Singapore reports an average 2 percent unemployment rate and enjoys a vibrant job market despite some economic headwinds blowing in from some of the largest global economies in the world. With the nation being ranked number 1 as the best place to do business and the top Asian country for its quality of life (Worldwide Quality of Living Index 2010), it is no wonder it was ranked the best place for wealthy expats in a recent survey by HSBC Bank. Around 76 percent of the expats living in Singapore claimed they have experienced a better quality of life after relocating here. Moreover, low income tax, a high standard of living and a largely English-speaking environment makes it appealing and easy for foreigners to live and work here. So, if you don’t mind the hot and humid weather all year round, a work environment that rewards the hardworking but neglects work-life balance and trying your luck to work here despite government measures to tighten up on foreign labour, here is a list of how you can go about navigating your way to your first job on the “little red dot”.The conventional way to find a job for most people here includes going through online job boards, depositing their resumes with recruitment agencies or applying for a job directly through a company’s website. Online job portals such as JobsCentral.com, jobsdb.com, monster.com.sg have become the main sources of recruitment advertisements and useful employment information. Besides just sending your resumes through these portals, make full use of their services and resources such as tips on writing an impressive resume, interview preparation and salary information. Most of the time, you need to register for an account, create an online résumé and cover letter, and use it to apply for the jobs that you want whenever you come across them. It will also be useful to set job alerts in an industry or job role that you are looking at to notify you of the latest vacancies.
However, if you are not already working in Singapore with a valid employment pass, things may be a little trickier. If you search online job boards/sites for Singapore, you will notice that most recruitment ads state that only Singaporeans or Permanent Residents should apply. The simple reason for this is that from the employer’s point of view, it is cheaper and faster to hire people who are already in Singapore. So how do you circumvent this? Here are a few suggestions:
1) If you are working for a company that has offices in Singapore, asking for an overseas transfer is probably one of the best and easiest ways to set foot in the job market here. Once here, you can either try to network by attending industry events or get to know headhunters to help you switch jobs.
2) If you are thinking of coming here for a short trip and trying to set up a few interviews, it may be more worthwhile to get in touch with potential employers through the internet and set up meetings beforehand. The time from your job application to the time for an interview may take months so this is may be the most efficient way to arrange your time. If you are thinking of attending career fairs and landing job interviews, you may not be successful as most career fairs do not cater for those who are not currently residents.
3) You should still use online job portals as you will still find jobs for foreigners. You can try to use a job aggregator such as indeed.com.sg, which provides you with a list of jobs in Singapore in one place.
4) We all know having the right contacts is often part of a successful career and we can’t emphasise enough if you are trying to find employment in another country. Get in touch with people working there, whether it’s through LinkedIn, Twitter or personal contacts. Send them a message and ask about available opportunities. You can also join specific industry groups or follow the companies that you are interested in to keep you posted on job vacancies.
Lastly, be ready to compromise and take on jobs which may not be your dream job, or give you your expected remuneration. With the tightening measures on foreign labour in Singapore, it is more important than ever just to get your foot in the door.