Happy Homecoming

Question: “Why is it so hard for an OFW to find work or start a business when he or she comes home?” (J.M.S., via email)

Some of the reasons for choosing to be an OFW are poverty, lack of employment opportunities, and the desire to give one’s family a better life.
Yet when an OFW is asked if they want to go back to the Philippines- they are ambivalent. They are unsure whether returning to the Philippines is a good idea. They dread facing this dilemma when they return home: find a job, or start a business.
OFWs encounter many obstacles in their quest to find adequate jobs. One of these is the bias for fresher blood. Many companies have age requirements, or else they discreetly discriminate. By the time an OFW decides to come home, s/he is usually considered to be too old.
Companies also conduct background checks from previous employers of applicants. If the candidate previously worked abroad, it would be hard for them to do that. Besides, for OFWs, there is a high chance that their present qualifications do not match the current local job market. Yet even when hired, they find the salary offered here is not as high as what they were receiving abroad – and may hesitate to let the new employer know about it.
On the other hand, if OFWs decide to go into business, some feel they are not ready. Most do not have a concrete business plan in mind, and they rely only on hearsay evidence of a business’ profitability. They fear losing their hard-earned money if they do not succeed in their venture.
If they do start a business, they often commit blunders due to inexperience. Starting a business is a daunting task. One should be properly trained for this.
Despite all the risks, most OFWs prefer to go back to the Philippines. Below are some tips for preparing for a business or a new job, should an OFW decide to come home.

  • Cut down on unnecessary expenses. Do not spend too much on needless things. Having enough money will enable you to make ends meet while looking for a local job, or have a capital for your business prospect.
  • Make wise investments. Be conservative in your investments; put your money in treasury bills or property. Beware of “get-rich-quick” schemes or those promising overly high interest rates or rates of return. Remember that the higher the return, the higher the risks. 
  • Involve your family. Tell them to be frugal. Let them know that it is hard to work abroad, and that they have to spend wisely.
  • Do not quit your job yet. Unless you have a sound alternative, do not lose your income source.
  • Tap all available government assistance. Do research on all the possible support you can get from the government. You may possibly qualify for low interest loans for OFWs.
  • Attend business skills or livelihood training. This is to prepare yourself, in case you would want to have your own business later.
  • Try to maintain your contacts. Keep in touch with your friends especially those in the industry related to your profession. Many of the best job openings are filled by referrals, especially if the position is a sensitive one.

For an OFW, going back home entails major adjustments. The best way to make this transition easier is to prepare many years in advance. Waiting until you are compelled by your age or your contract to return may mean a drastic drop in your standard of living. But if you already have a substantial nest egg by the time of your home coming, then you will feel no dread in your return.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.