Earlier this year, Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living survey ranked Singapore as the top city to live in—thanks to its infrastructures. However, the country is also facing challenges when it comes to employment.
In fact, the Ministry of Manpower revealed that the employment growth rate in Singapore was as its slowest since 2003. The average unemployment rate also rose to its highest to 2.1% since 2010. Thus, it is not surprising that fresh graduates are facing difficult times to land full-time jobs.
It was reported earlier this year that some graduates are forced to do internships or pursue further studies to broaden their employment horizon.
But why is it difficult to find a job in the city-state?
Competitive Labour Market
One of the reasons it is difficult to find a job in Singapore is because of the competitive labour market.
Citizens and expats are competing for the highly educated workforce. In fact, 29.1% of the country’s residents aged 25 years and over are university graduates. Add to that the fact that Singapore offers enticing work opportunities for the global talents.
Are you an honour student in Information Technology? Systems Analysts currently earns SGD 5,593 per month.
Who would not want to earn that much, right?
The same thing goes if you are looking for a “blue collar job” or jobs that require manual labour. Singapore is a small and economically prosperous country. It is surrounded by rather larger, developing countries. This makes the country attractive to overseas blue collar workers.
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In the Q2 2017 release of MOM’s Labour Market report, resident unemployment rate and retrenchments continue to go down, although slow. According to OCBC economist Selena Ling, that’s because companies are instituting a hiring freeze and are reluctant to replace their employees who resigned.
On the other hand, the continuing decline in overall employment is due to decreasing numbers of Work Permit Holders in Construction and Marine sectors.
“The decline was mainly due to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Marine and Construction, a result of low oil prices and continued weakness in construction activities respectively.”
In line with this, the Singaporean government seeks to boost the construction industry. How? By bringing forward SGD 700 million worth of public amenities projects for the next two years.
What does this mean for the job seeker? Consider applying for a job in the Building and Construction Authority.
According to Dr. Walter Theseira, an economist at Singapore Institute of Management, skills mismatch is the reason new graduates are having a hard time gaining permanent, full-time employment. Usually, the job seeker’s skills do not suit the client’s expectations.
The Singapore Human Resource Institute also pointed out that companies are seeking graduates with specialized degrees. So students who have a degree in arts or social sciences may not be highly sought after. On the other hand, SHRI’s president, Erman Tan, advises:
“This is not to say they don’t have prospects, but they need to be able to present to employers the additional strengths or skills that they have to stand out.”
So, how can you stand out from the sea of job applicants? Follow the five tips below:
5 Tips for Landing Your Dream Job
It is already a given that it is difficult to find a job in Singapore. Good thing, there are practical tips that you can do to make the process of looking for a job less painful.
Know What is in Demand
The city-state can be a host to many markets. However, there are industries that are stronger compared to others. As stated on MOM’s Labour Market report:
“Hiring remains cautious in sectors such as Construction and Marine, but opportunities will continue to be available in Finance & Insurance, Infocomms & Media, Healthcare, Professional Service and Wholesale Trade.”
To know if your desired job has high employment rate, you can always check out MOM’s Administrative Records and Labour Force survey.
Search for Job Openings Online
There are tons of resources available when looking for a job. And the easiest way to do that is to access is the Internet. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed when searching through the job board or job search sites.
The solution? Use a job aggregator or subscribe to LinkedIn’s job opening newsletter. That way, you can check out what jobs are available in your area in one place.
Some job ads also provide an email address where you can send your resume. Instead of collecting all the online job ads, reading them one-by-one, and sending your application, send your resume via email instead. It is ideal since your resume and cover letter will go straight to the recruiter’s inbox.
Create a Catchy Resume
Speaking of resumes, it is also important to create a catchy resume. Remember, you are competing against hundreds of job applicants. You need to find a way to stand out and catch the recruiter’s attention.
Here are some quick tips:
- Keep your resume headline short and sweet.
- Personalize your resume’s format.
- Use formal text fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial.
- Proofread your resume and cover letter before sending it.
Visit an Employment Agency
Although a myriad of job openings are available online, it is also a good idea to join an employment agency.
A recruitment agent can help you work on your resume, understand the industry where you want to be, as well as prepare you for job interviews.
The good thing is that there are employment agencies available for both Singaporeans and expats. All you need to do is conduct a thorough research, and look for agencies with a lot of positive reviews.
Join Networking Events
Job opportunities may come in unexpectedly. If you are not having any luck in job sites or employment agencies, meeting other people might help.
Attend networking events and reach out to other professionals. Some people attending professional meetups, like Startup Grind Singapore, are looking for people who can work with them. Either they have a startup or are venturing out to other markets.
If not, they may be able to introduce you to someone who is in need of your skills.
Your Employment is Also an Investment
To many, having a stable job means being able to provide for their family. After all, Singapore is one of the costliest city to live in, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.
On a personal level, being employed gives you a sense of fulfilment because you are being productive. You are able to alleviate your family’s economic status. And you are also helping the economy to move forward.
Regardless if you are a new graduate or looking for greener pastures, being employed could mean enjoying a good life—especially in the future.
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