Govt taps recruiters to lure overseas Singaporeans home

The Government is turning to headhunters to woo overseas Singaporeans back to the country. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The Government is turning to headhunters to woo overseas Singaporeans back to the country. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Government is turning to headhunters to woo overseas Singaporeans back to the country.

Contact Singapore, a state outfit focused on attracting skilled foreigners, is stepping up efforts to draw overseas Singaporeans as well.

While it has done things like giving out job information to Singaporeans abroad previously, it is now going one step further by involving headhunting firms.

Contact Singapore has invited recruitment firms to come up with proposals to help overseas Singaporeans land jobs here. It is thought to be the first time it has turned to professional headhunters.

Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm People Worldwide Consulting, said Contact Singapore may have turned to professional recruiters for their expertise.

"We know which sectors and firms are hiring, and we can even target or reach out to Singaporeans overseas who may not have even thought about coming back," he said.

The Economic Development Board, which runs Contact Singapore with the Manpower Ministry, did not reply to The Straits Times by press time on what had prompted the move.

But its letter last month to recruiters gives a glimpse of its plans. It wants to make an "informal arrangement" where Contact Singapore will refer overseas Singaporeans to headhunters.

"The profiles of candidates will likely be overseas Singaporeans who are inclined or have already made plans to return to Singapore," it said.

Apart from looking for jobs, it also wants headhunters to provide personalised career coaching services, such as helping returning Singaporeans set career goals, buff up their resumes and prepare for job interviews.

It wants to know how much the headhunters should be charging, but it will not collect any fees - preferring that headhunters directly negotiate charges with the clients.

It is unclear when the project will start, but this is not the first time the official talent scout has focused on overseas Singaporeans.

In 1997, the Government unveiled a plan for the likes of the then National Science and Technology Board and Contact Singapore to woo overseas Singaporean researchers back.

In recent years, the Government has also been trying to engage the 200,000-plus Singaporeans estimated to be living abroad. It has run activities like Singapore Day carnivals, the latest edition of which will be held in London later this month.

Singaporeans based overseas told The Straits Times they welcome the extra help.

Ms L. Lin, a Singaporean in her 20s who graduated from an Australian university a few months ago, said: "Overseas universities do not adequately prepare you on resume preparation like the local universities do."

But this might have come too late for Mr Frederick Tan, a financial services consultant in his 40s.

He returned to Singapore from China last year after eight years in the semiconductor industry there.

He had preliminary talks with Contact Singapore about jobs before coming back, but found his current job himself.

"Besides making the contact overseas, the follow-through after a Singaporean returns is equally important," he said.