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Are you one of the many expats who would like to look for work in Indonesia? Then, this article is for you! We get many inquiries on this site and postings on the Expat Forum from expatriates who want to relocate to Indonesia, or are already here, perhaps as a “trailing spouse”, and are looking for work.
Perhaps the first thing to ask, is "Are you already in Indonesia?" As job seekers around the world know, being able to respond immediately to leads and requests for interviews, as well as to network, is invaluable in a job search. Frankly speaking, it will be very hard for you to locate employment in Indonesia, if you are not physically there.
Government policies towards hiring expats
The second, most important thing is you must realize is that employment in Indonesia is not truly open to expatriates. 2014 government figures show that nearly 6% of the population is unemployed and a significant percentage of those are professionals. Indonesian government policy is very clear that it does not want a company in Indonesia, domestic or foreign, to hire an expatriate for a job that can be done by an Indonesian. There are too many unemployed Indonesians looking for work!
This policy pretty much precludes the young, adventuring expat with little work experience from getting a job in Indonesia, except as an English teacher or volunteer with an internationnal organization.
In order for a company in Indonesia to hire an expatriate, they must have permission from the government. Obtaining this permission can be time consuming, costly for the company, and extremely bureaucratic. Hiring an expatriate is not a decision taken lightly by local or multinational companies.
Government policy states that foreigners who work in Indonesia must be “experts” in their field. This precludes your average recent university graduate from working here - as the Indonesian government defines an expert as someone who has been working in their field professionally for 5 or more years.
The only exception we've found to this is for native speakers (from the US, UK, Canada Australia or New Zealand, only) teaching English. If you have official teaching qualifications from an accredited institution and are a native speaker - you are already considered an expert in the field of teaching English - even if you are a fresh graduate.
If the Indonesian government accepts a company's application for your employment (if there is a slot open in their submitted/approved manpower plan), then the expatriate can be issued a work permit. After the work permit is approved, the company can apply for a semi-resident visa for the new employee - Work Permit First - Visa Second! More information on documents needed by expatriates can be found at Visas and Documentation.
If you do not have a work permit, you are not working legally! Be sure that your employer has gotten the full documentation for you. Some employment in the informal section is allowed if the foreigner is married to an Indonesia, but the regulations aren't 100% clear on this exception and are open to interpretation.
In addition to the applications and bureaucratic hassles of hiring foreigners, the company must pay a monthly tax of $100 for each foreigner they hire. These funds are paid to the Manpower Ministry - who uses the funds for training programs to increase the skills of Indonesians. Just this tax alone results in a $1,200 cost/year/foreign employee to the hiring company.
Relevant regulation: Law No. 13, year 2003
Working Without a Work Permit
We do not advise working in Indonesia without a work permit!
Relevant regulation: Law No. 6 - year 2011
Expats in Indonesia
The working members of the expatriate community in Indonesia consists of the following major groupings:
In each of these cases the employment considerations differ.
Tried and True Methods
Just as in most job seeking environments there are tried and true methods for finding a job, a few of which we discuss here:
In some instances multinationals may be looking for expatriates who are already residing in Indonesia. They may value the person's Indonesian experience and familiarity with the language, business climate, and working conditions. In these cases, the company will orient the local hire to the company, instead of orienting a person from the home office to Indonesia. These positions are few and far between. Be sure to mention Bahasa Indonesia language skills and Indonesian work experience or business/cultural knowledge in your job application.
These people are considered valuable if they possess: 1) Indonesian industry-relevant experience, 2) Technical skills that nationals don't have, or 3) Bahasa Indonesia skills. Those expatriates married to Indonesian spouses have an additional factor in their favor-. a perceived longevity and commitment to Indonesia as well as an increased level of understanding of cross-cultural differences.
Good advice -- read the fine print of every contract and try to contact people who work there before you sign the employment contract.
The official minimum wage in Indonesia is Rp 3.1 million/month (January 2016). It is adjusted every year and the new rate usually comes into effect in January. There is no clear direction or decision from the government as to if this applies equally to workers in informal sectors as well as company employees.
All foreign companies in Indonesia are expected to Indonesianize (hire Indonesians to replace expatriates) certain positions within a given period of time. This is stated in the Manpower Plan that the company agrees upon with the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower. The government's goal towards Indonesianization is understandable considering the millions of Indonesians who are looking for work and the high costs of employing expatriates. Companies who hire expatriates are expected to train up existing employees or hire competent Indonesian professionals to replace their expatriates within a given period of time.
This site receives many inquiries from foreign nationals who want to teach in Indonesia. If you want to teach at an international school, please consult our listing of international schools for their contact information. There are also several websites that provide information for foreign teachers about various postings overseas in international schools around the world. They provide information on upcoming job fairs for international teachers in cities around the world. Just search for "teaching jobs in Indonesia" on Google.
For native speakers who would like to teach English in Indonesia, a teaching certificate, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, or other teaching qualification is required by the Indonesian government to prove that you are a qualified expert. ITAS work permits are only issued to EFL teachers from one of these five countries: UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are several language schools who have started recruiting on our Expat Forum, so check and see if there are any recent job listings. A good surf of the Internet will also result in websites for other English schools in Indonesia, that you can then contact direct to inquire about employment opportunities.
English teaching jobs may be available for native speakers with little/no training, but these small schools will not be able to get you a work permit/visa ... so you will be working illegally which is never advised! In general the visa for teaching situation was summed up by one poster on the Expat Forum:
“Language school teacher - usually a certificate in TESOL is required, but at the moment if you have a degree in anything without any experience you can get in, if you present yourself well. Language schools in Indonesia are desperate for native speaker English teachers.
National & SPK school - you need to be a qualified teacher, but there are some schools that will take in non-qualified teachers if they present themselves well.
International schools - you definitely need accredited teacher qualifications.”
If you want to obtain credentials to become a certified English teacher in Indonesia, check our IALF's Teacher Training programs, where you can get TEFL certified so that you can be employed as an English teacher in Indonesia.
Teaching Languages Besides English
For those interesting in teaching Dutch, German or French, please contact the appropriate Cultural Center or Embassy as they offer language classes. National Business Associations may also be aware of particular schools that are looking for native speakers of other languages.
Many of the activities you engaged in to find your job will also keep you in close touch with your business colleagues once you are working. In the event your contract ends and you are looking for employment again all those years of networking will help to get you re-employed!
Speaking the language, Bahasa Indonesia, is an important key to success in the Indonesian work place. IALF does a great job of teaching Bahasa Indonesia to foreigners (in Jakarta, Bali and Surabaya) and can customize courses to your specific needs.
Another important part of job retention is an understanding of working with Indonesians. Read through our Cross Cultural Training articles for more information on achieving a successful work environment in an Indonesian office.
Best of luck on your job search!
Living in Indonesia Expat Forum Job Listings - post your interest and availability and check out the job listings
Last updated July 27, 2016
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