Finding a job in Singapore

Work in Singapore
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Updated 2022-06-01 11:32

Singapore has a well-developed job market with numerous outlets providing information on employment opportunities, including dedicated websites, agencies, and professional recruiters. With low taxation and its place as a hub in Asia, it's easy to see why Singapore is an attractive place for expats to seek employment at.

Many multinationals also have major hubs in Singapore and the latter regularly advertise vacancies and rotational programs on their own websites.

Recruitment websites

Many of the websites that offer job opportunities internationally also have dedicated opportunities in Singapore. This includes indeed.com and Monster, which generally have an extensive range of offerings that can be filtered by salary requirements and work characteristics.

These websites are generally the best way of finding job openings in Singapore, as they're regularly updated and often offer the ability for applicants to set notifications when jobs with specific criteria appear.

Useful links:

Indeed

MyCareersFuture

Monster

JobStreet

JobsDB

Consultants & accountants recruitment websites

Headhunters

Depending on the type of jobs you're seeking and the level at which you're seeking to be recruited, it might be worthwhile to contact one of the many headhunters that operate in Singapore.

Professionals from the consulting and financial sectors will find that it's often very convenient to go through headhunters since the latter will be well informed of the latest recruitment trends, as well as salary bands.

There are numerous generalist and specialist firms in operation in Singapore, including entities such as Robert Walters. For candidates with little understanding of the Singaporean market, it's highly advisable to reach out to recruitment agencies for a preliminary discussion. This can help streamline your job search strategy.

Useful links:

Kerry Consulting

Michael Page

Robert Walters

Hudson Recruitment & Talent Management

Monroe Consulting Group

Temporary work and staffing agencies

Provided you're able to secure temporary working permits, international temporary work and staffing agencies are present and very active in Singapore. Temporary work is generally challenging to secure for foreign workers with little or no experience in Singapore, and it's highly advisable to prioritize long-term opportunities.

Resumes can generally be submitted online, and email or telephone contact can also be established in order to investigate opportunities. Consider getting a free resume review at TopCV.

Useful links:

Adecco Singapore:

Manpower Singapore

Randstad Interim Singapore

Robert Half

SG Recruiters

Stafflink

Company websites

Many international companies offer Singapore-specific opportunities, including rotational programs, as well as openings for experienced professionals. Every year, Randstad (the recruitment specialists) elect Singapore's most attractive employers, selected from a range of renowned corporations, including DHL, Deloitte, SATS, and Citibank to name a few.

For professionals seeking openings in specific industries, it's highly advisable to check company websites or to reach out directly to HR staff from these companies, either directly by email or through LinkedIn. Finally, many of these corporations visit campuses around the world to recruit for their Singaporean hubs and generally advertise these recruitment rounds online.

Binational Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of commerce are also an interesting way of seeking job opportunities in Singapore. Generally, the chambers hold directories of foreign companies, job listings, and tips on securing employment. Examples of such chambers include the American and British chambers of commerce.

Singapore is thoroughly westernized and has a dynamic job market. In addition to the various outlets described above, don't hesitate to send unsolicited emails or seek meetings with alumni from the universities where you studied. This is particularly true if you're looking for very specific opportunities. Whereas most job searches can be done remotely, it's definitely better to organize a visit to Singapore and hold face-to-face meetings with potential recruiters.

Newspapers

This method of finding a job might sound strange in this day and age, but it can be a useful channel. While most employers post job listings online, some still do take out ads in newspapers. So it can be worth a try to pick up Singaporean newspapers and go through their classifieds section.

If you aren't able to purchase physical newspapers, it's pretty easy to Google the online versions. This can make it even easier to peruse job listings, even if it means you have to pay a little bit of money to access these pages.

Networking

Good old-fashioned networking still helps people find jobs, especially when overseas. So put your connections to good use; if you know someone who's Singaporean, lives in Singapore or used to live there, it's time to get in touch with them! They just might have a cousin, sibling, or friend whose employer is looking for new talent. Speak to your family members and have them reach out to their own Singaporean contacts for you.

You should also attend some in-person networking events. A good way to do so is to take a short trip to Singapore for these events, as you'll make a better impression on people if you meet them face to face. For example, you can go to events that Startup Grind Singapore holds if you're interested in creating a startup. Or you can go to a TiE Singapore meeting to meet other entrepreneurs, as well as mentors who can help guide your time in Singapore. There's also the popular social website Meetup, which also hosts a number of networking events. So keep an eye on these calendars to attend some potentially life-changing events.

LinkedIn

If you don't already have a LinkedIn profile, you should get one ASAP. It's like Facebook, but its sole purpose is to connect professionals with one another.

