Singapore’s a great place to live, work, study, build a career, and raise a family.
Applying to jobs and hoping to emigrate over? You’re making an excellent choice!
Unfortunately, for a lot of international candidates it can feel like their applications are just met with one rejection after another.
Let’s take a look at why applying as an overseas job applicant can be more of a challenge…
…and ways for you to overcome it!
Why is it so hard to emigrate to Singapore?
Essentially, it comes down to this:
The Singapore labour market is extremely competitive.
There are lots of great jobs, but also a lot of exceptional applicants – locally, and from all over the world.
It’s this competition that makes Singapore one of the best labour markets in the world, and one of the toughest.
Is applying to a job in Singapore as a foreigner impossible?
No, it’s not impossible!
Just a bigger challenge.
Don’t worry though, we’re here to help.
Here’s our Ultimate Guide, with 8 Easy Steps, to help you overcome it:
Step 1 – Check Your Work Visa Eligibility
The No. 1 most important thing, when considering how to get a job in Singapore:
Work Visa Eligibility.
Every foreigner in Singapore requires a work visa from the Singapore government.
When determining whether or not to give you a visa, the Ministry of Manpower looks at many factors – Income level, area of vocational expertise, years of experience, etc.
Thankfully, you can self-check your eligibility for a Singapore work visa.
It takes less than a minute!
Click on this link to access the Singapore Ministry of Manpower’s work visa Self Assessment Tool
If you get approved, take a moment and celebrate!
This means that should an employer decide to hire you, it’s very likely your Singapore work visa application will get approved.
The battle isn’t won yet though! You still need to find a job…
Step 2 – Scope out the Singapore Job Boards
What roles are available in Singapore? Is there a demand for your skills and expertise?
There’s a simple way to find out:
Check out the Singapore job boards!
They’re all super easy to use, and will give you a good idea of the overall labour market in Singapore. They also have helpful tools like job alerts, which will keep you regularly updated on new roles.
There are also a few great niche job boards available – If you’re looking for roles in the finance sector for example, check out efinancialcareers.
Searching through these job boards is a great way to identify roles you could be a perfect fit for.
Don’t apply just yet though!
Remember, the market is really competitive. You need a few tricks to get ahead….
STEP 3 – Get Local: Setup a Singapore Contact Number + Address
One of the best ways to overcome the overseas barrier is to make it seem like you’re not overseas:
Recruiters and hiring managers will consider your application much more seriously if they think you’re already in Singapore.
So how do you make it seem like you’re in Singapore?
Get some help!
If you’ve got friends or contacts in Singapore, ask them if they’ll lend you their address for applications and see if they can help you get a local phone number. List the address and local phone number on your CV.
Keep the phone number connected to a spare phone, and let your friends take messages for you from recruiters.
This makes a huge difference, and your chances of landing a dream role in Singapore increase significantly!
But the battle isn’t won yet. There’s still more you can do…
Step 4 – Write Cover Letters that Shine
Why should a hiring manager choose you over a local candidate?
As a foreigner, you come with added risks and costs: You likely won’t be as familiar with local market conditions as a local applicant, there may be visa and relocation costs, etc…
Here’s what you need to do:
Show that even as an overseas candidate you’re still more capable than local applicants, and can bring something extra to the table.
How can you do this?
By crafting a stellar cover letter!
Cover letters are often overlooked, but the best applicants know they give a voice to your application – and can help you edge out your competition a little.
To write a truly awesome cover letter, start by doing some research:
Assess your field, think about where you see the industry going, conduct some intelligent investigation into the companies you’re interested in (including perhaps some areas in which you feel they could improve) and gather your thoughts:
“…though the digital economy is accelerating in Singapore, it’s still behind compared with the US and Europe…”
“…the service sector is always looking for manpower, so to me Singapore’s 18% growth in the industry this year comes as no surprise…”
“…with the downturn in the Singapore electronics sector, I think lowering of costs and introducing automation is essential…”
Singapore media outlets can be a useful research tool here (The Straits Times, TODAY Online, and The Business Times, etc.), but you’ll also want to check out local industry journals (e.g. The Singapore Business Review, The Asian Banker Journal, HRM Asia)
With a well-written cover letter, packed with insights, you’re guaranteed to stand out to a hiring manager or recruiter!
If you’re struggling to craft a great cover letter, check out our guides:
- How to Write a Cover Letter
- 7 Great Cover Letter Examples
- Sending a Cover Letter When Applying for Jobs
Now, a great cover letter only gets you so far. To keep going, you need a trusted insider…
Step 5 – Reach out to a Recruiter
Headhunters, recruiters, and job agencies are invaluable – They’re the gatekeepers to some of the best positions in Singapore.
