What you need to know if you’re starting an agency recruitment career in Singapore

According to Ministry of Manpower Singapore, there are a total of 2,222 registered recruitment agencies in Singapore. If each of them house 10 recruiters, we are looking at 22,220 recruiters. So you are looking at 1 recruiter to every 242 residents.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You have one of the most pro-business government, stable GDP growth, and diversified industries.

All these point to a great opportunity for recruitment businesses to strive in and carve out their niche on the island. But before you start packing your luggage and passport, it is not all just a bed of roses.

Singapore has one of the highest property cost in Asia Pacific and the cost to own a car (for just 10 years) is ranked the highest in the world.

Food is cheap though and weather is pretty standard (read: warm and humid) whole year round.

Over the years since the recovery from the global financial crisis in 2009, there had been a huge influx of new recruitment agencies setting up here. You have Recruit Holdings setting up RGF Singapore, Spencer Odgen, Phaidon International, just to name a few.

This provides lots of new opportunities for recruiters with different specialisation. A good place to gather your longlist of potential employer is Headhunt Magazine. They are the de-facto publication that executive recruitment agencies engage often.

Alternatively one can look at the myriad of rec2rec to reach out to the right agencies. There are 5 in Singapore, so quite a few options to consider from:

  1. Global Solutions
  2. McCall Asia
  3. Pattington Partners
  4. Rec2rec Singapore
  5. Reccelerate

Depending on the category of employees that the agencies are recruiting for (above or below S$7,000 per month), you might need to pass a test set out by MOM. The Certificate of Employment Intermediaries is required for recruiters tagged to an agency that carry the Comprehensive license (ability to recruit candidates above and below S$7,000 per month)

I got a recruitment job in Singapore. Now what?

There are quite many commonalities regardless of geography. Recruitment is still a people鈥檚 business and that means lots of face and phone time. It is still a sales-driven business where result matters and because of that, processes at time may not be as robust.

Singapore is presently having a very low unemployment rate of 2%. This has been the case over the past 9 quarters.

Unless the market makes a sudden dive, you can expect this to continue for a few more quarters. This situation is unlike what you have at its neighbouring (Indonesia unemployment rate is 12%) or even some European countries.

A lot more candidate hand-holding is required and spending more time convincing jobseekers why they should consider the career opportunities you carry.

From early August 2014, a new legislation came into place. It is the Fair Consideration Framework and requires companies to post their openings on a government-owned job portal (National Jobs Bank). Thereafter they have to ensure there are no suitable local applicant over 14 days’ period before they can move on to hire a foreign candidate.

This makes the labour market even tighter with local candidates really having the upper hand in negotiations and choices.

On the client front, culturally securing the business may not be as straightforward as Australia or United Kingdom. You probably need to wine and dine the prospect a few times for them to make sure they are completely comfortable with you before issuing the business out to you.

Giving lavish gifts isn鈥檛 a norm, so you don鈥檛 have to worry about bribing your way through. But you still need to spend quite a bit of time getting to know your clients at a personal level.

At the same time, Singapore market is one where very often the clients will look at price instead of quality. It doesn鈥檛 matter if you have a 30-step headhunting framework. If you are 15% more expensive, there is no way you can get a foot in the door.

Price flexibility would be one important success factor. On general recruitment, it could range from as low as 50% of the monthly gross salary to 15% of per annum salary.

So there you have it. A condense guide of what a Singapore-based agency recruitment career encompasses. Throw in a dash of hard work and determination, you should be on track to a successful recruitment career in Singapore.

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