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Getting a job in Thailand is very easy or extremely difficult depending on who you ask or which expat blog you read. You often hear it said that Thailand is a country you visit for vacation but not for work. Nevertheless, if you want to find a job and know where to look, you can definitely find one, if it’s me you ask. More than anything else, however, successfully getting hired by a Thailand-based employer largely depends on your credentials and professional background.
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For those interested in finding work in Thailand or changing jobs, I’ll walk you through requirements, the job hunting process, the best places to find job openings, provide details on different industries and employers, as well as how to approach companies of different magnitudes.
- 1 Before Flying to Thailand
- 2 Requirements for Finding Work in Thailand
- 3 Generic Job Websites
- 4 Industry-Specific Job Websites
- 5 Other Job Websites
- 6 Events, Meetups and Fairs
- 7 Recruitment Companies
- 8 Off-the-Beaten Path Options
- 9 Recommended Industries and Employers
- 10 Multinational Corporations
- 11 Salary
- 12 A Few Words on This Guide
- 13 An Offer
Before Flying to Thailand
Once you’ve decided to work in Thailand, you’d want to know which job search option is best: Should you get on a plane and search for a job in Thailand or do you stand a realistic chance to sort this out before you even leave?
The short and unhelpful answer: It depends. The slightly more helpful one: The more the position pays, the more likely you’ll be able to apply before you ever get to Thailand. If it pays more than THB 80,000 per month, it’s likely that the employer expects to have to extend their search to candidates not yet located in Thailand. It’s possible for lower salaries, though a lot less common.
An HR manager friend in a real estate media company has this to say about getting hired from abroad: it doesn’t matter if an applicant is already in Thailand or not. A good indication that a company would consider applicants who are not yet in Thailand are those who post job ads on LinkedIn, JobsDB or other job boards that are not specifically for Thais. Those who qualify for these companies’ posts can be interviewed via Skype and shortlisted candidates can be invited for a face-to-face final interview.
If you’re applying from your home country, you will most certainly be asked why you are considering an opportunity in Thailand. In fact, if you’re a foreigner applying for a job in Thailand, it’s impossible not to be asked this interview question. According to a recruitment specialist friend of mine who has been screening candidates for a multinational hospitality and ecommerce companies for four years, asking a candidate this question gives them a clear idea of a candidate’s purpose for applying.
While there are companies that would be happy to interview candidates via Skype or pay for qualified candidates to fly to Thailand, there are those that wouldn’t even entertain the idea of interviewing a foreigner whose CV indicates a non-Thailand address. Certain companies prefer to meet with their applicants face-to-face before hiring.
In practice, I’ve heard everything from, “We never consider candidates who aren’t here yet” to, “We always consider candidates from abroad.” It all depends on how specific, urgent or important the position is to an employer.
If you want to get some input and help with finding a job, you can create a profile on Getlinks. It’s a recruitment platform mainly open to programmers, digital marketers, designers, and several other positions that start-ups and high-growth companies would hire for. Once you completed your profile on that site using the link above, Karsten (who runs this site) will be able to review your details and provide you on some input what your options are.
Requirements for Finding Work in Thailand
Sometimes it seems there’s a limited overlap of employees being sought in Thailand and people eager to work in Thailand. There are some general requirements for people looking to work here. While you could probably find ‘something’ without much more than the ability to speak English (or any other language) decently fluently, it might not be enough to earn more than your daily living expenses while being asked to remain on a tourist visa (which of course isn’t exactly legal).
If you’re looking for an entry-to-mid-level job in Thailand, it helps to have work experience in the country. And it helps to live in Thailand. If you want to get your foot in the door, consider teaching English. A lot of expats I know started as English teachers before moving on to careers they originally trained and studied for.
Along with an accredited degree from your home country, a TEFL certificate is mandatory to teach English in Thailand. If you want to get started on your TEFL, the easiest way is to sign up for a program that handles everything for you: training, practical experience, and even job placement. A number of agencies offer this “all inclusive” service. TEXT-AND-TALK Academy is one of them.
John Wolcott, our editor, went with TEXT-AND-TALK Academy. And here’s what he had to say about them:
“TEXT-AND-TALK gave me the confidence and know-how to teach English to kids, teens, and adults in Thailand. In the evenings they let us practice what we learned during the day at an insurance company. We taught employees who volunteered to sit in as students. And on the weekends we taught kids and teens at the TEXT-AND-TALK school. This also meant I got the chance to find out if teaching was really for me. After I finished the course, they immediately offered me a position at their language school teaching kids and teens. But I took a contract teaching adults in corporations instead. But my classmates went on to teach for TEXT-AND-TALK after our course. And soon after they were placed in schools. I’d definitely recommend them to anyone looking to get into teaching. I was really happy with their course.”
If you’re interested, you can enroll in the 6-week TEFL course here. Three courses remain in 2017: 21 August to 28 September, 2 October to 9 November, and 13 November to 21 December.
A concern for quite a few foreigners is whether a college degree is necessary to find work in Thailand.
If you are looking for a degree that’ll help you find a job in Thailand, the easiest way to put it is that the degrees earning you the highest income abroad also are the degrees with the best chances of finding work in Thailand. In general, STEM degrees give you the best odds, though if you have a degree from a reputable business school, you’ll also won’t have problems finding a challenging opportunity.
In some fields, restrictions apply that limit your scope of work but might still allow you to find a good career opportunity. Medical professionals may not be able to practice as doctors, but there are research opportunities available. Legal professionals can’t be admitted to the bar, but a large number of law firms employ foreign lawyers as ‘consultants’.
For certain jobs and/or employers, not having a college diploma won’t prevent you from getting hired. NGOs, media companies and even schools have been known to hire foreigners who don’t have a university degree. A friend of mine who works at a real estate media company said that for sales and editorial positions, the company’s hiring team doesn’t particularly require their applicants to have a university diploma. The same probably goes in the tech sector where people with the necessary skill set are able to find jobs with work permits without holding a completed university degree (assuming you have at least 5 years of working experience). While legitimate experience-and-skills-only jobs exist, having a university degree can make your work permit application A LOT easier.
