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job hunting: tough luck

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ian
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job hunting: tough luck

Postby ian » Mon, 28 Mar 2005 5:08 pm

i visited singapore on a number of occasions already. the last one was just recently - March 4-20, i was actually hoping i could find a job during my stay there, unluckily, it did not turn out as planned.

i graduated with honours in business economics from a premiere university here in my home country. i have about five years of work experience already. just recently, i received the much-coveted most outstanding employee of the year award. this serves as a testament to my commitment to excellence and my ability to add value to any organisation I work for.

but it seems my achievements and qualifications are not enough to land me a job there in singapore. :cry:

what could be wrong? :(

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Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 28 Mar 2005 5:44 pm

What could be wrong? How about a fundamental shift in the Singaporean economy.

Consider: Up until the financial meltdown of 96/97 which started in Thailand, the whole of Southeast Asia was booming, and Singapore was its hub, financially, technically, and managerially. When the meltdown occurred, about 70 percent of all expats in the region, including those in Singapore, were repatriated because of serious revenue downturns.

Having all those expats leave Singapore didn't do much for the economy. They brought in lots of foreign dollars with high salaries and packages. However, the economy is only part of it. Singapore also lost a significant part of its managerial and technical infrastructure. It just wasn't needed.

Fast forward to now. The economy is recovering but it is still nowhere near the boom years of the 90's. And it is unlikely that it will ever be that strong again for Singapore, and in particular, for expats wanting to move to Singpore. There are several reasons for this.

1) Some expats managed to hang around and they are willing to work for much closer to local wages in order to stay here. There are quite a few of these folks around here, if the number of resumes I receive are any indication. They also have PR's so companies don't have to mess with getting EP's for foreigners.

2) In addition to the expats, the local talent pool continues to expand. Yes, it could be said that it still needs to mature, but there are more and more good local people out there everyday, and you will compete against them for a job.

3) MNC's are much less willing to hire permanent staff these days because is it very hard to fire them if things go bad. So, they either delay growth/projects or they hire contract staff or they outsource in order to get things done. And, when possible, they will hire locals first. It's just good business for many reasons.

4) China is eating everybody's lunch in the region. A decade ago, Singapore was a low cost source of labor for lots of high tech manufacturing. All that has gone to China. Many plants have been closing, displacing factory workers here. Other ASEAN countries have also been competing with Singapore for new factories, even as they get clobbered by China. So, while there is investment $$ moving in, there is also lots of investment $$ moving out.

5) China is the big growth place this decade, and if expats are going anywhere with big packages, it is China. So, while the Singaporean government is working hard to attract investment dollars and the jobs that they create, they face the problem of the fact that capital is being invested in China. If anything, resources are being shifted around.

I'm not trying to be totally negative. I know quite a few people making it quite well, thank you. But, relationships are important here. For any given sector, it doesn't take too long to get to know all the players... at least by reputation. If you have no track record and no network, it is hard to break in.

You don't mention your line of work. Is it IT? It is truly a commoditized function out here and competition for jobs is fierce. Do post a reply as to the nature of the work you do.

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Postby ian » Tue, 29 Mar 2005 10:47 am

very well said.

it's a lot more difficult that what i expected.

now, i'm not even sure if there's an opportunity for me there. my line is currently in FINANCE, head of the BPO-Revenue Dept of one of the leading airlines around the world. previously, i was part of the Credit Card Fraud Control and Authorizations Unit of one one of the major universal banks here in my country.

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Postby Guest » Tue, 29 Mar 2005 1:17 pm

I'm just wondering. If you're already in such a senior position right now, why do you want to come to Singapore ?
ian wrote:very well said.

it's a lot more difficult that what i expected.

now, i'm not even sure if there's an opportunity for me there. my line is currently in FINANCE, head of the BPO-Revenue Dept of one of the leading airlines around the world. previously, i was part of the Credit Card Fraud Control and Authorizations Unit of one one of the major universal banks here in my country.

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Re: Johnny Be Good

Postby ian » Tue, 29 Mar 2005 3:36 pm

Anonymous wrote:I'm just wondering. If you're already in such a senior position right now, why do you want to come to Singapore ?


we'll i'm not actually holding a senior position. i'm the head of one of the departments in our company, but my job title is only supervisor. sometimes, i see my being young as the hindrance, all the department heads here are already managers. the only consolation i have is that i am the youngest supervisor (and head of a department) this company has ever has.

singapore is one one of the best places in asia to work (career-wise), and the country's relaxation of policy on foreign workers that will allow sectors short of skilled workers to get needed skills has made working there even more enticing.

while it is true that i have a relatively good position with my present employer, perhaps having a salary relatively higher than those of my age, building my own house and having my own car would definitely take a lifetime (well, probably almost) if i will just rely on employment here in my country.

besides, my fiancee' is working in singapore already. :)

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Postby jpatokal » Tue, 29 Mar 2005 11:15 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:3) MNC's are much less willing to hire permanent staff these days because is it very hard to fire them if things go bad. So, they either delay growth/projects or they hire contract staff or they outsource in order to get things done. And, when possible, they will hire locals first. It's just good business for many reasons.

Huh? Since when has it been difficult to fire anybody in Singapore? Special contracts are one thing, but Singaporean law boils down to allowing anybody to be fired at any time for any reason...

4) China is eating everybody's lunch in the region. A decade ago, Singapore was a low cost source of labor for lots of high tech manufacturing. All that has gone to China. Many plants have been closing, displacing factory workers here. Other ASEAN countries have also been competing with Singapore for new factories, even as they get clobbered by China. So, while there is investment $$ moving in, there is also lots of investment $$ moving out.

But expats aren't generally looking for factory work.

I'm not trying to be totally negative. I know quite a few people making it quite well, thank you. But, relationships are important here. For any given sector, it doesn't take too long to get to know all the players... at least by reputation. If you have no track record and no network, it is hard to break in.

With this, however, I agree 100%.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Wed, 30 Mar 2005 9:51 am

jpatokal wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote:3) MNC's are much less willing to hire permanent staff these days because is it very hard to fire them if things go bad. So, they either delay growth/projects or they hire contract staff or they outsource in order to get things done. And, when possible, they will hire locals first. It's just good business for many reasons.

Huh? Since when has it been difficult to fire anybody in Singapore? Special contracts are one thing, but Singaporean law boils down to allowing anybody to be fired at any time for any reason...


That may be Singaporean law but MNC's that are headquartered in the EU and the US have laws to follow as well as corporate policies. I don't know all the details but I do know that large firms like HP, Dell, IBM, and the oil majors try to have a consistent policy across the world. They are also worried about morale and defections when they cannot keep a stable staff. Perhaps indeed this does not apply to lower level jobs.

4) China is eating everybody's lunch in the region. A decade ago, Singapore was a low cost source of labor for lots of high tech manufacturing. All that has gone to China. Many plants have been closing, displacing factory workers here. Other ASEAN countries have also been competing with Singapore for new factories, even as they get clobbered by China. So, while there is investment $$ moving in, there is also lots of investment $$ moving out.

But expats aren't generally looking for factory work.


But it is the supporting factories, exploration, services, etc. that creates the need for infrastructure such as finance, IT, sales, and marketing.

I'm not trying to be totally negative. I know quite a few people making it quite well, thank you. But, relationships are important here. For any given sector, it doesn't take too long to get to know all the players... at least by reputation. If you have no track record and no network, it is hard to break in.

With this, however, I agree 100%.


Yes, I would have had a near impossible time getting started here had I not known someone with lots of connections.

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Postby dot dot dot » Wed, 30 Mar 2005 11:32 am

Last edited by dot dot dot on Tue, 23 May 2006 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Wed, 30 Mar 2005 11:50 am

jpatokal wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote:3) MNC's are much less willing to hire permanent staff these days because is it very hard to fire them if things go bad. So, they either delay growth/projects or they hire contract staff or they outsource in order to get things done. And, when possible, they will hire locals first. It's just good business for many reasons.

Huh? Since when has it been difficult to fire anybody in Singapore? Special contracts are one thing, but Singaporean law boils down to allowing anybody to be fired at any time for any reason...


JP, I should add here that my experience is in projectized businesses. When there are lots of projects to be done, then hiring permanent project managers makes sense. Otherwise, the companies pay for a lot of bench time or let people go, neither of which works well.

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Postby ian » Wed, 30 Mar 2005 1:28 pm

Eric from the Netherlands wrote:To Ian:

You probably already did that, but at least focus on your added value here when having to compete with locals: What do you bring in that they cannot? Could be related to EMEA expertise or exposure? And do look for the jobs with regional exposure here, otherwise it doesnot even make sense to apply, since most likely you don't speak Mandarin or any local chinese dialect.

Your biggest challenge is the EP, cause it is a chance of one in a million that a employer here will pick you without the EP instead of one of the candidates here already holding either EP or PR.

So concentrate on MNC's that you know of back in your home country (UK?) and see if they need you to move over here.

And like Strong eagle is saying and JPatokal confirmed as well: It is all about knowing people here, nothing else matters in a way...

Good luck to you...

Eric


thanks, with all these series of messages, they just reinforce the truth that it would not really be that easy to hunt for a job there. it's like i'm trying to force myself to enter the tiny hole of a needle. well, reality bites! :(

it would be difficult to tell, moreso to prove, the added value that i could bring to a company there that locals cannot. assuming there's a job opening there that i think suits me, with my education and work background, i know that there would be locals who can also perform the requirements and demands of that particular job. what makes me different or i could say, more suitable compared to them has nothing to do with my work experience or what i have learned in the university. my instincts, determination, better than average patience and unrelenting passion for hardwork and excellence spell the difference.

but then again, your right, how will i be able to prove this without the EP?! :cry: i barely have my own contacts there to start with.

i am actually from the philippines, approximately 3hours away only from singapore by air. it would be near impossible for an MNC here to assign every so often their employee to go there because of the proximity of the place.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 05 Apr 2005 9:04 am

jpatokal wrote:Riddle me this: you're tasked with setting up your company's brand new Asian regional office and you have to choose the location. Where are you going to go? The answers remain the same: it's either Hong Kong or Singapore, and for most companies the scale tips in Singapore's favor thanks to lower costs and no fear factor from a theoretically Communist but in practice just corrupt overlord. Tokyo costs way too much and Seoul isn't much better; Taipei has cluster of missiles pointed at it; Kuala Lumpur's trying hard but just ain't there yet; Bangkok has traffic jams, pollutions and a (partly undeserved) horrible rep... Shanghai is the rising star, but real estate prices and other expenses have gone through the roof and you've still got bureaucracy and corruption to contend with, starting from things like needing a visa in advance just to enter the country.


Hello? Is this Lee Kwan Yew? Good points... and bodes well for my bidness.


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