Changing jobs in Thailand

It’s done! I resigned. I am ready for the next step. Three years into my Thai adventure I take a leap.

Then, three years ago:

When I arrived exactly three years ago in Bangkok, I was amazed how easy it was to find a job. I thought it was just pure luck. But now I know it was fate, karma and destiny.

Within 24 hours of my arrival, I had an interview. While I traveled back to my rented room, the company sent me the first draft of the contract. The following day I signed it and the day after I started working. From what I heard from friends and acquaintances, this is very unusual. Finding a job and being hired usually takes between three to six months, if not up to a year for a foreigner.

I consider myself lucky and fortunate. It was not just some stupid: oh let’s just do something job, but a really, great experience where I could learn a lot and was able to share my knowledge in a meaningful way as well.

To get a long-term visa which ultimately led to the work permit, they sent me to the Lao PDR where I met my colleagues and showed up in the Thai embassy (several times) to get my papers.

No real questions asked about anything. Except where my husband was…

 

Now, three years later:

The hiring experience is as if I landed on a different planet. The process took more than a month with the headhunter and three interview rounds. Finally, I got the job offer and I was convinced that I had overcome all the obstacles, but that was only the beginning.

I have to pass a pre-employment screening which consists of three parts:

– Criminal Record Check

– Medical Check-up

– Background check

 

Criminal Record Check

For the Criminal Record Check I contacted the embassy that promptly replied whether I need a Swiss criminal record check (CRC) report or a Thai CRC. For the Swiss I could fill in some online form, pay by debit card, get it certified by clicking some more buttons or by the embassy, pay by debit card and get it translated because it won’t be in English (or Thai) and pay by debit card. I convinced my new employer that I don’t need a Swiss CRC report. They agreed.

For the Thai report, the company prepared a letter in Thai to take to the Royal Thai Police headquarter.

I went there a few weeks ago in the early afternoon and fully expected to spend at least a couple of hours waiting to get through the red tape.

map police1

I walked from Siam towards Chitlom where the Royal Thai Police is located. First thing I did was walking in the wrong gate – it was the exit gate. Within seconds I had two officers yell at me – the one sitting by the exit gate and the one sitting by the entrance. I backtracked and entered by the correct entrance, showed my letter, passport, and content of my purse. None of which seemed to be terribly interesting for the police officer.

Once in the headquarter court yard, I pulled out the map that the new company had provided and I started looking for building 25 which has been renamed no. 7. It was not difficult to find, although in my imagination I thought I would stumble upon a long line of Westerners pulling their hair out while waiting for hours on end in the sweltering heat.

map police

 

When I rounded the corner, there were groups of Asians sitting around on plastic chairs and people obviously waiting for something. I walked up to the small desk outside the first room and showed my letter to the young officer sitting there.

 

He briefly looked at it and said something in Thai and the proceeded in English asking me whether I speak Thai.

This is always the moment to weigh your options.

  1. A) will the service improve if I say yes?
  2. B) will it get worse?
  3. C) nothing will change.

I went for the timid: I don’t speak much. In perfect English he told me to go in the first room to register (no waiting). The officer at another small desk asked the same? You speak Thai? Passport. Same answer.

She muttered: Switzerland, Switzerland, Switzerland.

The next stage was the payment section. No wait. Pay 100 baht. Go to the next room.

I walked over to the next room which was air-conditioned and was asked again: you speak Thai? Passport? In good English I was told to fill in some more information on the form that I had received in the other room. Once completed, we proceeded to take the electronic fingerprints of each hand. It was interesting that they took an image of my right thumb by itself, but not of the left. Maybe the machine was conceptionalized for right-handed people only.

After a few beeps I was done and left the Royal Thai Police by the correct gate, not 20 minutes after I first entered. The result of my record can be picked up in two weeks.

 

Medical Check-up

bnh

The second stage of the screening was not so new to me, because this is basically the regular check-up for the work permit. Very early on Saturday morning, I went to BNH hospital to get the program done.

bnh map

After weight, eye sight, blood pressure test and what not, you pee in a cup and get a chest x-ray. I think by that time they feel bad for you that they subjected you to so much stress and hand you a coupon with which you can get a cup of coffee and a snack in the patient lounge.

Unfortunately they did not have any cake left and I didn’t really have time to enjoy my coffee before the next appointment with the doctor who asks you a lot of questions about your family history, listens to your heartbeat and pokes the belly.

Within one hour I was back on the street. Most incredible, efficient medical service I have ever encountered in the world. I remember that three years before I was in total awe of it. By now, I am used to getting good treatment, friendly service and I hardly ever have to wait.

It is perfect!

If one has not fallen in love with Thailand before the medical check-up for the work permit, then one certainly will at the hospital.  And for the guys – the nurses in their cute little white uniforms are just too adorable…

nurses

Background Check

Stage three of the pre-screening would not go a smoothly. I knew it.

  1. the work experience and education had to be entered into an online system.
  2. the screening company is an independent consultant in the UK.
  3. my life does not easily fit into a computer system.

The target time to fill in the online form was 20 minutes. It took me a good two hours. Why? The system kept saying that I am not able to submit because I had gaps in my employment history.

Ahh yes: I went to school, went to work, back to school, again to work and press repeat. OK, maybe that is not normal that one likes going to school or taking time off to be creative and active in other fields, but I cannot imagine that I am the only one.

I tricked the system by filling all gaps with some sort of employment, unemployment, freelance work and self employment.

I thought I was done when finally the system accepted all my information – essentially me!

The next day I got an email from a real person asking for more information, more details, more papers. I dutifully supplied everything.

The next day I got another email asking for email addresses, contact information, websites of the schools I went to, company registration for my consulting business.

My patience started to wear a bit thin, but I sent everything.

The next day they were asking for a list of my clients from my freelance work.

I am slightly irritated now, but comply and reply.

In the meantime in Bangkok, I received my signed original employment contract and the first invitation to an office party.

I am pacified.

The following week the hassle continues with more questions about an online course I did through a French university and finally to round it off: I got to see the questionnaire that they sent to my former employers (sent by one of them) asking for all kinds of information that is already in the reference letters that I had sent.

I am sure glad I don’t have anything to hide…

What a change from three years ago: two employment processes from opposite ends of the spectrum. Let’s see if work is going to be as different as well.

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