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Finding work in a new city

The job market is incredibly competitive in Singapore

With over 7,000 multinational companies and over 110,000 expatriates operating in the country, foreigners living, working, and starting entrepreneurial businesses all form part of its vibrant working landscape. You’ll be required to have a contract in place before you apply for a work pass and any employer hiring you for a role will need to confirm your eligibility to work in the country. With different types of sectors requiring particular types of passes, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the correct version for your sector or skill level. It sounds more complex than it is, but there is lots of helpful information at The Ministry of Manpower at where they also have a handy video guide.

Singapore continues to invest in global talent and actively seeks foreigners to further their careers in the country. There are opportunities in a wide range of sectors, from IT jobs in the technology industry, funds management, venture capital, and insurance in the financial sector to  media, advertising, and aerospace. In fact, the opportunities are as diverse as the country’s workforce.

According to a 2017 report by Kelly Services, the highest paying sectors in Singapore are:

  • Information technology (IT)
  • Accounting
  • Legal
  • Banking and finance
  • Health care and life sciences

These sectors replace oil, gas, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and semiconductors as the highest paying following the global slump in commodities and manufacturing.

In May 2016, The Straits Times reported that salary expectations in the highest paying sectors are on the rise. Bolstered by the 2015 Intelligent Nation Master Plan and the National Broadband Network, the IT industry has seen business development senior account directors and programme managers’ salary expectations rise. The Asia-Pacific region has ambitions to become a global hub for accountancy by 2020, and the sector had already grown to S$1.8 billion (Singapore Dollars) by 2015. Digital marketers are also in high demand with mobile marketing becoming the dominant medium to advertise to a brand's consumers.

While growth in the banking and finance sector is expected to be low this year, Singapore's economy continues to be Triple-A rated with over 700 financial institutions providing a wide array of financial services. Some bright spots are seen in the sector as the Monetary Authority of Singapore commits S$225 million to grow the country's financial technology capabilities. With a S$19billion government investment in its Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan, and as Asia's fastest growing bio-cluster, the demand for health and life sciences professionals with specialist skill sets and talent is expected to remain high.

You can download the full Singapore Salary Guide, with information on salary ranges for a wide range of positions, at Kelly Services. Consult the key industries guide for more information about the top-ranking professions.

Browse international available jobs online at ST Jobs or Kelly Services. Not all Singaporean companies advertise their roles, so you may want to register with a reputable, sector-specific recruitment agency or contact a company that specialises in international executive searches. If you are an entrepreneur looking for business opportunities in Singapore, you may find the website GuideMeSingapore useful, offering up-to-date information on business incorporation and relocation to Singapore.


The Straits Times, the main English-language newspaper in Singapore, has an entire section dedicated to Manpower in Singapore and publishes a "Classified Jobs" and "Executive Appointments" supplement every Saturday, listing a wide range of job opportunities, while its classifieds section even has its own mobile app downloadable on iTunes or Google Play.

Job applications

As with the majority of business practices in the country, the job application process tends to follow European and North American standards and usually involves the submission of a CV, covering letter, and online application form. Brevity, succinctness, and politeness are expected within covering letters, presented in a formal tone. Containing no more than three or four paragraphs of text (maximum one page) your application should clearly demonstrate your suitability for the post. Recruiters prefer you to put your information in chronological order to see your career progression at a glance, and it’s a good idea to include an executive summary with relevant work experience. 

The interview process tends to replicate international standards and often comprises at least two rounds if you’re applying for an executive position. The first will be to shortlist the pool of applicants, while the second round will focus in more depth on your level of expertise and appropriateness for the role, as well as beginning with online psychometric and competency testing. Sometimes recruitment managers will meet with you at the company’s head office in your home country, but interviews are most often conducted by a telephone or video conference interview, before moving on to face-to-face panel interviews with key managerial staff. Whether you’re attending an interview in person or via video conference, basic etiquette still applies. Be punctual for the call and dress appropriately.

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