With one of the lowest unemployment rates on the planet (around 2%) Singapore has one of the healthiest job markets possible. That being said, getting a job as a foreigner or expat in Singapore is challenging in many cases, as with most places. You will likely be competing with dozens, maybe hundreds of talented job applicants and you will need to gain every advantage you can possibly seize.
Tips for finding work in Singapore
The importance of networking in Singapore - as mentioned in Gateway’s Before You Leave feature, networking is central to many candidates looking to work in Singapore. If you’re serious about this, then join your Chamber of Commerce and scope out as many networking opportunities as possible. Also, keep in touch with current progressions and interact with recruiters through our LinkedIn Group.
Go direct – make contact with any companies you’re interested in. Seek out people working there, whether it’s via Linkedin, Twitter or personal contacts. Message them and ask about available opportunities. Our Industry Snapshots section can help you connect with employers who are hiring in various sectors.
Visit Gateway Global Careers to view some of the latest jobs on offer in Singapore, and connect directly with top employers here.
Register with as many relevant recruitment agencies as possible - chances are you’ll need to have an internal interview with the agency so they can ascertain what it is you’re looking for.
If you haven’t arrived in Singapore yet, it would be beneficial for you to read our Before You Leave job-hunter’s guide.
Applying for work in Singapore
A lot of jobs in Singapore are advertised for ‘Singaporeans or PRs’ only. This means they’re only open to locals or those with Permanent Resident status so it’s not worth applying. Where this isn’t mentioned it’s safe to assume foreigners are welcome.
State your position clearly – explain that you’re a foreign job-seeker, newly relocated but highlight job experience overseas, this is welcomed in Singapore. Make clear as well what sort of pass you’re on, whether it’ s a dependent pass, long term or short term visit pass. Potential employers will want to know this so it’s worth putting in your application.
Job interviews – the process in Singapore is much like anywhere else in the world. Shortlist – interview – second interview (occasionally third) – offer.
The job offer
Unlike most other countries, salaries for jobs in Singapore are offered in monthly amounts, rather than annual. Because of tax differences it’ll be difficult to compare back to salaries in your home country but it’s safe to say the tax is favourable (see our tax section).Some companies offer salary estimates for various industries but take the information with a pinch of salt, it’s hard to know who is getting paid what unless you know what peers are earning or someone here has told you what the average is for you age/experience/relevant industry. If you get the chance ask a recruitment consultant, they’ll be able to give some steer on this.
The Employment Pass
Once you’ve accepted your new job in Singapore, the job offer will still be conditional, based on the successful issue of an employment pass. This can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to come though so you may need to sit tight for a start date. For more information on visas, check out our visa section.
Booming Job Sectors in Singapore
If you work in R&D, digital media, advertising and creative, recruitment, publishing, engineering, banking and finance, you’ll find plenty of job adverts in Singapore. Check out our latest industry snapshots.
Restrictions on working in Singapore for foreigners
Getting a job in Singapore as an expat is slightly more difficult than it used to be following tougher government restrictions on foreign talent recruitment. In a nutshell, quotas imposed on employers by the Ministry of Manpower mean a company will have to justify to the MOM the need to employ you over a local. But in most cases there isn’t a problem and if you have the skills and experience you’ll be highly employable regardless of your native country.
Finally, don’t expect overnight success. Job-hunting anywhere in the world is hard work and can consume your days. Expect the job search to last for at least three months. Don’t be too choosy about what jobs you apply for, send off for as much as possible and see what comes back.