Earlier this year, Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living survey ranked Singapore as the top city to live in—thanks to its infrastructure. 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 at its slowest since 2003. Moreover, the average unemployment rate also rose to its highest of 2.1% in 2010. Thus, it is not surprising that fresh graduates face difficult times in landing full-time jobs.
They reported earlier this year that some graduates are forced to do internships or pursue further studies to broaden their employment horizons.
But why is it difficult to find a job in the city-state?
One of the reasons it is difficult to find a job in Singapore is the competitive labour market.
Citizens and expats are competing for a 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 global talents.
Are you an honour student in Information Technology? Systems Analysts currently earn SGD 5,593 per month.
Who would not want to earn that much, right?
The same thing goes for looking for a “blue-collar job” or jobs that require manual labour. Singapore is a small and economically prosperous country. Rather larger, developing countries surround it. That’s why it makes the country attractive to overseas blue-collar workers.
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, 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 the Construction and Marine sectors.
“The decline was mainly due to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Marine and Construction due to low oil prices and continued weakness in construction activities, respectively.”
The Singaporean government seeks to boost the construction industry in line with this. How? Bring forward SGD 700 million worth of public amenities projects for the next two years.
What does this mean for the job seeker? First, consider the tips in finding Singapore jobs in the Building and Construction Authority.
According to Dr Walter Theseira, an economist at the Singapore Institute of Management, skills mismatch is why 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 seek graduates with specialised degrees. So students who have a degree in arts or social sciences may not be highly sought after. But 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:
It is already a given that it is difficult to find a job in Singapore. But, good thing, there are practical tips that you can do to make looking for a job less painful.
The city-state can be a host to many markets. However, some industries are stronger compared to others. As stated in 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 a high employment rate, you can always check out MOM’s Administrative Records and Labour Force survey.
There are tons of resources available when looking for a job. And the easiest way to do that is to access the Internet. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed 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. So, 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.
Speaking of resumes, it is also essential to create a catchy resume. Remember, you are competing against hundreds of job applicants. Therefore, you need to find a way to stand out and catch the recruiter’s attention.
Here are some quick tips:
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, and prepare you for job interviews.
The good thing is that employment agencies are available for both Singaporeans and expats. So all you need to do is conduct thorough research. Then, look for agencies with a lot of positive reviews.
Job opportunities may come in unexpectedly. If you are not having any luck on 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 needs your skills.
To many, having a stable job means being able to provide for their family. After all, Singapore is one of the costliest cities 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. As a result, you can 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.