I had the chance to interview John Jonas, creator of Replace Myself and the brain behind Onlinejobs.ph. These are two websites which he currently maintains and uses to promote the Philippines as an outsourcing destination. Well you might be wondering what’s so important about him that I actually asked him for an interview. The truth is, my first encounter of John Jonas’s is really memorable. The first time I have read about him was in Yaro Starak’s post, And guess what, the comment that I made on that thread landed me a research job which I am still working on up to this writing. So it really rings a bell on my ear every time I hear about John or Yaro.
I did enjoy the short talk, which obviously made me feel nervous because it was my first time to do an interview. But the most important part is I’ve learned a great new lesson about working, finding a job and keeping it. And more importantly, I earned a new sense of pride as a Filipino.
I hope tha you will also find this helpful, not only because you are a Filipino, but generally if you are a kind of person who is still in doubt and hesitant about the legitimacy of online jobs or freelance works.
Hi John, can you please tell us something about yourself.
I am 31 I have a wife and 3 kids. I do internet business for a living. That’s all I do. I run internet businesses. I outsource most of my work to full time people in the Philippines. I have a great relationship with them and I love them. I’ve been doing it for about 4 years and been teaching other people how to do it for about 2 years. This is kind of a shocking number but I’ve probably created 15,000 jobs in the Philippines over the last 2 years for Filipinos through teaching what I teach. It’s kind of big impact and I hope it would continue to grow even more.
How did you discover the Filipino talent and the people that you are working with?
Here’s a quick story. A couple of years ago, I mean it was 4 years ago I was talking with a good a friend of mine. And it was brand new at that time, And he said, “You know what John, if you are ready to outsource some of the stuff, make sure to go to the Philippines. Because in India, when they hear you say something and they say yes, that means, yes I heard something come out of your mouth not, yes I understood what you said.” That was pretty interesting to me. I love the Indian people they’re fine, but that was a real eye opening experience. Because here in the US when you think of outsourcing most people think India. And they also think communication problems, headache, and bad work and I thought, I’d try it. This friend of mine had given me some good advice. And what I found was that Filipino people in general are amazing. Really good hard workers, honest, loyal and it’s been really good for me.
What was the first job that you outsourced to the Philippines?
The first time I ever did it, I used the company called, Agents of Value . They are an American company and they have office in the Philippines and they recruit and hire locally and they let that person work for me for full time. The kind of work they do for me is writing, English writing, building and managing and maintaining some of my websites. Which is kind of funny, the first guy that I ever hired he told me recently, “When you hired me I knew nothing” He just learned as he went on how he went how to do this things. He certainly had some knowledge but he ended up learning WordPress really well and his writing got better over time which was only okay when I hired him. You know he is doing some social media for me, social bookmarking, articles and videos and blogs and link building and stuff like that, lots of stuff that they are doing for me.
What is the most essential quality that made the Filipinos as your outsourcing partner of choice?
In general, you guys are honest, loyal, hard working, and your well educated, computers and internet access. That’s not the biggest thing. The really biggest thing that makes this work is the way that the Filipino culture looks up to the American culture. And when I say looks up to, I mean, you guys watch American movies. Other cultures don’t do that. Your billboards are in English, your street signs are in English but obviously there’s Filipino all over the place. But I’ve never, never been to a country that wasn’t England or Canada and I haven’t been to Australia where English is so prevalent. The fact that English is so prevalent and that you guys look up to America it makes us so. You think like we do which is different than other outsourcing that goes on in the world. Where the cultures are so different and the people think differently. So for me what it was, when I ask my guys to do something, they do it right the first time and if they don’t do it the first time, they do a good job. That is very different than other places. You talk to any American who tried this in India or Pakistan, Eastern Europe, or South America or wherever they’ve tried it, they basically hire themselves a babysitting job where the people that they hire, they don’t do it right. They don’t speak great English. They don’t understand, they don’t understand what you said. So those are the really big things. You guys think like we do, your brains work the same way and so it makes for a really good relationship.
