It is not very easy to find a job in Thailand. Although this country has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the world and last year it was just 1%.
Thai companies are only permitted to take on foreign staff if they can prove that the job cannot be carried out by a Thai person. One of the main options for an English-speaking expat to find work is to become a TEFL teacher. Those who have English language and teaching skills are always in demand and there are many positions available each year.
There are some work areas in which a foreigner is not permitted to be employed at all. Trades such as carpentry and mechanic are just two of these categories. These are not the only restrictions. Companies need to apply for work permits for foreigners if they intend to employ them but it is not always the case that these will be granted, particularly if the company has applied for several in the recent past. Many expats who move to Thailand are already working for that company in their home country and are taking a transfer for a limited period of time.
It is important to be able to speak the local language. If you are working in an environment where English is important then you may not need to use Thai very much, but some basic conversational skills are recommended. It also shows a potential employer that you are prepared to fit in to the local culture.
There are a number of industries where there has been growth in recent years which may offer some opportunities for skilled expats. These include the automotive industry, alternative energy, telecommunications and electronics. Tourism is a strong part of the Thai economy and English speakers are employed in this field, although some jobs are short-term and seasonal. This is the most common industry for temporary work.
There are a number of Thai newspapers which carry job advertisements. These include ‘World Today’, ‘Bangkok Daily’ and ‘Bangkok Post’. However, in some instances the job is filled before the advertisement even appears, as some companies use this as a form of advertising. There are several websites which advertise positions in Thailand and these often work on an international basis, such as ‘Monster’.
There are several recruitment agencies in Thailand. Some of these may charge a fee, although it is more usual that the recruiting company pays the agency. JAC Recruitment is an agency that has been in existence since the mid 1970s dealing mainly with recruitment for Japanese companies. They recruit for administrative, IT, engineering and senior management positions.
Another option is networking. Online networking sites such as LinkedIn advertise vacancies across the world, but there is also the option of networking through organisations such as the British and American Chambers of Commerce (Thailand branches).
Thailand does not have an equivalent to the UK Job Centre. However, the local labour office and Ministry of Employment staff will offer advice on the legalities of working in Thailand.
Applying for a job in Thailand is the same as in many other countries. Applicants send a CV and covering letter to the company. A CV should be set out in the same way that you would set out an English one, although it is preferable to have it properly translated into Thai. Sending unsolicited job applications is a good idea, particularly as vacancies are filled so quickly that sometimes they are not advertised. However, you should ensure that you have the non-immigrant visa as that is the first stage of applying for a work permit.
Those who are discovered to be working illegally in Thailand are deported. There is a strong policy that the vast majority of positions should be filled by a Thai person and those who break the law are punished accordingly. In some instances there may also be a prison sentence and there are also harsh penalties for companies that illegally employ foreign workers.
Ministry of Employment
The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand
British Chamber of Commerce Thailand