Finding a job in Singapore as a European: the complete guide
Updated: Jan 19
Do you live or plan to move to Singapore and want to find a job? To begin, you have chosen one of the best-functioning countries in the world.
However, Singapore also has one of the most competitive labor markets and it is well known that local talent is prioritized over foreign. In this article, I will explain the best way to look for a job in Singapore, what the labor market is like, which jobs are most in demand, what the salaries are like, etc.
Let's start by checking what are the most effective ways to get a new job in Singapore. If you have any other recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below. (this is the way it worked for me to find a job there back in 2017).
How can I find work in Singapore?
Foreigners can employ various tactics when looking for a job in Singapore, although you should not focus on just one, but you can do different things in parallel to increase your chances.
These are the most common and popular ways to get new jobs in Singapore:
Through job portals
With the help of internal recruiters
Studying first in Singapore
Find employment through referrals or your network of contacts
This option is very common in Singapore and it can be beneficial to spend some time there first to meet people. You can visit the country for shorter stays and attend events, trying to connect with other compatriots on LinkedIn.
It is important to do this if you are not specialized or have experience in a field with high demand or if you are looking for a certain position. Keep in mind that companies in Singapore primarily recruit Singaporeans due to government regulations and to reduce barriers in managing employment (more on this later).
Find a job on job portals
If you already have a job and you don't need to find another urgently in Singapore, you can start by applying to job board ads. This process is usually slower and not as efficient, unless you are specialized and experienced in a certain field.
I advise you to do it from the beginning, as it is easier, and consider traveling to Singapore later.
I find my job in LinkedIn actually back in 2017. I remember I applied to many job opportunities back then and I had a few interviews. The process was similar as the ones you would do here in Europe just that at the last part of the process comes the most important part: the working visa.
Find a job with the help of internal recruiters
In addition to the two previous options, I also advise you to contact the internal recruiters of the companies for which you are interested in working. It usually works on LinkedIn. If you want to go a step further, you can also try contacting hiring managers directly.
Type the company name and Singapore in the search field and select jobs. You will see a list of people who work for that company in Singapore.
Find work through recruitment agencies
Another good option is to contact recruitment agencies, such as Michael Page or Robert Walters, as their job is to "sell" new positions to companies. In a nutshell, they contact many companies in Singapore to find out about new vacancies.
The following recruitment agencies may interest you:
Study first in Singapore
If you have tried to apply for a job and want to expand your network in Singapore, a good option may be to move there to study. You will be able to visit job fairs, meet people and learn more about the market.
You'll even enjoy discounted tuition fees if you decide to stay and work in Singapore after graduation. Companies will appreciate that you have experience there and, in addition, the country has some of the best schools in Asia.
How is the labor market in Singapore?
Singapore's job market is strong, and according to Manpower, there were up to 63,200 new jobs in 2019, the highest number since 2014. We see particularly strong demand for skilled professionals in banking and technology, with jobs such as:
Digital Marketing Specialist
back end developer
machine learning engineer
As you can see, these jobs require technological training and that you are specialized in a certain field. Therefore, finding a job as a business development director, marketing director or similar is more difficult unless you have a good network in Singapore or outstanding experience.
My job was related to Digital Marketing and I worked in a SME related to health supplements. I had the chance to lead the digital marketing team of 9 members and I stayed there for 2 years.
It was a hard and exhaustive work but managed to get a job there and move happily.
How should my CV be?
Writing a CV for the Singapore market is similar to writing for the European market. I am not going to explain how to write a resume in detail, but I advise you to search “Singapore Resume Templates” in Google Images, as a picture is worth a thousand words.
The CV must include a first summary (a brief summary of your professional history and highlights) and continue with information about your training, key skills and then explain your professional experience.
Keep in mind that the CV should be short, as recruiters review CVs very quickly, only for a few seconds.
Do you know any other source? Leave it on the comments.