Picture this: You’re looking for a job in Singapore. You already sent in 50 job applications but with no luck. You’re starting to get frustrated.
Hold up. Before you continue, it’s important to know what to expect when you apply for work in Singapore. You need to know the answers to questions like “What is the average time to find a job in Singapore?” and “How to find a job in Singapore?”
I’m here to help you answer these questions and more. This way, you know EXACTLY what needs to be done to land your dream Singaporean job.
How Long Does It Take To Find a Job in Singapore?
Randstad, a worldwide leader in HR services, says that, on average, “it takes 2 to 6 months to find a job in Singapore“. However, a Reddit thread suggests that it can take up to a year if you are inexperienced.
The job market in Singapore is highly competitive, and even experienced professionals may find it difficult to succeed. So if you’re expecting to grab a job straight away, you’ll be disappointed.
Set realistic expectations. Be patient. If one week has passed and you don’t hear back from a company, continue your job search. Persistence is the key.
Why Does It Take So Long to Get a Job in Singapore?
Don’t be deceived by the size. Singapore is one of the busiest cities in the world, making it a central hub for a highly competitive job market. From 2020 to 2023, foreign job interest in Singapore skyrocketed to 95%.
“Singapore has always been a magnet for global talent due to its open economy and rich opportunities.” Says Callam Pickering, an APAC Senior Economist. “The surge in job seekers from abroad is a testament to the city-state’s resilience and its ability to provide a favorable environment for both local and foreign professionals.”
Get this: You’re going to have a lot of competition. If you apply for one job, know that hundreds (if not thousands) of others applied for it too. Even if you’re the best for the position, there’s a high chance your application will be overlooked.
“I used to have to find candidates for three dozen different jobs at any given time. I would search through virtual stacks of resumes in between client meetings, team conference calls, interview days, and more. Two weeks isn’t really that long of a time from the recruiter’s perspective.”
Let’s say you get a first interview. It might take a couple of weeks before the recruiter gets back to you. The same is true for the whole hiring process. So don’t get discouraged. Remember, the average time to find a job in Singapore is 2 to 6 months.
How to Find a Job in Singapore – Key Strategies and Insights
To make the most out of your job search process, I’m going to list down a few strategic ways to stand out among the rest, as well as give some helpful insights and tips. I’ll go over:
- Local employment practices
- Work eligibility
- Where to look for a job
- The best time to apply for a job in Singapore
- Resume and cover letter tips
- Networking tips
- Types of work visas
Local employment practices.
Before anything else, it’s a good idea to be familiar with employment practices in Singapore. Imagine committing to work in a foreign land, only to find that the lifestyle doesn’t match yours. So go and look into the work hours, holidays, employee benefits, etc… You can find a complete list of employment practices from the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower.
It’s very frustrating when you’ve gone through the effort (and time) of getting a job in Singapore, only to find that you aren’t eligible to work there. To avoid this situation, check as early as now if you’re eligible through the Ministry of Manpower’s online self-assessment tool.
Where to look for a job.
A good place to start your new job hunt is through job search websites. This makes it convenient for you to find open positions in Singapore, especially if you’re a foreigner. Here are the top websites in Singapore that you can check out:
There are also a number of American companies that are always hiring in Singapore. Big names like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are part of Glassdoor’s report on “best places to work in Singapore for 2020“. If you’re looking for volunteer work, you can check out GoOverseas and volunteer.com.sg.
The best time to apply for a job.
Recruiters go through piles and piles of resumes each day. You want to be on top of that pile. This is why the best time to submit your application is in the morning when the recruiter starts working.
“But I’m so busy with my current job, I don’t have the time to apply in the morning.” If that’s the case, you can find time during your commute to work or during lunch break (there’s still a good chance your application will be seen at noontime). You can also prepare everything the night before, and then submit it when you wake up.
📌Hint: I’m talking about mornings in Singapore. If you’re a foreigner, that means you’ll have to time it right to hit the Singaporean opening business hours.
Vinay Math, a Senior Recruitment Specialist and Career Advisor in Singapore, gives this advice:
“December (year-end) and February (Chinese New Year) may not be so good for applying for jobs. March to June are best.”
Resume and cover letter tips.
Since you’re searching for a job in Singapore, it’s crucial to make your resume and cover letter match the local employment practices. Here is what you should know…
- Get rid of that generic resume. This is Singapore, where the job market is very competitive. Always focus on the skills and qualifications listed in the job for each company you apply to. It’s a good idea to include references.
- Don’t write down basic IT skills. Singapore has one of the most advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) markets. You’re expected to know basic IT.
- Avoid adding your photo. Though adding a photo to your resume is good practice in some countries, it’s a big NO-NO in Singapore.
- Focus on the right job. Don’t just apply to any Singaporean job you find. Make sure to apply to the ones that match your skills and experience. This will also make it easier to convince the hiring manager that you’re perfect for the job.
- Skips the clichés. You don’t want to sound vague and generic. To stand out, you need to be specific.
Networking is crucial for foreigners looking for jobs in Singapore’s highly competitive market, as it provides access to unadvertised opportunities, insider knowledge about employer preferences, and local contacts who can vouch for your skills.
Singapore is a relationship-based society. It means who you know often matters more than credentials alone when seeking employment.
Here are some networking tips that can help foreigners find jobs in Singapore:
- Tapping into Singapore’s thriving expat community by joining expat groups and forums such as Expat.com is a valuable networking strategy, as connecting with fellow expats already established in the area can offer support and potential job opportunities.
- Reach out to alumni from your university who are working in Singapore. They can give advice and refer you for openings at their organizations.
- Expand your online network on sites like LinkedIn. Connect with relevant professionals and follow companies you’re interested in.
- Ask professors and previous bosses to connect you with their professional contacts in Singapore. A referral goes a long way.
- Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups to meet people in your field. Introduce yourself, ask thoughtful questions, and follow up to build relationships.
- Once onsite in Singapore, set up exploratory interviews with companies you’d like to work at. Make a good impression for future roles.
Be patient and persistent as networking takes time. Focus on building authentic, mutually beneficial relationships, not just transactions.
Salaries in Singapore
The company Morgan McKinley did a survey that showed that 43% of workers list ‘salary’ as the most valued factor when looking for a new job. So no doubt, you’re wondering what salary you can expect if you work in Singapore.
Klara Cervenanska, a career writer, gives good news! “Singapore has some of the highest wages in the world. After all, 5% of Singaporeans belong to the world’s richest 1%.” Of course, your salary will depend on many factors. However, the average salary range goes from around 2,140 SGD (1,572.16 USD) to 37,700 SGD (27,701.14 USD) per month.
Types of work visas.
OK, say you’re already hired. CONGRATS! The next step is to work toward getting your Singapore work visa. The type of visa you get will depend on your work.
Working visas if you’re a skilled professional:
Working visas if you’re a skilled or semi-skilled worker:
Working visas if you’re a trainee:
- Training Employment Pass
- Work Holiday Pass (Work Holiday Program)
- Work Holiday Pass (Work and Holiday Visa Program)
- Training Work Permit
What is the average time to find a job in Singapore? Give it 2 to 6 months of looking for the right jobs, sending applications, and taking interviews. Don’t easily get discouraged. Remember, the hiring process will take time. If you don’t know where or how to begin, use our insights and tips to get started.