Finding jobs abroad: 6 most attractive countries in Southeast Asia

Finding jobs abroad

At some point in your life, you may have considered working abroad. Some of you may even have taken that bold step of moving abroad and successfully securing a job overseas. The willingness to work abroad usually begins as a personal career goal, fuelled by the idea of achieving greener pastures, along with the opportunities to experience new cities and different cultures, while gaining international work experience.

The idea of working abroad is both exciting but daunting at the same time as having an international career requires plenty of careful planning. From narrowing down your destinations to establishing contacts with overseas employers or recruitment agencies as well as sorting out your personal relocation matters such as accommodation, visa requirements and work permits. For starters, do you know the top 10 most attractive countries to work in?

Top 10 most attractive countries for the global workforce

The Decoding Global Talent survey, a joint effort by Boston Consulting Group, The Network, and jobsDB, recently revealed that the US remains as the most attractive country to work in for 2018, unchanged from 2014. Coming in at 2nd place is Germany (+2 spots from 2014), Canada remains comfortably at its 3rd position, while Australia took Germany’s previous spot at 4th (+3 spots).

The UK experienced a drop in its ranks (-3 spots) to 5th, possibly due to the impact of Brexit. Spain came in at 6th (+2 spots) while France dropped to 7th (-1 spot). Switzerland also dropped 3 ranks to 8th, possibly due to tightened quotas. Italy remains unchanged at 9th while Sweden, which was previously at 10th in 2014, got knocked out from the top 10 list and was overtaken by Japan.

Attractiveness of 6 Southeast Asian countries to global talents

Among the 6 largest economies of Southeast Asia, the survey revealed that Singapore is ranked the most attractive destination to talents who are willing to work abroad. Globally, it is ranked at 18th place in 2018 (+6 spots from 2014) and when grouped by region, Singapore is the 4th favourite destination in the Asia-Pacific region for global talents. The lion city is currently most attractive to talents from Myanmar (previously not in 2014’s top 10), followed by talents from its neighbouring countries: Malaysia (+1 spot to 2nd) and Vietnam (-1 spot to 3rd).

Taking the 2nd place among the 6 economies of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is ranked 33rd in the 2018 global attractiveness ranking, up 9 spots from 2014 data. The country is most attractive to talents from Indonesia (+1 spot to 1st), Singapore (+2 spots to 2nd) and Pakistan (+3 spots to 3rd).

Also demonstrating an improvement in the global attractiveness ranking is Thailand, at 39th globally in 2018 (+4 spots) and 3rd in Southeast Asia. Respondents from Myanmar ranked Thailand as their most desired country to work abroad (unchanged from 2014 at 1st). This was followed by Singapore (unchanged at 2nd) and Vietnam (+3 spots to 3rd).

Tips for candidates interested in working abroad

If you are planning to work in one of these attractive top countries, bear in mind that you won’t be the only candidate fighting to secure a stable job there. Competition will be tough and one needs to be ready to face all these foreign challenges. Here are 3 practical tips that can help you navigate your way into securing a job overseas:

Be flexible on your destination

Consider having more than one possible destination in mind. According to the survey, sometimes, the places that have high potentials can also have their attractiveness diminished by regulatory or political change (e.g. UK). Instead of going to destinations where majority of talents prefer and be just one of the many job applicants there, candidates should also look at second-tier places or fast-growing economies where they can easily stand out and make their mark. 

Be ready to re-skill

These days, rapid pace of change in jobs and skills would mean what you learnt in university, may not be sufficient in your future career. In fact, to become a part of a global work ecosystem, it may be essential for candidates to re-skill. At the risk of displacement through technology, 70% of the survey respondents have stated that they are willing to re-skill, and many would use online courses or adopt a self-study method in order to do so.

Connect with recruitment agencies

Although you may be more inclined to look for jobs overseas through the internet, at times it might work to your advantage to connect with recruitment agencies that assist jobseekers on a global scale. This is because, many international companies rely on the services of recruitment agencies to identify global top talents. Recruitment agencies can also assist in reducing the language barriers and bridge the cultural gap between you and your future employers, or sort out your paperwork before you begin your new work in a foreign land.

If you are looking at an overseas position in any of these 6 countries in Southeast Asia, we can help you connect with some of the best employers in the region. With over 500,000 corporate hirers across 7 countries namely Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, we offer local support for you, regardless of the location. Sign up today and discover how we can help you nail your dream overseas job!

Further reading:

You will need digital skills to secure your next job – regardless of your profession

Hong Kong’s changing talent market landscape: challenges and solutions


This article is either written or edited by jobsDB HK. If you would like to publish it on other website or publication, please contact us by email: [email protected]. jobsDB reserves the right to take legal action against any person that infringes the copyright.

Increase your chances of getting hired. Create a jobsDB profile

Increase your chances of getting hired. Update your jobsDB profile