Just as in Australia, finding employment in Indonesia is not generally a straightforward task and often requires a large degree of effort, persistence, and a certain skill set. Due to Indonesian labour laws, it is often a difficult process for companies to employ foreign nationals, especially in cases where it is likely an Indonesian citizen could perform the same role. Nevertheless, with good qualifications, strong English and Indonesian language skills, and a willingness to put yourself out there, young Australians have a good shot in finding employment in Indonesia. These are a few of our suggestions.
You may regularly hear of and be tempted by the luxury life and high salaries enjoyed by some expatriates in Indonesia. However, the jobs available to young people will likely pay wages substantially lower than what you will earn in a similar profession in Australia. Thankfully with careful budgeting this can be balanced out by a significantly lower cost of living. As a guide to what Indonesians of a similar skill set and experience would earn, it is a good idea to consult job listing websites such as JobStreet and JobsDB.
If possible, relocate to Indonesia
Relocating from Australia to Indonesia may seem a risky task without any work lined up. However, you are likely to be a far more attractive candidate to potential employers if you are in-country and available for an immediate start. Relocating will also expose you to far more job opportunities than sitting in Australia and scanning the internet. Remember that with strict budgeting, living costs are far less in Indonesia than in Australia. For example, decent kos (boarding house) accommodation, complete with air conditioning, hot water and private western bathrooms can be found in Jakarta for less than AU$200 a month – even less if you are willing to put up with some discomfort. Spending a month searching for work in Jakarta would probably be comparable in costs to a one or two week holiday in Bali. In fact, by taking some annual leave, it may not even be necessary for you to leave your job in Australia while on your in-country job hunt.
Stay up to date
Expatriate positions are often advertised online and in Jakarta’s two English-language newspapers, The Jakarta Post and The Jakarta Globe – the busiest day for advertisements being Saturday. While these are rarely particularly relevant to young people seeking work, it is always an idea to keep an eye out, in case anything comes up. The ACICIS mailing list, to which all former students are subscribed automatically, is often a good source of information with regards to potential jobs in Indonesia.
Anyone can subscribe – just contact the ACICIS secretariat at email@example.com. In addition, positions that may be suitable for young people are also quite often available on the Living in Indonesia Forum’s job listings board.
It is unlikely that you will find work in Indonesia the “traditional” way. Indonesia is quite simply not an information-based society and many available positions will not be advertised. As a result you will really need to sell yourself. Pass your resume around to everybody you know in Indonesia. Even if someone you know is not a potential employer themselves, they may know somebody who is searching for somebody with your skill set. It is also a good idea to advertise yourself online (a good place to start is the Living in Indonesia Forum’s ‘seeking employment‘ board). Getting out and networking is also hugely important.
For those already in Indonesia, a wide range of business and industry networking events are available, especially in Jakarta. Have some business cards printed (cheap and easy in Indonesia) and pass them around at as many networking events that you can get to. Make sure to drop your skills (especially Indonesian language skills if you have them) in conversation; that way interested people will certainly remember you. Make sure to save the cards of and contact individuals who you think may be of use in your job hunt. Fun activities (i.e. expatriate sporting teams and church groups) can also be a good location to build a network of potential employers. Spending time not dedicated to your job search volunteering (with expatriate charities) will often allow you to meet spouses/friends of people who may be able to assist you in finding employment.
Become an English Teacher
It is relatively easy for Australian citizens to be employed as English teachers in Indonesia. A good search of the internet should come up with a number of English teaching opportunities for native speakers. Keep in mind that salaries are generally on the low side and you may need to be flexible in terms of where in Indonesia you will live (especially with no prior experience). To be considered a qualified expert and be granted a work permit in Indonesia, the Indonesian government requires that you possess a teaching certificate, TEFL, TESL or TESOL or other teaching qualification and are a citizen of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK or USA. Smaller schools may still employ you with no teacher training or qualifications (and thus no work permit), however there have been a number of crackdowns on foreigners teaching English without work permits in recent years so keep that in mind when considering such offers.
All in all, finding employment in Indonesia is a challenge. However, with a degree of persistence and an in-demand skill set (especially good English and Indonesian language skills) it is by no means impossible if you are willing to work hard, take some risks and be proactive in your job hunt. As with most things in life, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Last updated on 30 September 2016