How to recruit digital talents in Indonesia?

personnel_police_human_resources_funny_nickname_tshirt-rfcabfc43d63c493693df1b36e86931b5_804gs_512Returned from a long trip in Indonesia and visited the four biggest cities in the archipelago Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogakarta, until now I have been observing Indonesia for several years. Indonesian startup scene is getting hot since the last two years. Lots of money from Japan, Singapore and even Korea or China were poured into the Komodo country to dozens of startups. What is the consequence of the flow of money? Most of money seems to be invested in ecommerce startups. And ecommerce startups usually use money to increase marketing & advertising activities to get more customers, improve websites. Of course logistics and customer services are also important as well. All of these stuffs need more and more talented employees to execute. As a result, demand for workforce is obviously rising in terms of quantity and quality. But how about the talent market? Will it supply enough for these hungry startups? and how entrepreneurs from both local and foreign companies can find the talents they need?

On the trip I had chances to meet various entrepreneurs and now try to pick up some different interesting persons from small startups to series A & B well-funded startups or University Accelerator. They are Jason Lamuda and Ferry Tenka, the powerful duo started and sold to Groupon. Now Jason is running, a fashion ecommerce site. And Ferry is focusing on another ecommerce startup providing baby products. Each of them already secured million of dollars from round A. They’re also on the way to get more than ten million dollars each for the next round so very hungry for talents in the near future.

And then Christine Siagan whose hometown from Bandung, and now working for Binus Accelarator in Jakarta will also shares her views on workforce in these cities. Another female executive is Anggit Tut Pinilih, a serial entrepreneur from Yogakarta the student city in Java, now running her online survey mobile platform Henri Gunawan Founder/CEO of in Surabaya, the second largest city of Indonesia, will talk about his experience in Surabaya while promoting his drop-shipping marketplace site. Let get into the mind of these typical entrepreneurs from here. 


Likely shares the same trend with Thailand and Vietnam or Singapore startup scenes, the hot jobs are now for developers and designers.

Ferry Tenka - bilna.comFerry (based in Jakarta): We are planning the expansion aggressively next year. We are looking for many developers, merchandisers, designers, and also marketing. We are looking for someone who is hungry and aggressive. Someone who will do anything to achieve his goals. Someone young with a motivation to grow and become the best.

jason-lamudaJason (Jakarta): We are always looking to hire great people to join the team. Currently we are looking mostly for developers, designers, and merchandisers.

Anggit (Yogakarta): We’re looking for Online Marketing, Backend Programmers for our app platform.

Henri (Surabaya): Definitely we need designers and developers. It’s easier to find designer than programmer here in Surabaya. It’s quite hard to find programmers that match with our style. Sometimes they’re so idealist and want to work their way though they don’t know much about business process. But if we find it, I think it will be best team for us. I have 2 programmers now that I think I can work together in a long term period.


 From what I’m observing, many of managers and Head of Department position in the hot startups already studied abroad in US, Australia, especially Singapore (due to the close distance to Indonesia with a reasonable cost). Note: son of the new president Jokowi also studied in Singapore. Some of the top local universities are also good sources for the human resource market.

According to Christine Siagan “BINUS university is very well known for its computer eChristine Siagianngineering and technology major, so simply said, we have lots of talented developers here. These mentioned majors are quite strong, and also the market demand of Binus graduates is also high.” Interestingly to know William, founder of Tokopedia also studied Computer Science here and didn’t study abroad while most of CEO and notable founders I’ve met here studied abroad or many even studied at Ivy League schools in the US (top 7 universities in the US including Harvard, Stanford, MIT…). Binus has four campuses in Greater Jakarta.

Another best public university in Jakarta is University of Indonesia, it is arguably the most prestigious university in Indonesia and mainly strong in accounting & management, engineering, medical. Five of its former branches now become other top universities in Indonesia. Bandung campus now Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Bogor Campus now Bogor Agriculture University, Jogia Campus now Gadjah Mada University, Surabaya branch now Airlanga University. All these schools are the most famous schools in their city or top in their fields nationwide.

Based in Bandung, ITB is most famous for tech, art. You can easily find designers in Yogakarta as this city has an art and music culture ambience everywhere. Gadjah Mada is also ranked at 52th position in the world art map. Anggit said “Beside Gadjah Mada university, developers can also be found in UIN or AMIKOM specializing in technology”

Christine, who has lived in Yogakarta for several years before relocating to Jakarta shared “There is UGM, best public university in Jogja. This school has low cost resources, is strong in accounting & management, engineering, medical, and has growing numbers in computer tech engineering”.

Jogia (Yogakarta), with it’s low living cost and a lots of universities, is an attractive places for students from all other provinces and cities in Indonesia. So it’s also easy to find graduates here for most of business categories. But it’s disadvantage is not easy to find more senior employees in this city and there are sometimes some persons have laid-back mind and it’s hard to push them work to the fullest. One of the most prominent companies here can name Gameloft with around 1000 employees, but majority are game testers. Several companies based on call centers and customer services with around one hundred staffs are also working well in Jogia.


Jason: We source from various places, here are our popular ways:

Referrals / friends of friends, job posting through different job portals, networking events in Jakarta, Linkedin. So far I think the top 3 most effective channels are referrals, job posting and LinkedIn

Ferry “We find our employees via Online channels, Headhunters and Universities”

Anggit Tut PinilihAnggit: Well, for senior – headhunting is best, find recommendation or find someone with high expertise in set of skills through Linkedin. For junior-hacker: recommendation friends to friends. Other helpful ways are IT / Startup specific job sites, forum, fb group (in Dailysocial, or Nusantara Hub) , IT Specific Job Fair

Henri GunawanHenri uses a different way to recruit people. To me it sounds like B2C advertising when he addressed Facebook ads, Kaskus forum are the two most effective ways to recruit in Surabaya. Sounds strange, but true, at least with him in the second most populous city in Indonesia.

Finally, how to find newly graduates familiar with startup environment and willing to work for startups with less money and full of entrepreneurial spirit. Siangan concludes: “As to support startups to find good talents, BINUS Univ also has 3+1 program where students are encouraged to studying 3 years in the campus and working 1 year in the industry, whether by being interns in corporations and startups, or also by being entrepreneurs.

To doing so, we work closely together internally (we collaborate with BINUS Career and departments in this matter) and externally (with corporates and startups) to make it happen”


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Minh Bui is a seasoned eCommerce veteran from both Southeast Asian startups and corporates in online commerce and offline retail chain as well. He's also an avid Asia explorer and love to enjoy local foods and learn cultural differences in Asia.

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