Yet another concern is whether having Thai-speaking skills is imperative to finding – and keeping – a job in Thailand.
The simple answer is no. As a foreigner, you are likely to find work in a company with a multicultural office environment where people communicate in a mixture of English and Thai.
Talking to recruiters, the general consensus is that the level of Thai required to make a difference is very unusual among non-dual citizenship individuals. Tom Sorensen, Partner at Grant Thornton, puts it like this: “Foreigners who can communicate in Thai at business level will always find it easier. But note that I say business level – your Thai must be good enough to conduct business or staff meetings in Thai.”
Don’t let this keep you from learning Thai, however, as having Thai language skills is valuable in your job search, not to mention, your life in Thailand. Being able to speak a few words in Thai also does not guarantee successfully establishing rapport with your Thai colleagues, whether they’re your superiors or subordinates, but it certainly helps towards that end.
Your ability to adapt to a multicultural working environment is going to be a critical factor in a company’s decision to hire you. You may have spent a few days or weeks vacationing in Bangkok or Phuket and think you know enough about Thai culture, but it’s easy to miss the more subtle aspects of working in a different cultural environment. Have a look at this cross-cultural management guide to Thailand to get a better idea of what you might be getting yourself into.
Not to worry, though, as there’s nothing that a little research wouldn’t help. Books like Culture Shock! Thailand cover a lot of the areas that would prove useful as you embark on a new career in Thailand, including a background on Thai business and culture; differences in Asian and western management styles; establishing rapport not just with colleagues but more importantly, with key government agency and labour department staff; how to provide and receive criticisms (particularly applicable to expats in managerial positions); and other systems ingrained within the Thai system of doing business.
This article deftly points out some of the miscommunications very likely to occur between Westerners and Thais, and it is well worth pondering if you’re considering moving to Thailand to work. As for getting used to your Thai colleagues’ penchant for pungent breakfast dishes and other real or imagined Thai idiosyncracies, you simply have to experience these for yourself.
While there are exceptional situations, being able to grasp the basic necessity of adapting your work ethics and personality into your job in Thailand is almost always going to be an essential factor in employers’ decision to hire you or keep you after the probation period, which typically lasts for three months.
How can you showcase that you have the necessary chops to be willing to move and stay in a new country? The ‘staying’ part is huge. According to one recruiter, about 25% of all applicants ‘brought’ to Thailand leave within three to six months. Here is where previous work experience in the region is a big plus. Which is also why it’s A LOT easier to find your second job than your first (so think twice before declining a job offer…). If you don’t have that, a sabbatical or at least extensive travel experience (a.k.a. ‘spending more than three months traveling or living in a different cultural environment’) is something you can highlight on your CV.
Aside from your credentials, your nationality would also play a huge factor in your job prospects. Hiring foreigners requires a massive amount of paperwork. The drudgery of hauling a foreigner’s legal documents to government agencies requiring them is not something a company would enjoy doing. That is to say, a foreigner is not likely going to be hired in a position for which a Thai candidate would be well suited, since it takes twice the amount of effort to get a foreigner on board. Most companies would need a compelling reason to choose a foreigner over a local. Also, there are rules and restrictions on occupations that foreigners can obtain in Thailand.
Some nationalities have other issues associated with them: The government of the Philippines has special requirements for companies abroad looking to hire Filipinos. Once a certain number of Filipino employees are reached, companies need to go through a procedure to receive permission to recruit more Filipinos. It doesn’t really affect anyone but the largest employers, but it’s regulations like these that can affect the chances of finding a job depending on your nationality. The Brewed in Bangkok podcast also has an episode that features the experience of a Filipino living and working in Bangkok – it might provide you with some more insight on the topic.
While it is uncommon and therefore challenging for Westerners to find a job in the service industry, it would be easy for them to land jobs in the fields of education, marketing and hospitality. Citizens of other Asian nations, on the other hand, are more likely to be considered for hospitality, customer service and reception positions.
Work Experience in Thailand
In a proper catch 22, you’ll have a much better experience finding a job in Thailand if you held one here before. As Tom Sorensen from Grant Thornton puts it: “If a candidate has no work experience from Thailand, it is 99.9% sure that no [headhunting] client here will want to hire such candidate. It is not enough that you have visited Thailand as a tourist and love the people and country.”
Not everyone is pessimistic on the chances of first-timers in the country. Travis Byrd who works in recruitment at Agoda thinks that applicants from abroad definitely have a good chance at finding work in Thailand, assuming they bring the skills and mindset that the company in question is really looking for.
Generic Job Websites
When it comes to looking for work in Thailand, the Internet is your friend.
Although less structured than JobsDB, Craigslist (Thailand) has proven to be a useful job-hunting site for me (it’s where I found my second job). The job listings are arranged according to broad job categories (Admin, Marketing, Finance, Technical Support, etc.. It is also one of the more ideal places to look if you’re after freelance work.
The main advantage to using Craigslist for job search is its simplicity. As posting on the site is free, the exchange between applicants and job posters is faster than in most job search sites.
One of the more noticeable differences between Craigslist and other job sites such as JobsDB and LinkedIn is that job posters on Craigslist are more upfront about their requirements. Also, with much fewer postings, it is easier to browse, since the headlines do not fall under an imposed job categorization that can muddle a user’s search. It wouldn’t be strange to find job ads with very specific headlines such as ‘Thai & English-speaking Telemarketing Team Development Manager’ under its ‘Marketing’ category or ‘Keynote Designer’ under the ‘Web/html/Info’ category, and many others.
In my first few attempts to find a job in Bangkok, I leaned heavily toward JobsDB, one of the most reliable job portals in Thailand. There are a variety of jobs that you can find in JobsDB, and the best way to do that is by customizing your search by job title, location, job function, and salary range. Your search options can be expanded by career level (entry, middle, senior, top), employment type (full time, part time, freelance, etc.) and education level (doctorate, master, degree, etc.). As it is one of Thailand and Asia’s leading job search sites, the results can be overwhelming.
