10 Steps on How to Get A Job in Singapore

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So you’ve decided to move to the Lion City. You’ve finally decided to get a job in Singapore! The Switzerland of South East Asia. An eclectic mix of Eastern & Western cultures. A gateway to Asia’s fast growing markets.

Like you, I was apprehensive at first.

  • Who are the top Singapore companies hiring aggressively?
  • Is it easy for an expatriate to get a job here?
  • What’s the best strategy to stand out amongst hundreds of applicants?
  • How am I going to live without chewing gum!

Fret not! We’ve got you covered. (except on the last point though)

I’ve been a headhunter in Singapore for well over a decade now. I founded and ran 2 HR firms which received multiple awards from the Singapore HR Association.

What I’m basically saying is: ”I know EXACTLY how the market here works.”

The winning strategy of one jobseeker may not necessarily work for another. There is constant adjustment and customization based on several factors. These include your current situation, future career plans, the position you are trying to apply for, the company you want to get into, your work expectations, you expected salary, and so much more.

Whether you are a fresh graduate, working mom, burnt out employee, or a senior executive looking for new career opportunities, there is no one secret in getting a job in Singapore.

But I do have 10 pointers that’ll get you close enough to landing a job in Singapore.

Let’s dive in to Step 1.

1. Identify your passion.

Before doing any of the actual job searching and application steps, the first and most important step you should do is determine what your passion in life is.

What do you love doing?
What makes you happy?
What inspires you the most?

These are just some of the questions you need to answer in order for you to identify your passion (if you don’t know yet, of course).

Finding your passion is important. It basically determines what career path you should take.

There is no sense working a particular job that bores you or you really hate.

As the founder and Managing Partner of REES Capital, Amy Rees Anderson, shares in an article she wrote for Forbes.com, “What is important is for each of us is to figure out what is the passion inside of you that will drive you to become the very best you can be.

“What is the passion that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world?

“What is the passion that will help you keep going when everything around you appears to be falling apart?

“What is the passion that will make you want to give 110 percent of yourself, rather than putting in the minimum requirement to pick up a paycheck?

“What is that passion for you?

“Then, once you identify your passion, you can really begin to figure out what roads lie ahead that will allow you to pursue it.”

So go ahead. Take some time off your daily routine and figure out what you love doing most and which career would be best at.

2. Identify your strengths and skills.

Okay, so you know you love arts. Or music. Or maybe computers and gadgets.

And thus, you are maybe thinking of looking for jobs either in these industries or with a position related to these niches.

But that’s just one part of identifying your overall profile.

The next step is to know about what you’re capable of doing with regard to your passion.

For instance, say you love music and you want to work in the music industry. But, can you sing? Can you write songs? Or maybe, does your strength lie in organising music events and concerts?

Identifying your strengths and skills is important when planning your career because these will help you understand your competitive advantage, decide which job you fit in, and how you can better present yourself to employers.

So once again, at this point, take time to determine your current strengths and skills sets that you can sell to potential employers, before going further on to your job application.

For some examples of skills, here’s a blog I wrote about Skill Sets You Need To Learn By Age 35.

3. Know if you are qualified to work in Singapore.

If you are a Singaporean, you can skip this step.

However, if you are a foreigner looking into getting a job in Singapore, you may want to check you eligibility first.

Before you start sending applications, it is important that you identify first the requirements needed to work in Singapore. As there are different kinds of work permits, passes, and even visas for foreign employees, you need to know what you need to apply for in order to be eligible to get a job in Singapore.

Do take note, however, that just because you were able to secure a working visa or a dependent pass in Singapore, you can automatically get a job here.

There are other factors being considered before an employer considers hiring you, such as relevant work experience and your overall qualifications.

4. Create a stellar resume.

Now that you’ve identified your passion, strengths, and skills, it’s time to create your resume.

But remember, do not just write a resume for the sake of having one.

Write a stellar resume.

And by stellar, I mean something that would make you stand out among 300 other candidates for a particular job.

…Something that would talk about your qualifications and work experiences without you having to explain the one by one.

…Something that would make the hiring manager want to hire you right after going through your resume.

I couldn’t overemphasise the importance of having a well-written resume.

From CareerMiner.com, “This is going to be your one and only chance to capture a potential employer’s attention, or for your resume to be tossed into the file of those they don’t want to pursue.”

This is true. You only have a few seconds to showcase yourself through your resume. Therefore, your resume needs to be attractive, professional, and well-written.

It’s your first ticket to your dream job. And if your resume didn’t make it past the initial screening, you can say goodbye to your dreams.

To help you get started with your resume, here is a comprehensive guide we have written on How To Write A Resume. Here is another good read, too. How to Write An Executive Summary for Your CV

If you already have an existing resume, you may want to check out our guide on How to Improve Your CV for the Singapore Market.

Alternatively, you can check out our Singapore Resume Samples that you can model when crafting your winning resume.

Remember, your resume can make or break your career. Make sure you put a lot of effort in creating a resume that rocks!

