Work In Malaysia: What Is It Like, Requirements And Jobs

Updated 23 March 2023

Working overseas can help candidates explore new career opportunities, learn about different cultures and expand their professional network. Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia, provides excellent career prospects in various sectors, such as technology, banking and finance, healthcare and tourism and hospitality. If you are looking to apply for a job in Malaysia, you can benefit from learning about the work culture, lifestyle and the job application process.

In this article, we provide insights into what it is like to work in Malaysia, discuss the language requirements, list jobs with skill shortages, provide a detailed guide on how to get a job there and share steps to explain your qualifications to an employer.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed. Legal requirements outlined are accurate as of March 2023. Please consult Malaysian immigration laws to check for any updates.

What Is It Like To Work In Malaysia?

If you are applying for jobs abroad, you can benefit from knowing what it is like to work in Malaysia and whether it aligns with your interests, skills and career goals. Companies in Malaysia usually follow a strict hierarchical structure with a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities, with importance on age and seniority. There is a code of conduct that defines workplace rules and regulations, employee behaviour and expectations. There is a preference for in-person interaction over email or video conferences. Companies give a strong emphasis on respect, collaboration, communication and work-life balance.

The average work week is about 45 hours, with work days typically from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and a half-working day on Saturdays.

Related: What Is Corporate Culture? (Definition And Different Types)

Language Requirements For Working In Malaysia

Malay is the official language of Malaysia. Though English is the business language in most companies, being able to speak Malay fluently can help you better socialise with your colleagues and build good working relationships. Several sectors, such as education, manufacturing, healthcare and customer service, require full working proficiency in Malay to interact with local clients and customers. Including your proficiency in Malay can also provide a competitive advantage for certain positions.

Malay is relatively easier to learn because of the absence of conjugations, plural, verb tenses and gender compared to other languages. You can join an online class or use language learning apps to learn and improve your proficiency in the language. You may also hire a private tutor to help you learn Malay effectively.

Related: Language Skills: Definition, Examples And How To Improve

Jobs With Skill Shortages In Malaysia

Here are some in-demand jobs in Malaysia:

  • Finance: Malaysia has a well-established finance sector with business-friendly laws and regulations, and an increasing demand for people proficient in finance and accounting. Some in-demand positions include head of finance, chief finance officer and relationship manager.

  • Tourism: Malaysia is a popular tourist destination with a need for individuals with strong communication, networking and organisational skills. In-demand jobs include tour guides, event managers and travel agents.

  • Healthcare: With an increased focus on improving the country's healthcare system and making it accessible to more citizens, there is a demand for healthcare experts in areas such as nursing, medical technology and healthcare administration.

  • Information and communication technology: With rapid development in IT and digital innovation, there is a need for individuals proficient in software development, data analytics and network security.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide To The Importance Of Marketing

How To Get A Job In Malaysia?

Here are some steps to follow if you want to work in Malaysia:

1. Research the job market

Begin your job search by identifying the industry and position that aligns with your skill set, work experience, qualifications and interests. You can use job boards to filter your search based on industry, type of role, location, type of employment contract and salaries. You can also look at the government website to be familiar with the labour laws, explore jobs in various sectors, learn more about the in-demand skills and access other resources that can be useful during your job search.

Related: 5 Useful Tips To Achieve Career Fulfilment (With Definition)

2. Assess your skills and experience

Determine your skills, core strengths and areas of improvement, and professional experience by taking assessment tests. This can help you find roles that align with your skills and interests. It can also be helpful to gain basic proficiency in Malay to improve your job prospects.

Related: 9 Skills To Include In A Cover Letter (With Examples)

3. Draft your CV

Start by including your details, such as name, date of birth, nationality and city of residence. Next, include a short professional summary highlighting your key skills, work experience and notable accomplishments. This gives the hiring manager a quick overview of your profile and helps them decide your suitability for the role. Mention your educational details and your Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) if applicable. List your work experience starting from the most recent, including the company name, employment date and responsibilities.

Use strong action verbs and quantifiable results when describing your accomplishments to showcase the impact of your work, and your professional growth between positions. You may also include the names and contact information of professional references who can attest to your work experience, and character.

Related: Professional Resume Samples To Help You Land A Job

4. Network with people

Networking with people in your industry can help you find new job opportunities and provide insights into the local culture. You may contact recruiters or employers to learn about open positions and requirements. You can also consider taking part in virtual events or joining online groups related to your profession.

Related: How To Introduce Yourself Professionally

5. Apply for a work permit and visa

Malaysia requires the employer to apply for an application to the Expatriate Committee or a relevant regulatory agency for a Malaysian work permit. This work permit is valid for technology, finance and managerial positions, and for an employment duration of one to five years. The Malaysia Professional Visit Pass is suitable for people with an employment duration of up to 12 months. You can apply for a work visa by submitting an application, uploading the documentation and paying the fees on the Malaysian Visa Application Centre (VAC) website. Some essential documents include:

  • Valid identity proof such as a passport

  • Signed application form

  • Past employment testimonials

  • Employment letter

  • Criminal records

  • Education credentials such as degree and transfer certificates

  • A detailed description of your work description

Related: What Is An Employment Verification Letter? (With Templates)

How To Explain Your Qualifications To Malaysian Employers?

Employers may require candidates to get recognition of their credentials to ensure that their foreign qualifications align with the educational framework and quality, and standards prescribed by Malaysian universities. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) is responsible for recognising qualifications in Malaysia following the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF). Here are some steps you can take to get your credentials recognised:

1. Research the requirements

Review the job description to identify relevant qualifications, skills and experience for the position. If you are unsure, you can contact your hiring manager or employer to learn more about the recognition of your qualifications. The employer may ask you to take additional certifications or programmes if your qualifications are not equivalent to the ones prescribed under MQF. You may contact a recruitment agency to guide you through this process.

2. Submit your application

This process requires you to submit your educational certificates, transcripts and other relevant documents to the MQA for evaluation, along with a completed application form. Some positions may also require you to submit additional details on your degree programme, the syllabus and grades, and certifications. There is a fee applicable for the evaluation of your qualifications. It may take up to 30 working days for the process to complete and can depend on several factors, such as the type of qualification, the issuing institute and the completeness of the documentation you submit.

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