The great thing about JobsDB is that you can set up job alerts based on your search terms. Setting up an alert helps a lot because you get email updates for jobs with your chosen job titles and keywords (Eg, Data Analysis, Marketing Communication, Hospitality, Reservations), and get, on average, five emails per day depending on the number of job categories and keywords you’ve set up.
Jobs available for foreigners in JobsDB vary greatly. Most of the ads do not specify preferred nationalities; rather, job posts indicate whether a job is for ‘Thai nationals only’ or ‘open to foreigners’.
The only thing that could discourage anyone from using JobsDB is that most responses to applications are relatively slow and infrequent compared to other job sites. Although there is a tracking function for jobs you’ve applied for, which shows your applications’ status (under the ‘Applications history’ tab), response from the recruiters who post on the site seems rather slow in coming.
Although JobsDB is where I landed my first job, I probably should have expanded my options. I applied for positions such as Financial Research Analyst, Marketing Assistant and Personal Assistant for a Real Estate Business that don’t necessarily require a foreigner to fill such positions. As a result, I ended up not having a lot of requests for an interview but having a large number of sent items.
Not until I moved to Thailand did I see the value of actively maintaining a LinkedIn profile. Through LinkedIn, I landed job number three and have observed that the time it takes for recruiters to respond to applicants is also quite fast. There are a few ways that help you make the most out of LinkedIn. Below are my go-to suggestions for everyone looking to find a job on the platform.
Company Career Pages
A recruitment specialist friend and former colleague who frequently uses LinkedIn when searching for potential candidates posts job ads on the company’s career page and gets anywhere from 50 applications or more, perhaps due to the convenience of submitting an application through the site. According to her, most applicants (or at least those looking for opportunities in Thailand) submit an application through their company’s LinkedIn careers page, whereupon the recruitment team narrows down the qualified applicants for interview regardless of whether the candidate is already in Thailand or not.
Still according to her, while it is common for headhunters to approach (via direct mail) promising candidates on LinkedIn, in-house recruitment officers in most large Thai companies prefer to select from the applications received via the career’s page and then create a shortlist out of that list instead of actively searching within the site.
That is somehow supported by this recruitment expert’s claim that there is no singular tried-and-tested way of getting hired by a Thai company through LinkedIn. This probably explains how I got hired on my third job via the professional networking site. When I was hired via LinkedIn, it was not because of any particular keywords in my professional summary that got their attention, but simply because I made it through the company’s routine shortlisting process.
Like JobsDB, job alerts can be set up on LinkedIn, and you can opt to set up these alerts based on your job search history or jobs you’ve saved previously. Expect to find a wide range of jobs in both medium-sized and multinational firms. I would strongly recommend looking at jobs here, especially in middle management, upper management, and senior or executive level positions. Positions in Digital Marketing, Hospitality, e-Commerce/IT and Finance are among the most common.
It’s an open secret that companies search for specific keywords when going out to actively recruit candidates. Aside from the obvious stuff like listing specific technologies you worked with, there also some lesser known ones that can help you pop up in a search
Companies in Thailand looking for candidates abroad want to see an indicator that potential hirees are flexible and willing to move. One way to showcase that is to list extensive travels in your LinkedIn resume (e.g. GAP years or sabbaticals). It shows that you are already familiar with spending extensive time abroad. You might as well use these specific keywords since that might be something a recruiter will search for when looking for candidates.
For more tips on improving your LinkedIn profile for potential candidate seekers, I suggest reading this.
Successful recruiters and hiring managers look at their current work force to see what organizations they have on their resume: previous employers, universities, high schools and sometimes even volunteer organizations (think Toastmasters and similar clubs). Make sure your profile is filled out completely and that it lists all the organizations you were an active member of.
In finding a job, going one step further than your fellow job hunters often can be the difference between finding a job and remaining unsuccessful. In LinkedIn, going the extra mile means getting a premium account: It allows you to message people outside of your network. Once you have a premium account, you can contact functional leaders and hiring managers directly at the companies you’d like to work for. Most won’t reply – but for some, you might be able to get on the radar of the people capable of driving or making a hiring decision. One day, this might stop working (when everyone does it…), but for now it’s fairly unusual in Thailand and will give you an advantage.
Formerly jobnisit, Work Venture is one of the more recently launched job boards in Thailand. Even though they don’t quite pull the same volume as some of their larger competitors, I know that employers using the platform are very happy with the results they’ve seen so far. Happy employers mean better job ads.
It originally launched as a website for student jobs and internships with a strong focus on the local workforce market. However, it’s rapidly moving towards becoming on the of the primary job websites in Thailand. I would definitely recommend looking into Work Venture as part of your job hunting process.
Industry-Specific Job Websites
In additional to general job websites, there is a significant number of industry-specific job websites. Some of them are dedicated job websites, others are job boards on industry news websites. Both can offer some great opportunities to potential candidates. If your qualifications apply to these industries, you sometimes have significantly better odds finding something there than on the more general ones.
In Thailand, the demand for foreigner programmers, developers, digital marketers, and graphic designers is high. Getlinks is a website specialized in posting tech positions for thousands of tech startups and companies in Asia. To take advantage of this opportunity, create a profile there. You might get a job offer sooner than you think. You will also find a good overview of Thai tech job websites on this guide to IT jobs in Thailand.
If you want to land the higher paying teaching jobs in Thailand, a TEFL is usually what you need. If you don’t have it, you can get a TEFL certificate from a reputable TEFL school like TEXT-AND-TALK Academy. Their 6-week TEFL course is $1,495 USD. You can enroll here.
The primary resource for those who are looking for a teaching job is Ajarn.com, a site maintained by teachers for teachers in Thailand. It has job postings, forums, news, a blog and other useful sources for Thailand-based teachers.
You may or may not register when searching for jobs, but having a registered profile greatly eases search. Since this is arguably the best site for teaching jobs, you might as well create an account because it would allow you to upload your CV and display your profile, which provides a snapshot of your credentials to employers – also a main presence on the site – looking for candidates.
