Singapore Recruitment

As the first country in Southeast Asia to achieve so-called “first world” status, Singapore’s dynamic economy has continued to grow and the Singapore recruitment market offers plenty of job opportunities for highly skilled foreign expatriates and Singaporean returnees alike.

The Singapore Diaspora and Singaporean Returnees

While Singapore is a magnet for both migrant workers and professionals seeking better job opportunities, the country also suffers a brain drain as highly skilled Singaporean professionals choose to work or study abroad. Likewise, many of the highly skilled professionals who migrate to Singapore from other Southeast Asian countries do so with the intention of making Singapore a pit stop as it inevitably becomes easier to then migrate to countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand once someone has Singaporean permanent residency (PR) or even Singaporean citizenship. It’s also worth mentioning a survey conducted by the Singapore Polytechnic which revealed that more than 50% of Singaporean youths aged between 15 and 29 years of age want to migrate overseas if given the chance to.

On the other hand, Singapore has made a concerted effort to shed its image of being a safe but boring place to visit or live – most notably with the addition of Resorts World Sentosa and the Marina Bay Sands casino complexes.

The Singapore Recruitment Market

Thanks to both its geographic location and the fact that Singapore is a major regional hub for multinational corporations operating in Southeast Asia, the Singapore recruitment market has bounced back since the financial crisis with opportunities for foreign expatriates, locals and Singaporean returnees in particular being concentrated in the healthcare and life sciences sector along with the FMCG and related sectors (e.g. advertising and media). The Singaporean IT recruitment market also appears to be picking up – mainly for sales and business development positions.

On the other hand, the Singapore recruitment market for the manufacturing and industrial sectors as well as for the banking sector remains much more uncertain due to the global economy with current hiring activity in Singapore being driven by demand for highly skilled technical and engineering professionals while some banking and financial institutions continue with plans to downsize their workforces.

Working in Singapore

Singapore has an open door immigration policy but the country also periodically tweaks its immigration policies and the criteria for work permits in order to manage the size of its foreign workforce. Specifically, foreign expatriates intending to work in Singapore need to be aware that the country divides foreign expatriates who are not Singapore Permanent Residents into three classes based on salary for work permit purposes:

  • Singapore Q1 Pass: The qualifying salary for a Singapore Q1 Pass is at least S$3,000 and Singapore has tightened the education qualifications for foreign expatriates seeking this work permit. Specifically, young graduates from good institutions can qualify for the Singapore Q1 Pass if they earn at least S$3,000 but older applicants will need to command higher salaries that are commensurate with their work experience and the quality of their skills that they are expected to bring to Singapore.
  • Singapore P2 Pass: The qualifying salary for a Singapore P2 Pass is S$4,500 and this work permit is intended for foreign expatriates with mid-level qualifications or work experience.
  • Singapore P1 Pass: The qualifying salary for a Singapore P1 Pass is S$8,000 and this work permit is intended for foreign expatriates with who are entrepreneurs, senior managers, executives or professionals with specific training.

However, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower will view work permit applications on a case-by-case basis and foreign expatriates with proven track records and exceptional skills-sets may still obtain a Pass without having to meet the above qualifying salaries. For further information about obtaining a Singapore work permit or visas for Singapore, visit the website of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower or that of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority Singapore Government.

As for taxes, Singapore resident individuals with employment income and rental income from Singapore are subject to Singaporean income taxes at progressive rates up to 20% while non-residents are taxed at the 15% or the resident rate – whichever is higher. All other income of nonresidents sourced in Singapore is taxed at a flat rate of 20% while nonresident individuals (other than a director) in Singapore for short-term employment for not more than 60 days may be exempt from tax in Singapore. This exemption does not apply to non-resident company directors or non-resident professionals such as foreign experts, consultants, trainers and coaches. A foreign expatriate is considered a Singapore resident if he or she is physically present or has a Singapore job for 183 days or more during the tax year while a Singapore citizen is considered a tax resident if he or she normally resides in Singapore except for temporary absences. For further information about Singapore tax rates or Singaporean taxes in general, visit, or KPMG’s Taxation of International Executives page for Singapore or the website of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

Singapore Recruitment and Jobs Resources

For additional Singapore recruitment resources, check out the Singapore tagged posts from our Brain Drain to Brain Gain blog as well as our Singapore jobs page.

