Singapore – Make the Smart Choice
Singapore – Make the Smart Choice
Over the past few decades, Singapore has built itself a reputation as a peaceful and beautiful little country – a real tourist magnet. But this island-country is also a commercial and financial hub that offers plenty of opportunities to build a life and career within its safe and secure environs.
Here’s your chance to check out everything about the melting pot that Singapore is and to explore the many options in this fun-loving nation:
A galloping economy
Singapore is home to a multicultural workforce of Chinese, Malays, Indians and others, and has a population of a little less than five million.
The country offers well-developed infrastructure and low cost of operations, attracting many international companies that set up their back-end operations here.
The unemployment rate in Singapore is very low and the robust economy attracts skilled and qualified professionals from all over the world. Singapore’s job market has been improving in the last couple of years, as shown by the Asia Job Index, which tracks job-ad volume in print and online media. The index reported jobs ads to have increased substantially from 45,000 in December 2008 to 60,000 in December 2009.
Singapore has over 14,000 MNCs operating across scores of sectors.
With the rapid growth in banking and finance, hiring in these sectors is on an upswing. Singapore’s total assets under management are among the highest in Asia.
Other than finance, some sectors, in particular, are witnessing hiring in very high numbers. These include:
- Biomedical sciences
- Digital media
- Supply Chain
- Real Estate
For jobseekers, such a spurt in demand often leads to better pay packages.
Earn your keep
Salaries in Singapore are amongst the most competitive in Asia. PayScale’s Singapore Salary Survey Data indicates that working for many years might be the best investment one could make in this country; comparing entry-level salaries in Singapore with salaries for individuals who have at least 20 years of experience shows an exponential increase in pay. Individuals with less than one year of experience earn a median salary of around S$30,000 while the median for those with 20 years of experience is close to S$120,000. This jump is partly because salaries are regularly reviewed and updated by national task forces which work to ensure that wages match the increase in the cost of living and are in line with changes in the global economy.
Companies also build various types of incentives into their compensation packages. Goods and services are not taxed too heavily and even personal income tax goes up only till 20% for those who fall within the highest tax bracket.
Meanwhile, approximately 65% of Singaporeans are not liable to pay any tax due to the structure of their pay packages and the exemptions they are eligible for.
Foreigners and expat workers receive exemptions under schemes such as Spouse relief, NOR (Not Ordinarily Resident) scheme, and others.
At the workplace
The typical office in Singapore is a fair blend of natives and expats. The populace is young, with a number of professionals being in their 20s and 30s.
The country follows a five-day work week, from Monday through Friday. Some companies also work half-days on Saturday, but the maximum required work hours per week are 44. Also, residents are not required to work past the legal retirement age of 60.
The expat experience
ECA International has ranked Singapore as the top Asian city for expats. Foreigners account for one-third of the population. English is the language of commerce and convenience, and easy transport and healthcare facilities are the cherry on the cake.
Singapore has a very low crime rate. Sport, travel and entertainment opportunities are very good and the food is a dream!
Those who have kids can easily employ helpers; overall security is good and international schools provide a very high standard of education which is paid-for by your employer.
At the country’s famed hawker food-stalls, or once your colleagues at work are comfortable with you, you’ll soon be exposed to a constant stream of Singapore’s unique brand of English: Singlish.
License to stay
Singapore welcomes expats and has made it quite easy for foreigners to obtain work permits.
However, given the high number of expats and qualified professionals already living there, newcomers may find it harder to obtain a job – and thus, a work permit – in Singapore. There are lots of opportunities, but most of these go to people who hold a valid work permit and currently reside in Singapore.
Nevertheless, with the right qualifications and by putting in adequate effort, you will be able to find an interesting opportunity in this country. People who wish to work in Singapore need to apply for an Employment Pass (EP). To apply for an EP, your fixed monthly salary should be more than S$2500. Additionally, you must have relevant educational qualifications, specialist skills or significant experience in your area of work. People who have lived or worked in Singapore in the past are preferred over others.
Ultimately, once the hard work of obtaining an EP for yourself is done, you can easily get a Dependent Pass or Long-term Visit Pass for your family.
Interested? Sign up now!
To get your dream job in Singapore, use our FREE TRIAL of the Personal Job Hunt Manager where a real person helps you at every stage of your job search process, finds jobs that fit your profile and tailors your CV & applications to the selected jobs.
After a period of sluggishness, the job market in Dubai is looking up again. The first to benefit from this will be people who had stayed put at their – often unsatisfactory – jobs out of fear of the ‘Last in, First out’ risk of starting a new job during a recession. But things have changed and today, as a top recruitment industry expert puts it, several candidates whose careers had stagnated are looking for opportunities to move out of their current positions. Obviously, this translates into pressure for employers, 85% of whom are now worried about losing their ‘A’ teams.
If you are among those looking for growth or a better package, or simply, an exciting new job in a sector of your choice, then this is the right time for you too.
In a recent survey, a prominent UAE job portal found that as many as 66% of companies in the UAE are looking to hire within the next year. On an average day, this website lists 11,000 new jobs – a big jump from last year’s figures.
Confirming the trend, last September, the Monster job portal saw its ‘Employment Index Middle East’ jump by 10% year-on-year. However, before you rush to revamp your resume, take a moment and heed these words of advice:
- Do your research: Study prospective employers and be sure of their prospects before you agree to a position with any company.