I couldn’t think of a better job search site for those who wish to work in the Thai academe (feel free to let me know in the comments if you have better suggestions!). Its ‘Featured Jobs’ page is where you would want to go. While searching for teaching jobs on JobsDB yields many results, Ajarn.com’s Jobs search page is more tailored toward education professionals. For one, the pay rate is, more often than not, displayed along with the ad (Eg, ‘At least 40,000 Baht/month’; teaching ads in JobsDB come with a ‘Salary negotiable’ tag rather than a specific rate), and the exact area of expertise required is right there on the headline.
Ajarn.com also lets you filter searches based on your preferred employer type (Government, Private, Language, Corporate), area of work (cities and provinces in Thailand), type of work (Full Time or Part Time) and pay rate.
Ajarn Recruit posts both teaching and non-teaching jobs but is not as comprehensive and as frequently updated as Ajarn.com. It does, however, expand your teaching job search options in Thailand, and that is not a bad thing at all. You can search by job types (Contract, Part Time, and Freelance), as well as check out its few non-teaching jobs, mostly within the hospitality, food and beverage, and service industries.
ReliefWeb a job board for people looking for NGO jobs worldwide, including Thailand. It has listings for internships, senior level positions, and other NGO jobs.
Development work for foreigners is also pretty common in Thailand. Thai NGO has a pretty exhaustive list of jobs available and gets updated daily. Although the site is in Thai, the job ads are both for Thais and foreigners.
Thai Hotel Job
Thai Hotel Job.com has an exhaustive list of hospitality jobs, including hotels and resorts, cruise operators, airline, restaurants, travel agencies and spas, with listings for boutique hotels, mid-range hotels, and 5-star hotels and resorts throughout Thailand.
Similar to Blognone, Marketing Oops! is a Thai website – though in this case for the (digital) marketing crowd instead of the programmer community. Their specialist job board can also be worth checking out if you’re working in that space. However, similar to Blognone, most jobs will be geared towards Thai nationals.
Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand
If you’re looking for press work, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is a good place to explore. Its job board is not teeming with job ads, but there are employment opportunities to be found, mostly in middle to senior management level positions, and it includes listings for other Asian locations. Tip: It would be best to sign up as a member to get a weekly bulletin, which lists a few job opportunities for the aforementioned positions.
Other Job Websites
The sites mentioned above should do a fine job of helping you find legitimate work in Thailand. These are the more popular sites for job search, but there are other sites you can explore in case you are looking for additional options. Most of these though have either a large overlap with the above mentioned sites, have only a very limited number of jobs posted or aren’t as relevant for the Thai market:
Events, Meetups and Fairs
Aside from the digital job hunt, there is also the good old in-person networking at meetups, events and job fairs. Some of them exclusively take place outside of Thailand (e.g. recruitment fairs for international school teachers) while others only happen in Thailand (e.g. networking events by chambers of commerce).
Bilateral Chambers of Commerce
Most countries have a joint chamber of commerce with Thailand, and nearly all of them host monthly or quarterly networking meetings and events. I would recommend bookmarking the social events calendar of some foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand to keep abreast of upcoming events.
Membership on most chambers comes with access to business, community and networking events, and discounted rates to these events. However, most chambers don’t require you to be a member to attend their events.
Attending an event might not land you a job directly, but it’s a good way to build a network and market your skills. It also shows you what kind of jobs other foreigners hold and which companies they work for, and therefore which companies are most likely to hire foreigners, giving you ideas on who you can approach in your job search.
Some of the bilateral foreign trade chambers hold either monthly or quarterly business and networking events. Below you will find links their respective events calendars:
- Australia: The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Belgium and Luxembourg: The Belgian-Luxembourg/Thai Chamber of Commerce – Holds events on a quarterly basis, some of which are similar to those posted in EABC’s events.
- Canada: Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Denmark: Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- New Zealand: New Zealand Thai Networking Event
- France: Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Germany: German-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Italy: Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce – Business meetings and lots of culinary events
- Netherlands: Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce – Check the site for culinary and business events and a jobs board
- Singapore: Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Sweden: Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce
- Switzerland: SwissThai Chamber of Commerce – Holds networking events, luncheons, management seminars and other business events.
- United Kingdom: British Chamber of Commerce Thailand
- United States: The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand
In a similar vein, there is the European Association for Business and Commerce. While not technically a chamber of commerce, it holds networking and business events in various Thai cities and provinces and often works with other European chambers of commerce in hosting events.
Alternatively, you can check events organizing sites such as Eventbrite to search for networking events in Bangkok. Most of the networking events posted here charge fees for their events and are hosted by long-established groups of professionals in Bangkok. Again, you wouldn’t go here to land a job but to find groups that host regular networking events that could help you establish a footing in Bangkok’s business and professional community.
If there are job fairs for your field of expertise, there’s a chance representatives from Thailand-based companies are present. For example, for aspiring teachers, attending education fairs is an excellent way to land a plum position at an international school in Thailand. Working at an international school is desirable as it often comes with an expat package that typically includes a bigger-than-average salary, housing and other benefits; understandably, these posts tend to be highly competitive. For more insight into this, I suggest reading this blog post.
The thing to remember when signing up for a networking site like meetup.com is that many of the free events have a high ratio of tourists, retirees and interns, which make it harder to find people who are in a position to give advice or make offers to potential job seekers. The best way to go is via paid groups.
A group such as Bangkok Entrepreneurs, with over 4,500 members, would be a good group to join – the groups offers a monthly networking event for professionals in Bangkok and Thailand
If you are working in certain industries, getting in touch with one of the several recruitment companies in Thailand might help. One of the best reasons to do this is having your professional background matched with the right employers by professional recruiters. This may be particularly useful for expats because recruiters can more efficiently determine if a hiring company would consider a foreigner with, say, no Thai language skills rather than blindly applying for positions in companies that don’t entertain foreigner applicants (but doesn’t say so in their job ads).
Headhunters, Recruiters, and Staffing Agencies
While for the sake of simplicity I’m referring to all companies assisting with the recruitment process in some way as ‘recruitment companies’, the actual firms mentioned would describe their services in different ways.
