Overseas Job Hunting Tips

The Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) as a phenomenon is alive and kicking. Although past and present world economic crises and political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa undeniably affected the overseas job seeking options of Filipinos, it is still heartening to know that Filipino workers are still in demand abroad, as manifested by the Manila Bulletin Sunday Classified Ads and by Work Abroad.

While we heard of OFWs being sent home from Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, the US, Taiwan and elsewhere, it is still expected that deployments would be steadily increasing in the coming years. And with the Aquino government’s stubborn and one-track minded approach to public sector spending (or the lack of it) appearing  to be a continuing occurrence, it is projected that a sizeable number of those displaced from local employment would seek jobs abroad.This post hopes to help you, the newbie and/or probinsyano overseas job hunter in your quest for a better life, even your fight for survival.

The Right Résumé

The first and most important step to overseas job hunting (and to working abroad, ultimately) is preparing a good résumé. Tips on how to prepare a good résumé abound in the web. The four basic types of résumés are the reverse chronological, functional, combination and targeted résumés, with the reverse chronological résumé being the most popular and the easiest to prepare.

The reverse chronological résumé works best if you have enough years of relevant experience in your line of work or profession, and have no long gaps between employment periods. This type of résumé would highlight your career progression and your ever increasing amount of responsibility, as well as your experience.

If you have too little experience for a specific job, have been unemployed for a long period, or are changing career paths, you should have a functional résumé, where your accomplishments and transferrable skills would be highlighted.

The combination résumé is a hybrid of the reverse chronological and functional résumés, and emphasizes your career progression, responsibilities, and experience, as well as your accomplishments and skills. This type of résumé works best for those who have significant experience in many types of positions in different industries. It needs careful preparation and could be a little overpowering to the reader.

If you have inside information on a particular job opening or have learned of a specific job through the classifieds, you should prepare a targeted résumé. It could be any of the three previously discussed types of résumés, except that it should target a specific company and/or position. Targeting a specific company/position could be as easy as tailoring the text of your objective to that of the company’s and/or position’s requirements.

As much as possible, your résumé should target that specific company and/or position. As an objective, something like:

“Senior Civil Engineer for Kharafi National Company, Kuwait”

.. could always be effective than something like:

“To get involved in a company or institution that shows hospitality and interacting to the people with the best spirit and service. A company wherein I can share and enhance my knowledge with effectiveness, struggle to compete in the perspective and fundamentals of this changing world.”

The most common résumé used by the prospective OFW is the targeted reverse chronological résumé. Its basic components are the following:

1. Header with your name, address, email address, contact number and photograph
2. Objective targeting the company/position
3. Career Summary
4. Work Experience in reverse chronological order
5. Special Skills
6. Professional Credentials
7. Education
8. Other Courses/Seminars
9. Professional Affiliations
10. Name and Signature

If not specifically required by the agency/employer, it is not prudent to include your personal circumstances and your references in your résumé. You could include a “References” section, but instead of listing names and contact numbers, you could write: “Excellent references furnished upon request.” That way, you could first contact your potential references before they are contacted by the placement agency/prospective employers.

There is nothing more annoying to the résumé reader than seeing a sloppily written one. So, before finalizing and printing your résumé, take the time to review it and look for grammatical errors, misspelled words, and incoherent sentence construction.

A loud résumé could also be a turn-off. Look at the overall appearance of your résumé. Is it pleasing to the eye or is it loud? Avoid placing borders or colored backgrounds. Minimize the use of colored fonts and avoid using artsy fonts altogether. Use only business fonts such Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana. You could also try Trebuchet MS for easy readability. Font sizes should not be larger than 12 points and not smaller than 10 points, except for your name, which could be up to 18 points. Most of all do not print it on scented, colored or specialty papers. Regular bond paper should be perfect.

An effective résumé should be concise, well-written and presentable. It should ideally fit in two pages, and should not be more than three pages long.

Seek and Be Seen

With a ready résumé on hand, you are now set to look for that perfect job. Two of the most popular ways of job hunting for OFWs is to look for openings at the classified ads (particularly the Manila Bulletin Sunday Classified Ads) and at the job posting websites in the internet (specifically Work Abroad).