5. Look for available jobs in the market.

Now that your resume is ready – and you’ve made it stellar (remember, this is the important part), it’s time to do the actual job search.

But, wait!

Don’t look for just about any job that you think you like or that has an incredible compensation package.

Go back to steps 1 and 2. Your passion, skills, and strengths should be your guide as in choosing the jobs you should apply for.

Additionally, here are some tips you need to keep in mind when searching for jobs.

5.1 Do not depend on the job title alone. Just because the title says Specialist and not Manager, it doesn’t always mean that the position is not a managerial post. Titles vary from one company to another, so make sure that you read the entire job listing to get a good grasp of what the job is all about.

5.2 Read the entire job description before making a decision. Typically, a job ad consists of 2 major parts— the responsibilities or tasks required for the position and the technical and personal requirements of candidates the employer is looking to evaluate.

It is important to understand both these parts, as well as other additional information available in the listing, such as compensation, work hours, travel requirements, etc. These are all essential factors that would help you identify whether you can actually take on the position or not.

5.3 Take note of must-have and optional requirements. Most job listings state if a requirement is a must-have or optional.

Most of the time, if you don’t have the must-have requirement, your application will not be processed further; thus, it may not be worth spending time applying for positions with strict requirements that you don’t possess.

As for positions with optional requirements that you don’t possess, there’s no harm applying for them.

5.4 Do your own research. Is the employer not too familiar to you? Does the job listing not provide much information about the company culture? Go online and look for additional information that would help you find out more about the company and the business that it runs.

5.5 Do not just limit your job search and application on job portals. There are other venues in which you can find available jobs that suit your preference and requirements, such as classified ads in the newspaper, social media, university bulletin boards, as well as your network of friends and colleagues.

I hear many jobseekers complain to me that they can’t get any job because there is no work available for them.

THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT TRUE!

There is always a job available. In fact, there are thousands of job available and hundreds of companies hiring.

You only have to look in the right place and talk to the right people… which leads me to my next point.

6. Connect with the right people.

Who are these people, you may ask.

These are former bosses, colleagues, business partners, hiring managers from companies you wish to get into, headhunters, and recruitment agents.

While submitting your well-written resume to job portals such as Jobstreet.com.sg and Jobs.com.sg is always the most convenient way to apply for jobs, this is also the least effective way of getting noticed.

Why?

Because every other jobseeker is doing the same thing! So you end up applying for your dream job with 200 more applicants vying for the position.

Even if you have a very impressive profile, your chance of getting a call back is still very small.

This is the reason why I advise clients to connect to real people instead.

Additionally, while reaching out to them via email or phone call is an option you have, I do encourage you to meet them in person, have a little chat, and then sell yourself and show them that you are the right person their firm needs.

This technique has worked successfully for most of my clients.

As a former recruitment professional, I hired several candidates who confidently asked to meet me in person and showed me why they are the perfect hire.

So, go ahead and reach out to these headhunters in Singapore and get ahead of the competition.

7. Send out your resume and attach a customized cover letter.

This is it!

You’re now ready to send out your resumes and apply for jobs in Singapore.

Here are some important pointers you need to keep in mind.

7.1 Review and follow application instructions thoroughly on the job listing.  If it says you need to include your salary expectations and reasons for leaving previous jobs, then include these in your resume.

7.2 Use PDF format when sending resumes online. This way, your resume format will remain intact, especially when printed.

7.3 Personalise your job application. Avoid using templated email script and sending your resume to all potential employers at once (using BCC). Instead, take time to send your application one at a time with a personalized letter or introduction about yourself.

7.4 Attach a cover letter to your resume. This will help you introduce yourself better and explain why you are the best candidate for the job. Remember to customise your cover letter to each job you are applying to.

To help you write an impressive cover letter, read this guide we created on How to Write A Cover Letter.

7.5 Choose email over job portals. To further personalise your application, I suggest that you directly email your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager or HR person in-charge of recruitment. This will give you a slight edge over those that apply via job sites and career portals.

However, while I don’t encourage depending solely on these sites when doing job search and application, it wouldn’t hurt to create an account, set up a profile, and upload your resume there.

After all, you want to explore any potential career opportunities available, right? Which leads me to my next point…

8. Take advantage of social media.

Do you know that you can also find jobs in Singapore by actively sourcing in social media sites?

Yes, you can find career gems on websites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. How?

Check out our blog post on Find Jobs in Singapore using Social Media to know how you can leverage on social media in getting a decent job.

But before you apply for jobs on social media, make sure that your profiles in each of these sites are set up properly and optimized.

Include current and previous work experiences, educational summary, and a good bio or description of yourself.

Check and clean up photos of you, as well. Make sure that they are decent looking and nothing in there leaves a bad impression of you.

Most importantly, they should be consistent with what is written in your resume.

For instance, in your resume, you said you are fluent in English. Then make sure that your social media posts are written in English well. Additionally, remove non-sense and irrelevant posts.

As hiring managers and recruiters look into a candidate’s social media presence, make sure to keep your profile professional looking at all times.

Check out our guide on How to Write A Great LinkedIn Profile.

