Companies from around the world are flocking to Singapore in search of a new playground for innovation.

Singapore is a popular destination for business leaders looking to fast-track their entry into the Southeast Asian (SEA) market, which is poised to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2030.

One area in particular has shifted into hyperdrive since the pandemic - SEA’s digital economy, which is forecasted to exceed US$300 billion by 2025 and potentially hit a value of US$1 trillion by 2030.

According to a 2021 Google report, 40 million new internet users came online in SEA last year, boosting the internet penetration rate in SEA to 75%.

For tech entrepreneurs looking to snap up a slice of the pie, setting up a business foundation base in Singapore makes sense. Ranked as the top ecosystem for startup talent in 2022, the Republic boasts a competitive tax system, a strong intellectual property regime, comprehensive trade agreements, a highly-qualified talent pool and efficient infrastructure.

Entering Singapore’s business landscape is an intuitive process. However, expanding in the city-state poses a challenge to companies who are unfamiliar with local regulations, especially where employment is concerned. This area is where a trusted recruitment partner can support.

In this article, we discuss some of the well-known key advantages of partnering with a recruitment agency when it comes to supporting a business human resources with their industry expertise, recruiting challenges and the common hiring mistakes that startups can avoid. Find out how startup leaders can hire top tech talent  in Singapore even during a talent crunch.

dealing with the recruitment challenges in tech startups

Today, around 80 of the world’s top 100 tech companies have a significant presence in Singapore, including tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

The country has also seen an influx of tech firms from Chinese crypto exchanges such as Binance and Huobi, to Japanese Web 3.0-focused companies like startup Oasys and venture Singapore Japan Mobile Labs.

With these tech companies in Singapore constantly creating new jobs, skilled ICT professionals have become high in demand everywhere you turn.

train SG workers digital skills
train SG workers digital skills

To fill the existing tech skills gap, Singapore needs to train 1.2 million workers in digital skills by 2025, particularly in-demand areas such as engineering, cybersecurity, and digital transformation. The tech talent shortage Singapore and the lack of specialised tech talent pinches everyone - especially startups.

When it comes to hiring critical talent, early stage tech startups may struggle to compete with  tech giants who offer a more structured career progression and have more spending power to meet tech workers’ rising expectations.

1. competing with giant tech companies on salary

In the past few years, Southeast Asian tech companies have begun offering salary increments of 10% to 20% for in-demand jobs, especially in fast-growing sectors like fintech. This market trend has led to some startups offering alternatives to attract tech talents such as equity or crypto coins over cash.

Unfortunately, with recession fears and tumbling crypto prices, employees nowadays prefer to receive their salaries in cash over financial assets.

2. tech startups are seen to lack job security and stability

Many workers tend to avoid joining startups because of the perceived instability in their jobs and the company.

Tech giants like Tencent and Google will almost never go out of business because of the sheer scale they operate on. On the other hand, a startup may be acquired by a larger company or go bust altogether if they run out of funds.

However, there are also some startups like Grab, GoJek and Klook that have found the niche to chart sustainable business growth. Since their incubation, these startups have matured their business by developing a viable business structure that offers strong job stability to their employees.

3. lack of career growth in startups

One other factor that stands out to tech talent when applying for new jobs is how interesting and meaningful it can be for them. IT professionals want to work in jobs that allow them to hone their skills and enhance their capabilities so they can stay agile and competitive.

According to our Tech Talent Expectations survey, 96% of IT professionals are highly interested in exploring other high-growth areas, saying that they would change their specialisations if given the choice.

When retaining young talent, employers must work hand-in-hand with their younger workforce and provide upskilling and development opportunities to align with their rising expectations.

This includes ensuring that employees are working on projects they’re passionate about, while giving them a transparent view of how they can progress in the company.

Startups are particularly attractive to younger workers generations as they provide more opportunities for professionals to learn and upskill in hands-on roles. In the same study, 43% of gen-Z employees said they want to work at unicorn startups. In contrast, advanced professionals prefer companies with a structured environment and career progression.

common mistakes tech startups make in hiring

From the corporate team who works behind the scenes to front office salespeople, your workforce comprises critical talent that work together to build your employer brand.

There’s immense pressure for hiring managers to land the best possible candidate - after all, depending on the role, a bad hire can cost anywhere from six to 12 months of their salary.

Hiring mistakes can be avoided if you get involved with a recruitment agency at the beginning of your recruitment process.

the cost of a bad hire
the cost of a bad hire

1. startups lacks a strong employer brand

Startups face tougher challenges in new talent acquisition, because they have to convince candidates that they are a better employer compared to larger companies.

For instance, a software developer who’s browsing for a new job online. They might stumble across a job advertisement from a big bank they’re very familiar with, followed by one from a new fintech company they’ve never heard of. Which company do you think the developer will apply for?

