Returning Students Would Become the "Bottom of the Job-seeking Chain"

Louis Nguyen, a Ph.D. candidate from Princeton University, once conducted a social experiment in which he submitted over 27,000 "fictional" resumes with backgrounds from U.S. universities to various types of Vietnamese companies. The research results revealed that the probability of receiving a response from returning student job applicants was, on average, 18% lower than that of job applicants who graduated from Vietnamese universities. Even for those with backgrounds from top U.S. universities, the response rate was still 7% lower. In other words, returning student applicants are eliminated from the job search before they even get to meet the HR.

From being highly sought after to becoming the "bottom of the career ladder," finding a job has become the biggest concern for contemporary returnees. Misconceptions, biases from both domestic and international sources, and information disparities have left us bruised and battered on the job hunt. We feel lost, anxious, and helpless. To seize every opportunity, we've tried every method and channel, but we've also stumbled along the way.

Experience of Returning Students

International student studying abroad

@Ngoc Hoa: When I returned to Vietnam, I felt confident in my professional qualifications and educational background. I spent over two months not even looking for a job, thinking I was at the top of my game. But reality soon hit, and I realized there were barely any entry-level positions left for recent graduates. After sending out countless resumes, I didn't even receive a single suitable offer. I found myself trapped in a lonely job-seeking cycle with no one to share news, no classmates to commiserate with, and no acquaintances to refer me to.

@Vivian Phan:  It feels like we're under a spell. Whether it's a one-on-one interview or a group interview, there's always one question that haunts us: "With your qualifications, why don't you continue working abroad?" During the job-seeking period, confusion revolves around questions like, "The domestic job market is evolving rapidly; what can I really do here?" and "I don't know how to leverage my advantages as a returnee." However, after entering the workforce, we face different problems, such as, "The salary is low, the work doesn't provide any valuable experience, and overtime is meaningless," "The international connections and work experience I gained abroad are not being utilized," and "Although I'm determined to resign, I can't showcase my job experience."

@Thao: Life in Vietnam after returning from overseas has not provided the sense of stability that I once imagined, ending my nomadic lifestyle. I'm either at work or on the way to work every day, and everything I do revolves around my job. Overtime has become as natural as breathing, and my coworkers take it for granted. Social media has brought people closer together, but it has also blurred the line between personal and work hours. Every morning, I wake up in a state of confusion and have to force myself to start a new day of work. Sometimes, I truly miss the "nine-to-five lifestyle" of "working in the senior years" abroad.