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Getting real about jobs in the Philippines

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One of the most frequent e-mails I get from people is one that asks me how they can get a job in the Philippines.  People want to move here, but they don’t have any money, and they write to me and ask me how hard it would be to find a job here in the Philippines.

Have these people not been to the Philippines before?  I mean, it would not take long of seeing beggars in the street to realize that there are not many jobs available.  It would not take long of vacationing here to realize that if you do find a job, it won’t pay very much.  I mean, I have even gotten e-mails from people who are plumbers in the States and are planning to make a living in the Philippines fixing people’s toilets.  Hello?  There are already plumbers here, and they don’t make $25 per hour like the plumbers back in the States do.  In fact, they don’t make $25 in an entire day.  They are doing good and are lucky if they make $5 per day.

Survival Cebuano

Over the weekend, a fellow by the name of Peter Nerwinski (I don’t make it a practice to publish people’s names, but this fellow already published his own name on one of my other sites, Mindanao Magazine, in his comment) left a comment on my Mindanao Magazine website.  Here is the comment that he left:

hi Bob, like your site, I would like to relocate to Davao City, I love the people & the lifestyle.  Problem is I will have little or no money to start with, no pension, i am 53, tired of my old life, i wonder what are my chances of finding a job anywhere over there?  I would like to work in your biz & help with your goals, or someone like you, I can manage a business or caretaker, willing to try anything to live in Davao.  I am very energetic, versatile, helpful &  trustworthy.  If I stay here it will be a struggle, so i would rather struggle in Davao where i feel good just to be alive, what do you think?

Hmm… what do I think?  Well, Peter, do you want me to be honest, or to sugar coat my answer?

I’ll tell you what, let’s just be honest.

What I think is that you are crazy if you are going to move to the Philippines with basically no financial plan.  My friend, trying to find a job in the Philippines is not a financial plan, either.  Now, if you have a plan for a business that you plan to put up in the Philippines when you move here, have the capital investment needed to get the business started, and have enough additional capital to keep yourself living for 6 months or a year while the business gains traction, well, you are starting to move in the right direction.  Even that is not a really good plan, but it’s a lot better than looking for a job in the Philippines.

When I responded to Peter’s comment, and request for a job, I asked him a few things.

  1. What are his skills? I mean, if you ask somebody to give you a job, you should at least tell them what kinds of things you are capable of doing.
  2. Will he be legally able to work in the Philippines? I mean, a foreigner can’t just fly over here and get a job.  You need the proper kind of visa in order to even apply for a work permit.  You also need some kind of special skills that are not otherwise available, because legally a foreigner may not take a job that a Filipino can do.  So, will Peter have the proper kind of visa and a proper work permit?
  3. How much salary does he expect to be paid? I’m not even sure what kind of job he wants… he did mention that he could manage my business (does he even know what my business is?).  Well, frankly, I am managing my own business, and I doubt that I would turn over those duties to anybody else.  But, if I hired him to do some other kind of work for me, what kind of salary is he looking for?  I can hire a local worker here for less than $10 per day to do almost any kind of job that I might have.  Is Peter looking for more than $10 per day?  Honestly, I can probably hire somebody for $5 per day if I need to, but I am just being generous by saying $10 per day.  I seriously doubt that Peter would want to work for that kind of money.  But, why would I pay more than that?  I mean, I can easily hire somebody for that low amount, and it will be somebody who is legally qualified to work, and can do an excellent job too.

So, let’s get real about finding a job in the Philippines. The fact is that as a foreigner, the odds that you are going to move here and find a job are virtually nil.  Yes, there are a few jobs for foreigners, working for big multinational companies, or for an Embassy or something, but those jobs are few and far between.  Also, most of those jobs are not jobs that you will find while you are living here, they are jobs that you will get “back home” and the company will send you here when you are needed here.  So, the very best thing you can do is to forget the idea of getting a job here.  Find a way to make money here on your own.  You can do it if you try.  If you don’t try you will never get it done.

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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brian
brian
11 years ago

…ahem..any social programs for illegal expats per chance???!!!!

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  brian

Hi brian – Ha ha… I am fresh out in the social programs dept. 😉

Paul Thompson
11 years ago

Hi Bob; I’ve noticed that Dave Starr devotes a lot of his writing skills on the very same subject. And yet the people keep asking you both the same question over and over again. My last job as a seaman, afforded me the benefit of living anywhere on earth, as long as I could fly back to the States for a new ship assignment. How in the name of all that’s Holy, did the man get to his current age and have no plan for his future? What did he do during the 30 years he had after school? If… Read more »

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Hi Paul – I used to write regularly on this subject a couple of years ago or more, but I try to avoid it now, because the topic really bores me. But, I still get e-mails or comments from people almost every day asking me how they can get a job here. So, from time to time I will write about it, for the benefit of those who haven’t read other things I have written. Like you said, the boat has already left port…. and this guy didn’t even have a ticket!

