Guidance for expats on how best to approach a job search for high-end employment in Singapore, whether through headhunters, newspaper adverts or networking. The role of a good curriculum vitae and how to communicate your qualifications.

Foreign expatriates looking to move to Singapore for work will need an up-to-date, readable, concise and interesting résumé in order to find a job. An appropriate cover letter is also essential for any person seeking employment. A job seeker’s existing experience, skills, expertise and attributes is “the product” being “offered for sale” to a potential employer.

A person wanting to relocate to Singapore who is unable to get transferred by their company should ideally either have a job waiting or have interest already shown by prospective employers and relevant headhunters, before arriving.

It is impractical to expect to find work in Singapore by arriving unprepared and spending a couple of weeks and doing the rounds of headhunters and possible employers. This can in fact work against the job seekers chances of finding work as it may portray desperation.

Looking for Employment

High-end employment is usually found through headhunters, newspaper adverts or networking. Many people transfer to Singapore with existing companies.

It is important to do research into target companies and target Executive Search firms.

The Recruit section of the Straits Times Saturday edition is also worth looking at.

In Singapore, as well as elsewhere, networking is the most effective way of finding that opportunity which leads to a job. This could be by personal referral from former (or current) colleagues, suppliers and clients, team mates or school and classmates. They may know suitable people and be able pass on their contacts.

Getting in to see headhunters face to face is not easy. In most instances it is non-productive “downtime” for them. While it may be valuable to send a résumé and it is acceptable to make contact with a senior consultant by phone, the most likely response is that they will offer to contact you at their convenience if they consider your resume suitable or interesting.

Executive Search firms are taken on exclusively by their clients who are companies, corporations, organisations and are tasked with finding talent for key and senior positions, and these are the headhunters at the top of the market. They therefore cannot “find” work for a job seeker.

Very few people who get moved through an Executive Search firm fail to increase their wealth. Good career managers generally describe their success as a “matter of being in the right place at the right time”. But what appears to be luck is actually the knack of seeking out corporate settings for different stages of a career.

The Work

Employment conditions in Singapore are fair and stringent government guidelines are in place. Unemployment is very low at under 4 percent.

Generally foreign employees new to working in Asia should be prepared to work longer and harder. There is an enhanced work ethic in Singapore that extends beyond the more traditional 09:00 to 17:00 work regime of some other countries. The legal minimum retirement age is set at age 60 years however it is quite normal to see people much older still working

Foreigners working in Singapore they must hold an Employment Pass or Work Permit.

Industrial action (such as striking) is illegal in many industry sections in Singapore. Anyone instigating such an action can be fined and imprisoned.

Note That:

It is important to remember that:

  • finding and landing a job is in itself a fulltime job
  • an individual is in charge of their own career management
Further Information
  • The Singapore Ministry of Manpower website covers all aspects of employment regulations in Singapore