The Cambodia Recruitment Market – A Beginner’s Guide


Recruitment is the process of attracting, selecting and appointing suitable candidates to jobs within an organisation. Larger companies have Talent Acquisition staff to carry out this work, smaller companies often task Human Resources staff to do it through advertising jobs and interviewing applicants. However many companies today outsource this process to recruitment agencies.

In developed economies the recruitment industry is an important part of the service sector and agencies specialise, one agency may deal with only nursing and care-related positions, another may only search for positions in accountancy and office management. In emerging markets like Cambodia recruitment agencies are all generalist, meaning they take on work from a range of sectors and search for applicants a range of positions.

Recruitment uses a number of specific words so lets ask a few questions to help clear things up:

What is a Job Board?

A job board is an online list of open jobs with links that applicants can use to apply for the job. Job boards charge employers a fee to post jobs and they work in the same way as classified ads in a newspaper, which is why many job boards are part of a larger website with areas for selling cars, renting property and so on. To get the website up and running, and to drive traffic (hits) to attract potential advertisers, start-up job-boards often let employers post jobs for free and often copy and paste jobs from other job boards.

Cambodia has many job boards – a current count would be around 30. In Cambodia job boards are generally used for junior positions or positions where a company needs to recruit a lot of staff. The benefit of a job board is that it can give the employer a huge pool of applicants because it quickly and cheaply reaches thousands of people. The downside is that the applicants are completely unscreened – anyone can send a CV to any advertised job whether they match the requirements or not. The result of this is that the employer has to dedicate staff time to reading and screening all the applicants – with no promise that the person they are looking for is even in the pool.

What is a Recruitment Agency?

A recruitment agency is a company which has a team of recruiters, working on behalf of clients, searching for candidates for specific jobs. Employers pay the agency (candidates should never pay any fee) to search for candidates and then interview and test them to make a shortlist of people who match the employer’s requirements. Generally a recruitment agency only carries out other activities which are close to recruitment, like supplying outsourced or temporary workers, and it doesn’t offer other services.

Employers use agencies for a number of reasons but the basic reason is to outsource the function of searching and selecting candidates. A recruitment agency employs staff who specialise in a sector or function (for example the banking industry or the accounting function) so these recruiters can find people with specific skills and experience faster and more efficiently than the company can itself.

Jobseekers use agencies because they know that a recruiter in an agency will help them find a job more effectively than they can find for them self and a recruiter often knows about jobs which are not advertised. The other reasons are concerned with confidentiality and relationships. Many people in Cambodia, particularly people holding management positions, are unhappy emailing their CV to apply for a job as they are not confident that the person receiving that CV will treat it confidentially. They prefer to use an agency as they know the reputation of the agency and they already know the recruiter who works in the agency.

How do I tell the difference between them online?

It is easy to spot the difference between an agency website and a job board. An agency usually doesn’t show the name of the employer in the job listing and never has ‘sponsors’ or advertising on their website. A job board advertises products and services not related to the jobs listed and it usually shows you the name of the employer. In fact the jobs are listed to attract people to the website and the income is made from the advertising. An agency website will also usually show you the name of the recruiter who is handling a job, with an email address and a phone number it will also show you the location of the agency office.

What is e-Recruitment?

Right now Cambodia is starting to develop web-based recruitment and this will become more sophisticated in the future. E-recruitment refers to online solutions which generate a database of jobseekers for employers. It must incorporate features which eliminate ‘passive’ candidates and screen and test candidates before the client receives the CV. At the same time they have ways to protect anonymity so that a job-seeker’s company, co-workers and customers cannot see their CV. This is done through a system where jobseekers pay to create an account containing their CV and profile and employers pay to access these profiles through a candidate management interface.

A further development will be the introduction of meta-search engines which find and list advertisements from traditional job boards, while some only index from employers’ websites bypassing job boards altogether. These vertical search engines are all operating in other developed economies and will come to Cambodia sooner or later.

What is the best way to find a job today?

That depends on who you are and what kind of job you are looking for. If you already have the word ‘Manager’ in your job title then you have probably already progressed above the level where a job board can help you. You should be looking on the Careers section of the websites of companies you would like to work for. You should be building a relationship with a recruitment consultant who is interested in helping you develop your career and you should be using your own personal network to find out which companies are growing and may have opportunities for you in the future.

If you could be considered junior or supervisor level staff then you should still be talking to recruitment consultants in agencies but you should also be looking at job boards for positions which are open. You should be thinking carefully about your career development as well as working to improve your CV so that it is always ready to send.

What is the best way to recruit staff today?

The advice which is good for job-seekers is also good for employers. For positions which require minimal skills or skills which can easily be summarised in a few lines then you should be advertising on one or more of the job boards. You should list key requirements and task your staff to eliminate all applicants who do not match these requirements. You should be prepared to meet between 3 and 5 people for each position you have open – this can be a time-consuming process but the effort you put into selecting the right people is paramount for the success of your business.

For more senior staff for key positions there is no simple answer to this question. Quality key staff generally do not send their CVs to job boards or to print job advertisements. For cultural reasons concerned with ‘face’ and confidentiality they are hesitant to expose themselves in this way. The best way to seek them out is through a recruitment agent where the recruiters already have relationships with a network of jobseekers and potential jobseekers. If you are an inbound or start-up company then you have no reputation as an employer so having a recruiter sell your job to a potential candidate is crucial. Although you think you are offering a great opportunity to someone that person may feel they are making a leap into the unknown with their career.

Many employers find that the best way to recruit staff is through the networks of their current staff or through their own personal and social networks. This is not the most professional way to recruit but it can be very effective.

We can agree that recruitment in a rapidly expanding and developing market like Cambodia is not a simple and straightforward activity and that there are increasing challenges and opportunities for all.

For more information please contact Kevin Britten, Managing Director, Top Recruitment Cambodia


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