Malaysia is a popular destination for professionals, graduates, and job seekers from all over the world due to the country’s stable economy, attractive job opportunities, high quality of life and exceptional working conditions. Widely regarded for its stunning scenery, respected business centre and luxurious properties, Malaysia has become a hot spot for those seeking a better quality of life. The country’s favorable position, bordering Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia also makes it s a hot spot for tourists.
Due to the number of advantages associated with working in Malaysia, the competition for top jobs in the country is very high. Skilled foreign workers from all over the world seek jobs in Malaysia every day, and combined with the competition from local graduates and professionals - finding a job can be difficult without the right skill set and bilingual abilities.
If you are skilled in an area where there is a lack of skilled local labour, then the likeliness of you securing a job in your desired profession is far higher than if you possess skills that many local graduates also possess.
Common difficulties in getting a job in Malaysia
Asides from the competition from local job seekers, there are other issues that international job seekers need to be aware of before making the move to Malaysia. One of the most notable difficulties is getting a VISA and employer to sponsor your move, followed by strict language requirements of most top companies operating in the country.
Language requirements – the country’s official language is Malay and is used in most government offices and businesses, however, English is also widely spoken and commonly used in business and services. It is therefore essential that you have proficiency in English, and Malay as an added advantage. Without having the ability to speak these languages, you will likely find securing a job in the country much harder than those who are bilingual.
Visa restrictions – Foreign workers seeking employment in Malaysia must obtain the necessary work permit prior to commencing work. There are 3 types of work permits available to applicants:
- Professional visit pass
- Temporary employment pass
- Employment pass
The application for obtaining a work permit can be complex without the right guidance, and so it is advised that foreign nationals seek reliable advice and support when applying for a work permit.
Generally, work permit applicants must be over 23 years of age for IT specialists and over 27 years of age for any other specialism. The employment passis the most commonly sought visa and requires a formal offer of employment from a Malaysia employer. It is valid for a minimum of 2 years and issued for specific jobs that require specialist skills.
Major industries of employment in Malaysia
- Islamic finance
- Petroleum and liquefied natural gas
- Palm oil
Living and working in Malaysia
Foreign workers in Malaysia tend to be drawn to the country’s capital city – Kuala Lumpur as it is the largest city and most prominent for international companies. Many top multinational organizations operate from Kuala Lumpur and as such, it has become a hub for international professionals.
Putrajaya is the second largest city in the country and is also popular amongst workers seeking administrative employment. Putrajaya is known as the administrative centre of Malaysia.
Annual paid leave is calculated based upon the length of time you have been employed with the company, however companies in Malaysia are known for promoting a healthy work-life balance, and working conditions in general are very high.
Average working hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm and lunch breaks are typically one hour long. In some companies, Friday’s have longer lunch breaks of 2 hours.
Overall, Malaysia has very favorable working conditions and average salaries are often good.
Business etiquette in Malaysia
Malaysia is a Muslim country, which means that certain customs and rules must be observed both in and out of the workplace. Many stores will close on a Friday (Islamic holy day) and business deals will not usually be performed during that period of rest.
Punctuality is highly regarded and it is prudent to arrive early for business meetings with Malay nationals. Business attire is relatively formal, with suits worn by men and conservative dress code adopted by women. You should note that yellow clothes are avoided as this is reserved for Malaysian royalty.
Addressing business professionals for the first time should be done by using the person’s title and surname, and this applies where you are communicating with management level workers.