Companies who want to attract highly-skilled talent should first strengthen their employer brand. This includes getting the word out about their company culture, opportunities and incentives, and spotlighting a more agile environment that’s not as common in larger, more conservative MNCs.

In order to stand out more from the competitors, working with a recruitment agency might be the better option. It allows you to partner with an organisation that will take the time to understand your company values, business goals and hiring requirements. They would also serve as effective ambassadors for your employer brand, encouraging ideal candidates to consider opportunities at your organisation.

2. discriminatory hiring practices in startups

Beyond being able to tap a wider pool of talent and foster a culture of inclusivity, there are other factors that will impact your hiring strategy - one of which is Singapore’s regulations to ensure that employers do not engage in discriminatory hiring.

One of the most common issues talent encounter during the hiring process is being discriminated against for their personal attributes, such as age, race, gender, pregnancy or marital status, disability and mental health conditions.

Singapore has stringent regulations where discriminatory hiring practices and processes are concerned. The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which is enforced by MOM with the help of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), requires employers to adopt a merit-based approach to all stages of the recruitment process - from posting job advertisements to training, promotion and salary.

You can avoid the headaches associated with employment laws and human resources issues that some startups companies face. Rather than hiring human resources professionals to work for the company with the fear of breaking these regulations, startups can choose to work with recruitment agencies 

Recruitment agencies like Randstad provide highly-specialised recruiters who are trained to screen, shortlist and place highly-qualified candidates in front of you for an interview, allowing you to focus solely on making the right hire. We also have an in-house contract administrative team to help you with labour-intensive tasks such as contractors’ leave, payroll and employment visas.

In today’s candidate-shortmarket, it’s especially important to look beyond the traditional “ideal hire” and keep an open mind not just for talent diversity but career backgrounds. 

By focusing your recruitment strategy on finding best-fit talent for your team, your business will grow to be more innovative, resilient and adaptive to change.

3. longer hiring process

A common pitfall for tech companies is believing that in order to succeed, they must hire people like FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google). Consequently, falling into the trap of frustrating top candidates by conducting too many interviews.

The Tech Talent Expectations survey also showed that Singaporean tech workers are rejecting job offers due to a fundamental disconnect between hiring managers and tech candidates.

41% of respondents said that they rejected job offers during the interview process because they did not have a positive impression of the hiring manager. Meanwhile, 39% of respondents rejected offers because the interviewer did not have an adequate understanding of the job or role that they were hiring for.

Hence, it is crucial for interview processes to be efficient and thorough. Hiring managers need to ask the right questions, be transparent and provide detailed information about the company and the available role. If there are no compelling reasons for them to change jobs, tech candidates are likely to stick with their current companies where they can continue to be engaged and upskilled.

IT workers reject job if disconnects with interviewers
IT workers reject job if disconnects with interviewers

Having a meaningful human touch can help employers stand out, especially when they are trying to engage and attract top candidates.

Our recruiters use the interview process to ascertain if a candidate’s interests and skills are a good fit for the company and the job opportunity, while sharing much-needed first-hand information about the business to make candidates feel valued.

hiring strategies for tech startups in singapore

So should startup companies work with a recruiter to hire new talent? The simple answer is yes and why not.

With the tech talent shortage in Singapore, startup companies can gain advantages by partnering with us. The ability to build a strong employer brand and effectively market your organisation are two of their biggest benefits. This works particularly well in a new business landscape with unfamiliar regulations.

The recruiting process involves more than just giving recruiters the job description and budgeted salary, and requesting a shortlist of qualified candidates. Instead, if you know how to work with us, it’s a comprehensive, high-touch process that helps you find, screen, and successfully hire top-performing talent for your business.

Partnering with us means you get access to a talent pool of IT professionals and recruitment experts who know your industry inside out. Rather than being interviewed by someone who may not fully understand industry-specific roles, your candidates will connect to a recruitment specialist who can determine if they’re truly a good fit for the role and the organisation.

It also ensures that you stay on track with candidates at all times. Besides undergoing a more comprehensive screening process, job seekers can expect a tighter feedback loop, because we will check in frequently to ensure a smooth onboarding process.

When you work with us, you also benefit from their experience in attracting top talent, understanding how to attract candidates and helping you make the best decisions about your company’s future. Furthermore, having a workforce with the right candidate will lead to lower employee turnover, higher productivity and improved business performance.

That being said, our specialists are tasked to find the best talent for your teams - but it takes an organisation with a strong employer brand to properly engage and retain them.

partner with randstad

If you’re looking to increase your headcount or hiring in Singapore for the first time, let us help you source specialised talent for your recruitment needs and future growth. You can speak with our recruitment specialists to learn more about how you can improve your employer brand within a highly competitive tech landscape.

Need to tap into contract workers to support your business growth plan? Work with us for tailored end to end recruitment and HR services solutions. Alternatively, if you are an active candidate, explore your options in tech space. Check out our latest job listings and apply for jobs.

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