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We begin our interview series with perhaps one of the best known and largest recruitment companies in the world. Scoop got in contact with Robert Walters Thailand office, to ask a few questions about what the jobs market is like. We wanted to help jobseekers understand what makes an ideal candidate, how and where to position your profiles and understand what a top recruiter looks for. Where better to start than Punyanuch Sirisawadwattana currently the Director of Commerce, HR, Banking & IT supply chain with the Robert Walters office in Thailand. K.Punyanuch has had 7 years of recruitment experience working in Robert Walters.

Q What distinguishes a good candidate from an average candidate when you’re looking at a CV for the first time?

There are a few things our recruiters and I would look for. Firstly key achievements, which are by far the most important part on any CV. Secondly, have they done something differently within the role? They should include evidence and the figures to support their claims.

Things like hitting revenue targets are important, relevant experience and why specifically they would fit the role.

Thirdly, loyalty is an extremely important quality, many businesses are really looking very closely at this aspect of people’s CVs. Work experience within a single role for 1-2 years is really not long enough. More than 5 years is perfect and will show a good level of commitment and loyalty. I understand that many people move between jobs more frequently these days, ideally though, commitment to the company would need to be demonstrated, otherwise the reasoning behind leaving, would be addressed in the interview.

Q Is there any one thing – or number of things – you specifically look for when looking at a CV?

Talking about senior candidates the resume would need to have enough information with a logical structure. As well as looking neat and clean. Length is important – not too long, maximum 3 pages. International experience -studying abroad and/or working are key factors. Most companies like candidates with international profiles – with the AEC, companies are looking more and more for that cultural sensitivity. That understanding of the various cultures around South-East Asia. Another structural advantage is to show career progression within the company. Therefore to separate the sections for each role and promotion are important. You should be proud of your promotion so it should be clear to someone looking at your CV that you were promoted. The AEC is not having a massive impact on the market at the moment, but it is increasing the amount of candidates. English ability is becoming more and more important especially for Thai Jobseekers. Having said that most companies do still value locals. They would prefer not to hire a foreign national.

Q What are the key steps your recruiters go through to prepare candidates for an interview?

All levels of candidates receive this type of preparation service from Robert Walters so that they are not nervous and can perform to the best of their ability. All levels of candidate need to understand the company they are interviewing for. We make a huge effort to inform and direct candidates, helping them to learn what the role entails; what their position in the company would be and what exactly the company does. This includes the company key values, company mission and culture. In terms of our actions we conduct our own face-to-face interviews, and look very carefully at the job description, this allows us to interpret more of what the client is looking for and help the candidate to bring out those qualities.

Q How do you find good quality passive candidates?

Headhunting is niche so not all roles will always require it. We use our networks to find good quality candidates, our company hires recruiters that are specialized so they have a high level network of specialized friends and colleagues. Then the networks can refer candidates to us. 50% of candidates are placed through referrals. The other 50% would be from LinkedIn, Job Boards and other methods. We also organize a candidate appreciation event; where we invite previously placed candidates to bring friends along that can become potential candidates and referrals for in the future.

Q How essential are job sites, social media profiles and online footprints compared with Thailand’s jobseekers and the rest of the world?

Normally the way Thais use social media is not related to their careers, Facebook for instance is not a good tool we use to identify candidates. Typically we wouldn’t expect clients to review their profiles either. We will use Jobs boards and LinkedIn at times. However with these channels we may receive 2-300 resumes where only 1-2% of candidates are relevant. Word of mouth and our referral program is most important to us. Calling a quality candidate and asking them to refer another quality candidate works the best for us. If that candidate is not interested, we ask them to refer us a more suitable contact.

Therefore our system allows us to call our quality candidates every 8 weeks just to check how they are going. This gives us an opportunity to inform them of other roles and they then have the opportunity to refer us to new candidates. This personal interaction really works well for us.

Q For candidates who may be worried about committing to a new job, only to be beaten to the post; How important is it that you work exclusively with your clients?

We spend time to analyse and understand the needs of the clients and candidates. We try to understand whether the company culture, personality, values and environment are a good match for both sides. Based upon this function of our process, we don’t worry about exclusivity and neither should our candidates. Candidates in Thailand are not really worried about this. They understand that by using Robert Walters, the client is looking for someone special. We won’t force anyone to commit if they are not 100% certain.

Q How beneficial is overseas working experience to Thai jobseekers?

Thai jobseekers that have overseas experience are definitely in high demand; 81% of Thai internationals want to come and work back at home. These are new results of Return of the Asian Talent Whitepaper released by Robert Walters Singapore on 31 August 2016 Overseas education experience is also highly valuable. The compensation will be higher overseas but when they come back to Thailand they should expect to earn 10-20% more than people without the same experience.

Q What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the Thai jobseekers today?

This last couple of years has seen Thailand facing a small economic downturn. The revenue that has been targeted is not being hit, so hiring over the last few years has taken a downturn. That’s why clients are looking for very high quality candidates. Business acumen and English language skills, are in very high demand at this time.

People need candidates that can really drive change in the business, that can create new forms of revenue, lead new projects and establish new products and brands. When economies are in retraction, companies need to rely on their staff to think-outside-the-box and keep the business growing despite the external pressures. That is why international experienced candidates are getting a lot of attention. The 3 biggest challenges then would have to be: The downturn and economic problems, creative thinking and business transformation skills, getting the right experience to understand how to break into new sectors.

Q What are the 3 biggest pain points for you as a recruiter in Thailand?

The market is quite dry for candidates in Thailand. I feel there is a lot of demand here and most clients we find are looking for the same thing.

Thailand is a candidate-dry market and clients do need to understand that at times, one quality candidate could receive more than 2 offers at the same time and the process of interviews needs to be aware of that. Clients who do not understand the Thailand market tend to be very selective and don’t realise that the English communication skills of Thailand jobseekers can’t be compared to candidates in the country where English is the first language. Candidates understand the job situation well and know that they are in demand so they will request high salary increases when moving jobs.

So the 3 main pain points for us as recruiters are: Lack of quality candidates, Lack of English skills and over-ambitious salary requests.

Q If you were a first time job-seeker, fresh out of university or maybe stuck for direction; which industry would you be looking to get into and why?

All industries have their upsides and downsides, depending on the position and economic situation during that time. As we don’t work with job seekers in that level, we will be unable to comment on this question.

This is article is part of an ongoing investigation into what recruiters, employers and companies in Thailand are looking for. If you have a question you want answered in our next interview let us know in the comments. If you are a recruiting company and would like to feature as part of our interview series contact jack@scooppeople.asia

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