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Job starters

Released at: 13:03, 25/11/2017

Job starters

Photo: Viet Tuan

New technology has proven a boon to those looking to earn some extra money part-time when the opportunity permits.

by Le Diem

Over the last few months, Mr. Van Hung, who works at the Thang Long Industrial Park in Hanoi, hasn’t been paying much attention to new orders coming in or putting his hand up to work overtime, like he normally would. He’s found an extra job he can do whenever he wants and that pays more than he’d receive from working overtime: being a “xe om” (motorbike taxi driver) for GrabBike. Other apps also help workers in different sectors improve their earnings.

Easy drive

Finding extra work is common among workers at industrial zones, according to Mr. Hung. With an average wage of VND4-5 million ($175-220) a month, most people seek overtime to put more money in their pockets. “But overtime’s not always available,” he said. “It depends on how many orders we receive. Sometimes there’s a lot of overtime, but other times there is none.” 
Previously, when no overtime was on offer, many workers would sit on a street corner with their motorbike hoping to pick up the odd xe om fare. But with technology arriving in the transport industry, such as GrabBike, UberMoto, and Easygo, more opportunities have opened up. With a motorbike and a smartphone, after a short training course they are now able to become a part-time xe om driver whenever it suits them and are no longer so reliant on overtime. “After I finish work, I go home, have dinner, and rest a bit,” Mr. Hung said. “Then I turn on the app and find passengers. Every day I can earn VND100,000-150,000 ($4-6) after paying the company 15 per cent.” 

Many office workers also work for these ride-hailing apps part-time. Mr. Hai Minh, a hardware technician, works for UberMoto a few days a week as he needs extra money for his kids’ education. Mr. Gia Thinh, an assistant to a university lecturer and with a small startup of his own, has worked for GrabBike when money is tight.

It’s also a popular job among university students. They usually study for half a day and work as a xe om during the other half, to cover school fees and living costs. “Different from ‘traditional’ xe om, drivers, who usually stay at one place and wait for passengers to come to them, ‘technology xe om drivers’ can be anywhere and simply turn on the app and find passengers,” said Mr. Van Hoang, a student at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology. “It’s easier for both the driver and the passenger.”

Busy online business

While transport work is considered the domain of men, women have been active in finding other types of part-time work from new technology. One of the most popular is online trading, thanks to the development of social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Many pages on these networks belong to female office workers and housewives. Local pages and forums where anything and everything can be traded have also been created, such as www.muaban.net, www.chotot.com,  www.enbac.com, www.muare.vn, www.rongbay.com, and www.lamchame.com, among others. After signing up for an account, they sell whatever they choose online without ever having to go out and meet customers. 

For example, fashion items for men, women, and kids, both retail and wholesale, are posted as the cover photo of Ms. Thanh Hoa’s Facebook, whose main job is with a textiles factory at the Tan Hiep Thoi Industrial Zone in Ho Chi Minh City. She began selling products online after getting married a few months ago, as she wants to earn more to prepare for starting a family. As a textiles worker, she decided to make clothes for sale, and with limited free time and not much money, online trading was a low-cost entry into the business.

It also helped that she worked at an industrial zone. About 5,000 workers work at her company, and most use Facebook. She asked many to help market her products by sharing her posts, which gradually pushed up her customer numbers and profits. Others not skilled in making clothes offer other things online they “make” at home, with food being the most common, like fruit and vegetables, fish, or chicken.

At a time when many local consumers prefer fresh and organic food, such products have great potential for online sales. Specialties from different areas of the country are also a winner, with many people looking to change their daily diet with something new from the north or the south. 

Along with clothes and food, cosmetics and kid’s stuff have also proven popular.

With relatives and friends living in Germany and Thailand, Ms. Ngoc Duyen, an administration manager at a law firm, sells goods from both countries and receives dozens of orders every day. Sometimes she has so many orders she can’t meet demand, and she sees regular customers looking at other providers online. “As living standards improve in major cities, the demand for beauty care and kid’s goods are given much more attention than before,” she said. “My ‘part-time’ job is often busier than my full-time job. I’m normally online all the time, answering questions from customers right up until I go to bed. But I love it, as I earn a good profit.”

Bustling online trade also creates other types of new jobs. One is consignment, which has been developed in many countries, with big names including Second Time Around, Once Upon a Child, Therealreal, and Theadup. It’s only appeared recently in Vietnam, but many have taken to it during their free time. 

In consignment work, people receive products, both new and second hand, to sell. The consignment period is usually six months, after which, if a product is not sold, it’s returned to the owner, who must pay a fee. “This type of business doesn’t require capital,” said Ms. Thuy Linh, an accountant who does consignment work. “I earn more from actually selling the goods, but have no concerns about goods not being sold, as I still get paid. Selling the goods I have bolsters my reputation, and more people come to me with consignment work.”

Another job becoming common and related to online trading is shipping. Most customers buying online want the goods delivered to their home, which requires shipping services. Facebook groups like Hanoi Shipper and Ho Chi Minh Shipper as well as www.ships.vn, which have hundreds of thousands of members each, are commonly used by online retailers to deliver goods sold. Retailers need only post a request and details on the delivery. The shipper pays the value of the goods to the retailer, which they then get back from the customer, plus a shipping fee. It’s convenient for those who are already planning to go somewhere and can deliver goods along the way. Many others spend a few hours delivering goods here, there and everywhere when they have free time.

 In the future, as even more technology appears, other types of part-time jobs are certain to also appear, to the benefit of those willing to work a little extra to earn a little extra.

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