What’s your reaction about the comments in Yaro Starak’s post that outsourcing to the Philippines was all hype and unrealistic?
I’ve been doing this for about 4 years. This is not a short term temporary thing. Hiring Filipinos is growing right now and it’s going to continue to grow. It’s not going away and it’s not going anywhere, for Americans. I would say my team is better now than they were 4 months ago. I have hired another person in those four months. I have to my staff and yeah… I can never imagine myself again not having people working for me in the Philippines.
Is there any particular expertise/niche that you think Filipinos are more inclined to excel?
In my experience you are really good at link building; you’re good at writing content. Certainly some Filipinos are good at writing any content. I’ve had some amazing stuff written. I have some very good workers who are capable of writing anything and you are also very good at programming and webmaster work. Skills that I would say Filipinos could acquire to help them in terms of getting a job with an American company would be webmaster work, learning some HTML, learning WordPress or learning to write better. Probably reading an American newspaper or reading American books that would improve your grammar. A lot of Filipinos speak really well, they speak shockingly well to what you would normally think, but then when you write there are just little grammatical mistakes that make a difference. Those are the areas where a lot of Filipinos could improve. Just getting use to our language style and reading American English so that when you write it its better and then simple web master stuff like HTML or FTP because those are big things that my customers look for.
Can you tell us something about Onlinejobs.ph
Onlinejobs.ph is my site and I started it because there wasn’t really great place to recruit Filipino workers for Americans. There were a couple of other places that were okay bestjobs.ph was one of them, it’s not anymore. And when I recognized this is a growing need and there’s not a great place to do it, that’s when and why we started onlinejobs.ph.
What’s the unique advantage that Onlinejobs.ph has over freelance sites like oDesk or Elance.
Probably the biggest advantage for you is that, you’re going to find a full time job on onlinejobs.ph Not many people on onlinejobs are looking to hire freelancer. If they are looking for a freelancer they know where to go. They know how to go to oDesk or Elance. At onlinejobs.ph they’re looking to hire some permanent worker which is a big deal. You are not at the end of this project, you’re not out of work. It’s an ongoing thing. I have never let someone go that has started working for me. If you are a good employee I would say there’s like 2 percent chance of ever being let go by an American company. Once you start working for them and you’re good, because we recognize the value of what you are doing. And it’s not contract work, it’s permanent full time work.
What will be your parting words for those who wants to work online.
I know that a lot of people don’t have any idea this exist. They have no idea that you could work online doing online task. I know that because I’ve talked to a couple of the guys that work for me and I asked this question “What do your friends think of what you do?” And I think he was a little bit surprised at the question he said: “They don’t even know what I do. They don’t understand what I do. They don’t have any idea. They don’t have any idea that this is even possible.
The first things that I would have you understand, if you speak English, you are of value. You can get a job. Second thing is, you need to understand that really all we want is for you to work with us. Here’s the reason I say that. A lot of times Filipinos will start a job and then they’ll find something that they don’t understand or they get embarrassed about or the situation is less than perfect so they quit or they just will never talk to their employer again. That’s the worst thing that you can do. I know that you get embarrassed or you’re shy because of the situation. I had this situation happen to me this week actually where I was trying to hold training meetings at a certain time and one of the people just couldn’t make it. So she told another one of my employees she was going to quit because she couldn’t make it to her training meetings. And she hadn’t said anything to me about it. So that’s really the biggest piece of advice that I can give you is don’t get shy or just run away. Go talk to the person you are working for and see what they say about it. I get the idea that often you guys feel inferior to us. And I really don’t feel that way. And I don’t think most Americans feel that way. I don’t feel superior. If you have a problem I want you to come talk to me. I want you to come and tell me so I can work it out. That’s the biggest piece of advice that I can give: “When you do find a job, keep the job! Don’t just disappear because you’re embarrassed or shy.”