09 July 2011


Beginning a job search for the first time in three years is tough. Writing a résumé is tough. Times have changed even in the last few years as economies have struggled in some areas and emerged in others. The use of the Internet and the inundation of social media have changed the world as we once knew it. Companies now easily have global audiences whether they have global offices or not and travel is easier than ever…minus that damn TSA.

I imagine that trying to make a career move in the States would be hard enough but the confusion of terminology and business practices here has me almost ready to give up before I get started. Good thing I don’t give up easily. I have only applied for one job so far, and I have not yet interviewed, but I am already running into some pretty significant differences. I wonder if I have to be a citizen to be Singaporean or if I am categorized as Singaporean because I now live here and hold a resident’s pass. No, I do not speak Mandarin but I am willing to learn. I also found out today that I should probably start learning Cantonese if Hong Kong is in my future. Yay me.

My one-page résumé has turned into a three-page curriculum vitae and includes a lot of personal information that would be illegal to provide in the U.S. Applications ask for my picture, my race, marital status, my husband’s occupation, both of our identification numbers (like a social), whether or not I have kids and, if so, their ages. One application asked for my religion, but that was for a church so I guessed it was OK. One application asked for a profile of all of my immediate family members, including my parents and their identification numbers. Why do they need all of this information?

My last position was a director-level role with a manager title, so I have been looking for positions in both managerial and directorial levels. I found a posting or two for an executive-level position so I submitted one and kept a few others in the pile of potential jobs. After doing more research, a.k.a. job hunting, I began noticing that executive positions left a lot to be desired. Finally I deduced that executive positions are actually entry-level positions, which is completely opposite what I am used to. Executives here have 0 to 2 years of experience in the field and report into a senior-level position that is still not actually a senior-level definition by my experience. I hear from other expats that there is a bit of title inflation here.

I have decided that titles do not mean anything and that I am strictly judging a position by its description – and its salary. I met a woman today who is also applying for jobs. Even though her husband’s job was the reason for the relocation, her company set her up with a consultant who is giving her insight into applications and résumés here. We are joining forces to help each other learn what we have each discovered and, of course, I continue to drink coffee, network and see what opportunities are available. Here’s to taking over the world!

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