- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Malaysia Guide (PDF)
Although many expats view Malaysia as their ideal retirement destination, there is also a range of expat job opportunities available in the country. Kuala Lumpur, with its proximity to Singapore and lower cost of living, is an ideal city to do business in and raise a family.
Job market in Malaysia
There are a number of IT jobs in Malaysia, as well as in teaching, diplomatic fields, engineering and tourism. Expats are also likely to find work in the banking, finance and accounting sectors, and the oil and gas industries.
The ability to speak a high level of English is valued in the Malaysian job market, but expats that can speak an additional local language such as Malay or Cantonese will have a great advantage.
Finding a job in Malaysia
The majority of expats move to Malaysia with a firm job offer and contract already in place, and most often as part of an inter-company transfer. It is often difficult for expats coming to the country on a tourist visa to seek employment. Work permits for Malaysia are vitally important. The fines and laws regarding illegal work in the country are strict as are those governing tax compliance. Expats wanting to work in Malaysia will need to ensure that they have the appropriate work permit. Acquiring these can often be a lengthy and complicated process, but it is normally facilitated by the hiring company.
There are restrictions in place on the number of foreign employees that Malaysian companies can hire. This is probably the hardest regulation to overcome when seeking a job in Malaysia. But, once a company has convinced the government that there are no better qualified Malaysians to fill the position and that the potential employee and their position are of vital importance, then obtaining a visa and orchestrating the move should run smoothly.
Work culture in Malaysia
The etiquette and behaviour surrounding business in Malaysia is similar to that of most Western countries. That said, Malaysia is an ethnically diverse country and expats will need to prepare themselves for dealing with people from a broad range of backgrounds, the most common being Malay, Chinese and Indian. When working in Malaysia, expectations and behaviour may need to be adjusted according to the organisation and individual that is being dealt with.
Malaysians work approximately eight hours per day, and the working week consists of five days. Normal business hours are from 9am to 5pm. Annual leave entitlements vary according to the length of employment, but the country also has a large number of public holidays, particularly religious holidays, because of the variety of cultures and ethnicities.