- Work with the best: Select a recruitment agency/ firm and see whether they have the right knowledge about your sector to do the best for you.
Sectors set to grow
With 80% of all UAE companies looking to hire* within the next six months, it is worthwhile to figure out your options – and prospects – in various industries.
To start with, those in banking and finance are likely to benefit the most. As many as 85% of companies will look to recruit finance professionals, either to expand their teams or just to maintain status quo by replacing employees who have been lured away by greener prospects. Only 5% companies will actually cut down on their headcounts, even as opportunities abound in both, Dubai as well as Abu Dubai.
By announcing a slew of large-scale development projects, the UAE government is doing its bit to fuel this trend. This has encouraged private companies to follow suit. Because of this, oil, gas and petrochemicals will start looking up, further spurring growth in related sectors such as banking, construction, real estate and logistics. Spill-over effects will, of course, also be seen in the FMCG and retail segments.
These trends will be reflected in recruitment figures: 34% of top hires will head out to jobs in banking & finance, 32% will find themselves working in oil, gas and petrochemicals, while 27% will be picked up by telecommunications companies.
But, even as employees rejoice, recruiters are having sleepless nights trying to locate the right talent to fill various job roles. 87% of recruiters are finding it difficult to fill jobs, especially roles in financial or management accounting. With demand being so high, there is an additional fear of losing existing talent to competition, which explains the hefty pay hikes being seen in this vertical.
Several companies are actively courting expats to fill important positions, bringing in attractive packages/ benefits to do so.
Employees and companies alike are confident about the future, with 81% employees expressing positivity regarding the country’s growth prospects and 92% regarding their own company’s future.
Smart tips to a better salary/ package
In further good news, pay hikes will be back and most employees can expect to receive a decent 5% above-inflation increment over their current salary. Since pay is influenced by consumer price inflation, this hike indicates a real, as opposed to merely notional, growth in pay.
A recent online poll revealed that 90% of people working in the UAE believe they are underpaid. For these employees, even the increments they are set to receive this year may be of little consolation; many of them are actually finding it hard to meet the escalating cost of living in this region. Salaries had stagnated over the past two years and employees are now bearing the effects of this stagnation. The way out, of course, is to ask for what you feel you truly deserve. But there is a method to doing this right:
- Know your worth: Just as you research prospective employers and compare them with their peers, now do the same for yourself. Compare your pay with what your peers in different companies are being paid, for the same type of work. To do this, you can use online job portals to research how much is being offered to people with your experience, in your sector. Or just pick up the phone and call a friend who might be willing to share his/ her salary details over a friendly chat.
- Narrow down your range: Based on your research, come up with a realistic figure/ range that you think you should be paid. At this stage, also consider any other benefits that you might be receiving, which others in the industry may not have. For instance, you could have flexi-timings, additional leave options, company-sponsored health insurance, etc. Remember, not all remuneration is monetary, so focus on the entire package and not just the money you get.
- Gear up: Put together your key findings for ready reference. Have the facts and data handy. During the discussion with your boss/ prospective employer, you will have to focus on the quality of your work, the depth of your experience, and your significant achievements. “Maintain records of your achievements, hitting of targets and endorsements for out-of-the-box things you have done that has contributed to the bottom line, improvement of work environment, or new ideas you came up with that helped the business,” advises Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at Huxley Associates.
- Be realistic: Recognise that you won’t suddenly receive a 40% hike, even if you managed to present a strong case for it. Salary hikes top off at 18-20% so if you get close to that, you’ve done well.
- Learn to say ‘no’: If you think the amount being offered is simply not justified, then do not let yourself be swayed into saying yes. The salary that you get upon taking up a new job will be your baseline for all future increments. So it is important to start with the correct baseline.
- Keep your mind open: If your company is unable to meet your monetary expectations, perhaps they would be willing to negotiate on the benefits? See whether you can improve your overall package, even if you do not receive a fantastic monetary hike.
Peak performance comes with perks!
Across the UAE, employees are seeking certain perks to enhance their quality of life. Most people try to maintain a good work-life balance, with flexi-time jobs finding more takers than the traditional 9-to-5 workplace. Government departments and companies like Microsoft and IBM excel at doing this, by offering work-from-home and other family-friendly options.
A recent ‘employee motivation’ survey said that 75% professionals really value work-life balance and find it motivating to work for a company that offers these options.
Expats working in the UAE, meanwhile, look to their employers to provide medical insurance, a special housing allowance/ company-provided accommodation, school fees for their kids, home-and-back air tickets for self and family, as well as a sizeable annual bonus on their salary.
For most expats, the no-tax system is a key factor that propels them to pick the UAE over other destinations, shares Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing and Operations Director, Stanton Chase International. Being valued at their workplace, training and development opportunities are additional considerations.
The top factors that come into play are:
- Work-life balance
- Training / development opportunities (54%)
- Feeling that their work has an impact (44%)
- Recognition of work and achievements
- Opportunity for career advancement (41%)
So there, just go out and grab what you deserve. 2013 is the year for you!
*Source: Executive search firm, Robert Half internationalComplimentary, International Job Market Telephone Consultation & CV/resume Appraisal
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