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Hi,

Just a question about the importance of knowing how to speak/write Mandarin when working in Singapore.

A couple of firms I have considered applying to include the ability to speak and read Mandarin as one of the job requirements. However, my understanding was, since English has been adopted as the (unofficial) language for conducting business, the ability to speak Mandarin is generally not necessary in Singapore, especially when working for multinational companies.

So do you think I will be automatically rejected if I can't satisfy this requirement, assuming I'm qualified in every other respect? I am applying for positions in the financial services industry -- firms that are headquartered elsewhere but with an office in Singapore.

Thanks.
 

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A couple of firms I have considered applying to include the ability to speak and read Mandarin as one of the job requirements. However, my understanding was, since English has been adopted as the (unofficial) language for conducting business, the ability to speak Mandarin is generally not necessary in Singapore, especially when working for multinational companies..
they are primarily looking for you to work with Mandarin Speaking Colleagues (yes, in Singapore there are a few who prefer to speak Mandarin-from China, based in Singapore) and / or servicing Chinese Speaking clients.

If they say so, yes, you need to, and don't under estimate the power of Mandarin speaker's persistence in insisting on speaking in Mandarin, or over estimate the power of English to over power Mandarin Speakers

so answer ? you can try, but have very low hopes, if you think of getting recruited
 

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The "fluent in Mandarin" requirement in job ads often indicates that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. (There is no law against this kind of racism in Singapore!)
In many, especially international, companies working without Mandarin skills is perfectly possible, but you might lose out on the social and office politics aspects (with 2/3 of the population Chinese, such things mostly happen in Mandarin). And as soon as you need to face customers or international clients (which in Asia inevitably includes China and Taiwan), Mandarin is a must.
 

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The "fluent in Mandarin" requirement in job ads often indicates that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. (There is no law against this kind of racism in Singapore!)
To be precise, there is a law against racial discrimination in hiring and employment. There is no law against discriminating on the basis of language skills if those skills are relevant to the job.

Yes, it's possible "fluent in Mandarin" is only or partly an (imperfect) effort to discriminate in favor of a particular ethnic group, but we cannot presume so absent other evidence. Equally, "must be able to explain taste differences of Vegemite" could be a legitimate job requirement or could be an effort to discriminate in favor of Australians.
 
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