourself in working with executive headhunters and in this case, in how you handle yourself at your very first meeting with an executive headhunter.


Fact 5. Most recruiters work at a national level in Vietnam. Limiting your job search by geography will also limit your opportunities.

Executive firms in Vietnam may genuinely be a Viet brand, but some recruiters come from representative offices of international firms in Vietnam. This is because most firms want to branch out and cater to both the national and global demand for jobs.

In this case, executive positions are filled with higher operating costs as Vietnamese search firms tend to look nationally and internationally to fill positions.

Engaging with firms who only work with city-level firms, for example only in Hanoi, will limit your job search as well. In this case, it is essential also to be aware of the reach of the recruiter you are working with since they carry your resumes as well.

While the things mentioned above are essential, it could still not speak for the general population of hunters in Vietnam.

Even when a potential candidate has everything – qualified with years of notable experience, good representation, etc. – some would still back out after noting some basic hassles with the recruiter, unfavorable work schedules or unappealing perks.

If this happens, then it is not because a candidate is unfit for the job. Let us all save ourselves from further heartaches and know more about what we are all going into before deciding to push through with job interviews.


Wrapping up

Curran Daly and Associates is one of the top recruitment agencies in Vietnam with representations in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Australia.

The company has a network of contacts which extends throughout the region, an extensive and updated database that allows for various specializations and genuine partnerships.

At CDA, knowing Southeast Asia does not have to be a problem. You can, too! Talk to us and help keep our conversations alive.



 Cornerstone International Group. (2014, February 3). Part 1: Making the decision? Retained executive search vs. contingency recruiting. Retrieved from https://www.cornerstone-group.com/2014/02/03/retained-executive-search-vs-contingency-recruiting-which-one-is-better/

Four facts you should know about working with executive recruiters. (2018, August 30). Retrieved from https://carterbaldwin.com/four-facts-you-should-know-about-working-with-executive-recruiters/

The Wall Street Journal. (n.d.). How to work with executive recruiters. Retrieved from http://guides.wsj.com/careers/how-to-work-with-executive-recruiters/how-to-work-with-executive-recruiters/

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