Singapore Expats Forum

ADVICE NEEDED !

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

duffman
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ADVICE NEEDED !

Postby duffman » Mon, 30 Jun 2014 1:26 pm

So quick details before my rant :P
-18, AUS, just started Accounting/finance degree + love asian countries and their cultures & travelling to new places


I was just wondering (preparing myself for the future here) how you guys managed to find expat jobs ? was it pure luck that you landed in the right company and got offered a job overseas and jumped at the chance ? or did you guys look for jobs in companies that had business overseas and asked at the first chance to work overseas ?

Just curious as once i finish my degree i would love to work overseas (in basically any asian country) while i'm still young for an extended period of time

+ what sectors do you guys work in ?
& and is there enough accounting/finance jobs overseas ? :/

Thanks heaps in advance

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Postby statelessrich » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 8:16 am

Hi duffman,

Like you, I'm a foreigner (American) looking to relocate to Singapore.
I have 3 years of experience as a software engineer.
I've been submitting applications to many different job boards like jobsdb, jobstreet, and monster. I just started applying to jobs, so no telling if I'll be successful yet as a foreigner. I hope someone can help us out.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:15 am

Good luck if you are in accounting/finance or IT. Droves of locals in Singapore and elsewhere will compete with you for less money and they will always get preference over a foreigner.

My view is that the only people in accounting/finance that are being transferred into Asia and other parts of Asia are the experienced, group or department level people who have P&L responsibility. Probably this is not the case for China where demand far outstrips supply but you better be able to speak Chinese.

If you want to work in Asia, consider teaching English in Thailand as a starter. My judgment is that you are perceiving yourself in a "stock" career path in some corporation, only you want to do it in Asia. Don't!... not the stock path.

At 18, you've got the world ahead of you. Don't limit your options... what's so f*cking hot about a career in finance anyway? Do something completely different. Volunteer. Take a year sabbatical. Then decide what you want to do.

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Postby duffman » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:55 am

Hey statelessrich,
Best of luck ! Hope you land that dream job :)

Thanks for the advice Strong Eagle ! Currently planning to study a semester or year abroad while I'm at Uni to get a feel for living in a different country aswell as hopefully picking up a bit of a new langauge :)

Reason for wanting a career in Accounting/Finance is I just enjoy working/dealing with money and I'm good at it I guess.

And yeah about the reduced wages locals would work for, my old man would said that would be an issue, as well as the crazy amount of hours they work apparently.

But bottom line, I just want to live comfortably in another country :)

And volunteer work sounds like a good idea ! :D


Thanks heaps !
Last edited by duffman on Tue, 01 Jul 2014 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Girl_Next_Door » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 11:45 am

Another alternatives is, study really hard and get yourself into one of the banks' "Management Associates" program. Most of them have overseas program and many are on an accelerated career path (assuming that you are actually good in doing your job as well).

They are not easy to get in, and requires really good results.

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Re: ADVICE NEEDED !

Postby JR8 » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:27 pm

duffman wrote:I was just wondering (preparing myself for the future here) how you guys managed to find expat jobs ? was it pure luck that you landed in the right company and got offered a job overseas and jumped at the chance ? or did you guys look for jobs in companies that had business overseas and asked at the first chance to work overseas ?


For me it was the former, pure luck.
I joined a bank in their Operations dept, and worked my nuts off for 2 years (made sense, I was being paid by the hour!). So impressed were they it seems, that they eventually hired me, as permanent staff in Product Control (daily trading P+L, risk etc).

Around a year later, totally out of the blue they called me in and explained they had a problem in Tokyo [echoes of Nick Leeson!], and would I be willing to go there for 3 months, ummm in two weeks time, to help sort it out? It all went from there. Back home, and maybe a year later, they offered me a permanent relo to Tokyo. And from Tokyo I got relo'd to SG (for a near-repeat of the 'urgent crisis' that took me to Tokyo in the first place.)

So now years later, my thoughts are:
- In London I could adequately do my job, and came to learn the nuts of bolts of the systems and numbers behind trading, and was willing to work major hours.
- That led to the first posting to JP, [and later back to JP, on to SG, and later still to NY].
- I'm sure I wasn't the first or best choice for those jobs, but many of those colleagues probably weren't interested in being posted abroad in the first place (full stop).
- At each step my track-record paved the way for my work visas. I.e. After the first 3 month stint in Tokyo, that created the justification for me to get the later work permit there, which later justified the permit for Singapore etc. I.e. it's important to note that, that to get work visas in most countries you have to demonstrate what 'specialist' skills/experience you have. For example in SG, an employer has to justify why they're hiring a foreigner rather than a local, what you bring, that can't be sourced locally. So keep that in mind, you need to have something to differentiate yourself versus the locals.
- The experience/skills learned on one posting, can alone justify further postings. You will see other expats/posters here, who once they've shown the willingness and ability to do an initial expat posting, then continue getting posted around.
- A side-thought that I've not seen discussed before. Being a successful ex-pat is a skill in itself, requiring flexibility, adaptability, and some kind of faith/judgement re: taking leaps into the dark. It is quite a valuable skill, or mindset, given the proportion of people would be unwilling to tread the expat path.

duffman wrote: Just curious as once i finish my degree i would love to work overseas (in basically any asian country) while i'm still young for an extended period of time + what sectors do you guys work in ? & and is there enough accounting/finance jobs overseas ? :/


Your test is going to be getting some experience back home, preferably in something that is highly desired/required out in this region. That seems to be when it falls into place. Don't underestimate a chance to get your 'foot in the door', an internship, an extended 'rescue mission' type business trip, and so on.