The main differentiating factor is usually if they recruit ‘active candidates’ who are already looking for a new job (e.g. by posting job ads) or if they’re trying to recruit ‘passive candidates’ who are not necessarily job hunting (e.g. by pro-actively messaging and calling them). Some companies do both. Here’s a quick explanation of industry terms:
- Headhunting: Finding a potential fit for a position through pro-active outreach to potential candidates. This approach tends to be more common for management positions and specialist roles (e.g. in tech or engineering).
- Executive Search: Finding a potential fit for executive positions, usually through headhunting means.
- Staffing: Operational handling of recruitment. Often companies use that to quickly hire a large number of non-executive employees (e.g. for a call center). Job ads are usually the most common way.
- Recruiting: Can mean any of the above, depending on how the company defines itself. For you as a job seeker, it’s usually obvious, depending if they messaged you or you messaged them first.
If you want to increase your changes of getting approached by recruiters who actively go out to find candidates, make sure your professional profile on LinkedIn is up to date and includes the right keywords.
In addition you want to attend conferences and other events in your industry that are frequented by people with similar professional backgrounds. This holds true – maybe especially so – if you’re not located in Thailand. Pro-active recruitment pays commissions of up to 30% of a person’s yearly salary (though the average is a bit lower). You can count on them traveling to build a network and find people who are a potential fit for the job openings they’re covering.
Pros and Cons of Recruitment Companies
An important aspect – and reason to look pro-actively at these companies – is the payment these companies receive for getting you hired and pass probation. The fact that an employer is paying that kind of money means a few things: It’s important for them to hire the right person, they need them fast, and they want the candidate to stick around for a long time. This is all good news for you.
The bad news is that recruitment companies only cover a very small percentage of overall job openings, and the likelihood of getting a job through them is rather low – special in-demand skill sets (e.g. native mobile developers) aside. Yet, you never know what connections might pan out how in the future, so if you have a chance to build a network in your industry or function, you should take advantage of it.
A word of warning on dealing with third party recruiters: The fee they receive is paid by the employer. Don’t ever agree to payment for any placement, a pay-cut or any other form of compensation that comes out of your pocket. Reputable recruitment companies will bill all of this to your future employer.
List of Recruitment Companies
There are plenty of recruitment companies in Bangkok alone. While I had in-person dealings with some of them, I have little first-hand information on a majority of the providers and can’t confirm if they all are the real deal or not. Please use common sense when dealing with any of them:
- JAC Recruitment Thailand (established in 2004) – Provides staffing services for local and multinational Thai companies mostly in the fields of sales/marketing, accounting/financial services, industrial/manufacturing, IT, HR, engineering, logistics/shipping, branding/advertising.
- Fame Placement (established in 2011) – Specializes in executive positions for various industries.
- Gummy Bear (established in 2013) – Specializes in tech job recruitment.
- Jobs Connector – Provides staffing in HR, sales and marketing, and manufacturing industries for top management positions.
- KTI Consultants – Focuses on senior to executive level recruitment for Chief Financial Officers/GMs of Finance, Finance Directors, Financial and Business Controllers, Finance Managers, Cost Accountants, and Internal and External Auditor positions.
- Manpower Thailand (established in 1998) – You can submit your resume to Manpowerthailand.com, a staffing services provider and wait for a recruitment specialist to contact you (which should work just fine for passive applicants). You can do this by sending an initial email, indicating your desired position and other pertinent data. Jobs include positions in banking and finance, office service, information technology, engineering, and technical areas for permanent, temporary and contract positions.
- Monroe Consulting (established in 2002) is an international executive search (headhunting) company specializing in senior permanent jobs in the consumer goods, health, industrial, professional and technology industries.
- Opus Asia (established in 2003) – For hospitality professionals, specifically Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) staff, area and general managers, executive committee and department heads, and culinary specialists.
- PRTR (established in 1990) – Offers a range of recruitment services, including database, executive, mass and research recruitment; and HR and payroll outsourcing through its group of companies that perform its specialized recruitment functions. You can often see job ads in the Bangkok Post by this firm. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known ones.
- Robert Walters Thailand (established in 2008) – Specializes in permanent and contract roles for accounting & finance, banking & financial series, HR, IT, sales & marketing, and supply chain & procurement positions.
- RSM Recruitment Thailand (established in 2004) – Offers mid to senior level positions in accounting and finance, IT, HR and administration, legal, sales and marketing, and general management.
- Smart Search Recruitment (established in 2008) – Provides senior level staffing services to multinational and small, local companies in the insurance and financial services, energy and infrastructure, medical and life sciences, and manufacturing and consumer goods.
- TrueTeaching – A recruitment company specializing in connecting international schools with educators. Worth considering if you hold a degree that qualifies you to teach in your home country.
If you know of any recruitment firms that you had good experiences with (listed or not), please send Karsten a message.
Off-the-Beaten Path Options
The above are the most common ways to find a job. However, there are a number of additional approaches that can yield results. Depending on your industry, some might be more successful than others, but with nothing much else to lose other than time, they might be worth exploring.
Facebook Groups and Pages
It is not uncommon to find job ads in Thailand and Bangkok-based Facebook groups, where several times a day, you will see posts both from recruiters and job seekers.
A major downside in looking for jobs in Facebook groups is being inundated with many non-job-related posts even in groups that are supposedly for job-seeking professionals. There is always an abundance of cheeky fellows, but cheer up as there are legitimate opportunities to be found. You can filter out non-job posts by using the tiny search field in the upper right corner below the group page’s header, and using keywords such as ‘job(s)’, ‘employment’, or if you want to filter further, specific job keywords such as ‘teaching’ or ‘marketing’. Granted, this doesn’t guarantee a whole lot of results but teaching job ads do get posted quite frequently; you just have to block out all those adopt-my-kitty posts.
Bangkok Expats (45,000 Members): This group allows members to promote their businesses, career opportunities, and ask questions (non-controversial ones). It’s one of the most popular and most active Thailand-based groups and provides great exposure for job wanted ads given its member count. A major downside is the predominance of real estate posts. Being a member of a Bangkok or Thailand-based Facebook groups also comes with other perks such as getting firsthand account of fellow members’ encounters on their visa and work permit applications and issues, which could be relevant to you as a job seeker. Also, by being an expat Facebook group member, you get updates on immigration laws and other relevant Thailand news.
