Managers struggle to find new jobs in tough labor market

By Nguyen Hang   July 18, 2023 | 03:34 pm PT
Managers struggle to find new jobs in tough labor market
People work at the office of a tech company in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
The job market slump is affecting not only hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers, but even mid-level and senior managers.

One month ago Hoang Le Quan, a marketing-sales manager at a building materials company in Ho Chi Minh City, decided to quit his job after being regularly fined for not failing key performance indicators.

He joined online communities connecting employers with job seekers only to discover that while demand for employees was high, he could not find a suitable position or salary.

Claiming that many offered only half the salary he wanted, he says: "Recruitment sites post many vacancies for senior managers, but they cannot hire. They have their reasons and I have my reasons.

"I’m looking for a job with a monthly salary of VND40-45 million (US$1,700-1,900). I can accept an offer of VND30-35 million, but not VND20-25 million."

Ngo Quang Long used to work as a production manager for a company in Thanh Hoa Province at a monthly salary of VND18 million.

When the Government brought in new stricter fire safety standards late last year, his company was unable to meet them and had to temporarily close down.

Not knowing when it would resume operation, Long decided to quit three months ago.

But he says he does not know if he can get another job with an acceptable salary since businesses are offering to pay what they did six or seven years ago.

"It is not difficult to find a job but it is difficult to get the desired income. I want around $1,000 (VND23.6 million), but companies are offering only around VND15 million."

Le Duc Cuong, who used to work as the head of human resources at a woodworking business with thousands of workers, has also struggled to find a new job for the past two months.

He says: "Now the economic slowdown is serious. I have applied for all appropriate job vacancies, but am yet to receive any response."

He is becoming more and more worried since he has a wife and two children to take care of.

A recent survey by the HCMC Center of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labor Market Information found nearly 67% of job openings requiring college degrees or less, and less than 20% need university degrees or more.

But nearly 85% of all job seekers have university degrees.

The center’s director, Do Thanh Van, says job seekers with high qualifications would find it hard to find appropriate jobs now.

Employers are currently focused on a certain type of worker - production labor – and so mid- and senior-level managers like Long do not have much opportunity now, he adds.

Long says: "There are much fewer job vacancies than before. Now firms hire technical staff rather than senior managers."

Kien Nghiep Headhunter Company focuses on large firms. The head of its operations department, Nguyen Hoai Nam, says: "When facing difficulties, companies tend to reduce their payroll and keep employees who can do two or three jobs. For example, some accounting people can also do administrative or human resources work."

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor says there are many reasons for the difficult labor market, and things would remain like this for a while.

The fallout of the prolonged Covid pandemic persists, inflation is at a high level and the global economy is growing slowly, with some countries showing signs of entering a recession, it says.

The Vietnamese economy continues to face challenges in terms of inflation and exchange and interest rates, it says.

The labor market will continue to be difficult through the next quarter, it adds.

Long says if he cannot get a job with a salary of more than VND20 million by next month, he will move to work in a remote province with a lower income, but the job "will be stable for a long time."

Cuong says he will accept any job to meet the immediate need for money.

Quan is expecting to find a job that splits the difference between the salary he wants and what employers are willing to offer.

Nam, the headhunter, says amid the current difficult situation people should not engage in job hopping since there are few new jobs with the same or higher salary.

Now is the time for people to hone their skills to be ready when the labor market becomes rosy again, he adds.

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