An update from Horton International Laos
Laos has been going through a transformational change over the last two decades, with a significant increase in foreign owned investment. As such, it has become a key hub for Energy, Mining and Manufacturing in the ASEAN region.
In the late 1970s large migrations of Lao people settled in the Americas, Europe and Australia. Currently, there is a major focus on capacity building to enhance the labour market within Laos. Over the past ten years or so, a number of international scholarship programs are leading the way to give Lao nationals an international education – to bring them back to benefit businesses. Moreover, a growing trend that international businesses in Laos are seeing, is that some of the Lao diaspora who have grown up outside Laos are looking to return.
There are many reasons, just a few are: ageing family members; wanting to be better connected to extended family; and better work life balance. These returning workers bring myriad benefits to the Lao economy, such as international education, diverse work experience and bilingual fluency. In this VUCA business world it is imperative that businesses are agile to the changing needs of clients and the surrounding markets. This largely untapped resource of candidates will give a distinct edge to businesses in Laos to be more competitive within the surrounding markets.
When I tell people I’m in executive search in China, their immediate response is often, ‘It must be a huge market.’ Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.
While China experiences a significant amount of talent movement, it’s an exceedingly challenging market for executive search consultants. In most global executive firms, including Horton, the Chinese office is roughly the same size as or slightly larger than its Hong Kong office. This is 1.41B populations (2021) vs 7.4M. Why?
Unfortunately, many top HR professionals in China fail to recognize the value of retained and exclusive searches. The most common question I encounter is, ‘In a market as vast as this, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to engage multiple parties for candidate outreach? Exclusivity seems counterintuitive.’
What’s the issue? I can think of two, among others.
Are consultants actively approaching candidates on your behalf? You may have sent your job description to various consultants, expecting them to reach out to potential candidates. Depending on the position’s specifications and perceived ease of filling it, you might not receive much attention from these consultants. Contingency consultants don’t hesitate to take on mandates (it’s hard to turn down a ‘free’ CV). However, have you considered how much time these consultants will devote to your search when they have over 30 others ongoing? Unless your case is a guaranteed ‘easy sell,’ you won’t be their top priority.
Can they genuinely attract candidates? Assuming your position isn’t a straightforward hire, convincing candidates requires a compelling narrative. If you (especially as the hiring manager) haven’t engaged with the consultants (given the sheer number of them), what makes you think they can represent you effectively? Quality consultants can bring qualified candidates to the table, but only if they truly understand your firm’s key competitive advantages and your leadership’s significance.
These are the primary reasons why firms like ours insist on exclusivity. It’s not about making more money; it’s about doing our job properly and ensuring you achieve the desired results!