You should buy the Sunday Manila Bulletin early, cut out your targeted ads, and prepare your targeted résumé for an early Monday morning rush to the recruitment/placement agency. Concurrently, you should also create an account in Work Abroad – a comprehensive website for OFWs seeking work abroad, with an extensive listing of job postings, job orders, recruitment/placement agencies, etc.

Uploading your résumé in Work Abroad is easy. And getting that desired interview is not that hard either. You just have to list your experience and skills as keywords in your profession or industry. For example, the buzzwords for civil engineers nowadays are “oil and gas”, “petrochemical plant”, “Primavera”, “project planning and control”, among others. You would be amazed at how fast the agencies could find you, if you use the right keywords.

Know Your Way

Finding your way to the overseas recruitment/placement agencies could be easy for the ex-OFW and for the Manileño, but navigating the concrete jungle that is Metro Manila (where almost all of the agencies are located) could be very daunting for the newbie and/or probinsyano.

A missed LRT station here and a wrong jeepney ride there could easily cost you a considerable amount of lost time and money, not to mention the anxiety and physical and emotional stress. Sure, the local bystanders could help you with directions, but the friendly locals would sometimes not be present when you need them. You certainly have heard the story about someone who hailed a taxi for a two-kilometer ride through the one-way streets of Makati, only to realize later that he could have arrived much earlier had he continued walking straight ahead. His destination was just two blocks away from his original position, but the taxi driver chose to drive him around.

Considering that foreign employers stay in the country for only a limited time, not knowing your way to the agency could mean the difference between missing an interview and getting hired for the job.

The best way to knowing your way around Manila is to have a detailed street map. One of the more complete and accurate street maps around is the Accu-Map Metro Manila CitiAtlas A2 edition shown below.


The Accu-Map Metro Manila CitiAtlas A2 edition.

This useful guide has an A1 edition that is longer and wider, but the A2 is handier and fits just right inside your back pack or messenger bag. The CitiAtlas shows almost all landmarks in the metropolis, as well as LRT and MRT stations, bus terminals, one-way streets, and the individual buildings in the Makati and Ortigas CBDs, in addition to the usual map features. It would greatly help you plan your trip to the agency in a more efficient way. With the CitiAtlas, you would know what LRT/MRT station to get off from, choose which bus to ride, or decide when to walk or when to take the pedicab to the placement agency.

Some of the more prominent recruitment/placement agencies are located in the Ermita-Malate-Paco area in Manila and southeastward towards the adjoining Makati area. The most popular ones are listed below, together with their addresses:

Industrial Personnel and Management Services, Inc. (IPAMS)
1455 Leon Guinto, Sr. St.
Malate, Manila

International Skill Development, Inc. (ISD)
ISD Building, 5439 Curie Street
Palanan, Makati City
Tel. No. (02)551-7452 / 551-1910

YWA Human Resource Corp. (YWA)
(Formerly Yangwha)
1268 Gen. Luna St., Paco, Manila
Tel. No. (02)524-7777 / 524-2181

East West Placement Center, Inc. (East West)
RIZZ, 1059 Metropolitan Avenue
San Antonio Village, Makati City
Tel. No. (02)895-6911

Omanfil International Manpower Development Corp. (Omanfil)
802 Km. 18 West Service Road, South Superhighway
Parañaque, Metro Manila
Tel. No. (02)821-1650 to 1655

Pass the Interview

Most of the agencies listed above are not charging placement and processing fees. All you have to do is submit your résumé, qualify for the initial screening, wait for the final interview schedule with the employer, and pass the interview.

Passing the interview is easy. You only have to dress properly and to be true to yourself. You have nothing to worry about if you are telling the truth, so do not pretend to be someone you are not. If the employer is impressed, he will immediately make an offer and tell you to coordinate with the agency’s administration for processing. If he tells you to wait further for their call, it is time to make another targeted résumé.

Good luck to your overseas job hunting!

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