aka The Process You Go Through When You Apply and Get a Job In Saudi Arabia
aka What The Recruitment Agencies in the Philippines Put You Through
aka Probably One of the Most Frustrating Moments in your Life
I recently went through the recruitment process in the Philippines and like the true blue OC (takot sa unknown) that I am, I researched online on how processes like this go. And guess what I found out? Nothing. Nothing substantial. I mean there are features, news, and articles about it but there’s no information that gives you direct answers. You know why? Because there is no direct answer. Every recruitment agency in the Philippines has their own processes they would want you to go through. But in my opinion, the whole formula is actually a bit simple. It goes something like this:
5. Government Stuff
Simple, yes? If only it is that easy. It gets complicated along the way, you see. There are a lot of obstacles you’ll be facing. I’m telling you now that nothing is a walk in the park so you will be needing patience and more patience when you’re at it. But that’s why The Pink Tarha is here, we’ll try to make your life easier by providing this guide so that you know, more or less, what constitutes your decision to go abroad, particularly going to Saudi Arabia *cough*. It is a tough choice but some hard decisions are needed to be made for whatever huge reason you have.
|A huge decision. Don’t rush.|
First and foremost, the decision of working abroad and leaving your family and your comfort zone behind is difficult. It will unhinge you. It will scare the crap out of you, especially when your destination is in the Middle East. I’m not trying to scare you by the way. I’m just preparing you for the changes. So you really need to think hard if it’s the right thing for you. While most of us think that going abroad will make life better, it’s pretty obvious nowadays that it’s not always the case.
When friends ask me if it’s okay to go abroad, I always tell them to see it like this: If you have a job in the Philippines that pays you well enough to provide for your family and have a bit of savings too, then don’t. You see, it’s not always about the money; it’s not always about the things you need to provide or the dream of owning this and that. Sometimes, you have to cherish what you already have. You have to cherish the moments of being together because being apart can cause more problems than you can ever imagine. I was already attending my PDOS when my seatmate whose flight was scheduled two days from that day was still having second thoughts. If you’re not sure (aka hindi buo ang loob mo), don’t go.
For those who decided to take a risk… Now, you need to find good agency. I didn’t have to go through a lot of agencies in the Philippines to look for mine. I have an unusual case but the bottomline is, I processed my papers through the LBS International Recruitment in Kalaw, Manila. I don’t know a lot of agencies in the Philippines (as a matter of fact, I only know of LBS and Royal Crown) and I don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with agencies but I can truly say that I didn’t have a horror story to share when it comes to LBS. I mean, the process went smoothly as far as I am concerned. Here are the list of agencies licensed by the POEA: http://www.workabroad.ph/list_all_jobs.php?by_what=agency (the link in the POEA site is not working). Avoid illegal recruiters! The rule of the thumb: if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Research as much as you can about the agency before you commit. What is Google for?!
The basic required documents are the following:
1. Updated and comprehensive resume/CV
2. Pictures (most of the time, 2×2)
3. Valid Passport (renew your passport, if needed)
4. NBI Clearance – (apply online before going to the NBI offices)
5. Certificates of Employment
6. Reference Letters (from supervisors)
7. College Diploma (certified by CHED) or High School Diploma (whichever is your highest attainment)
8. Transcript of Records, Certificate of Graduation*School documents should be authenticated (with red ribbon).
9. Letter of No Objection (ex-Saudi workers know of this)
10. Copy of final exit (for ex-Saudi workers also)
There will be a few more documents you need, depending on the position you are applying for. For example, certificates of those who passed their licensure exams for nurses, accountants, etc. From there, you need to submit all these documents to the agency. You can apply through their online sites. Sometimes, walk-ins are also welcome. They usually schedule you for interview with the employers, either personally (when the employers visit the Philippines) or online (via Skype). When you’re already accepted and your salary has been negotiated, that’s the time you’ll be scheduled for medical exams.
I braced myself for the medical exam because I’ve heard a lot of bad experiences with regards to clinics that conduct medical exams for would-be OFWs. And while I did not encounter anything horrible, I would say that if most of us are healthy before we went to our medical, we’ll already be sick when we get out of it! The long lines, rude employees, the narrow and lack of space, the crowd, the confusing steps… oh my gahd!!! Seriously, I cannot fathom how they can let people go through this mess of a system!
For my medical, I went to Medisense Clinic, a few steps away from the agency. They told me to go as early as 6:00 in the morning and it was a good thing that I listened because I was one of the first persons in line. After 6:30, the line was already snaking its way down to the next block. The clinic opened around 8:00AM and we rushed inside. In fairness, we were given a list to follow. I was always the first one called when it came to the various tests.
Here is the list of exams they’ll be doing:
1. Laboratory (blood work, stool, urine)
2. Chest X-ray
3. Nurse Station (weight, height, BP, etc.)
4. Physical Exam (where you meet a doctor)
5. Eyes, Ears, Nose (ECG for 40 years old and above)
7. Psychological Exam (written)
It is always a good thing to be early because you’ll be on fasting mode so you don’t want the fasting period to elapse rendering your sacrifice invalid. Also, you’ll finish early. I was done by 11:00 AM. I suggest you go on a diet mode a week or so before your scheduled medical exam. Also, don’t be nervous especially when meeting the doctor because if you are, you’ll probably be diagnosed with tachycardia, a condition where your heart rate is exceeding the normal rate.