  • RSS Singapore Archives – Brain Gain Asia LLC

    • Asia has some of the most expensive cities for expats June 24, 2017
      Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey finds African, Asian, and European cities dominating the list of most expensive locations for expats working abroad: Five of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia with Hong Kong (2) … Continue reading → The post Asia has some of the most expensive cities for […]
    • Survey: Employee (dis)engagement in Asia May 26, 2017
      The Asian Nikkei Review has noted a recent survey by Gallup conducted globally from 2014 through 2016 which found that workers in East Asia are much less engaged in their jobs than their counterparts in the rest of the world. … Continue reading → The post Survey: Employee (dis)engagement in Asia appeared first on Brain […]
    • The Human Capital Report 2015: Asia findings May 29, 2015
      The Human Capital Report 2015 (recently published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Mercer) showed Asia-Pacific, the world’s most populous region, scoring towards the middle of the range of the Human Capital Index results, with an overall average … Continue reading → The post The Human Capital Report 2015: Asia findings appeared first […]
    • Singapore tries to push vocational education over university degrees May 5, 2015
      Bloomberg has reported that after a clampdown on immigration and a slowdown in the Singaporean economy, the country needs fewer university graduates and more workers to fill the shipyards, factory floors and hotel desks. That has Prime Minister Lee Hsien … Continue reading → The post Singapore tries to push vocational education over university degrees […]
    • 5 curveball questions asked at Singapore job interviews March 15, 2015 recently conducted a survey and invited 120 Singaporean job candidates to share the most outrageous questions ever asked during a Singapore job interview. Below are the 5 most interesting ones that stood out: “Assuming that there were 3 birds perched … Continue reading → The post 5 curveball questions asked at Singapore job interviews appeared […]
    • New rules in Singapore to advertise jobs to locals could slow recruitment July 25, 2014
      International tax advisory firm Von Essen has warned that new rules compelling employers in Singapore to advertise all vacancies to Singapore nationals on a government job site could slow down recruitment for many businesses. Introduced by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower … Continue reading → The post New rules in Singapore to advertise jobs to locals […]
    • Professional job opportunities up 5% across APAC July 22, 2014
      According to findings from the Q2 2014 Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific Employment Monitor, there was a 5% year-on-year increase in financial services jobs vacancies in the Asia Pacific region. The Monitor recorded a 7% increase in vacancies in the first … Continue reading → The post Professional job opportunities up 5% across APAC appeared first […]
    • India, China and Brazil lead planned salary increases July 10, 2014
      According to data released from the WorldatWork 2014-15 Salary Budget Survey, India, China and Brazil averaged the highest 2014 total salary budget increases at 10.5%, 8.2% and 7.2%, respectively. These three countries are also projecting similar salary increase budgets for … Continue reading → The post India, China and Brazil lead planned salary increases appeared […]
    • Insights from an ANZ Senior Manager based in Singapore June 20, 2014
      The May issue of the newsletter for Advance, an organization that connects the global Australian Diaspora, interviewed Lim Lay Wah, who, after almost two decades with Standard Chartered, joined the ANZ team in Singapore as the Head of Financial Institutions … Continue reading → The post Insights from an ANZ Senior Manager based in Singapore […]
    • Expat job seekers more willing to move to Singapore (without a job offer) March 15, 2014
      The Straits Times has recently reported how expats are not only no longer coming to Singapore on lavish expat packages, but they are also increasingly willing to come without first having a job lined up – especially young professionals trying … Continue reading → The post Expat job seekers more willing to move to Singapore […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *