How to look for work in Kuala Lumpur


Malaysia has become a popular destination for people to migrate to. It's not only a beautiful place to explore, employment opportunities are plentiful and the cost of living is relatively low.

Living and working in Malaysia is possible in multiple ways. The best way is to work in Malaysia is as an expatriate with an international employer. The conditions are usually better when people try their luck after arriving in Malaysia. It can be quite difficult to fly to Malaysia on a tourist visa and look for work, unless you are highly educated with years of experience in a sought after field of work. Malaysian employers benefit more from employing local staff rather than international staff. However, some employers opt to illegally "hire" foreigners and pay them under the table.

Malaysians are well-educated so to be competitive you need to have good qualifications (at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent and preferably a master's degree) with some years of work experience. Companies in Malaysia are only allowed to hire foreigners when they can prove that Malaysians aren't able or willing to do that job. Exceptions are made in case of strategic jobs such as management or finance.

Job Market in Malaysia

Malaysia is on its way to become an industrial country. It has already a booming economy and a stable job market.

However, this does not necessarily improve the job perspectives for expatriates. For many expats, it is preferable to find a job with an international company before coming to Malaysia. Note that expatriates can only be employed for a maximum of 5 or 10 years, depending on the branch, provided that Malaysian professionals are trained to eventually take over the position. Companies also have to obey restrictions regarding the number of expat workers employed, which depend on the level of foreign paid-up capital.

Luckily, there are thousands of foreign and international companies from over 50 countries operating in Malaysia so chances are still good to find employment, even if the search might require a bit of effort.

Teaching English is the most common job for native English speakers, either in a school or through private lessons. There is an increased demand in this field, as many schools are introducing subjects which are taught in English.

Although English is widely spoken in Malaysia, you should consider learning the local language. This will increase your chances to find a pekerjaan (job) and to mingle with the locals which could expand your professional network.

Prepare a Resume / CV for Malaysia

Applying for a job online is becoming more popular in Malaysia. If you are applying for a job in an international company, write a CV in English.

  • Resume- brief overview of work and educational experience. Prominent in the US when applying for employment. Typically one page.
  • CV (curriculum vitae) - more in depth look at work and educational experience. Prominent in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Typically two or more pages.

To learn more about the differences and when which is appropriate, read Easy Expat's 'CV versus Résumé?'

CV Layout

A standard format CV is acceptable in Malaysia. The most important part of a job application in Malaysian is the CV, which is sometimes extended by a cover letter. Information must be current and correct. It is common in Malaysia to attach a photo.

The CV should contain:

  • Contact Information: Relevant personal contact information at the top of the page including: name, phone number, fax number, address, and email address.
  • Professional Experience: Usually this information is listed chronologically. List your work experience with: your title, the name of the company you worked for, the dates of your employment, and a brief description of your achievements in that job
  • Education: Should include information from higher education, such as any college experience. Note specialties and degrees. This section should come before work experience if you are in school or have been out of school for one to three years, depending on your level of work experience and how relevant your education is to your career.
  • Certificates & Diplomas: Courses, seminars, congresses or conferences that are relevant in relation to the position. Note if you received any special honors. Be prepared to show certificates, awards, results, transcripts to support claims.
  • Languages: This is extremely relevant to an international job. List which languages you speak and your level: advanced, intermediate or beginner. Point out if you can translate, speak, or write in each language and list any associated degrees. If you are submitting your resume in English and it is not your first language, be sure to have a native speaker read it first. Punctuation and grammar are extremely important.
  • Computer Skills: Programs, applications, word processing, database, Internet experience, etc.
  • Interests: You may include personal interests such as hobbies, sports, activities.

CV Tips for Malaysia

  • Style should be straightforward. Use standard paper and a simple font, such as Times New Roman (12 font) or Arial (10) font
  • Print original copies on high quality paper - don't send photocopies.
  • Be neat. Take care with the presentation, design, spaces, and spelling of your resume. Don't use abbreviations. Emphasize sections and things that are important with underlines or bold type.
  • Make sure your CV is as organized as possible, so the information can be found easily. Emphasize any Malay language skills you have.
  • Refrain from including too much personal information, such as information about your personal life. This should be a professional document. You do not need to date or sign your resume.
  • Have a base CV that you can adjust to each job you are applying for.

How to Prepare Your Cover Letter for Malaysia

A cover letter usually accompanies a CV in a job application. In the format of a letter, it establishes your tone and intent. The cover letter should include your personal motivation for the desired position and present your qualifications and skills in a professional tone. This is the area in which you can assert more of a personal profile.


  • Header - Standard business letter style, with the sender's address and other information, the recipient's contact information, and the date sent after either the sender's or the recipient's address. The final part of the header is a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers").
  • Introduction - The introduction briefly states the specific position desired, and should be designed to catch the employer's immediate interest.
  • Body - Highlights material in the resume or job application, and explains why the job seeker is interested in the job and would be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past experience. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well.
  • Closing - Sums up the letter and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.

How to search for a Job in Malaysia

Employment Search Engines

Search engines allow you to scan a great variety of jobs, and narrow down your search on certain criteria. It is also a good idea to post your CV online so hiring managers can find you. They may also allow you to sign-up for e-mail alerts of when new jobs become available. It is very common to search for jobs on the internet and there are plenty of such sites available for the Malaysian job market.

