Working in Singapore for Fresh Graduates
If you’re planning to work in Singapore after graduation, you’re heading in the right direction. But, getting a job can be so difficult and stressful especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Don’t worry, here we have some tips & tricks for you!
Apply for Internship
If you are still in school, soon-to-be-graduate and want to have a taste of working life in Singapore, you may consider to take an internship. You can get a real-life work experiences and if the company finds that you are capable and suitable for a particular position, you might get hired as a full-time employee. To be eligible, you must be currently hold a student pass as a full-time student in any university in Singapore.
For internship opportunities:
Ask your university if they have partnerships with Singapore tertiary institutions.
Apply directly to Singapore companies, or
Go to internship sites such as Intern SG for help.
Understand Working Conditions in Singapore
Singapore has a competitive, health and friendly environment for locals, expats, even fresh graduates who would like to start their career here. Singapore’s high standard of living and low unemployment rate are some of clear evidence to proof the high quality working conditions that exist in Singapore. Understanding working conditions is a good initial step for you to take, to prevent any major culture shock and help you to get a rewarding experiences while working in Singapore.
Most employees in Singapore work five days a week, up to 44 hours. Normal office hours in Singapore are Monday to Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm and from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. There is often a half day on Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Vacation leave varies from seven to 14 days, usually increasing with length of service and seniority. Contracts often include two to three weeks of paid sick leave and hospitalisation leave.
Salaries in Singapore are amongst the most competitive in Asia and the good news is it also applied for fresh graduates. It is a common practice for companies to offer a fixed bonus at the end of the year, equivalent to one month’s salary. In addition, variable bonuses are sometimes declared, depending on the company and individual’s performance.
Singapore recognizes eleven public holidays and eight major festivals that illustrate the religious and cultural diversity throughout Singapore. Among the public holidays are Easter and Christmas Day, as well as National Day and New Year’s Day. Other major religious holidays include Chinese New Year, Buddhist Vesak Day, Muslim Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha and Hindu Deepavali.
In the Singaporean work culture, punctuality is highly regarded and therefore important. Another quick tip is to avoid intense eye contact with an older person because it is seen as disrespectful.
Find a Suitable Job
Believe it or not, finding a job in Singapore is best done through word-of-mouth. Networking and reputation in some cases count for more than paper qualifications.
To find out any job opportunities available and extend your network, you might also want to attend job fairs. Before you go, check out who are the participating companies, zoom in on those that interest you and research on them. Prepare a one-minute “pitch” about yourself, covering aspects such as who you are, why you are interested in the company and how your background is relevant to the company or position. And don’t forget to prepare some questions for the company representatives, they might reveal some secrets to help you get into their company.
Online job portals such as JobsCentral.com, Jobstreet and Jobsdb have become main sources of such information that would help you in your job quest. You can register for an account, create an online résumé and use it to apply for suitable jobs. The Singapore government also has an official portal that serves as a database for public sector job listings.
Go through schools
Plan a visit your old poly or university, and check with the alumni club. Most of them have some sort of mailing list, that provides information about alumni member, job opportunity and so on. One quick tip, being referred by an alumni member is better than going through a job agency. It’s free, and it’s a personal recommendation.
Prepare and Submit Your Résumé
Once you’ve decided on the jobs to apply for, you’ll need to get started on your résumé. If this is the first time for you to write a résumé, it can be very tricky. Remember to be succinct and include the important details that are relevant to the job opening. Make good use of reader-friendly formatting. Always ensure that you have proofread your résumé to avoid typos and grammatical errors.
Many Singaporean recruiters prefer to read résumés in chronological format. It allows them to see your work experience and professional growth at a glance. It is also useful to include an executive summary at the top of your résumé to list your key skills, relevant work experience and achievements. Most employers accept résumés via email instead of hard copy applications.
Need more tips on writing effective CVs? Find out more.
Impress Your Interviewers
You will be informed once you are shortlisted for an interview. If you are overseas, you might possibly be interviewed over the phone, via video conference or through the company’s representative office.
To impress your interviewer, you might need to prepare an essay or presentation by researching about the company beforehand. Make sure you know about their products or services, the business challenges they face, their future plans, and so on. Also, prepare for commonly asked questions such as, “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses”, “Why are interested in this position” and “What would you bring to the job”.
Run through a mock interview with a friend to rehearse your answers and the appropriate body language. And of course, do not overlook basic etiquette such as punctuality and dressing appropriately. Singapore is still a fairly conservative society, so it is generally a better idea to present a “modest”, professional image.
Never ask about your salary during the first interview – it might give the impression that you are only interested in the money rather than the job. Salary negotiations can wait until you have been formally offered the job.
Accept a Job Offer
You will need to wait for few days or weeks after the interview for the final decision. If the company decided to offer you a position, you can accept or reject. To accept a job offer, you will need to sign an employment contract. The contract usually lay out the terms of your employment including salary, bonuses, working hours, and paid leaves. Before you sign, double check your contract terms carefully. You will usually have two to five days to review the contract terms before you sign the contract.
Apply for Your Work Pass
To work in Singapore, you need to hold a valid work pass. Your employer will apply for your work pass after you have secured your job. Few things you need to know about work pass in Singapore:
Different work visas are available depending on the nature of your employment.
Your employer will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter upon approval of your pass.
The IPA letter is valid for six months and is needed when you collect your pass from the Ministry of Manpower.
You may only collect your pass from the Employment Pass Service Centre (EPSC).
Want to learn more about work passes in Singapore? Find out more
To check if you qualify for a work pass, please use the Self-Assessment Tool.