If you find yourself staying on long term in Indonesia, the employment market is not that hard to break into, depending on your skill set. Most expatriates in Jakarta can be found serving as various consultants, development workers, academics, and artists. While the economy continues to recover from the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, there are many jobs available for the business savvy.
Many couples find themselves in a situation were one person is recruited to work, leaving the other to fend for themselves among the legions of “trailing spouses” that can be found in Indonesia. But don’t fret – there is no better way to job hunt in Indonesia than to be physically in the area were you want to work and start networking. You will find the expatriate scene is fairly well networked and there are numerous events to begin meeting people who might be able to employ you. There are well established professional associations with open membership as well as community organizations, business associations, and sports teams. Start by introducing yourself to people you know work in your area of expertise and ask for an informational meeting – once you get on their radar, they will remember you if something comes available.
If you have any teaching credentials, or have time to earn them, there are numerous language schools that hire native English speakers to teach conversational English. Depending on the amount of teaching experience you have, you might also be qualified to teach at one of the many international schools in Jakarta. Most every Western nation has a school in the Jakarta area, but quality can vary. Be sure to do a little background research on any school you are considering to make sure they have a good reputation. If you plan on teaching English, be aware that temporary stay work permits are only granted to EFL teachers from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There is also a need for teachers of other languages such as Chinese, German, French, and Japanese. Information on teaching these languages is better obtained from the schools directly or from local Consulates and Embassies.
It is important to remember that the Indonesia Government would prefer to fill available positions with professionally trained Indonesians rather than expatriates, so work visas can be complicated and your job may not last long if a trained Indonesian can be found. Government policy stipulates that expats must be experts in their field. While this is not always the case, it does help if you have significant work experience under your belt. There are several types of work permits, some for research purposes only, others for short term duration, and others for those who travel extensively in and out of the country. Your company will have to justify your hire and provide you with the necessary documentation. Speaking Bahasa Indonesia will not only help you in your job search, but will also go a long way in earning the respect of government officials who you need to assist you in getting your paperwork filed.
Development and aid workers are in a good position to find work fairly quickly in Indonesia as almost all major United Nations agencies and large international Non-Governmental Organizations have offices in the country. While some are only located in areas stricken by large scale disasters in recent years, others have permanent offices in Jakarta. By signing up for both international development job sites as well as local list serves, you are bound to find something you are qualified to do. Especially if you are willing to work in areas outside of Jakarta, such as the tsunami devastated Aceh, job turnover is fairly high and openings are frequent. The most important thing to remember is that job hunting has a lot to do with timing and luck – so just stick with it and something will turn up.
Alex Smith maintains and manages the Cheap Thailand Travel website at http://www.cheapthaitravel.com