There are several classifieds-type websites that list job openings in Malaysia. The most popular is JobStreet with many listings in English.

Popular job search sites:

You can also browse job listings in Malaysia on EasyExpat.


Participating in expat forums is a great way to find job leads and get career-related advice from other foreigners living in Malaysia.

You can also chat with other expats and share your experiences using EasyExpat's Malaysia forum and EasyExpat's LinkedIn group.


Several papers have a helpful classified's section. There are job offers for executives and professionals, as well as sections dedicated to specific professions, like teaching, computers, and media.

These include:

Recruitment Agencies in Malaysia

Most agencies specialize in a particular field, such as computers, nursing, secretarial work, accounting, catering, or construction. There are also "Head hunting" agencies that are hired by large companies to recruit executives, managers or professionals.

To find an appropriate agency, look for "employment agencies in Malayasia" or go to

Career Fairs in Malaysia

Career fairs are one way to find out about available jobs and opportunities. There are usually a large variety of employers you can visit in one day and apply. Entrance is usually free, but registering online might be encouraged. Bring your resume and dress to impress as there may be interviews on the spot. You can also try going to career fairs in your home country that specialize in jobs abroad.


Malaysia is a relatively small country and its capital, Kuala Lumpur, is well connected. Networking can take you far professionally.

Talk to friends, family, and business contacts to see if they have connections in the area you would like to work. Start contacting local businesses and institutions that you're interested in. Even if they cannot offer you an internship, they might be able to put you in touch with a colleague or give you useful leads.

Expat events can also be a great way to find out how other expats found work and see if their company has any openings. Set-up a meet-up on the Malaysia forum, and connect on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.

Prepare for an Interview in Malaysia

The job interview plays an important role in the Malaysian application process. Courtesy plays a decisive role in Malaysian professional but also social life. Keep that in mind during the interview.

Interviews are a chance for a company to get to know you before hiring you. Research the company before the interview to discover their missions and direction. It is not uncommon for there to be a series of interviews.

  • Arrive on time. An inability to be punctual is seen as a very bad habit. Although Malaysians tend to have quite a relaxed attitude to time, it is the employer who is allowed to be late and not the potential employee. As Malaysia is a culturally mixed country, you never know who your interviewer is going to be and which attitude he will have to details like punctuality.
  • Dress neatly and conservatively.
  • The Malaysian business culture is also very hierarchical so you should treat the employer with great respect.
  • Bring your CV, business card, and copies of the certificates.
  • Ask questions. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.

Temporary Agencies in Malaysia

If you are in need of short term work of any kind, there are agencies that will find you employment with another company. Jobs may consist of office work, babysitting, gardening, security or any other types of work. They will try to fit with occupations that fit your skill set. As an added bonus, sometimes short term work can lead to longer contract.

Teaching English in Malaysia

A very common and promising job for native English speakers is to teach English - either in a school or through private lessons. There is an increased demand in this field, as many schools are introducing subjects which are taught in English.

To work legally in Malaysia as a teacher, you must come from a Native Speaking country and have a degree. Some schools require a TEFL course certificates and a college degree. If applicants are from non-English speaking countries, most schools require an IELTS score of 6.0 and above. You must have adequate visa clearance and registration. Most schools will supply you the intent to employ so you can secure a visa.

Teachers can expect to earn between 3,000 to 8,000 MYR per month (minus a 10% tax).

Get Started Teaching in Malaysia

The easiest way to get started teaching English is to find a school. The best situations are companies that pay adequately, provide vacation, medical care, and even airfare 'home' once a year, and aid in getting visa paperwork completed for Malaysia. These positions may be difficult to come by and there is fierce competition for the best.

Applicants usually submit their resume and application, and if the school approves, the applicant will be asked for an interview. The interview may consist of a sample lesson or a grammar test. Some schools will want teachers to demonstrate teaching a class before hiring.

It is common for new teachers to only receive a few classes at first. If they are able to prove themselves reliable and are able to handle a class, they will gradually be given more classes. Some teachers work at two schools or also give private lessons.

Teaching in the state sector is the most lucrative strain of teaching. These jobs are hard to come by without experience and the best qualifications. These positions offer the paid holidays, excellent salary, and a good pension.

Teaching Private Classes in Malaysia

It is also an option to give private lessons. These are usually more profitable per hour, but require more work finding customers.

The best way to get private students is to post advertisements on Craigslist ,, or post your CV on EasyExpat's Job Listings. Having basic native language skills will help expand your clientele as you can then work with beginners.

Rates are about at 50 MYR per hour.

Teaching Certificates for Malaysia

TESOL (also known as TEFL) is the acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A TESOL certificate is the most common qualification required to teach English abroad. There are a wide variety of TESOL courses available, ranging from 4-week intensive, classroom based TESOL courses with TEFL International, to TESOL courses studied online. It is even possible to combine a period of online study with a shorter classroom based course. In addition to standard TESOL certificate courses there are also more specialized courses such as courses for teaching business English, or teaching English to young learners. There is also the more advanced TESOL diploma course.

Work Visas & Permits

For information on work visas in Malaysia, refer to 'Passport & Visa' section of the guide for details.

Update 3/06/2015


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