Back in San Francisco, I worked at Booking.com, Google, and OmniSci (a startup). In Singapore, I work in digital media, working closely in the venture capital and startup scene in SEA. Not surprisingly, many of my friends here work at Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Gojek, Twitter, or are starting their own startups here. Since I’m still exposed to the tech and startup scene, I hope this info can be of help to anyone looking to find a tech job in Singapore.
I also want to let you know that it’s not that easy to get a tech job here in SG, as they’ve raised the minimum expat salary for employment passes and want an even higher level of expertise for foreign workers, but if you have the right background, skillset, and experience, I’m sure you can make your way here.
Employment passes criteria include a minimum salary of $4,500 and acceptable qualifications. From 1 December 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for EP candidates in the financial services sector will be raised to $5,000 for new applications.
The Employment Pass is for foreign professionals who:
- Have a job offer in Singapore.
- Work in a managerial, executive or specialised job.
- Earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $4,500 (older, more experienced candidates need higher salaries).
- Have acceptable qualifications, usually a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialised skills.
Tip 1: Look for tech jobs in the right places. Keep track of tech news and which tech companies are establishing HQs in Singapore — this is beneficial.
Be strategic — do your research. Some international companies have offices in Singapore that surprised me, like Airbnb, RedHat, Disney+, SAP, Dyson, and more. I know that Tesla is slowly expanding here as well, especially since a Charging Manager Charging Infrastructure role opened up in Singapore; the job is literally to establish charging stations in Singapore, so you know Tesla jobs are coming to SG!
Many hubs might be sales offices, but you should dig into what teams they have located here. On the top of my head — I currently know that Salesforce, Bytedance, and Huawei are hiring aggressively. Additionally, because of Hong Kong’s unstable political climate, companies are turning to Singapore to move their establishments and offices. Chinese companies are also establishing entities and partnerships here, which Singapore has benefitted greatly.
Read the news — see where companies are moving and coming from.
Tip 2: Build those relationships because you’re going to need them. Many things in Singapore are relationship-dependent.
Build relationships and touch points with people in the US at the company, as well as those in Singapore. Relationship building is pretty big here in Singapore. One of my expat friends also mentioned that because the tech hub in Singapore is smaller due to the natural size of this city-state, it’s easier to get to know people here through a 1st or 2nd degree connection — generally you can get introduced to someone through someone quite easily.
- Networking platforms — I’d recommend using LunchClub or any other networking platforms to set you up with people that you can network with. You can change your regional location on LunchClub to find people in the space you want to reach.
- Tap into alumni groups — If you came from Google, they even have an Xoogler group, so get into it and see how alumni can help you find a job here. The ivy league alumni groups here are quite strong. I’m a honorary member of the Columbia Alumni group because my friends are in the group, though I went to a state school. Still, I attend the events.
- Ask for help in your current network — my sister once told me something really important and it was that people will never know you’re looking for a job until you ask. Make it easy for people to help you. At this point, it’s okay to be shameless and cast your net wide to see who can help you.
Tip 3: If you already work in tech, try to internally transfer than start from scratch with another company. It is really easier this way.
This is your advantage. If you already work in tech (especially at one of the FAANG companies), then you do have an advantage already.
I spoke to an engineer friend of mine at Google — it’ll be a lot easier moving through a large conglomerate with headcount and budget rather than starting new on your own and finding your way here. You just have to build a case with the company you work at on why you want to pack up your bags and leave across the world. If you can transfer within your company, that’s the best option, really.
Tip 4: Find your value add — why do you deserve to work in Singapore? What value are you bringing over here?
This is rather important. Singapore has a growing workforce who are well-educated, well-traveled, and becoming more and more competitive. You should really build a case, find an angle, and show why you’re suited to be working in the tech space here in Singapore. Even if you get sponsored by your company, it doesn’t mean you’ll get an employee pass. You still need to be approved by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower — they look at everything, from your statement, college education and transcripts, past work history, etc.
What’s your angle? Examples could be: I’m from Silicon Valley, bringing startup experience overseas, or I worked in government relations with France, and hope to bring more French & Singapore alignment in the tech space.
Tip 5: This is really not for everyone, but you can employ yourself through an entrepreneur pass.
Your own tech job would be a founder and you can come into Singapore through a certain incubator, accelerator, or program. An entrepreneur pass generally lasts a year and you can basically apply to try and do your own startup at Entrepreneur First or Antler. You need to be accepted into the program first to even be considered for the pass, and then the program will sponsor you. You can then bring your startup idea or existing startup here, and try your hand at an incubator or accelerator.
Disclaimer: I am not a recruiter or topic expert, but this is what I’ve seen on the ground here and have found to be helpful. I’m just someone in Singapore who has made these interesting observations and given the same advice to friends back home who have personally asked me.
Emily is a US expat currently living in Singapore to learn about the tech communities growing in Asia. She has worked 4+ years in dev relations, community management, and event marketing within the tech and travel industry. Her time at OmniSci, Google and Booking.com gave her cross-functional expertise. In her free time, she is the host for the Asian Female Lead podcast and documents her life journey in digital at The Fang Girl. You can watch her YouTube vlogs.