In absolute terms, the demand from professionals to work in a Multinational Corporation (MNC) is still higher than in a local Thai company, as the majority of professionals have the perception that MNCs provide better: 1) branding and packages, 2) technology offerings and 3) better transfer of knowledge and training, as most of the MNCs operating in Thailand are from more advanced nations.

Yet more than ever before, Thai companies are starting to level up their game through increasing recruitment standards, making it more attractive and challenging to join, buying up candidates from MNCs to create a more international working environment or giving employees company shares as an incentive. Also with the rise of Gen Y wanting to become their own boss, and having flexible working hours, the demand for local Thai startups is now undoubtedly and relatively higher than before.

Seeing both sides

So given that these are the justification for joining MNCs or ocal companies, what are some of the most common perceptions against them?

Perceived negatives of working for MNCs

  1. Low Accountability: As employees are very replaceable, the possibility of making it up to the top is very low. In most cases, top management is run by expats.
  2. Slow working processes: As most important decisions made will need to be approved by the HQ or Regional office first.  
  3. High Turnover: As higher headcounts imply high competition and survival of the fittest.

Perceived negatives of working for local Thai companies

  1. More exposure to office politics and hierarchical office culture.
  2. Tighter recruitment budget which translates into lower packages, especially for small SME companies.
  3. Lower chance of utilizing English - the 2nd most spoken language in Thailand.

So as seen, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Rather than pinpointing exactly which is better, as what’s good for one person is very different from another, a better approach is to consider the following criteria, so candidates can evaluate which option is best for their individual career.

1. Cultural fit and impact

Questioning your cultural fit to the organisation is one of the most crucial things to decide before you sign that offer letter. Obviously, the more compatible your DNA is to the organisation, the longer you will stay. Every organisation is managed and operated in different ways, so finding your fit is the most important thing.

To do this, do profile searches via LinkedIn to see potential peers and line managers (seeing where they come from, the type of education and professional background they have), is the first step to gauge the type of people the company tend to hire. Thus, the fundamentals that drive an organisational culture. The second step is to use the interview process as a chance to ask questions back that will help determine if you fit in with the organisation.

Another thing you should be questioning is ‘how’ you could add value to the firm and whether the company is open to such change. An organisation which listens and is open to its employees’ ideas is one that you should aim for. Without this, it will be difficult to create an impact – no matter which type of organisation you are in.

2. Growth and development opportunities

If you’re looking to make a move, you also need to investigate whether there are any personal or professional development opportunities within the organisation and role. For example: Are there any new transferable skills or technical abilities that you will gain in this new company? Putting numbers aside, what are the new responsibilities in this role that you could benefit from? Any job opportunity that challenges your learning curve is a good company worth exploring.

3. Security and compensation

When it comes to job security and compensation, regardless of whether the company is an MNC or local, if the establishment in Thailand is new, these are some key questions to assess how reliable and stable the company is.

For Start-up MNCs

  1. How many people are there in Thailand and what job functions do they serve?
  2. Global presence around the world - how many offices in SEA, for how long?
  3. What is the turnover revenue globally and in Thailand?
  4. For an MNC that is recruiting the first ever headcount in Thailand:

    1. What is the reason for setting up a business or offices here? - To test the market, to satisfy the higher demand of consumers, or because it makes more sense in cost and logistics perspective?
    2. Before this, do goods sold directly to the consumer or through distributors? Is the relationship exclusive?
    3. For business services, why Thailand, why now?
    4. Is there a legal entity in Thailand? If the answer is no, through what legal body will salary payments come from? Likewise, is there healthcare and provident fund for an employee?

For Thai Start Ups

  1. Who is (are) the founder (s)? What professional and personal background do they come from?
  2. What is your source of funding and size of capital investment?
  3. What is the story behind the start-up, including headcount, how long the company has been around, turnover rate and business outlook.

Once you’ve established the stability of the company, it’s important to also look at the compensation they are offering you as an individual. If the employer can’t give you the appropriate amount of security in terms of salary and benefits, especially for start-ups, then perhaps it’s time to think again.

Which is better? It’s up to you

Henceforth, choose your employer wisely. Because as one excels in their career, they will soon realise their skills and experience are becoming more and more specialised, making it more difficult to transfer to other sectors.

For those that hop around during the middle stage of their career path (be it for the millennial reason or choosing-the-wrong employer reasons), 97% of the candidates who experienced this will find it harder to sell themselves, as more justification is needed to hire them.

Choosing your employer is a critical decision to make because it’s not only about choosing between MNC or local, but knowing what you can give and take. Because it’s a two way relationship that needs to be a match for both parties, the fitter, the better.

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