Tips on Landing a tech job in Singapore — you don’t need to study STEM
- Unlearn your misconceptions and do the damn research
- Repeat after me: I can land a job in tech without being technical
- Find someone who has the type of job you’re interested in, and politely ask for a virtual or IRL coffee chat — do that well
- Networking and Referrals are a +10 boost
- Show Proof of Your Capabilities
- Tech employers like to hire dynamic people
- Understand that it’s a journey and rejection is impossible to avoid
- Other Helpful Job Resources I’d Recommend
- Interested in learning more about what it’s like living overseas in Asia? I run a podcast with my friends Jane and Emily! Take a listen.
[The Fang Girl in Singapore] — Seated in the backseat of my Grab on my way to Orchard, the driver curiously asked where I was from and what I was doing for work. I mentioned I worked in tech, giving him a vague response because I didn’t want to go into the depths of what a community strategist at Stripe actually did.
His eyes widened and he looked at me in the mirror with respect. “Wow, so you are an engineer then.”
I cleared my throat and corrected him. I told him I worked in content marketing, though community is a bit different from marketing and just falls underneath the umbrella. At that time, I was a Community Lead at a tech media company.
“Close enough,” I think. I go on to tell him the various functions needed to run a tech startup because I can’t leave this car without teaching him that software engineers are not the only ones that work in tech.
Unlearn your misconceptions and do the damn research
This is a huge misconception that people take on. Just because you work in tech does not mean you need to be technical — it does not mean you need to be able to code or have studied STEM at all, though it would help in some cases and make you a valuable candidate.
Damn, but imagine if you could code well, write well, speak well, sell well, and lead well — you’d be on top. EQ is also needed in tech.
Repeat after me: I can land a job in tech without being technical
There are a few things you will need to know and be open to learning:
- You will need to be interested in learning the tech space and lingo.
- You will need to sell your transferable skillsets and prove you can keep up with a fast paced environment.
- You’ll need to stay updated with the industry and continue upskilling or become irrelevant.
Think of marketing, sales, law, business administration, people ops, and the list goes on. These are all functions and departments needed to run a tech company. You have a spot there.
Find someone who has the type of job you’re interested in, and politely ask for a virtual or IRL coffee chat — do that well
People are busy. We all have a million things going on, but there are some kind people out there in the world who are willing to give their time to talk about their experiences and give career guidance.
1) If you’re asking someone to give advice and to go on a coffee chat, be prepared with questions and pay for their coffee as a small thank you.
2) If you’re asking for a virtual chat, thank them with an email afterwards and also ask them if you can help in any way.
Thoughtfulness goes a long way. Come prepared with the questions and what you want to find out, otherwise you’re wasting both of your time. You’d be surprised about how many rude people reach out to me to talk about living and working in Singapore, or if I can connect them with the right people. I’ve even gotten messages from strangers like, “Can you refer me to Stripe?” “How do I get a job in Singapore?”
I didn’t even get a “hello.” Don’t be that person reaching out please.
While I’d like to help everyone, it is a huge time-suck and it keeps me away from working on the projects I need to focus on. Nowadays, I am more selective and don’t respond to everyone. However, I am always happy to speak to those who are more serious about their move, which is why I have Superpeer, a platform that allows people to schedule calls with me now.
But using an excellent example of a good outreach message, someone recently reached out in New York to invite me to remote work out of the Google Chelsea office and also mentioned as an afterthought that he was interested in going to Singapore. He saw my post about wanting to work remotely in New York; he offered help and that basically made me more willing to help him out too.
Networking and Referrals are a +10 boost
In Singapore, relationships are relatively important. They give you some concrete credibility and get you into the talent pipeline a lot faster — if possible, try to get a referral into the company you’re interested in. You can do this in various ways, such as attending tech-specific networking events, asking your own network, and even reaching out earlier to plan an itinerary for while you’re there. Always try to find a referral in.
Yello says, “Industry research shows that recruiters look to employee referrals for much more than just applicants and hires:
- Referred candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees sourced through career sites. (HR Technologist)
- 88% of employers said that referrals are the best source for above-average applicants. (Dr. John Sullivan Research)
Employee referrals are more than just a reliable talent source — recruiters rely on them to drive value throughout the hiring process.”
When I first landed in the city-state with no connections, I had a lot of coffee chats. On a three month tourist visa, I was networking and letting everyone I know that I wanted a specific type of job. I eventually was referred to a tech media company and was hired into a community lead role on an employment pass. I later left that role to join Stripe.
Show Proof of Your Capabilities
- Make sure your resume shares conversions, increases, leadership, or anything you are proud of. The proof is in the pudding, so it’s your time to shine — how are you moving the needle? What big projects have you worked on?
- Think about what transferrable skills you can bring to the job you’re applying for. Now think about you can articulate that to the interviewer and in the specific role you’re applying to.
- Tech people like thinkers and builders. Whether it’s a passion project, nonprofit work, consulting, etc., hiring teams like to see that you are capable of trying something out on your own. If you have built anything out on your own, know that gives you an edge and makes you more dynamic.
Tech employers like to hire dynamic people
Upon being on the end of interviewing and also being the interviewer, I’ve seen teams ask applicants about an interesting notable fact on their resume or what they do for fun on the weekends. It’s not to say you should have 100 hobbies, but you should also come prepared to present yourself not just as a working employee, but as a human too. Sometimes it came down to two people with the same skillset, but one knew how to sell herself better and would get hired.
Don’t forget: not only are they evaluating you as a diligent employee, but also as someone they will need to spend 40+ hours with per week (or even 80+ if it’s a startup). They won’t say this since it’s not HR compliant, but they also want to like the person they’re hiring and working with. Depending on the company, interviews can range from a casual conversation to intense panel interview.
Understand that it’s a journey and rejection is impossible to avoid
I remember a contact reached out to me, wailing about how she had been rejected from the first tech job she had applied to. She had been given one interview at a fintech company and then notified that they moved on with another applicant. It had been her first rejection in a long time — I told her I had been rejected from hundreds of roles before I even got into tech and had to start off with a contract role without any benefits. Interviewing at tech companies take practice and time. You’ll feel dejected after a couple of no’s, but it makes you stronger. Keep going and understand that rejection is not the end, just part of the journey.
Other Helpful Job Resources I’d Recommend
- TalentTribe — get an inside look of companies and careers in Asia
- AngelList Talent — platform for remote jobs and startup search
- MyCareersFuture Singapore — a Singapore government website agency that gives you ranges of salary and any role open to foreigners need to also be listed transparently here
Hope this was helpful! If it was, please share this with someone who may need it or leave me a comment below. Happy job hunting in Singapore — I hope you get to make your way there for a life changing experience.