Expats working in Indonesia will find themselves immersed in an exceedingly diverse business landscape, environment, rich in job opportunities across various sectors. With over 300 languages and ethnicities among a population of over 275 million, the professional culture varies widely across different Indonesian regions. 

As the country’s bustling commercial centre, Jakarta serves as the prime locale for job-seeking expats looking for promising career prospects.

Job market in Indonesia

Indonesia’s abundant natural resources offer plenty of work opportunities for expats with expertise in mining and construction, while agriculture remains a significant employer. Other important sectors of the Indonesian economy include textiles, electronics, and apparel and footwear manufacturing. There are also opportunities for expats wanting to teach English in Indonesia, while others move there to take up a position within the humanitarian or tourism sectors. 

In the heart of Southeast Asia, the Indonesian job market is evolving, making room for skilled expats in various domains. The burgeoning digital economy in Indonesia also holds promise for expats. As the nation embraces digital transformation, there’s an increasing demand for skilled professionals in information technology, digital marketing and e-commerce.

The startup ecosystem is also thriving, especially in urban centres like Jakarta, offering a dynamic workspace for innovative minds from around the globe. Indonesia's growing prominence in sustainable practices has also opened doors in renewable energy and environmental conservation.

Finding a job in Indonesia

Most expats find employment with international corporations in Indonesia and secure a job before arrival, with many sent as part of an intra-company transfer. There are several local job portals for searching for jobs online.

Foreigners aspiring to work in Indonesia will need to obtain a valid work permit. The process for acquiring a work permit for Indonesia can be quite complicated, but thankfully, most hiring companies will deal with all the logistics for this.

Securing employment can pose challenges for expats. This is due to government policy in Indonesia mandating that companies adhere to certain criteria when hiring foreigners. They need to demonstrate that the potential employee possesses significant skills in their sector and that there are no local job-seekers capable of filling the position. Certain sectors have restrictions on the employment of expats. The bureaucratic hurdles in this regard can be quite intense, often making companies reluctant to hire foreigners.

Useful links

  • For a well-established online employment marketplace, check out JobStreet Indonesia, which provides a platform for job-seekers and employers to connect.
  • Offering a broad range of job listings, including positions suitable for foreign professionals, Monster Indonesia is part of a global job search platform.
  • LinkedIn Jobs is a valuable resource for networking and job searching, providing a platform for professionals to connect with potential employers in Indonesia.

Work culture in Indonesia

Expats working in Indonesia will generally experience a friendly and welcoming environment. Business structures are hierarchical, and the concept of saving face should be kept in mind to maintain harmonious relationships and avoid offending Indonesian colleagues.

Adapting to the communication style in Indonesia may be a learning curve for expats – Indonesians typically adopt an indirect style to avoid offending anyone. Expats, therefore, need to exercise patience when engaging in negotiations with Indonesian counterparts, as an answer of 'yes' may sometimes indicate that an associate has heard the request rather than an actual answer to the question. Besides, understanding and respecting the local customs and cultural nuances is imperative for forging successful professional relationships in this diverse and traditional country.

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