Dan
Dan
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson’s remark about the guy whom is not on-board:
To put it nicely “Paul” you pissed me off, coz I am in the same boat.
Its not like I haven’t tried, heck I even was trying to be a seaman like yourself.
You don’t know what life has dealed to him, not everyone is lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

MindanaoBob
8 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Hi Dan – I don’t think Paul meant anything mean or nasty or to piss anybody off.

Neal in RI
Neal in RI
11 years ago

Bob I think some people are living in a fog. Please hit this Guy with the “Stupid Stick” for his own good so he will get the reality of it all. Why would someone even think about living in the RP if they do not have some kind of steady monthly income backed up by a good amount of coin in the bank. From everything I have read and been told from new arrivals from RP here in RI it seems like even the menial type of jobs, fast food, retail, etc you need a college degree. With that said… Read more »

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Neal in RI

Hi Neal – You are right… here in the Philippines you need a college education to get even the most menial jobs. And, an employer here, except for certain industries, is not really interested in hiring a foreigner anyway. It’s a losing proposition to even think about getting a job here.

jack
jack
11 years ago

All I can say is wow. well I can say a lot more then that I guess. My wife was a Nurse in Manila at the best hospital and she made about 1/64th of what she makes here. I said whaaaa.. a Dr makes about 1/100th what they make here in the US.. So No a plumber will not make a dime in the Philippines. What I find Hilarious is the fact someone is under the assumption a White American can do any job better then a Highly trained Filipino.. And I mean Highly trained! A lot of people without… Read more »

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  jack

Hi Jack – there are a lot of Americans who think that for the simple reason that they are American they can do a job better than anybody else who is not American. Frankly, that’s comical. It’s crazy. And, this guy asked me for a job. I assume that he thought I would pay him American style wages. Why would I? Lots of great employees are available here for less money.

ian
ian
11 years ago

The only reason that I could see to hire a foreign worker over a local one is in the matter of the ability , GENERALLY, to see the big picture in matters of the work that needs to be done . By that I mean that foreigners have USUALLY been trained to think further ahead, look at inventory before it is actually “out of stock”, budget for the project, ensure they have sufficient capital before proceeding-etc etc However, after reading your posters comments BOB he has already shown his complete lack of those abilities and I for one would never… Read more »

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  ian

Hi Ian – The point about thinking further ahead, planning and such… I have found a lot of success in training people to do those things. I had one young lady who used to work for me for 7 years. She was still in college when I hired her. Within a relatively short period of time, and a lot of training, she was as good as any American employee that I have ever had, and I have employed a lot of people. In the end, she left my employment only because she ended up marrying an American and moving there.… Read more »

ian
ian
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob- I do not deny that there are always people who do not fit the usual mold. I’m sure that your former employee was not the only filipina in the country with those traits. Thats what capitals are for – to draw attention to the wording – as in GENERALLY and USUALLY !!! lol
I very rarely make blanket statements about anything.

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  ian

Hi Ian – I did not say or even feel that your statement was out of line or untrue. This girl I mentioned was also the same way when I hired her, but training, if done properly works wonders. I have trained others as effectively too, just this one was the one that came to mind.

ian
ian
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Somehow i doubt we would have the same kind of success training our 53 year old poster !! lol
I feel that filipinos are just as intelligent and adaptable and trainable as anyone else is from anywhere else- my comment was more about a general attitudinal problem which i perceive – one relating to a sense of lacking in self confidence- which i do believe is prevalent here at this time [ generally speaking]

” been down so long it looks like up to me”

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  ian

Hi ian – I think that basically we are in agreement. I agree that there is an attitude of a lack of self confidence, even a feeling of “I’m not as good as other people”. But, I would encourage you and others, that good training can overcome that, or at least it has in many cases that I have been involved in.

ian
ian
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob- I agree with you 100% .

