Working in Hanoi



While Hanoi and the rest of Vietnam underwent depression recently, the government has been actively promoting a market-based economy to spur economic growth and transform the country into a destination of choice for foreign investments. Of course, more foreign investments mean more workers and Hanoi is rapidly becoming an ultra popular expat destination. 

Hanoi, Vietnam’s second-biggest city also has the highest Human Development Index among other cities in the country. Since Vietnam opened itself to capitalist nations, more jobs have been available to foreign nationals. Finding a job in Hanoi mostly involves asking people for leads because jobs are not usually advertised. Employment opportunities in the city are usually for the long term, so those want to come and work only for a few months will almost never find work at all. When hiring foreign workers, employers are always looking for those who can build long, working relationships with them. 

The Pillars of Hanoi’s Economy 

The city has been experiencing an economic boom for the last thirteen years. As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi’s economy is significantly dependent on its export industry, where there are also abundant work opportunities for locals and qualified expatriates. Trade is a very strong sector in the city, and with important changes in Vietnam’s economic structure, the city’s finance, banking and tourism industries have also gained considerable ground. 

Like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi's real estate market is a fast-growing sector. It appears though that the growth of the city’s economy doesn’t seem to jive with its infrastructure. The population seems to be increasing so fast while the availability of housing units, as well as those under construction, could not keep pace. Agriculture used to be the main force behind the city’s economy, and now it continues to evolve with the introduction of more advanced farming methods as well as livestock and new and productive varieties of plants. 

There is a huge demand for English teachers, but sometimes, there are also opportunities for French, German, Korean and Japanese-speaking expats. Public universities usually employ teachers of foreign languages. Most people in Hanoi are working in the above-mentioned industries, and also in the food processing, machine-building and shoe-production sectors. 

Average Salary 

The average salary in Hanoi ranges from USD 245-150 per month, depending in his occupation and qualifications. The highest-paid expats in Hanoi are those who are employed in companies run by foreigners. As mentioned earlier, teachers are also in demand in this city. The pay for those who teach in the public sector is around USD 5-10 per hour, and remuneration packages include free housing and multiple visa renewals. Teaching English in the private sector pays higher – around 6-15USD per hour, but the benefits are usually not as comprehensive as those offered by public schools. Home tutoring actually pays the highest which is around USD 10-20 per hour. Opportunities in the rural areas tend to be fewer, and the pay is also lower. 

Work Hours 

Establishments generally open around 7am or 8am in the morning and close around 4pm to 6pm. Banks open at 8am and close at 11:30am for a lunch break, and then re-open at 1pm and close at 4pm except on holidays. On Saturdays, banks are closed in the afternoon, while government offices open on Saturdays but only in the morning. 

Museums do not open on Mondays, while temples and other places of worship are open every day of the week from 5am in the morning to 9pm in the evening. Most small, private establishments like restaurants, boutiques and the like are also open every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, and close very late at night. 

The lunch hour is considered sacred, and all establishments close from 12pm to 1:30 pm. In government offices, this break is even longer, and work may resume at 2pm. 

The Business Culture in Hanoi 

The Vietnamese are hardworking people, and they usually rise early to get more things done by the end of the day. If someone is sleeping longer than normal, it is viewed as a sign of sickness. 

When doing business or working abroad, it is of utmost importance that one does research about the local work culture to avoid any misunderstanding. In Hanoi, it is a common practice among the Vietnamese to exchange business cards, and it must be accepted by both hands with a slight bow of the head as a sign of respect. Last names are also written before the first name so make sure to address the other person by their last names like Mr Nguyen or Madame Nguyen. Corporate attire in Hanoi is not too strict as long as the expats avoid clothes that show too much skin or are too flashy. Never touch a Vietnamese on the head because for them, it is the spiritual centre of the person and don't ever point a finger to someone just to call their attention since that gesture is considered extremely rude by the locals.

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