9. Got a call back? Ace the Interview.

At this point, I am confident that you will get one or more call backs… especially if you have followed the tips I mentioned above, as well as the guides I shared with you.

And when you do receive an invitation for an interview, make sure to prepare before actually going to your scheduled interview.

Here are some job interview preparation tips you can follow:

  • Read and review once again the description of the job you applied for.
  • Research about the company.
  • Find and practice an interesting answer to the question “Can you tell me more about yourself?” Make your introduction catchy and share something that is not already written in your resume.
  • Practice explaining your work experiences based on what are written on your resume.
  • Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer.
  • Mark the date and time of the interview on your calendar. Be sure to show up on time.
  • In case you won’t be able to make it, inform your interviewer ahead of time and politely ask to reschedule.
  • Dress nicely and professionally.
  • Be confident. While being nervous is normal, try to control your fear and show that you are prepared for the interview.
  • If you are not familiar with the interview venue, look it up in advance so you won’t get lost.
  • Bring an extra printed copy of your resume just in case the interviewer asks for one.

The job interview is a critical stage. While you are one step closer to getting the job than most applicants, you still need to pass this stage (and other interviews) with flying colors in order to receive a job offer.

Be sure to read our blog on Common Job Interview Mistakes You Need To Avoid so that you won’t experience them yourself.

10. Say thanks.

However you did in the interview, don’t forget to politely say thanks to the interviewer and appreciate that you were invited onto this stage.

While some interviewers will already share with you the next step of the application process, i.e., second interview, application exam, etc., many will tell you to wait for their call or email because they will have to interview and evaluate other candidates, as well.

And as a jobseeker wanting to get a job so badly, it is not improper to do a follow up a few days after the interview, especially if you haven’t heard back from the company.

To send follow up emails to the interviewer, read our guide on Sending Thank You And Follow Up Emails After A Job Interview that you can follow.

Whether you made it to the next round or not, sending a follow up email will leave an impression to the hiring manager that you are serious about your job application.

In some instances, those who did not qualify for the position they applied for can actually be considered or hired for another position just because they said that they really are keen in being a part of the company.

So, who knows? Even if you can’t get your dream job, you may at least get into your dream company, right?

Then, once in, just work your way towards the position you really, really love.

BONUS! Got a job offer? Here’s what you need to do.

Congratulations!

Isn’t it exciting whenever you receive a job offer, especially if it’s for the job you’ve always wanted?

Unless you’re truly decided to get the job (even before you applied for it), here are some tips you need to consider before signing your name on the contract.

Review the offer thoroughly. If there are points you don’t understand or you need to clarify, don’t hesitate to ask. Be sure that your expectations from the job and the company’s expectations from you are aligned.

If you have pending applications or job offers, tell the hiring manager about them. You don’t want to appear as if you’re not interested with their offer. Just ask for some time so you can evaluate the different offers you have.

After all, if they really, really want you in their team, they can even make an offer that you can’t resist!

Consider the compensation package. Do not just look at the base pay. Make sure to evaluate non-monetary benefits that you will or will not get as well. Additionally, if location is quite a concern for you, ask about transportation or relocation packages that they can offer.

Get second or third opinions. You may think that the job is already perfect for you, but do consider other people’s thoughts, as well, such as your family’s. If you still aren’t sure, you may want to get opinions of previous colleagues, bosses, or even professional career coaches.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Okay, so the offer is not exactly what you have hoped for. Don’t turn it down just yet! You can actually negotiate for a better package.

According to Isaiah Hankel Ph.D., an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, in his article for the CheekyScientist.com, “If you’re too afraid to ask for a higher salary after you get an industry job offer, you will be left behind.

“Refusing to negotiate your first industry salary contract could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.”

The job offer isn’t the end-stage of your job search.

In fact, if you made a wrong decision, you will just have to repeat the entire job application process from scratch.

I have met many employees who shared with me their horrifying stories in the workplace and how they hate their jobs just because they were too eager to accept a job offer without really looking at the big picture.

So, before accepting an offer, make sure to review it a hundred times offer.

And once you’re 200% sure, then go and get it!

My Final Words

There you have it, folks!

10 tips, techniques, steps, and must-do’s (plus a bonus pointer) on how to successfully get a job in Singapore.

I’m sure you already know by now that job hunting is not a walk in the park, especially if you want to land a decent job that pays well.

It requires time, patience, determination, and constant adjustment on your end in order to build a career that’s right for you and will help you grow as a professional.

Need more inspiration? Here’s another blog post I wrote on 10 Meaningful Career Advice For Jobseekers in Singapore.

Finally, if you need someone to talk to or get a professional career advice, why don’t you consider getting a career coach? Career coaches or mentors are the best people to seek advice from when you feel like you’re stuck in your career and don’t know how to move forward in achieving your professional goals.

Go ahead! Contact us at contact@resumewriter.sg and our team of professional resume consultants will be more than happy to discuss your job application concerns and help you in the best way we can.

Until then and best of luck in getting a job in Singapore!

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Russel Yee

Former Headhunter

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