I hope that might give you a few ideas of one man's experience (apologies to those regulars who've heard my tales before :)). Good luck to you, and remember: 'There is no such thing as luck: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity'.

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Postby AngMoG » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 2:12 pm

Maybe to tell my experience, as a bit of a contrast to JR8's...

I relocated to Singapore after I finished my studies to begin a PhD back in 2007 (in computer science, if it matters). Apparently, I had picked a really lousy professor, and I couldn't take it for too long... quit after 7 months. Was out of work in SG for about 1.5 months, before finding a job somewhat unrelated to my field. Did that for 1.5 years, then went back to IT. Stayed at a smaller company for 1 year, where I learned a lot. Then worked for an international bank in a somewhat responsible position for more than 3 years. Finally relocated from SG to PH for a new job that offered more responsibility, though in a medium-sized company this time. So I did the classic SG "promotion through changing company" thing. :cool:

*edit* I should add that I worked alongside my studies, which gave me some early work experience as a developer and helped me a lot.

What I did back then will most likely be much more difficult today - back then, getting EP was not an issue at all, nowadays it is quite tough. So nowadays, I would not really recommend doing that at all. Better, as a foreigner, to look for a job at a bigger company I guess.

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Postby duffman » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 2:59 pm

Girl_Next_Door wrote:Another alternatives is, study really hard and get yourself into one of the banks' "Management Associates" program. Most of them have overseas program and many are on an accelerated career path (assuming that you are actually good in doing your job as well).

They are not easy to get in, and requires really good results.


Thanks for the tip ! I'd like to hope I would be good at my job :P but I am definately giving all I have into my studies so I can set myself up for later in life :)

JR8 wrote: Your test is going to be getting some experience back home, preferably in something that is highly desired/required out in this region. That seems to be when it falls into place. Don't underestimate a chance to get your 'foot in the door', an internship, an extended 'rescue mission' type business trip, and so on.

I hope that might give you a few ideas of one man's experience (apologies to those regulars who've heard my tales before ). Good luck to you, and remember: 'There is no such thing as luck: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity'.



Thanks so much JR8 ! I really do appreciate it and thanks for the in-depth insight ! :)
Thats pretty much my plan: get really good grades, get into a large/multinational company if possible, specialise in one area and then jump at any opportunity i get :D

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Postby duffman » Tue, 01 Jul 2014 3:12 pm

AngMoG wrote:Maybe to tell my experience, as a bit of a contrast to JR8's...

I relocated to Singapore after I finished my studies to begin a PhD back in 2007 (in computer science, if it matters). Apparently, I had picked a really lousy professor, and I couldn't take it for too long... quit after 7 months. Was out of work in SG for about 1.5 months, before finding a job somewhat unrelated to my field. Did that for 1.5 years, then went back to IT. Stayed at a smaller company for 1 year, where I learned a lot. Then worked for an international bank in a somewhat responsible position for more than 3 years. Finally relocated from SG to PH for a new job that offered more responsibility, though in a medium-sized company this time. So I did the classic SG "promotion through changing company" thing. :cool:

*edit* I should add that I worked alongside my studies, which gave me some early work experience as a developer and helped me a lot.

What I did back then will most likely be much more difficult today - back then, getting EP was not an issue at all, nowadays it is quite tough. So nowadays, I would not really recommend doing that at all. Better, as a foreigner, to look for a job at a bigger company I guess.


Thanks AngMoG! :D I'm in a little bit of a similiar situation as I work part time (like 20 hours a week) doing Quality/OHS in a reasonably large company but I am lower down in the food chain :( whilst I'm still at Uni full-time but yeah I really appreciate your comments and feedback :)

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Postby ts1978 » Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:02 pm

My general advice: regardless of what type of studies you pursue, is find a way to make yourself rare/unique. This is not nearly as hard as it sounds.

Take a common skillset (like finance) and add to it:

1. A second language (especially a less common one for an expat to speak like Thai, Vietnamese, etc)

2. And/Or a strong specialization/focus in a niche or emerging area. At your age you're probably in a great position to identify some of these: Internet of Things, personal robotics, Healthcare 2.0, Education 2.0, renewable energy, or whatever.

3. And/Or additional skills/interests you pick up outside of formal education/work: teach yourself how to code, create content about a specific subject, get involved in a volunteer project or an industry association.

