Working in Vietnam
With an ever-expanding economy, the range of jobs available for expats moving to Vietnam is also growing. The majority of expat jobs are in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but some can be found in smaller towns.
Most expats working in Vietnam are in the IT, construction and tourism sectors. There is also a large English teaching community and many NGOs operating out of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi.
Job market in Vietnam
Vietnam has a relatively low unemployment rate with most Vietnamese people working in the agricultural and service sectors. Many others are employed in Vietnam’s manufacturing industries such as machine-building, food processing and the country's famous garment and shoe production industry.
Expats working in Vietnam generally relocate to take up high-level managerial positions or are young people moving to Vietnam on a short-term basis to teach English or volunteer.
Most companies will offer expat relocation packages of some sort; however, the type of package will often be a reflection on an individual’s skill levels as well as their ability to negotiate. Salaries in Vietnam are generally lower than in other large expat locations, although the cost of living in Vietnam is also lower, meaning that expats will often be able to maintain the same quality of life as in their home country.
Learning to speak basic Vietnamese will stand expats in good stead with colleagues and associates as well as enhance a person’s ability to make the most of their spare time when exploring Vietnam and interacting with the local people.
While it is possible to find a job from within Vietnam, the government is beginning to implement stricter visa regulations which may make it more difficult in the future. It is essential that any expat wishing to work in Vietnam is in possession of a valid work permit.
Work culture in Vietnam
Expats working in Vietnam will find that the work environment is similar to Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. The Vietnamese have a healthy work ethic and are generally hardworking and industrious.
Offices are a formal environment and workers are expected to dress and behave appropriately. Networking is incredibly important in Vietnam and expats will soon find that a broad social group is important when it comes to securing a position or moving up the ladder.
Communal lunches are an important part of working in Vietnam, as is socialising with colleagues after work. These social occasions also provide good opportunities for expats to network and interact with their Vietnamese counterparts.
Companies in Vietnam have a very hierarchical structure and expats are expected to show the necessary respect towards their seniors in the workplace. Punctuality is valued and lateness is seldom tolerated. Expats are therefore advised to arrive early for meetings or interviews.