Updated 7 months ago

As a regional economic powerhouse, Indonesia can't help but attract foreign professionals looking for the opportunity to enjoy a high standard of living in South-East Asia.

Indonesia is fast becoming an urban nation, with an increasing number of its populace consuming products and services. Cities all over Indonesia are growing steadily and the trend is not limited to its capital city Jakarta, so it's worth exploring the country to find the best location and professional opportunity for you.

According to the UNFPA, “overall, 59% of Java’s population already lives in urban areas, and this is expected to reach 78% in 2035.” As well as providing even more job opportunities in tourism and English teaching, Indonesia's shift from being a predominantly rural population to one in which two-thirds of the population live in urban areas will require and result in many changes that expatriates can capitalise on. In an article published by McKinsey, the percentage of the population living in urban areas is predicted to increase to 71% by 2030, which means that spending should also increase in many sectors, such as financial services, leisure, and retail. As a result of this urbanisation, there are also opportunities to be seized in terms of infrastructure and real estate projects in the rapidly growing cities.

Research also highlights that Indonesians attach more importance to brands than consumers of many other developing nations. Although there is a general preference for local brands — particularly in the food and beverage industry — multinationals can still be very successful in Indonesia, so long as they are willing to develop a marketing strategy that resonates with local buyers.

Government policy requires that foreigners who work in Indonesia must be experts in their field so if you do qualify for a role, you will need to prove you have the relevant qualifications and experience for the position, provide a recommendation letter, and the company will need to prove that no local person is able to fill the position.

You will also be required to obtain a work permit (IMTA), a Limited Stay Visa (KITAS), and a Multiple Exit Re-entry Permit (MERP) to live and work in Indonesia. Be prepared to wait a bit, as the process takes between two and three months to complete, but as an employed expatriate, you should be able to enter Indonesia immediately after obtaining the working visa, which should happen after the second month. Be aware that there are severe penalties for any breaches.

 Good to know:

While many sectors are open to foreign expertise, there are some jobs that are not permitted to foreigners.

Labour laws

In Indonesia, employment-related issues are governed by the country's labour laws, which must be followed and cannot be circumvented on a contractual basis.

As a general rule, you should be entitled to the following:

  • A maximum working week of 40 hours, over five or six days.
  • At least half an hour's break for every four hours of work.
  • Overtime must not exceed three hours per day and 14 hours per week.
  • 12 days of annual leave per annum (which is applicable from the second year of employment).
  • Formal public holidays.
  • Menstruation leave (up to two days per month), maternity leave (three months), and miscarriage leave (1.5 months) with a doctor's note.
  • Obligatory social security programmes provided by BPJS Ketenagakerjaan and BPJS Kesehatan.
  • Old age benefit.
  • Health insurance.
  • Termination package based on most recent monthly salary and duration of service, comprising of severance pay, long-service pay, and compensation for remaining annual leave, repatriation costs, medical, and housing costs.

Finding a job in Indonesia

There are many international firms with offices in Indonesia, and the easiest way of finding a job is by requesting an internal transfer within a company. This not only facilitates work permit procedures, but it makes the transition overseas much smoother.

If this is not an option, it's worth directly contacting companies that offer employment in your industry. Most major companies often advertise job positions on their websites, so you can apply directly online.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it's also a good idea to browse specialist employment websites, such as Job Street, Jobs DB or Monster, to see if any relevant positions have been posted.

It's advisable to upload your CV to a business-oriented social networking service, such as LinkedIn, and sign up to a job forum, such as, so you can seek up-to-date advice from expatriates based in Indonesia. Word-of-mouth can also be a great way to find out about opportunities if you have friends or contacts in Indonesia. If not, keep an eye out for networking events if you go on a recce trip, or sign up with a recruitment agency in the region where you wish to work.

 Useful links

HSBC Global Connections - Labour guide
Monster Indonesia
Best Jobs Indonesia
Info Mine
Job Street

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