Working in Singapore

Singapore is no stranger to foreign enterprise; it's been luring skilled expats with lucrative packages for decades. In the wake of the global downturn, more expats started working in Singapore as it weathered the storm more successfully than destinations like London and New York.

Even with government efforts to reduce the reliance on foreign workers in recent years, there continues to be a demand for qualified expats. Many of the expats who find a job in Singapore are high earners who benefit from relatively low taxes and high disposable income. Still, comprehensive employment packages are increasingly reserved for those in the most senior positions. These days, companies are looking for foreigners who are willing to accept a lucrative salary without transportation, housing and education allowances.

Job market in Singapore

Singapore has emerged as Southeast Asia's premier banking and finance hub. Many international corporations have headquarters or regional bases here, as both the infrastructure and physical location make Singapore an ideal platform to reach into the nearby Asian markets. It follows that many of the available jobs are with wealth management firms, financial institutions, insurance agencies and foreign exchange companies.

Finding a job in Singapore

There are hundreds of employment agencies in Singapore available to aid the job search, and a significant portion of their clients are from Europe and North America seeking work opportunities in this dynamic economy. 

Employment agencies require the least legwork when it comes to securing a job. The biggest expat-recruiting industries are clustered around the technology, finance and logistics sectors, with engineering, accounting and management skills particularly in demand.

Expats should also consult the jobs section of The Straits Times, Singapore's daily English newspaper. Online job listings have also gained popularity in Singapore, and expats should also consult individual company websites to find open positions.

To legally work in Singapore it's necessary to have an employment pass. This documentation is relatively easy to get compared to other global destinations, though expats will still need to find an employer to start the application process for this pass.

Work culture in Singapore

Expats moving to Singapore for work should be prepared to take the philosophy of 'work hard, play hard' to heart. Singaporeans and expats who've been in the city-state for a while are used to working to tight deadlines in an often high-pressure work environment. However, as a result, they get to enjoy the top-shelf lifestyle that Singapore offers.

There tends to be a strict hierarchy in Singaporean workplaces. Those who are more senior in age and position are afforded great respect and their decisions won't be openly questioned by those lower down in the pecking order. Expats may also find there are more rules in the workplace than they might be used to.

As Singapore is such a diverse destination, the workplace is sure to be filled with all sorts of cultures and ethnicities. Those new to the Lion City should make an effort to learn about the main cultural groups of Singapore to ensure harmony with their co-workers.