Results can be known 2-3 days after the exam. Some clinics forward them to the agencies but you can also ask for the result personally in the clinic. Now, there will be times that some of the results will make you UNFIT TO WORK. There are a lot of reasons for this but the common ones are high blood sugar, lung scar, etc. You are free to get a second opinion on other clinics. You don’t have to go back to the same clinic, try other GAMCA-accredited clinics (GCC Approved Medical Centers Association) or your trusted health provider. You can take a week to stabilize whatever it is that is abnormal in your result. The doctor might recommend some medicines to help you. When the clinics tell you something that looks doubtful, be assertive and smart about it!
|When you’re going through the medical rounds.|
I have a friend who underwent the same process as I did who forgot her eyeglasses at home during the medical exam. The optometrist was trying to force her to buy a new pair. She was threatening not to sign the certificate if she didn’t. Now, it’s pretty obvious that it’s quite a bit of a scam because why would she buy a new one when she has a pair of her own? She can just go back and present the eyeglasses that she has. When I went to the dental part of my medical exam, the dentist was forcing me to get fillings before she signs the certificate. The price was a bit more expensive. I told her I have my own dentist and I’ll just have to go back to the clinic and bring proof. When I submitted my form to the nurse, she told me that I don’t have to worry about the dental as long as the agency doesn’t request for it. So uhmn, why force me to get fillings done when it’s not important to my application? If I fell for the bait, I would have spend more.
After you get the FIT TO WORK paper, you go back to the agency and fill up and sign forms. From then on, they’ll be the ones in charge of your papers. You need to submit your passport to them (so no international traveling for the time being) and they’ll process your POEA, OWWA, Philhealth, and PAG-IBIG stuff. I paid the agency P3,000 for these.
If you think that the medical is done and over with (*insert evil laugh here*), you’re wrong. It depends on the company/hospital you’re going to, you will be required to get vaccines, antibody profiling, and a PPD test. For all these, I was referred to the Physician’s Diagnostic Clinic in UN Avenue. I can honestly say that this part of my recruitment process is the most difficult, if not the most kasumpa-sumpa. LOL. This is where I literally got sick during and after the ordeal of waiting a few hours just to pay for my antibody and PPD test (they only have 1 cashier working!). There were so many people! I wonder how the building can take so many at a time! It was chaotic and warm and noisy. My friend who went there for the full medical exam had to be there by 5:00AM! The lines outside are so long you’d think Daniel Padilla is having a concert!
Medical Fees (rounded up):
P3,200 (full medical fee)
P2,750 (antibody profile + PPD test)
P1,500 (MMRV vaccine)
P600 (Varicella Vaccine)
Okay, so after the grueling medical exam part, you’ll have to go for PDOS or the infamous Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (pay P100). As you can see, this entry is over a mile long already that’s why I reserved another entry for the PDOS. Especially since it really deserves a SPECIAL place in the minds of OFWs. That’s sarcastic by the way. Anyway…
The agency will inform you of an orientation session with them. The orientation in LBS was a good one. They were organized and their staff knows what they were doing. They will give a run through of the airport experience and the rules in the country you’re going to. They will give you the documents you’ll be needing to present in the airport, the immigration both in Manila and your destination, and they’ll be wishing you good luck. READ all the documents before signing!
Ladies need to take a pregnancy exam (pay P100) again before leaving so make sure you’re not pregnant or else, every thing you’ve worked hard for in going abroad will be all for nothing (unless you really want to get pregnant and abort your trip then Congratulations!).
I spent more or less P15,000 for all these. Add the fares from our house in Pasig to Manila (I re-learned the art of commuting) and food, the overall cost balloons to around P20,000. Well, it’s not their fault I live in Pasig. Haha. Then there is the matter of a placement fee… here’s a guide for you on what it is and what is the legal amount for one. It’s better if you find an agency that has “no placement fee.” (I didn’t pay any placement fee in LBS.)
The airport process is pretty much a breeze when you already know the basics (if you have companions from the same agency who are flying on the same sched, it will be good to be in contact with them… unless they’re super late then don’t wait). You need to present your OEC to the POEA/OWWA counter and they’ll just validate it. Go to the counter of your airlines and get your boarding pass. You are not going to pay for the terminal fee. Go to the OFW lane at the immigration, pass another scanning machine, and voila, you’re in the boarding gate. Several hours after, you’ll reach your country of destination.
For those going to Saudi Arabia, the immigration officers are more friendly now (at least that’s my observation). You will have to line up in the “newbie” lane. They will take a photo of you (seriously, it doesn’t hurt to smile!) and scan your fingerprints. After that, go outside the immigration area and wait for your baggage. If you’re a woman, then someone (a representative or your employer) will be coming to fetch you. If you’re a man, then most likely, you get your luggage, go through a scanner, and exit at the arrival doors. Someone will be waiting for you there. Most probably the driver of your company bus/vehicle.
After that, AHLAN WASALAN to the Middle East!!! Good luck in your journey and life abroad. If you survived the recruitment process then you’ll most probably survive living and working in the Middle East. It takes patience and guts. It is after all, a survival of the fittest. 😉 ~ Sundrenched