Homecoming: Bridging the Gap with Returnee Indonesians
    Category: Column By : Olly Riches Read : 176 Date : Tuesday, May 01, 2018 - 15:42:44

    Over the last few decades of Indonesia’s economic growth, an increasing number of young people have gone overseas for continuing studies and even begun their careers abroad. When family duties, residency restrictions or other reasons call them home to Indonesia, these returnees have a unique opportunity and challenge in job hunting in modern-day Indonesia.

    Returnees previously professionally employed in high-performing foreign economies are confident they have internationally competitive skills and experiences but may not be aware of the challenges when it comes to familiarity with Indonesian business culture. However, Indonesian companies seeking high quality talent are often discouraged by the perception of exorbitant salary demands and may worry about hiring expensive, entitled employees who will fail to thrive. The result is a mutual loss: returnees become frustrated by the lack of opportunities and companies in Indonesia lose out on talent that could have added value to their businesses. As increasing numbers of Indonesians study and work overseas, both returnee candidates and potential employers could benefit from a change in perspective and to meet in the middle to make a lucrative fit possible.

    Experienced Indonesian returnees are generally highly qualified and internationally competitive. They expect fair and due remuneration for the skills and experiences they have accumulated—which are comparable to those of expats. However, they may be convinced to take a more modest package that reflects remuneration trends in the Indonesian market. Frustrated returnees may seek out other avenues: joining the family business, or starting their own, or even leaving Indonesia again after a short hiatus, with a negative view of their long-term prospects here.

    Companies may be well-founded in their fears about making such an expensive bet on a returnee local. Book smarts are not everything, and the Indonesian business landscape must be lived to be learned: from deeply entrenched Asian practices of trust-building and deal making to such things as “island time.” Returnees who approach new opportunities with humility, patience and an openness to learn can succeed locally and even become valuable bridges between Indonesian and international business communities. Companies also need to develop more realistic expectations of returnee candidates. A specialist recruiter, such as ourselves, can also help bridge the gap in differing expectations between the two parties. Many benefits can accrue to both candidates and companies when a match takes place, as well helping fill the huge need for skilled staff—especially those with international experience or education—across Indonesia. The country’s economic development, in the long run, will be the ultimate beneficiary.