Myanmar is opening up, and that the opportunities wait around every corner… well at least for those, who want to look for them and find them. If you fancy working in Burma, read further to find out what to expect, when looking for a job in the country.

It won’t be too far from the truth if you assume that there is no skilled workforce in the most areas of what could be defined as a modern economy. More than 70% of Burmese workforce are farmers living in the rural areas. In that case it should not come as a surprise that most of the general managers of the exclusive resorts on Ngapali Beach are foreigners simply because there are not many Burmese people, who would be able to effectively do the job. The only memorable exception was a Burmese guy, who ate his teeth on hotels’ management abroad most recently managing the Ritz-Carlton in Dubai. Foreigners manage local offices of foreign travel agencies. Some local travel businesses began hiring foreigners on responsible posts to catch up or stay ahead of a rising competition.

These are the examples from my area of work (tourism if you haven’t noticed), but when I look at the state of the country, I am sure it is or it will be very similar in other areas of work and business as well. The second big example can be language schools, which began emerging dynamically. Naturally the schools need foreigners to teach. During many meetings all around the country (especially Yangon), I began to meet foreigners working for advertising/marketing agencies, and in IT companies, which would probably start booming very soon as well.

So how to find a job in Myanmar?

In the beginning you have to ask yourself what are you good at, what unique skills do you possess, how you can contribute to the development of the company, what value will you bring, and what you really want to do. If you don’t know the answers to the above questions, how are you going to convince your prospective employer, that he should take you on board?

Once you have it sorted out, you should ask yourself if Burma is a country for you. The easiest way of doing it is to come and see the country first. Even if you worked in relatively exotic countries like Colombia, Thailand or Kenya, you can be really surprised by what you find here. The people are nice and helpful, but cultural differences will start showing up quicker, than you could possibly expect. If you are a South American woman, you will quickly realize that clothes, which were probably totally normal for you in your country, are not really acceptable here. And no, miniskirts and shorts are not forbidden. You can wear what you want as long as you want people to look at you like you were a prostitute. If you are a European man used to the comforts of the western world, you might find it surprising that power cuts occur daily, and sometimes last for several hours, and law, as we know is practically non-existent. The list is much longer than this, but I’ve just wanted to give you an idea…

Ok, I tried my best to discourage you from coming, but if you are still reading, that might mean that you are seriously interested. It’s time to start looking for a job. You’ll not find many websites (if any) advertising jobs in the country. English edition of the Myanmar Times may have a classifieds section, but I haven’t met a single foreigner yet, who got a job that way. If you want to find a job here, you have to be active. Regardless of whether you are after an English teaching position in one of the schools, art director gig in one of the advertising agencies or a managerial position in an international hotel – you have to make yourself visible and accessible. Make a list of places you would like to work at. E-mail them. You might be surprised to hear that you are the person they actually need. Alternative idea would be to come here for a few months with sufficient funds to cover your stay, and look what’s possible on the ground. Meet other foreigners for example during a weekly happy hour in the Strand Hotel (every Friday from 5 to 11 pm) and see whom you meet, and what can come up from it. While the meeting is dominated by travel industry’s representatives, it’s easy to meet other interesting people like managers of the property companies just entering the market or even pearl farmers owning their own pearl farm somewhere in the south of the country…

To finish up, I’ll share my story. More than 18 months ago I bought some travel services from a big local company for my 13-people group planning to visit Burma. The whole trip was organized in a very professional manner. I spent more than a year on the road organizing trips in Asia and South America. Bored with a freelancer’s life, I casually e-mailed the company in Myanmar and a few others all around the world. I got two offers, and decided to go for the one in Burma. We briefly negotiated everything via e-mail when my future employer asked me to come over to Yangon to discuss further. Since we’ve known each other already, I’d offered that I would just come one way. The company agreed and in less than two weeks I was on a plane bound for Yangon…

Hopefully that shows you that everything is possible here and that a bit of imagination with determination can get you further than in many other places on Earth. Happy job hunting!

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Since my 17th birthday I have written thousands of articles, which have been featured in dozens of publications like The Washington Times, Playboy, Paranormal Magazine UK, and The Times among others. I had also cooperated with RTE Radio 1 (Ireland), BBC Radio Northern Ireland, and a number of others. My debut book Tajski epizod z dreszczykiem (Thai episode with a thrill) describing my experience in Thailand was published in Poland in June 2012, and quickly became a bestseller in its category. Its English version will be published in February 2013 under the title This is Thailand. I am currently working on my second book under the working title “In Burma”

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr Lenarcick,

    Thank you for an informative, albeit brief, description of obtaining employment in Myanmar.
    I shall take your advice and begin my search.
    If you have any additional info to pass along, please feel free to do so.
    Be well.

    Michael

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