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Top 5 Trends In Singapore Job Hunting and Recruitment Right Now
Nov 11, 2014 -

This article was first published in Singapore Business Review on December 11th 2014.  To see the original visit


Year end is approaching and top of many people’s minds in Singapore, or at least following closely behind shopping, celebrations, and holidays, will be plans for 2015.

The tradition in many sectors in Singapore has long been to use the year end as an opportunity to re-evaluate career prospects and to see whether the grass could be greener at another firm.

So if you do decide to enter the job hunting market – what can you expect? These are the top 5 trends right now:

1) The Recruitment Market is Buoyant – at least in Most Sectors
Recruitment across Singapore has continued to be strong with an estimated 65,000 job vacancies available in the last half of 2014.

Employment expectations amongst the managerial ranks have remained positive particularly in the areas of Finance, Hotel and Hospitality, with only Real Estate and Construction not matching the demand of other sectors – unsurprising given the state of the property market.

2) Companies Want to Hire “Local Talent”
With the various restrictions and controls on foreign employee numbers and quality that have been put in place, there is a now greater emphasis on placing Singaporeans into current vacancies rather than attracting talent from abroad.

In fact, many firms go beyond government guidelines and are making a concerted effort to recruit local talent in mid-management and general office positions. The Finance sector in particular has put in more adventurous local hiring practices.

Some banks such as Barclays have asked their agents to put at least three Singaporean candidates forward for any advertised post. Whether this is a sector-specific initiative or if it will become the norm in other industries remains to be seen.

Senior and specialist posts continue to be open to overseas candidates where specific skills and experience are limited in Singapore. However, opportunities for overseas candidates who are competing with Singaporeans for mid-level positions in accounts, finance, business, and professional services are likely to be more limited in the longer term based on current trends.

3) The Impact of Jobs Bank
In August the government introduced the national Jobs Bank where employers are required to advertise positions on the national jobs board for at least fourteen days before being eligible to apply for an Employment Pass for a foreign employee.

Jobs Bank is free for employers and there are currently over 25,000 jobs posted on this site. What does this mean for the paid jobs portals? They appear to be continuing to perform well as a quick glance shows that JobsDB has 26,000 postings, Jobstreet 46,000, and Monster close to 9,000.

Whether this is down to better usability, established brand recognition, or value adding services is open to debate. What is certain is that they face tough competition now they have a free-to-use government-backed rival.

Two important things to note about Jobs Bank is that advertising is required only for roles paying less than SGD12,000 a month and firms with more than 25 employees. This is partly driven by the government’s recognition of the role Executive Search plays in niche industries and at the upper end of the recruitment market.

4) Developments in the Recruitment Agency / Executive Search Firm Market
The last few years has seen dramatic changes in the recruitment agency and executive search industry in Singapore. Whilst the sector is now more highly regulated than elsewhere in the world with greater barriers to entry, the number of recruitment firms has continued to grow and now stands at close to 3,500.

Even if we were to strip out the firms who place only FDWs (foreign domestic workers) there are still over 2,300 licensed recruitment agencies in Singapore.

One hopes that the increased competition and regulation will help to drive up standards in the recruitment industry so that job seekers and employers alike will receive a better standard of service; however for some of the less scrupulous operators this has the opposite effect as firms seek to gain an advantage by cutting corners, behaving less ethically and reducing service levels.

For a job seeker, it makes sense to cultivate relationships with one or two headhunters who specialise in your field. They can help you to access relevant career opportunities and if they believe you are right for the role will actively promote you to their client.

But good advice would be to consider who you are dealing with – after all you will be giving them sensitive information and to a degree placing your career in their hands.

If you can, ask friends or ex-colleagues for recommendations, and back this up by searching LinkedIn to find headhunters who specialise in your industry. A headhunter with market knowledge and a track record is more likely to add value to your job search and also more likely to behave ethically.

5) Job Hopping pays off – if done in moderation!
With a buoyant hiring market and a finite supply of available talent, most firms in most sectors will be prepared to pay someone a premium for changing employers – after all by changing employer you will be leaving a comfort zone and an established network to take on new challenges and there is a risk involved.

How much you can get depends on a lot of factors and there is no market rate. We routinely see people receive anything from 5% to 30% uplift when moving jobs – and in most cases this amount dwarfs the annual salary increment that their employer has been giving them.

Beware doing this too often – employers in Singapore are often turned off by too many job moves and the more times you change employer, the less marketable you become. But by making a smart and well considered change of employer every few years you will incrementally increase your income over the course of a career.