Singapore is a country of migrants. The Migration Policy Institute estimates a net migration rate (into Singapore) of 4.26 per 1,000 in 2021. In other words, about four in every 1,000 Singaporeans is a new arrival to the country.
Singapore attracts people from all across the world and every level of the socioeconomic ladder, but its policies and employers are especially friendly to certain types of migrants. If you seek a fresh start or a career lift in one of the world’s most dynamic economies, here’s what you need to do to improve your chances of success.
- Confirm Your Initial Eligibility to Work in Singapore
Before getting ahead of yourself, confirm that you are provisionally eligible to work in Singapore. Use the self-assessment tool (SAT) from the Singapore Ministry of Manpower to determine which type of Singaporean work permit, if any, you are likely to qualify for. Keep in mind that positive SAT results do not guarantee employment eligibility in Singapore, as work permit availability is numerically limited and other factors not considered by the SAT may inform eligibility decisions.
- Sharpen Your Credentials
It is widely understood that Singapore is a meritocracy — that is, talented candidates with in-demand educational credentials and extensive industry experience are more likely to find work and thrive here. Ross Belhomme, a Switzerland-based executive retained to work as managing director at the Singapore office of Asiaciti Trust, is typical of the professional caliber that Singaporean authorities expect. That’s not to say that more junior expats are unlikely to find work in Singapore, only that credentialing is key.
- Consult an Employment Agency With Experience Placing Expats in Singapore
Depending on your level of seniority, a professional employment agency or executive placement firm might hasten your transition into the Singaporean workforce. Look for firms that have documented experience placing expats to work in the nation-state (and that are willing to provide references attesting to the same).
- Understand the Unique Aspects of Singaporean Business Culture Before Applying
Singaporean business culture blends some aspects of southeast Asian custom and some aspects of Western dealmaking to create a unique amalgam that may feel unfamiliar to those who’ve spent their careers elsewhere. Before applying for a position here, understand local business etiquette, negotiation style, dress, and other customs, knowledge of which will greatly improve your chances of securing a role.
- Abide by Government Registration Requirements (And Obtain and Maintain a Valid Work Visa)
Your role may require you to register with the Singaporean government. It will certainly require you to obtain and maintain a valid work visa throughout the duration of your employment here. These registration and visa requirements can be quite tricky, and missteps could jeopardize your ability to earn a living in a very expensive part of the world.
Opportunity Awaits You in Singapore
Singapore is arguably the most dynamic nation in the Asia-Pacific region. With so much competition, that’s really saying something.
If you’re fortunate enough to be relocating to Singapore with a confirmed offer of employment, you don’t need any of this advice. Do your very best in your new role and you’re likely to find success.
If you’re relocating to Singapore for a change of scenery or to seize the sorts of opportunities that appear available to other new-to-Singapore expats, you have more work to do. You need to ensure that you appeal to local employers and follow the letter of local employment law.
With effort, your campaign will pay off. Soon enough, perhaps, you’ll find yourself in a position to give advice to other new-to-Singapore professionals.