Wednesday, 2 May 2012

For hire: one blogger, with some wear and tear

This post first appeared in AsiaLife HCMC.

Many expats worry about how their time spent overseas will affect their employability when they return home. Fear not! The skills you’ve learned in Vietnam are totally transferable. You just need to position them in the right way. 

“I have advanced and adaptable communication skills”

What this means is you can act out, charades-style, complex medical afflictions for the pharmacist (“Two words, four syllables… That’s right: vaginal thrush!”), and, using absolutely no words, acquire exactly the counterfeit medications you need. Indeed, your non-verbal skills are so advanced that you can convey entire sentences just using your eyes. It only takes one narrow-eyed glare to say, “If this pirated DVD copy of Game of Thrones is not of superior quality, mark my words, I will be right back here to have your guts for garters.”

“I have demonstrated experience in following complex procedures, and applying specific policies and guidelines”

Do you know the correct, Vietnamese-approved order in which to add the raw ingredients to your hotpot? Yes? Really? You’re not tempted to add the noodles too soon? Well, there is no more complex procedure than that. You’re a total pro.

“I have experience in research and analysis across a broad range of fields”

Well, you might not leave Vietnam an expert in its history or language or culture, but I bet if I asked you for the nearest store that sells cheese, or where to go for the cheapest beer in a 100-metre radius, you would be all over that shit. You are an expert: you’re an expat expert. And that doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of strategic research and analysis to find the closest cheese and cheapest beer.

“I am financially adept and have considerable experience in profit-and-loss calculations and business negotiations”

Finances? Pffft, piece of cake! To be more precise, piece of cake you got for half-price because you found a baby rat in it. Score! Your entire life is a profit-and-loss calculation. Sure, it’s running at a pretty constant loss of about 40 percent because of your poor bargaining techniques and enormous nose, but there’s a gecko living in your kitchen who you’ve named “Gordon Gecko” which is totally the kind of reference that only a hard-hitting business mogul like yourself would get.

“I can interpret and analyse complex and ambiguous situations, generating appropriate recommendations and solutions”

You sure can. For example, when your neighbour asks you “Do you have children yet?” you employ in depth analysis to understand this to mean: “You will surely die ALONE and BARREN.” Your solution is to rub your belly and pretend you’re pregnant when really you’ve just eaten too much of that chè with the rainbow jelly in it.

“I thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment”

Umm, every time you use your hairdryer, blue sparks come flying out at you from the wall socket. I think you can handle working in a “dynamic” office.

“Challenging situations bring out the best in me”

For you, a challenging situation is like a shot of rice wine made from rotting goat’s penis: it MAKES YOU STRONG. Sure, it could also make you vomit into your handbag all the way to the Family Medical Practice, but whatever, that’s still not the worst in you, is it.

“I have advanced problem-solving skills”

It only took you twelve months to work out which type of Vinamilk is the one with no sugar. You are basically an ace code-cracker.

“I operate to the highest levels of personal integrity and ethical standards”

You wipe your chopsticks with a napkin before you use them. That totally counts.

And just like that, your time in Vietnam reaps dividends. If you need a reference, just send them to me. No-one’s going to call a referee in Vietnam anyway.


  1. ahhh the mime. Always a classic. Miming toilet paper and laxatives being two of my favourite Vietnam memories, which says an awful lot..

    Glad to see the goat's penis in rice wine made it in there.


    1. Why on earth would anyone need laxatives in Vietnam?! Surely goat penis rice wine is nature's own laxative?

  2. What exciting jobs are you applying for? Worth noting, if it's the government, they DO call references in Vietnam. They're not footing the phone bill.

    1. Oooh, really? Well, look, I'm obviously joking about the references. And everything else. Hahahaha. Ha. Ha.

      I would never, ever, ever, endorse telling lies on one's CV. I am a very serious professional, you see. Hello to all my prospective employers.

      I've applied for a couple of interesting things in Canberra. We may be seeing you in our nation's capital yet.

  3. Very funny! and true! Oh how I loathe job applications! Except the part when you read your CV and think, gee I'm awesome. That part is good. Good luck!

    1. Yes! I love it when you read through your application and think "Yeah, I'd hire me!" and give yourself a big high five. Victims of our own marketing!

  4. I always want to put the noodles in too soon! I'm still learning the ropes I guess. Good luck on the job hunt.

    1. Oh, I'm the worst at the hot pot etiquette. I'm too impatient. Plus I get distracted by spending the whole meal tracking the movements of various implements that might have touched raw seafood.

  5. I just randomly came across this blog because I was looking up how the monks came up with the lucky dates. This is a very interesting blog! I really like it.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Linda. Not sure I was able to help you with the info about the lucky dates though!

  6. Hey Tabitha, [big smile]
    I'm Vietnamese, currently studying economics in Brisbane. [We could as well arrange a swap]
    I can't stop reading your blog. The thing I like best is the theme you chose. Phone numbers of "concrete cutting" industry [I can't come up with that English word haha]

    I know why so many people like your entries. Funny, informative, descriptive and sharp.

    It is such an opportunity to see how [differently] other people are living in different parts of the world, hey?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sophie. I'm glad you like the background photo - it's the view of the wall I see every day from my desk. I always get disappointed when the adverts get painted over, but then they reappear so quickly! :)

      I hope everything's going well for you in Brisbane. I hope you have a blog!


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