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Working Multiple Jobs: A Trend for Foreigners in Saigon?

It’s been almost a year since I first arrived in Saigon. Now, when looking back on my search for jobs in the city, I think that my personal experiences carry some value and may come in handy for those who plan to live long-term in Saigon.

Although there have been signs that the global economy is recovering after years of financial and economic turmoil – initially in Europe, getting an interview or even landing a job is still a fantasy to people everywhere and Saigon is no exception.

According to Sài Gòn Giải Phóng newspaper, nearly 140,000 people registered for unemployment insurance and HCMC’s unemployment rate was 4.9% in 2012, down from 5% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2010. This situation is putting both locals and expats at a disadvantage.

So, the best advice I can give you is to start seeking jobs before you actually move here or, even better, do it before booking the flight tickets. It will save you a lot of time and give you an insightful overview of local job market, especially in your specialized field. More particularly, try to search for foreign-owned companies who may be seeking distinctively skilled, local expats to fill jobs.

It’s common sense that we get a fixed job and earn a fixed monthly salary that can take care of all bills, debts, and expenses. But working multiple jobs is a way to keep your head above water and to avoid office boredom.

In the USA, up to 7.3 million people reportedly work more than one job since the economic crisis in 2009 because of these two reasons and I predict that this trend is going to come to Saigon very soon (if it hasn’t already).

But what are the kinds of jobs you should be looking for? Here are some of my suggestions:

Part-time personal tutors: Teach your fortes! (Come on! Don’t tell me you suck at everything!) If you’re good at keeping fit, teach your neighbors to do exercises! Think about jobs based on what you can do will spark endless job options you’ve never thought of!

Advertising/Communication: Working freelance as copywriters, account executives, editors, or content writers are getting more popular in Vietnam. Some of my friends are freelancers like this for Brand Maker Vietnam, and Lowe and Partners Worldwide.

Photo models: Most people don’t even consider being photo models because they think it’s for professionals, but a Russia-based stock photo studio called DragonImages Production Studio is constantly looking for people of all shapes and sizes to be their freelance photo models which is worthwhile to give a try!

Freelance designers: Illustration and graphic designers, website designers, cartoon and comic illustrators are several options you can consider.

Freelance IT & Internet developers: Studies show that the penetration of the internet, mobile and online games in Vietnam will grow in the years to come so web developers/programmers, and mobile game developers will have lot of opportunities.

If you can’t resist the impulse to come to this beautiful city to look for make-ends-meet opportunities later on like I did, there are things you need to take into account:

1. Know Vietnamese: A good command of the Vietnamese language is the key to opening a whole array of jobs for you. Why? Local people love to hear foreigners speaking their language – it shows that you are eager to understand their culture and customs.

2. Possess distinctive skills: These skills still get you jobs, despite your zero knowledge of local language. Demonstration to local employers of your unique skill-sets that are rarely found among local candidates will help you to compete and stand out from the crowd.

In a situation where job availability cannot meet unemployment rate, working multiple jobs may appear as a way-out that brings along freedom, flexible work schedule, and multiple sources for income can get you on your feet. But it may only be a temporary solution for some people because the pressure to multitasking under tight deadlines can drive people nuts, don’t you think?

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