None of those detract from your core abilities, but will create specific opportunities where your background becomes a perfect-match for someone, somewhere.

Personally, I arrived in Asia through an internal transfer in a global SME, then spent quite some time in an senior role in an MNC, and am now CEO of a different global SME. Although only the first of those three jobs actually brought me here, in all three I've had/have pretty much a carte blanche for international mobility anywhere.

I have a basic (even boring) skillset, but I've colored it with highly context-specific and specialized experience. For the right job/company who need *exactly that*, you suddenly have a lot of choices open to you.

Good luck.

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Postby duffman » Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:13 am

ts1978 wrote:My general advice: regardless of what type of studies you pursue, is find a way to make yourself rare/unique. This is not nearly as hard as it sounds.

Take a common skillset (like finance) and add to it:

1. A second language (especially a less common one for an expat to speak like Thai, Vietnamese, etc)

2. And/Or a strong specialization/focus in a niche or emerging area. At your age you're probably in a great position to identify some of these: Internet of Things, personal robotics, Healthcare 2.0, Education 2.0, renewable energy, or whatever.

3. And/Or additional skills/interests you pick up outside of formal education/work: teach yourself how to code, create content about a specific subject, get involved in a volunteer project or an industry association.

None of those detract from your core abilities, but will create specific opportunities where your background becomes a perfect-match for someone, somewhere.

Personally, I arrived in Asia through an internal transfer in a global SME, then spent quite some time in an senior role in an MNC, and am now CEO of a different global SME. Although only the first of those three jobs actually brought me here, in all three I've had/have pretty much a carte blanche for international mobility anywhere.

I have a basic (even boring) skillset, but I've colored it with highly context-specific and specialized experience. For the right job/company who need *exactly that*, you suddenly have a lot of choices open to you.

Good luck.


Thanks ts1978 ! really appreciate your feedback and insight :) yeah I want to learn a new language but not sure which would be the most helpful for jobs in the future, I know a little (literally not much) japanese, but I thought probably Mandarin or Cantonese would be more benficial ? still undecided :?

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Postby duffman » Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:16 am

ts1978 wrote:
1. A second language (especially a less common one for an expat to speak like Thai, Vietnamese, etc)


Good luck.


Thai or Vietnamese would be easier to learn than Mandarin/japanese/korean right ?

Might try one of those :)

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Postby JR8 » Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:21 am

duffman wrote: yeah I want to learn a new language but not sure which would be the most helpful for jobs in the future, I know a little (literally not much) japanese, but I thought probably Mandarin or Cantonese would be more benficial ? still undecided :?


I wouldn't bother myself. Unless you expect to be in a role where you are expected to deal with others who don't speak English.

There is the old adage 'Anyone who is anything speaks English', so ...

You could spend years beginning to learn any of the above languages, but to what advantage? You could do a Masters in something that is directly relevant in less time.

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Postby duffman » Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:37 am

JR8 wrote:
duffman wrote: yeah I want to learn a new language but not sure which would be the most helpful for jobs in the future, I know a little (literally not much) japanese, but I thought probably Mandarin or Cantonese would be more benficial ? still undecided :?


I wouldn't bother myself. Unless you expect to be in a role where you are expected to deal with others who don't speak English.

There is the old adage 'Anyone who is anything speaks English', so ...

You could spend years beginning to learn any of the above languages, but to what advantage? You could do a Masters in something that is directly relevant in less time.


Yeah good point JR8 ! When you worked abroad did you deal with many poeple who couldn't speak english/speak english well ? just curious :)

But i presume the higher up in a company the more english is spoken i guess ?

but i still needa getmy degree then find a job overseas aha (sorry for getting ahead of myself)

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Postby JR8 » Thu, 03 Jul 2014 11:56 am

duffman wrote: Yeah good point JR8 ! When you worked abroad did you deal with many poeple who couldn't speak english/speak english well ? just curious :)

But i presume the higher up in a company the more english is spoken i guess ?

but i still needa getmy degree then find a job overseas aha (sorry for getting ahead of myself)


No. I think to an extent, when needed and without thinking about it, you simply change gears and speak in a simpler form of English. That covers most things. When dealing with the very rare case of someone who speaks no English, then I have simply routed the comms via a local colleague. [Do note though, that I've only worked for Western MNCs in Asia. Still mostly local staff, but the expectation was that comms would be in English. And if you were to work for a JPnese or Korean MNC this might be different. In SG English is the first language, so you can pretty much end the discussion there on that matter].

I can understand the interest in learning some conversational JPnese etc and so on. I found that interesting, and something of a cultural insight in itself. Wow what a delight it was to go out and order lunch (and be understood!!) :). But the idea of being proficient in it in the workplace.... no chance. I've heard the one person I knew who did, say that it takes about ten years of dedicated study. Unsurprisingly he is married to a local and now a long time PR, hence why he went to those lengths.


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