Ms. Tiêu Yến Trinh: Choose The Job That Brings Value
September 25, 2022
Ms. Tiêu Yến Trinh is the founder and CEO of Talentnet Corporation – a 20-year-experience HR consulting firm, providing various human capital solutions for businesses. Backed by her understanding of the local labor market, Ms. Trinh has openly shared insights on current recruitment trends of the post-pandemic market, as well as fresh views about the young generation’s career paths.
Can you share about the landscape of the current workforce in recent years?
According to the Ministry of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), we are seeing positive labor restructuring in the first 6 months of 2022, compared to the second half of 2021. Talentnet also observed a 15-20% increase in businesses’ recruitment needs in various positions and industries. The fact that companies are quickly recovering; the restructuring of the operating model requires a supplement of personnel; and the market demand is gradually bouncing back to the pre-Covid level; may have catalyzed a much fiercer competition for talents compared to the last 2 years.
Both the recovery and transformation of the said market reflect two opposing pictures of the Vietnamese labor market:
1. It is easier to attract and hire unskilled laborers to fill positions that require little to known specific skills.
2. High-level positions or “trendy” positions that popped up due to the digitalization of businesses and are much more difficult to fill. It is because of the lack of proper job descriptions, combined with the lack of directions, or experience in a business restructuring, and digital transformation on the management side that makes it is hard to find suitable or qualified candidates fitting the experience and “endurance” requirements.
How would you evaluate the quality and expertise of the young workforce, especially graduates, given your extensive understanding of the labor market?
I think that we need to differentiate these 2 concepts: expertise and quality of work. Our labor market is having abundant workforce (especially Gen Z) that is highly skilled, confident, and willing to overcome challenges. These young workers also have an edge over senior ones in learning and adapting to various knowledge, which results in their belief in critical thinking, and the tendency to argue at work.
Since I joined the Ho Chi Minh City Association for Women Executives & Entrepreneurs (HAWEE), I have been learning a lot from other youngsters. Their advantages, including their proficiency in foreign languages and technologies, have opened various career paths for them. Personally, it is a plus for these youth. We can learn to chase our dreams and dare to try and realize our ideas in various ways from the younger generation. This surely gives businesses the chance to change and transform faster, more transparently, and bring about value quicker than ever.
However, these seeming advantages also give rise to some challenges that the young generation, especially fresh graduates, can overcome to increase their “value” in the labor market:
1. Improving “endurance” in an uncertainty-filled labor market. We discussed EQ 5 years ago, but AQ (Adversity Quotient) is the main criterion for businesses to assess a “valuable” candidate.
2. Possessing 1-2 key skills instead of knowing 10 average skills. This is your uniqueness in the eyes of recruiters.
3. Skillfully evaluating compensation – benefits. A 2021 report of Talentnet showed that young workers placed high importance on the remuneration aspect (over 90% of the asked participants). However, young workers still cannot properly evaluate these benefits to decide on a job, or to stay with a company, which increases their chances of hopping jobs.
How would you perceive the restructuring of the labor market post-pandemic? Which industries will be the key to the restructuring?
According to new management trends, recruiters are looking for 3 groups of skills from the candidates that enable them to thrive amid the uncertainties and new normal:
1. Durable skills are those that will continue to be relevant amid the technology transformation, constitute a base layer of mindsets and dispositions, and have a half-life of 7.5 years or more. These skills consist of structural designing like problem-solving, leadership, and critical thinking, and personal skills like management, teamwork, effective communication, resilience…
2. Semi-durable skills are those skills based on an understanding of certain fields of expertise and have a half-life of 2.5 to 7.5 years, such as skills in Scrum frameworks, copywriting for digital content…
3. Perishable skills are those with the shortest half-life of 2.5 years, which are specific technical skills – especially those related to specific vendors, platforms, or programming languages – that must be updated frequently.
Do most employers still require college degrees or focus more on the expertise and working experience of the candidates? How will employers evaluate an inexperienced candidate?
It depends on the unique requirements of the positions or is based on the company’s recruitment process. However, it’s a fact that most businesses are screening candidates using their academic performance, certificates, and degrees. Only 20-30% of opportunities are given to degreeless but talented candidates. Additionally, those candidates are usually referred by a creditable person in the field, or by a professional recruiting firm (that has a wide network of candidates).