The more you fill out your profile, the better. You should attach a professional picture and fill out all details, such as your expertise, certifications, and work history. You can also upload a resume so you don't have to type in those details every time you're interested in work.

Speaking of work, there's a search function on LinkedIn. Not only can you specify which positions you're interested in and where, but you can also set job alerts so you'll know right away if a position of interest has popped up. If you want to apply, you can click a button and upload your resume and cover letter straight away.

In addition, you can use their free functions to see if you're up to scratch as an employee. For example, there's a resume builder, as well as a skill assessments function, job seeker guidance, and interview prep. All these features are sure to set you up for success.

Also, you can add all your contacts on LinkedIn and see their connections as well. This is the ultimate way to network online before you even step foot in Singapore. Reach out to those who are located in Singapore or work for a Singaporean company, and you might find a way in.

Lastly, it's not unheard of for people to be headhunted on LinkedIn. This is especially true if you have in-demand skills. So having a put-together profile can help you stand out and get you noticed!

Work visas

There are several types of work visas in Singapore. The type you need to get will depend on what company you're working for, the industry, and how long you'll be staying in Singapore. So make sure you understand what's needed for you to legally work in the nation before you make big plans to avoid disappointment.

Most work visas where you work under an employer as a traditional employee require that they not only exhaust their options for local talent but also that they apply for the work pass (work permit or work visa) on your behalf.

Writing your resume

Most likely, your resume from your home country won't really fit the positions you're applying for in Singapore. So it's best if you start from scratch again, but keep all the pertinent information, of course. The important information you should keep includes your work experience, educational background, and vital skills.

It's important that you tailor your resume for each position so that the most important and relevant information is listed at the top of your resume. That way, HR can immediately see that you're someone who's qualified for the job.

If you're used to attaching your picture on resumes, then you need to break the habit here. While it may be standard in countries like China and Germany, this is a faux pas in Singapore. So make sure your resume is faceless!

In addition, you shouldn't list basic IT skills down on your resume, as is customary in most other countries. The job market is highly competitive in Singapore, so employers automatically assume applicants know how to use a computer. If you put down basic skills like “can work with Microsoft Word”, then it'll seem odd to employers.

Lastly, you should base your resume more on UK CVs rather than American resumes. Because Singapore used to be a British colony, a lot of British practices have transferred into Singaporean life. Keep your resume short and simple, as recruiters won't have time to go through pages and pages.

Writing your cover letter

In addition to a resume, you'll also need a cover letter. While most job applications don't require them, it's always a nice touch that'll make you stand out from other applicants.

Like with your resume, you'll want to custom-tailor your cover letters to not just the companies, but also the positions. This extra bit of effort won't go unnoticed and might be what tips the scales in your favor.

When writing your cover letters, avoid using generic and vague language. Don't use cliches either. Instead, focus on your strengths and why you'd be a good fit for the job. Don't overexaggerate, but don't undersell yourself either.

Some other things to know

Job markets are already tough to crack, no matter where you're located. But it can feel especially frustrating to find and get a job in Singapore as a foreigner. If you feel like you're getting no responses or an abnormal number of rejections, you're not imagining it. The fact is, like many other countries, Singaporean companies are limited to how many foreign employees they can hire. In addition, they have to prove they've tried to hire locally and were fruitless. So it can be difficult to obtain a coveted spot in a Singaporean business.

With that said, that doesn't mean it's impossible to find employment in Singapore. It just means you'll have to persevere and possibly give it more time than you'd initially thought you'd need. To better your chances, try applying in early January or between March to May. In general, hiring rates are higher in the earlier parts of the year, so use this to your advantage. Also, you'll have a leg up if you have skills for in-demand industries, such as banking and finance, IT, accounting, life sciences, and healthcare. Not only will it be easier to find a job, but you'll also get a more attractive salary. Do note that if you do get shortlisted, you'll be contacted. However, the entire interview process can take anywhere between two weeks to two months, so be prepared to be patient.

As for salaries, the good news is that Singapore has some of the highest salaries in the world. So if you can snag a job, you're set! It's true that the cost of living is also high here, but that won't matter if you've secured a job. In addition, the unemployment rate is fairly low, with it being 3% in February 2022. Another benefit is that Singapore has some of the lowest income taxes in the world, which is why so many expats are attracted to this island nation. You can find out more about income tax in Singapore by reading our article on this subject.

Scammers know that some foreigners are desperate for work, so, unfortunately, many of them pose as recruitment agencies. While it's true that you can be headhunted on LinkedIn, you have to be careful about responding. If a job offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is, especially if it's for semi-skilled or unskilled labor. To avoid falling victim to scams, always check the license registration number of the companies before even responding.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.