Thailand Professionals (12,600 Members): Owned and managed by a company called World of Professionals Inc, this site is also an okay place to look for and post a job wanted ad. Despite having fewer members than other Thailand and Bangkok groups, users here are more attentive to job-related posts. Expect to find a few buy-sell-trade posts, though.
Desperately Seeking – Bangkok
Desperately Seeking – Bangkok (30,900 Members): This group is for members who are ‘desperately seeking’ all sorts of things, including bike shops, insurance providers, magicians for kids’ parties, extras for TV commercials, fitness centers, computer shops that sell very specific types of cables, places to rent or own, pets, the best fish n’ chips in Sukhumvit, and of course, employment opportunities. The group is quite strict with posts, but job ads and job wanted ads are okay. The only job-related rule in its long list of commandments is this:
*Seeking for JOBS, Please add a short description of your qualifications, background, what position type you are seeking and your contact details. Post not giving sufficient description will be removed.
Amidst the lease takeover and ‘where to find the best Khao San bar crawl’ posts in the group, you can spot legitimate job ads here. Although it primarily serves as tourists, expats and some Thais’ go-to Facebook group for ‘desperate’ searches, job opportunities can also be found in this very active community.
Everything Bangkok (17,000 Members): It functions almost exactly like Bangkok Expats, with not a lot of restrictions on posting, aside from the ‘one advertising post per week’ rule. If you’re posting a job wanted ad in one Facebook group, it would make sense to post on all the Facebook groups that you’re a member of, and this group is another place that increases your ad’s exposure. Just don’t be the guy who spams then gets banned.
Jobs in Bangkok and Thailand
Jobs in Bangkok and Thailand (Non-teaching) (34,000 Members): Another option for Facebook searches. There is no single job category that dominates the ads posted, but the group is specifically for expats and Thais interested in non-teaching jobs. What’s great about the group is the steady stream of job ads and minimal to zero non-job-related posts, and there is great variety of jobs posted, from skilled to executive positions. What’s not so great is posting job wanted ads can be a bit challenging.
Actors Association of Thailand
Actors Association of Thailand (25,500 Members): Posts here are not limited to acting and modeling; there are also some for voice talents, film crew, photographers and positions in the performance arts. What’s great about this group is that the moderators have laid out useful rules in posting job ads, eg, jobs should be based in Thailand. Mods also require ads to indicate a budget for job posters perhaps as a way to show the posters’ legitimacy. Quite a few of the ads require specific race and looks (eg, Eastern European blonde males, well-groomed Eurasian models with or without experience, etc.) and even include locations. It won’t hurt, however, to examine the profile behind some of the posters as it is a dangerous online world out there. There are other Thailand-based actors-artists Facebook pages but with much fewer members.
How to Advertise Yourself
On several occasions, I’ve posted a job-wanted ad on some of these groups and have received quite a few referrals through it. The best way to do so, it seems, is to provide a brief professional summary (remember: attention span is on short supply on Facebook) and the kind of job/career that you’re looking for. Just make sure to check your Message Requests and Filtered messages in your account, or else include your email in your ad.
Here’s a sample of a job ad that could work:
I’m a freelance content editor and manager living in Bangkok looking for full-time career opportunities. I hold a bachelor’s degree in commerce, major in Business Economics. Recent professional experience includes copywriting for a luxury resort brand and online marketing mainly, creating and managing content for various niche websites. Previously, I was a financial research analyst at Thomson Reuters. I’m passionate about writing and editing. Any leads will be appreciated. Thank you.
Your Personal Network
I wouldn’t exactly call it an off-the-beaten path option, but many people tend to forget about their extended personal network: Not only the people you know directly, but the people that they know as well.
It’s not uncommon to move to Thailand and then to notice that there are other people from your personal network that settled down here before you. Whether it’s a high school buddy or someone who went to the same university: Thailand is a big and popular place. It makes sense to check in advance (on LinkedIn, Facebook, by asking around) if anyone out of your existing network is here already. They can not only provide advice on moving and working here, but might also be aware of job openings at their employers, in the industry or at companies their friends in the country work at. Leveraging your personal network in Thailand is something you can do before ever setting foot in the country – and then to continue expanding those efforts once you arrive.
Recommended Industries and Employers
Thailand’s laws are somewhat restrictive in the jobs foreign applicants can take up. In addition, for many positions, companies do prefer locals – be it due to qualifications or due to salary demands. There are some industries that are particularly likely to hire foreigners, and below you’ll find an overview of your best shots.
Thailand draws millions of visitors annually. A huge percentage of visitors are Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese per the most recent data, but the Kingdom attracts all nationalities looking to experience ‘Thainess’, growing the demand for foreign language specialists in the tourism sector alone.
Professional fluency in foreign languages, including Chinese, Japanese and European languages (especially if coupled with Thai-speaking capabilities) would be pretty valuable and would stand out in your CV, and help you land a job in other job sectors, including as foreign language customer service agent for a variety of industries; primary, secondary and tertiary teacher/professor, insurance claims agent, and translator for different digital platforms and many others.
Craigslist Customer Service page also has both ads for full-time and part-time positions for customer service staff. Companies such as Chiang Mai Lanna Business Services, an outsourcing company that provides customer services to small and medium-sized business, seek mainly European nationals for its operations that require foreign language expertise.
There is plenty of development work to be found in Thailand and here’s why: Many United Nations (UN) regional organizations are based in Bangkok, including the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (Click here for this agency’s job openings), and the Asia Pacific regional office of the recently established United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-APRC). In addition, 24 UN agencies, including ADB, FAO, UNAIDS CO, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and World Bank among others, are present and are active in Thailand.
Thailand is also centrally located, providing easier access to many Southeast Asian countries, which makes it a preferred location for NGOs in Thailand and neighboring nations to hold regional meetings and conferences. It therefore comes as no surprise that there are more than enough opportunities for those who wish to find work making the world a better place while enjoying Thailand.
