- Most exciting to work for
- Probably less pay
- Probably no or insignificant equity
- Probably difficult to sponsor your Employment Pass if they are pre-revenue
- Crypto space is a bit “wild west”
Funded local tech
- Bigger local player, Employment Pass should be easier assuming their workforce core is Singaporean
- Probably better pay
Multinational Corporations (MNCs)
Everything from banks to local branches of Big Tech
- Might be a better cultural fit (depending where you are from)
- Might get an “Expat package”
- Probably technically not terribly interesting
- Probably more (tech) sales / support focused
- Management probably want to outsource you to cut costs
This probably includes Japanese companies like Rakuten.
- Tech is probably interesting
- Known for poor work life balance
- Culturally might be a bad fit (never lose face), assuming your American / European and your Mandarin sucks
If you attend University, try work out if there is some connection between that University and a Singaporean one like NUS. There could be some scholarship, exchange or research job on offer.
- Probably the most fun way to get to know Singapore under some research contract
- Pay is probably terrible, but you’ll get subsidised accommodation and such
Your country might have some Government Tech trade initiative you might catch a ride in with too.
Living costs are rising in Singapore. Personally my rent went up 25%, no joke.
If you’re thinking of starting a company here, I would say it’s not terribly wise. Market is small, talent is scarce and costs are high.
Singapore Government’s MOM are forever tweaking the immigration rules (ratios, points system.. it’s opaque) to get Employment Passes to work and contribute to the economy. Their philosophy is to favour local citizens, and there is a push to reskill (mid-career) Singaporeans for tech jobs.
This policy is affecting the tech scene, and there is an increased outflow of “Foreign Talent”, but new people are quick to replace them, because of China. As long as inflow > outflow, immigration rules and ratios will not relax.
Talented Singaporeans can work in the states through a Free Trade agreement, so do not be surprised that the best Singaporean developers are not in Singapore.
Elephant in the room, dearth of social tech events
COVID19 killed in person community events and conferences. I’m sure it will slowly recover, though that’s probably the best way to network and find a job. That’s how I got started via https://hackerspace.sg/ and such.
Remote work is the biggest opportunity
I explored Asia as a backpacker with a tight daily budget. COVID19 made remote work acceptable, so I strongly suggest you explore Asia as a remote worker. Or better still, creating your own online lifestyle business.
Singapore is certainly worth checking out, but don’t be an idiot with your money! Accomodation starts at 100SGD a night. Come to Singapore with a plan, ideally for a specific meeting or series of them.
On a positive note
Despite the reality check above, there is a talent shortage in Singapore. Companies are keen to hire you. The current context makes it difficult. I’m optimistic that conditions will improve.
Update: Some people suggest Tech.Pass, but the fine print is that your “startup” needs a valuation of >500M (Series B) and reserved for founders / high level employees.