Thursday, December 16, 2010

4 The Jobseeker Guide to Singapore

This guide for job-seekers who want to find work in Singapore is created specifically for IT professionals. As this guide is a compilation of my experiences here so far, I cannot personally guarantee you to get a job here in Singapore. This is just a guide to maximize your chances to a successful hiring here and minimize the risks, again based on my experience. I will not be able to include tips or guides for you guys in industries like HRM, F&B and domestic helpers. In the future, unless our precious time permits, I can create an FAQ of sorts for other industries. Provided that I can interview people other than IT professionals for their success stories.

Are you ready to change your life?

First things first. Let me assume that your are still working in a company right now.

And you are unhappy.
Unhappy about your workload, your salary, your colleagues or the company's direction.
Or you want to change your working environment.

Let's say you've been transferring from company to company within your home country, without finding that special something you've been looking for in the past 2 years or so in a company. Or maybe you just want a change of pace.

So you decided to look for open positions in Singapore. Because Singapore is a information technology hub, you think you can easily get a job based on your experience as an IT professional. I agree with you. I also thought it's easy. Here's the catch: I was wrong!

It was NEVER easy for me.

So here's your chance to skip those hard exams of life that I've been through and guide you through the process with less or no trouble at all.

1. Prepare yourself. The first and nonetheless the most important part. You have to be financially, mentally,emotionally and physically prepared before even thinking about venturing out of your country. Life is already hard in your home country. And I can assure you, life is harder outside your country. Why? Back in your home country, where you grew up, you have your family and friends. Here, you have no one but yourself. It's good if you have any friends or family where you're going. And it's also good if you read this guide.

As you may notice, I ranked the four aspects on being prepared based on their importance. This is solely from my experience and opinion.

Financially, because you have to have money before you can even book a flight to Singapore. You have to have at least six months worth of your current salary saved on your bank account. This is the ideal scenario. In case you don't succeed on getting a job(..aaanyway let's be positive here, but... just in case), being out of a job will not be problem for you because you can live off from your savings for at least the next six months without relying on anybody.

Mentally prepared, includes knowledge and experience on the job your searching. You have to ask yourself: are you prepared to take on the challenge of working with resources from other countries? What drives you to find a job abroad? Can you handle it if you're unable to find a job in Singapore and go back to your country empty-handed? Are you mature enough to go solo in a foreign land?

Emotional maturity complements mental preparedness. Are you mature enough to leave your special someone back home while you're working abroad? Can you be sure that you can handle the temptations? Can you trust your partner? You should also be prepared for the times that you miss home and your family and friends and you just want to go back. Trust me, it will hit you. And it will hit you very hard. It will break you if your not strong enough.

Physical fitness is the last aspect that you should prepare for. Although physical strength is seldom used in IT world(except carrying heavy laptops and desktops), you should be free from illnesses and medical anomalies. You should be prepared when they require physical examination as a prerequisite before hiring you. Which is normal with almost all companies.

2. Update your resume. Updating your resume even before you try to search for an open position is a must. The reason for this is because once your resume is ready, you can immediately send it to hiring person in the event you find an opening. Also, once you finish updating it, sign up for an account in jobsites like Jobstreet, JobsDB, Monster, and Jobscentral. Make sure you select the sg domain, so your resume will be placed in SG pages by default. Create a profile to those websites and make it searchable by employers. Upload your resume to the newly created profile. After this, you can now search for job openings. Type in related keywords in the search box. For example, you can search for position titles like Application Support, Database Administrator or Java Developer. Or you can search for technology used like Oracle PL/SQL, C++ or HTML.You can opt to send resumes directly from your profile to the employer or get the email address of the hiring person and send your updated resume using your own email. Also indicate in your email application or resume that you'll be available for a face-to-face interview during the time you plan to go to Singapore.

3. Do your homework. *Flashback moment* During my school days, one thing I hate the most is homework. I never did one homework without muttering a word of disgust. *Flashback moment ends*
If only I could know that this part of studying would play a very important part when I reach adulthood, I would've done it better. I never thought that this duty as a student is a preparation for your life.

So.. if you learned your lesson at school, you'll be doing your homework for your life. If not, I suggest you read this guide thoroughly.

Learn about the IT companies in Singapore. Visit their official websites. Check out the forums.
Find out which company offers the kind of work or pay that you've been looking for.
Choose which company has openings on the technology or skills that you have. By doing so, you'll be narrowing down your potential employers. You'll be focusing on a specific group. In this way, you'll not spend too much time looking everywhere. This will also help you while further improving your resume.

4. Use your connections. Friends or relatives can help you while you're job hunting in Singapore. They can also give you a letter of invitation that you can show to the immigration officials. The letter should mention that you're just visiting Singapore for a holiday. 

5. Timing is everything. And a bit of luck. As we all know, the recession hit Asian countries very hard. Singapore is no exception. Immediately after I was hired, I've seen news that the government will be reducing hiring of foreign talents. That is very bad news for those who wish to work here. If possible, you can schedule your job hunting in the month of February and August. Preferably after Chinese New Year and during the 2nd to 3rd week of August. August is the last month of the fiscal year and most employees resign at the end of the fiscal year and after Chinese New Year. You can increase your chance of being hired by applying at these times when job openings are more than normal.

 In case you're still employed and your 2-week vacation is approved, then don't send the resignation letter yet. You can at least try to apply first at that time. Whether you are successful or not, you can have a fall-back plan. If you've decided to resign(or already sent the letter), then let it be.

And.... this is it.

Things to Remember:
1. Make sure that you've booked two-way airline tickets to Singapore and back. The flight itinerary will be asked from you in the Immigration.
2. Print your resume. You should have extra copies with you.
3. You should have at least enough show money to cover your whole stay, lodging, food, etc., in case the immigration official asks.
4. Be early for your scheduled flight. A two-hour before boarding is ok. Better early than sorry.
5. Don't be nervous. When asked by the immigration official, answer normally. Be normal.
6. Always bring a pen with you.
7. Bring an openline handphone. You'll use it for SingTel, StarHub or M1 SIM card for calls from potential employer once you're here.
8. Be positive. Pray hard.

Good luck!!!

Life is harsh. It is unforgiving. Might as well prepare for the unexpected.


Anonymous said...

nice elmer huh! didn't know that u have good writing skills. Keep it going :) glad u found a job here :) Goodluck in all ur plans and continue blogging.

Anonymous said...

- Patricia May

Elmer said...

Maraming salamat po! :-D

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