Apart from various UN agencies, those searching for NGOs to work for may find many openings in organizations such as Oxfam GB, Devex, Action Aid, as well as a number of regional NGOs in Thailand, among many others. It is also advised to check the listings in the corporate websites of the organizations you wish to pursue.
Education isn’t just limited to teaching English. Plenty of international high schools are seeking educators with Master degrees in STEM fields. Universities are keen on lecturers with real life experience – though some will require at least a PhD in order to consider you for an opening.
Plenty of institutions prefer native-speaking teachers – obviously good news for Americans, Canadians and Brits. For non-native English speakers, all hope is not lost; many schools have varying requirements, and there are specific teaching jobs that are perfectly suited for your credentials and more importantly, nationality.
Studies have been made about English language education and the issues around it, and reports of Thailand’s English language proficiency raises concern, which may have necessitated certain measures by the Thai education system, the preference of many schools of native English speakers. Despite that, non-native speakers should never be discouraged because there still are plenty of opportunities. Just refer to the links above.
If you’re considering teaching in Thailand, this guide has a few tips for finding a teaching job whether you’re already in the country or still considering a move. For other types of jobs, the general idea seems to be: you can find one if you want it badly enough whether you are already in Thailand or not. While teaching English is one of the most commonly recommended jobs, if you lack interpersonal skills or are not very fond of children, it might be best to consider other lines of work.
To get an overview of the companies offering engineering work in Thailand and the kinds of positions available, check Rigzone Thailand, an oil & gas and energy resource website with job posts from local and multinational firms.
For volume of jobs available and variety of companies that are hiring, I would recommend JobsDB and LinkedIn, especially for senior management positions in engineering companies. Jobs for expats looking for work as quality assurance manager, supply chain manager or facilities engineer in the industrial sector aren’t as numerous as, say, teaching or digital marketing jobs, but multinational companies with Thailand offices such as Chevron and Shell would normally have regular open positions.
Film and Movie
If beauty is your capital, there are jobs for you too. Legitimate work for actors and models are abundant, so much so that there is a poster urging those who work as models to get a work permit, which can be seen at the Thai Immigration Office in Chaeng Wattana.
While not a banking hub of the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong, many foreign banks maintain an office in Thailand’s capital. Aside from that, there are also major Thai players that employ foreign professionals, ranging from insurance companies (all the ones in this article on health insurance have foreign employees ranging from claims processing to CEOs) to venture capitalists. Actual positions cover the entire range of the industry.
Due to the required qualifications, the industry isn’t often covered as a potential employer, but the reality is that there’s a small but very strong demand by the local finance industry for foreign experts.
In all likelihood, it might not pay the salaries you see in the world’s finance hubs, but from what I gather the work-life balance you have here is a major pro in the book of many finance specialists working in Bangkok.
Being one of Southeast Asia’s tourism hubs, Thailand not surprisingly offers plenty of career opportunities within the hospitality industry. Holiday destinations such as Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui are also attractive to hospitality expats. Here are some examples for job seekers in that industry:
- Accor Hotels – Has, at the time of writing, 2,507 vacancies for various job categories, a fair number of which allow foreign applicants.
- Anantara Hotels under Minor Hotel Group, whose careers page you can check for vacancies, are constantly hiring staff with foreign language expertise for its customer services operations.
- Marriott Hotels Bangkok – Check out their careers page for job postings or subscribe to their job bulletin.
- The Unique Collection of Hotels & Resorts – Offers marketing management for boutique hotels across Thailand, including Hua Hin, Phuket, Koh Samui and Prachuab Kirikhan, among others, as well as other Asian destinations.
In addition, tech companies in the hospitality space like Agoda regularly have job ads for customer support specialists/officers that require staff with foreign language expertise (Chinese, Spanish, German are some examples).
Thailand is one of the regional hubs of South East Asia and as such you’ll find many regional headquarters in the city. That means for legal professionals, there are a number of opportunities – working for regional headquarters, multinationals, in the department of large Thai firms or for one of the many law firms in Bangkok working with foreign clients.
English language proficiency is highly sought-after in Thailand, making English editorial jobs a realistic option for people with writing chops (and ideally a degree in journalism). One of the guests on the Brewed in Bangkok podcast started out working for a newspaper as a journalist after replying to a job ad.
Usually the easiest publications to break into are lifestyle magazines targeting the expat market – be it physical ones (e.g. The Big Chili, BK Magazine) or in digital (e.g. What’s on Sukhumvit). Expat-centered publications in tourist locations (e.g. in Pattaya or Phuket) are also a good starting point.
Property media companies such as PropertyGuru, which has Thailand and Asian circulation, prefer referrals over direct advertisements on job boards such as JobsDB, or else use the company’s LinkedIn pages to post ads.
For more seasoned journalists, there are opportunities to work as correspondents for publications in Europe and the United States, though most of them tend to be recruited abroad and then sent here.
Tech, E-Commerce and Startups
There is great demand for technology professionals in Thailand. There are plenty of opportunities for web developers, DevOps, UI/UX specialists, and other positions in the tech area. You can find a good selection for them in this article on IT jobs in Thailand.
At this point, I’d also like to give a quick thank you to Travis Byrd, who works in a recruitment function at one of those firms (Agoda) and was so kind as to provide some input on some parts of this article. This is also more than just a shout-out: If you think you have the necessary chops for working there (which, in my own words, I’d describe as ‘being able to thrive in a metrics-driven environment’), I’d encourage you to contact him on LinkedIn directly.
A lot of the biggest players tend to have more in common with each other than other companies in their industry when it comes to attracting talent. The following covers job searches specifically for multinational corporations (MNCs).
International MNCs (a.k.a. the Expat Package)
Housing allowance, leased BMW, international school fees paid, visa and work permit sorted, and health insurance taken care of – the famed expat package. What do you need to do to make that happen for you? The short answer: Work for a multinational corporation and get sent here. The somewhat longer answer and how to make that work even if your company doesn’t plan to send you to Thailand follows.