A great search executive will be a perfect ‘local’ resource in Singapore, helping you to reach out to companies and contacts while you’re overseas.
They will know the Singapore job market, be aware of which firms are hiring, and be able to advise and guide you in your job search.
Need a list of Singapore recruiters?
We’ve got them right here: List of Singapore Headhunters
Excellent a resource as recruiters are though, there’s another which can be even more effective…
Step 6 – Network & Get Referrals
Referrals work, it’s a fact:
Studies show 83% of people trust recommendations from those close to them, significantly outperforming any other source – A referral and recommendation is a great way to put your candidacy at the top of the pile.
Reach out through your network, find out who you know that’s already working in Singapore…
…and see if they’d be willing to put in a good word!
Unsure on the best way to ask for a referral?
We’ve got you covered: Here’s our step by step guide, with detailed samples and templates, on How To Ask For a Reference Letter.
We’re still not done though! Networking is more than just referral letters…
Step 7 – Network More, on Alternate Platforms!
To increase your chances of securing a role and building a happy life in Singapore, don’t simply network through your friends and colleagues:
Expand your reach in all directions!
Facebook has a number of expat groups which can give you an idea of how best to settle in Singapore, and help you make some possible connections – All About Singapore Expats, Singapore Indian Expats, American Expats in Singapore, etc.
LinkedIn is another great resource, with groups across practically all industries in Singapore (a number of which focus specifically on job opportunities) – Singapore HR Professionals, Singapore Oil & Gas, Singapore Finance Professionals, etc.
If you’re able to spend some time in Singapore while searching for a new role, it’s also worth checking out local Meetup and InterNations groups (e.g. DataScience SG, Agile Singapore, Singapore Professional Networking Group). They can be fantastic for networking, and making those valuable connections!
However, all this networking, cover letter crafting, and strategizing – they mean nothing if your CV isn’t up to scratch…
Step 8 – Perfect Your CV
This is a big one… because when a Singapore hiring manager reads the CV of a foreign applicant they’ve got 1 major question:
“Is this applicant significantly better than a local candidate, enough that it justifies the additional effort and hiring risk?”
As we’ve already established, as a foreign applicant companies have to put in a fair amount of additional effort into hiring you (visas, relocation times, etc.)
Coupled with the risk that as a foreign hire you may not settle into the local culture…
These can be big deterrents to hiring foreigners.
To make the employer take the risk, you need to show you’re in a different class – A stellar candidate worth investing in.
If your CV doesn’t show you’re an excellent choice…
…all your research and prep work will be in vain.
Our team of expert writers, with backgrounds in HR, Recruitment and Talent Acquisition, can make sure your resume conveys the full value in bringing you in as a foreign candidate.
We can also craft professional cover letters, which can help effectively highlight your skills and expertise, as well as show employers and recruiters how serious you are in your job search.
Let us know if you’d like a hand, we’ll be more than happy to help!
There you have it!
How to Get a Job in Singapore, in 8 Simple Steps.
But wait, here’s 5 Extra BONUS Tips to help you land your dream role in Singapore!
- Apply direct: Submitting job applications through a job board is ‘fine’, but nothing says I want to work for YOU like applying directly on a company’s internal hiring portal. Even better if you can bypass the HR department entirely and go straight to the hiring manager
- Tailor your CV: A lot of Singapore hiring managers are using ATS solutions (Applicant Tracking Systems) to screen out weaker candidates. Make sure your CV is ATS-Ready, and tailored to specific job ads
- Prep for Interviews: Turning up for an interview or phone call with a hiring manager or recruiter without doing any kind of preliminary research is unimpressive to say the least. Do some homework, work out what some likely questions are going to be, and ensure you really impress in an interview
- Get Certified: Prove you can add value to a Singapore employer, and showcase your professional skillset, with industry recognised certifications. Professional associations can be a great place to start, and work out what you may need
- Learn the Essentials: Show you won’t be out of place, and avoid unnecessary pitfalls, by reading up on Expat life in Singapore! Expat forums and magazines (e.g. Expat Living, Singapore-Expats, Expat.com) can be an excellent resource, giving you the inside scoop
Want to make sure your CV is Singapore-ready? Take advantage of our FREE CV Feedback, available now!
More Useful Links
If you found this article on applying for jobs in Singapore useful, you might also like:
- How to Write a Resume
- Finding Jobs Through Social Media
- How to Cold Message People on LinkedIn
- Top Job Portals in Singapore
- Resume Samples from ResumeWriter.SG