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“I’m a banker in Singapore. I’m shocked by how aggressive some recruiters are here”

I moved to Singapore from Sydney last year to take up a senior front-office job at a US bank. Soon after I arrived I changed my LinkedIn profile to my new city. I was in for a shock!

Within 24 hours of the update I was hit up by several recruiters. They didn’t just want to get my CV on file; they wanted to meet me in person, urgently. Half of me felt flattered, while the other half felt concerned. Were they a bit too enthusiastic to see someone who’d only just started a new job? Nevertheless, I met up with a few of them.

Naively, I thought that we’d primarily be discussing the wider job market and my long-term career goals. In Sydney, that’s what happens when you meet a recruiter who hasn’t even mentioned that they have an actual vacancy for you. But not in Singapore.

Recruiters based here (some of whom are actually Australian themselves) are much more aggressive. All they seem interested in are their immediate sales targets. They want you to move into a new job…fast!

Within moments of meeting them, almost all the recruiters I talked to were asking very specific and very short-term questions: what banks do you want to move to? What pay increment do you need? There was little chat about the great opportunities before me in my brand new job or the skills I needed to further my career.

It all seemed a bit, well, ruthless. Obviously recruiters are salespeople and obviously Singapore is a larger banking market than Sydney, but surely they could have left the sales stuff until later on in the conversation? At least then they would have discovered whether I had any intention of moving jobs, and we would have both exchanged useful information about the banking sector here.

Moreover, several friends in Singapore tell me they have been contacted by their recruiters just months after starting new jobs. The recruiters had just received their commission from the bank, so they called up their former candidates looking to move them again.

But perhaps it's not all recruiters' fault. Having been in Singapore for a few months now, I think some job seekers probably perpetuate recruiters’ aggressive attitude. Singapore banking professionals tend to change jobs more frequency than their counterparts in Australia, so many of them actually want recruiters to be ultra assertive.

Some good has come out of all this, however. I met one recruiter who really stood out from the crowd and didn't try to push jobs down my throat. When I do want to move, I know who to use. There are decent recruiters around; it just takes a while to find them.

Kacy Jackson (a pseudonym) works for a US bank in Singapore.

Image credit: Unsplash.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: or Telegram: @simonmortlock. You can also follow me on LinkedIn.

AUTHORKacy Jackson Insider Comment

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