Just as you would use keywords in your CV and online LinkedIn profiles to get found by the right headhunters, job ads are also waiting for the savvy job hunter to find them. Your primary tool for this? Google. Here, I’ll link that.
Switching up and using a variety of search terms; using special characters for your search (eg, enclosing your search terms with double quotation marks, trying an ‘either/or’ search); filtering search results by excluding results; using Google’s various tools including ‘wild card’ or asterisk; filtering search results by country, time and result; and limiting your search to specific sites are but a few ways to get the most relevant results, the instructions for which are all nicely detailed here.
Since you’re job-hunting in Thailand, it would be of tremendous help to customize your Google searches to ensure results that are geared toward Thailand-specific job boards. Instead of using broad search terms such as “Thailand jobs”, “Bangkok Jobs” and “Thailand job search”, use particular keywords and phrases that efficiently narrow down your search results. For example, when looking for open positions as Fundraising Manager in Greenpeace, typing in ‘fundraising manager jobs greenpeace bangkok’ would take you directly to the organization’s career page.
When searching for job openings in multinational companies with offices worldwide, narrowing down a location is ideal as top results are often the most relevant, with the company’s careers page usually coming in first followed by job boards where the company also posts some ads.
Most job websites have an option for filtering searches, and some of the popular ones such as JobsDB, allow filtering by salary range, education level and other options. Using specific search terms in your Google search, coupled with a little know-how in the art of Googling, however, will point you directly to the page you need more efficiently.
This short guide sums up working for a MNC in Thailand. It offers practical tips on getting hired in large Thai corporations, although I would caution against using the salary guide it is bundled with as it is severely outdated.
Entry-level positions in MNCs, although not impossible to fill as a foreigner, can be extremely difficult to obtain for the reasons stated above. Instead, aim for positions where you can add real value, which would apply to roles in communications, eg, Brand Communications or Corporate Communications Manager, where having excellent communication skills in English and other foreign languages would be valuable.
Nearly every Thai company in the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s SET50 will have foreign employees in management positions, including CEO, as well as in mid- to high-level management roles. Real estate companies such as CBRE posts on average around 30 job ads on their website, while advertising agencies such as J Walter Thompson, per its career page’s most recent update, has 35 open positions. These numbers aren’t exactly ringing endorsements to job hunters looking for careers in Thailand-based MNCs, but they do regularly post ads on their careers page, and it wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to these companies’ job alerts if you want a shot.
I’ve been working in the digital marketing industry since moving to Bangkok two and a half years ago, and the circumstances around my employment – from how I found a job to the salary I’ve received – are tricky to measure against everyone else’s and/or what has been proven to work for those who are in the same industry.
Naturally, matters of compensation would be one of your main concerns upon deciding to work in Thailand. As an expat, one of the most important things to remember is that for foreign laborers, there are government-imposed fixed minimum wages. These minimum wages vary by nationality. A German citizen has to be paid at least THB 50,000 a month, whereas someone from Myanmar could only receive half of that and still be eligible for a visa extension (which is where they check this). Your own salary level as an expat will depend on a lot of factors, depending on experience, industry and, for some jobs, your nationality.
I will use teaching jobs as a point of comparison instead for this one.
As a Filipino, if I were to work as an English teacher, I’d make less than someone from the UK or anyone from a native English-speaking country. The rationale behind this seems easy enough to comprehend, although it might nevertheless come off as unfair to a non-native speaker who is fairly qualified to teach English and other primary and secondary education subects. This is not meant to discourage anyone from pursuing a teaching job in Thailand. Of course, there are exceptions; you may not be a native English speaker, but if you have an expansive teaching background and have all the necessary teaching certifications, there is a possibility that you could make more than your UK or US counterpart. Since I am not and never have been a teacher in Thailand, I couldn’t claim authority on the disparities between non-native English speakers’ and farangs’ salary and/or their status as educators in Thai schools. This blog post clearly explains how and why this divide exists and might help set your expectations if you are a non-native English speaker considering a career as a teacher in Thailand.
Whether an employer pays different nationality different wages for the same position depends on the individual employer. There are no government regulations against this that I am aware of. In practice, it depends on your employer’s policies and your individual negotiation position.
How much can you expect to be paid in Thailand?
In practice, I’ve seen everything from a third of their salary back home to double that. It depends on how rare and valuable your talents are here compared to back home. Playing the piano is an uncommon skill, so even music students can charge THB 600 an hour with professional music teachers from Italy getting billed at rates that you only know from lawyers back home.
Another part is the confidence of your potential employer in how likely you are to solve their problem. If they are convinced you are the person that will handle it, the value of the problem determines your salary. Experience and personal networks play a big role in this.
The Board of Investment publishes salary data for Thai nationals based on data provided by promoted companies. It’ll give you an idea what Thai nationals get paid in similar positions. In non-technical positions, foreigners can usually expect a significantly higher salaries, whereas in tech positions salaries are often similar.
A Few Words on This Guide
These sources are a combination of insight from friends who work as recruitment specialists in multinational companies, Thai Human Resource managers, fellow expats’ stories and tips, plain old research, and personal experiences – I’ve had four jobs in a span of two and a half years and have landed each one through different means.
The sites I’ve included are not endorsements, but merely those that worked for me, a Filipino male with two and a half years’ experience in content marketing and six years in capital markets research, with poor-to-middling Thai-speaking skills, and pure adoration of Thailand.
I’ve gone through a period of unemployment marked by, first, despair, for the seeming lack of job prospects, until I started exploring lots of other options, and then glee, for the opportunity to do other things such as write a guide on how to find a job in Thailand.
If you have had better luck than I have looking for a job, whether on your first attempt or in your succeeding job searches, then you would know that finding a job in Thailand requires an impeccably edited CV, patience and some cash. It also helps if you know people who can point you to the right opportunities via networks you ought to have established during your stay in the country.
If you are a tech or marketing person (anything from programmer to digital marketing specialist), you can use this contact form to get in touch with Karsten (the guy running this website and editing this article). Depending on your chops, he might be able to connect you with hiring managers for those positions.