On the other hand, for candidates with little to no experience, recruiters will usually evaluate them using their behaviors, part-time jobs, or extracurricular activities in the interview. However, candidates will only pass the CV screening if they can highlight their achievements or any experience and impress the recruiters.
How will the soft skills, behaviors, and adaptability of the candidates affect employers’ decision to hire them?
The weight of these elements depends on the requirements of each position. For example, in the IT field, employers will place the same importance on the “soft skills” and expertise of a candidate in a management position. On the contrary, if the candidate will be working solo, then the soft skills will not be as important. Nonetheless, adaptability is an essential quality that will always be in the top five qualities employers find in a potential candidate.
Many people believe that automation, robot, and AI will affect the chances of employment of workers in the future. What is your take on this matter? What impacts will they have on the labor market?
I think we should take a different approach to this matter. Technologies will not replace humans, but change the nature of 30% of total jobs – based on the forecast of the Economic Forum. When repetitive and tedious jobs can be replaced by automation, there will be even more jobs created (according to various research) such as developers, coders, technology engineers… Overall, the “common” jobs will be replaced by other more complex jobs.
Anyhow, technologies and AI will always have unforeseeable problems such as emotion management issues, and the need for personalization based on each context… since they need a lot of time to learn and develop. This is the key advantage of humans against technology. Many careers requiring management, or networking skills are experiencing a surge in popularity. Therefore, young people still have a lot of opportunities to explore various career paths.
We are seeing a lot of graduates work in another field, or choose to become freelancers. Can graduates choose jobs related to their majors? In your opinion, which will be better for college students – to follow their dream careers or choose the trendy careers, those with high chances of employment?
I think we should guide college students to pick jobs that they are genuinely enthusiastic about, experienced in doing, and able to create value. Because interests or trends will change with time, without any sustainability. Not to mention that not everyone can point out their passions. Additionally, not all passions are valuable when making ends meet, or fulfilling enough for your mental and financial well-being. Only by choosing what you do best, instead of focusing on what you want to do, can properly satisfy your demands and priorities. Your performance will always be better at doing something you are good at. A job well-done will help employees obtains the best results and approvals (from you, or the community…), thus bringing about a lot of happiness and added value.
People always say that if we are resilient in chasing our dream and overcoming challenges and failures with a steel heart, then we will always earn deserved success. Having said that, after pouring in hours and hours of hard work without seeing the results, people are easily becoming disheartened, especially young people. From your perspective, as a successful self-made businesswoman, what is your advice for them? How can we know that putting in the effort will always be fruitful? How much effort will be enough?
Once again, I believe we can see this subject in a new light. Instead of wondering how much effort is enough, you can try thinking:
- What are the goals? (These are visions and aspirations)
- What is the worst that could happen? How will you embrace/ deal with it? (This is to define your willingness to overcome challenges)
Only by then will you be able to determine your effort “limit” to establish radical directions for your plan. Sometimes, stopping trying does not equal giving up, it just means that you will try different ways. In my opinion, that is the distinction between a good performer and an excellent performer.
It should also be noted that it is crucial to utilize your network and the support of others throughout the journey. You cannot do everything alone. Just like a football club, it takes various positions working together to create a miracle.
Let us talk about history. Since your separation from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to found Talentnet, you have been receiving a lot of support from your higher-ups and other colleagues. How could a woman find her confidence and spirit to build up her startup, and gain the trust of everyone? What is your secret?
It is undeniable that I am an extrovert being fond of community activities, which help me overcome mental barriers when communicating and learning from other people during my entrepreneurial journey. Yet, if I must choose five lessons from my journey, they will be:
First – be daring in your vision: I was determined to build a professional Vietnamese brand, that measures up to multinational businesses’ standards and quality.
Second – break down your goal into small tasks: Be as specific as possible. The easier it is to measure the progress, the easier for it to become successful.
Third – maintain your commitment: One of the most important rules in my and Talentnet’s journey is the commitment to bringing value to clients, employees, and the community. As clients experience a valuable service, they will undoubtedly support and stick with your firm.
Fourth – keep your credibility: Credibility – not only has pushed me to strive for excellence in work, but it also helps me keep my head cool when making decisions, and keep my heart warm when following my beliefs.
Fifth – never-ending learning: I always learn new things from various people. It is the impulse to learn that has urged me to non-stop trying, pioneering, and making a difference.