One of the more common topics that I have seen on LiP concerns foreigners looking for employment in the Philippines. Although this has been discussed quite a few times, writing about it another time certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Commonly, many of the forum members have sought assistance in finding employment in the country. Like the one’s before me, I feel that it is necessary not to burst one’s bubble but instead be brutally honest regarding the possibilities of foreigners obtaining stable employment in the country: Unless you are either (1) Hired by an international company; (2) Recruited from overseas; (3) Have a unique skill that is in high demand; (4) Be very creative; or (5) Know the company owner/ general manager personally, your chances of finding stable employment that would provide you with a comfortable lifestyle are not very good.
Unlike Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and a few more places, the Philippines is not a country where a person can simply arriving at N.A.I.A. and within days, have a stable job. With so many local college graduates out-of-work and many more who are willing to work for only a few dollars a day, practically all locally-owned businesses see no reason to shell out more cash to hire a foreigner when they can easily hire a local for a lot less money. Furthermore, visa restrictions and red-tape play an enormous role in essentially closing the door to foreign competition in the local market. While foreigners may see this as unfair, many fail to recognize that with such a high unemployment rate and a booming population, the need for locals to be employed is not only an economic interest but also a political interest. Imagine for a moment that many of the restrictions in place were lifted foreigners started coming in left and right seeking employment. Not only would it further widen the gap between the rich and the poor (which is already astronomical) but it wouldn’t surprise me that this could further lead to political instability on such a magnitude that the image of the country would only become more tarnished in the eyes of the international community.
The country has worked long and hard to bring about economic reform and one way to ensure that the economy continues to advance is to ensure that as many of its local citizens are gainfully employed (similar to the Saudization policy which I wrote about a while back). Also, we need to face reality that many employers appear to be against hiring a foreigner because foreigners require more than locals. One reason why that I, as a foreigner, spend more money each day than the average local is because I require certain things that locals do not. For example, I spend more money on food each day than locals because there are certain types of foods that I have been eating my whole life that I simply cannot give up no matter how hard it is. Also, even though the cost of electricity is expensive, many foreigners (myself included) need a working air-conditioners to help cope with the intense heat especially at night. While many potential arrivals may honestly and in good-faith believe that they can live without air-conditioning and certain types of food, simply trying to give it up is much easier said than done.
While the chances of finding stable employment in the Philippines remains extremely difficult, there have been many members of LiP such as John Miele who has become extremely successful while living in the Philippines, Paul Keating who brought his successful accounting practice overseas, and of course Mindanao Bob who has reportedly done far better in the Philippines than he has in the States thanks in part to his originality. However, what makes people like John, Paul, and Bob different is both of them have succeeded because they have thought outside the box and have not relied on traditional ways to find employment but instead, marketing themselves in such a unique manner that they have been able to do what many foreigners have been unsuccessful at: Make a good living as a foreigner in the Philippines. Although there is always the possibility that any foreigner can arrive at N.A.I.A. find an excellent job, the trick of the trade is to simply stand out in a manner that allows you to succeed rather than be set up for failure.
If anybody has any questions regarding my route to success in the Philippines, I would be happy to discuss it with them.
Ryan first arrived in the Philippines in 2003 as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in which he worked with disadvantaged youth through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Tarlac province. After completing Peace Corps, he spent two years in Hong Kong before relocating back to the United States to enter law school. After completing law school and passing the Bar Exam, Ryan has decided to return to the Philippines and enter into the Asian-Pacific market. A citizen of the world, Ryan has traveled and lived in close to 40 countries and acts a mentor to other expats. In addition to traveling and mentoring, Ryan is an active Muay Thai kickboxer and currently sits as a special advisor to the Philippine Olympic Muay Thai Committee