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  ian

Whew! Glad we got that behind us, ian! 😉

Ron LaFleur
Ron LaFleur
11 years ago

Bob you can rest easy I don’t want a job. The problem is that people create an illusion and they eventually start to believe their own dreams as being real. So if I may let me summarize. There are not jobs for foreigners in the Philippines, there is not welfare as we know it-no food stamps, no WIC, no unemployment coverage, no medicaid, no food banks, no homeless shelters, and no Obama entitlements. So what is there? Well paradise if you planned for it-if not you can’t have it. Ron

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Ron LaFleur

Yes, Ron, that’s true. If you say something often enough, or even think it, after a while you will convince yourself that it is fact, even if it is actually quite off the wall.

For me, I do not believe that the Philippines is paradise, though… I like it here, and I enjoy living here. It’s not paradise, though!

Paul Thompson
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Ron;
Well put, great summary!

Roberto
Roberto
11 years ago

Hi Bob : The poor guy should be pitied, rather than horse-whipped, he needs to invest in some of your literature to understand the real P.I. for foreigners.

Babay:

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Roberto

Hi Roberto – Well, I hope I didn’t give the impression that I horse whipped the guy, because I don’t feel that I did. I just encourage him to get real and think realistically.

ian
ian
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I agreed with Bob re the horse whipping ! lol Bob’s response was far from a horse whipping – just an honest straight forward response to a specific question. Sometimes it takes a good smack on the head with the reality stick to wake people up ! The poster said ” i love the people and the lifestyle”- personally i dont think the guy has a clue about either. In fact i get the impression he has never even been here- might be wrong about that- just reading between the lines.

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago

Bob: Agreed… Most foreigner jobs in the country are either with foreign companies or for highly specialized types of work. Engineers, Chemists, Geologists, and so on. Foreign companies usually transfer people here, and most companies do not hire specifically for that: The days of generous expat packages are nearly gone. Even the major multi-nationals are cutting back or eliminating those positions entirely. In my case, though I live here, I work elsewhere in Asia. I was hired for a specific task, and there are no guarantees. I succeed or fail: simple, really. I also work in an industry where my… Read more »

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  John Miele

Hi John – Good thoughts there, and I am in full agreement with everything you said. It is true, in my opinion, that the only thing you can really count on is your own tenacity and willingness to create something that will earn you an income!

Gary
Gary
11 years ago
Reply to  John Miele

I have seen a couple resorts with foreign managers – although not American.

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Hi Gary – Yes, many high end resorts and hotels have foreign managers. This would fall under the thing I said about foreign companies hiring foreigners, because for the most part, these hotels and resorts are owned by foreign companies, and they employ managers within their company and send them here. Still, such jobs are very rare.

Gary
Gary
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I was commenting more about nothing in the service industry. But agreed, although I’m not so sure they’re all foreign owned. Bottom line, you’re already producing high-end results somewhere else when you are hired – you’re not landing at NAIA then handing out your CV.

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Hi Gary, just want to clarify… I never said that they are “all foreign owned”. I said “for the most part” they are foreign owned. The ones that hire foreign managers, are, I believe, foreign owned for the most part. 😉

ian
ian
11 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Like I said- thats what those capitals are for !!!! hahahahaha

John Miele
John Miele
11 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary: Most of the high end resorts send foreign staff here from elsewhere: and they are usually already well-trained or specialized. Painting with a broad brush stroke here. For instance, Chefs (If they are good, well-known, specialized), SCUBA instructors (require lots of training), some head office types (Liaison with corporate, maintaining standards). Point is that very few of those jobs exist for people not already in the industry, and even fewer hiring once you are already here. Sure, there are some expats who own bars, restaurants, and clubs who may prefer to hire a foreigner, but given the low wages… Read more »

AlexB
11 years ago

Hi Bob,

Without going through a whole lot of explanation, the issues re relocating to another part of the world and getting a job is not unique to the Philippines. One just doesn’t go to another part of the world and find a job unless one is hired on contract from overseas. Most Americans should be aware of that as it is happening to their country. (Except for EU citizens but it’s sort of like the US of Europe.)

Alex

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  AlexB

Hi Alex – That’s true… because most Americans don’t travel abroad very much, and few ever move and live in a different country, many are rather ignorant of things like this.

ian
ian
11 years ago

Actually Bob I think there are few occasions when we do not agree to at least some extent!!! Sometimes i believe it is only the wording about things that we disagree on. Anyway I happen to think that a small amount of disagreement makes life more interesting ! Anyone who disagrees has obviously never seen American Idol ! lol

MindanaoBob
11 years ago
Reply to  ian

Hi Ian – I think one thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that it is possible to disagree in a manner that is still friendly and respectful. The world needs more of that. Instead, a lot of people, when they disagree are combative, cussing the other person out, belittling him/her, or something of that nature.

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