Finding work in Singapore

September 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM 2 comments

So, you have finally decided to go out of your comfort zone and join the multitude of pinoys making a career mark abroad. If you’re one of the “lucky” ones who have been hired while you’re still in the Philippines or you’ve been offered an expat status, you may stop reading now. Otherwise, for those who are equally lucky but haven’t been found by companies based here, let me share with you some insights and guidelines based on our collective experience:


1. Why?

The first question you may want to ask is “WHY?” and I sternly hope that it’s not just about the money. Singapore is not the land flowing with milk and honey for everyone. It could be for most, but I repeat, NOT for everyone. Contemplate on your core motivation and see whether the move is for you or not. Evaluate your key strengths and check your willingness to compromise “some” comforts to fulfil your dream. There are a lot of trade-offs and you must really prepare yourself for them.

[For those with extra cash, I recommend a short visit and try to immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle: Take the bus, go to the suburbs, stay with a local/resident, talk to people.. Try not to act like a tourist on this trip. But NEVER engage in any form of work without a valid pass!!! It’s illegal.]


2. Apply for EPEC – Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate

This certificate, when approved, will allow you to stay in Singapore for a year to look for a job. You may register for an EPEC via:

The EPEC application is FREE but you will be asked to submit the following but not limited to:

  • Passport
  • Education certificates
  • Passport-size photo

The EPEC is NOT a guarantee that you will be able to land a job. It is different from a work pass. [The work pass will be secured by the company upon acceptance of the job offer].

Once you get an email approval, your certificate will be sent to the address indicated in your application. THE CERTIFICATE IS NOT YET YOUR LONG TERM SOCIAL VISIT PASS. You still have to apply for its ‘activation’ via

The processing for the long term pass would cost you 30SGD and approval would take five to six weeks. It would be best to activate it AT LEAST a month before you leave for Singapore. At this stage, your application for long term pass may still be rejected. But if approved, you will be asked to go for a medical check-up and pay 90SGD for the card.

Some people opted to fly to Singapore while they were having their long term pass processed. This option is possible since you are given 15 to 30 day-social visit pass. You may use this time to apply for work (pending the long term pass approval). Most of the time, people already found jobs even before their long term pass got approved, hence, there was no need to pay 90SGD.


3. Get yourself a Singapore SIM card

Companies are more inclined to call a local number. Your passport will be needed when you purchase a SIM card.


4. Build a strong CV, then customize accordingly

The internet has a wealth of information available that will help you in crafting your CV. And yes, customization is VERY important. In most cases, the companies prioritize employees who meet at least 80% of the criteria posted. Recruitment managers receive hundreds of applications per day and what better way to get yours noticed is to tailor-fit your CV based on the position and qualifications required. Ensure readability and be as clear and concise as possible.

Remember, never EVER lie on your resume! Also, never EVER use text or chat lingo (and jejemon for goodness’ sake!). Maintain formality and professionalism.


5. Visit job portals, meet head hunters, and participate in job fairs

Job fairs are mostly organized by job portals such as:

For professionals and executive positions, head hunters are the way to go. Executive positions are hardly advertised and most of the time, outsourced. Headhunters have tried and tested strategies to make you stand out from the pack. Not to mention the vast expanse of their industry contacts.

Headhunters do not charge the jobseekers, they are commissioned by companies looking for candidates to fill a vacancy. Recruitment companies, on the other hand, charge the jobseeker fees to set them up for interviews and/or help them throughout the job hunting process.

[I’ve heard from friends that paid recruiters also help speed up the process, but I cannot vouch for them since I haven’t tried getting their services. Will do my research and keep you guys posted.]


6. Networking

Referrals are the quickest, and probably the best way to find work. Go around and meet people. Some people may just opt to stay home and do online applications for the whole day to avoid unnecessary expense. There’s nothing wrong with that but trust me, getting people to refer you to job openings is a few steps closer to getting hired.


7. Be 101% prepared for interviews

Do your homework, research on the company before even attempting to set foot on it. Internet is probably the best resource to look up information about the company (whether they have their own website or not). Likewise, ALWAYS research on the exact location and the amount of time needed to get there, especially if you will be taking the public transport. Download maps, if you must and always allot an allowance despite Singapore’s transport efficiency.


8. Negotiate

Some people may advise you to just accept a lower level position than what you previously held in Manila. Again, this is up to you. Based on my experience, most companies prefer the “local experience” however, do not be disheartened. Especially for the first timers, I have always believed that you have already reached the face-to-face interview stage because they know you have something to offer them. They have seen an element in your application that has tickled their interest. Find out what they are after, and then build your case. Before accepting any offer, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

a. Is this job aligned with my long term career goal?

b. How will this company support my career development?

c. How do I feel about the office environment? Culture? Boss? Workplace distance?

d. Is the work schedule acceptable? (Some companies have 6-days workweek and/or require weekend shifts)

e. Of course, compensation package (with full consideration on the living expense. The amount may seem large when converted in Peso, but Singapore is way expensive compared to Manila). This should give you a basic idea of the salary:


9. Relax and be confident

People choose to work in Singapore for different reasons—and it is not always about money. Landing a job may take you a day or a month or sometimes, even a year. You may hear people tell you “if you do this, you’ll be this or if you do that, you’ll get that.” It depends. THERE IS NO PATTERN.

So what if it takes time for you to find work. I always tell people to enjoy their experience here. Do not fear rejection. It is natural that we can’t always get what we want when we want it. Not making the cut doesn’t always mean you are under qualified.


10. Pray – Need I say more?

My experience so far has been rewarding. Occasionally I still miss the comforts of having help to do my laundry, cook my food, and do the basic house chores. But ask me if the move is worth all the sacrifices, I’d give you a definite and resounding YES.


Entry filed under: 100% Singapore, Jobs, Living in Singapore. Tags: , .

LOVE: The relentless pursuit of perfection Sleepy at work?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. victor  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:55 PM


  • […] However, not everyone is lucky enough.  Before you make a decision- think about it, do some research, ask people around from the people you know and check out the online communities such as  Here’s some piece of advice from another Pinoy in Singapore. So, you have finally decided to go out of your comfort zone and join the multitude of pinoys making a career mark abroad. If you’re one of the “lucky” ones who have been hired while you’re still in the Philippines or you’ve been offered an expat status, you may stop reading now. Otherwise, for those who are equally lucky but haven’t been found by companies based here, let me share with you some insights and guidelines based on our collective expe … Read More […]


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