For some, Switzerland is a synonym for wonderland, and rightfully so. Between its beautiful nature, tasty national food, and peculiar lifestyle, Switzerland embodies individuality. With the quality this country offers, high prices are a natural occurrence.
Given that, to afford everything Switzerland has to offer, a Swiss paycheck is a must-have. Although we already established that it falls on the expensive spectrum, the expenses are pretty proportional to how much you can earn from a Swiss job. Plus, according to their law, foreigners get paid the same amount as nationals.
Getting the Swiss job you want has a very European pathway to it. And as it always is, with great opportunity comes great competition. For everything Switzerland has on the table, it doesn’t come as a surprise to know that many people take an interest in it.
Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t tips to hack the job market and work your way in it. With a little help and exceptional skills, carving your way on top of Swiss employers’ call lists should be no problem.
1) Check Your Eligibility
For a person to be able to work in Switzerland, the first step is eligibility. The eligibility checklist differs based on your nationality. So, first, you’ll need to know what they require from you, and then get your documentation in order. Once you get through the legal part of it, the rest is smooth sailing.
Before you start job hunting, the first thing on your list should know what is required from you to get a work permit. That can go one of the two ways, depending on whether you’re an EU/EFTA citizen or not.
For EU/EFTA citizens, this is a two-step road. First, you get accepted for a job, then you apply for a residence permit. After that’s done, getting a work permit should be easy for you. And, if you’re only looking to work 90 days or less, you won’t even need a work permit. You can just work.
For non-EU/EFTA citizens, it’s a bit trickier than that. If you belong to this group, then to get the residence permit, you’ll need a visa. And getting a work visa requires a hefty amount of paperwork. Apart from the fact that you’ll have to be accepted to work beforehand, there are documents you need to prepare and a waiting line in front of you.
So, for both of these cases, there are some forms you need to fill and papers to get filed, but that shouldn’t discourage you. Swiss people embrace diversity, and if you’re good at what you do, they’ll be more than happy to make room.
2) Identify Job Opportunities in Switzerland
As with anything else in life, knowing where you want your endpoint to be, does a lot for easing the path to there. So, getting yourself ready and being sure where you want that to take you goes a long way in your quest for a Swiss career. And this is directly linked to familiarizing yourself with the job market in your canton of choice.
Although the opportunities are vast and various, due to the shortage of skilled workers in Switzerland, there’s a better chance in that category. Whether you are of expertise lies in engineering or IT, the possibility of your employment doubles.
However, this is not an indicator that if your heart lies elsewhere, you won’t have an opportunity. As mentioned before, if you’re packing the right skills, the Swiss would definitely consider themselves lucky to have you. Which consecutively means you’ll be provided with a fair fight.
The final part of this process is the online search for your profession of choice. You can start this on whatever platform feels easier for you. From the more popular and apparent alternatives like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Monster to the local Swiss ones like jobscout24.ch and englishforum.ch – these can help with either finding a job or just creating a general idea of what you’re in for.
If online job hunting isn’t something that suits you and you’re not big on the idea of doing it yourself, you can always contact a Swiss employment agency and go from there.
3) Get Familiarized with the Language Requirements
The level of language skills and which language is required from you can vary not only from job to job but from canton to canton too. The languages most likely to be on that list are German, Italian, and French. Knowing all three of these is by no means a necessity, and sometimes the level of knowing any of them can be quite low. And specific jobs may expect English fluency from you.
So, if your interest falls on big multinational companies, then you’ll probably need to know a local language just enough to get you by in the office. Although, that means that knowing English may be essential since you’re going to be working with non-Swiss nationals most of the time.
Whereas, if you’re looking at smaller local companies, knowing a native language is a must. Not only that but in most cases, your language skills should be on an excellent and fluent degree.
The key to excluding language as a barrier in your path to a Swiss career is researching the company you’re interested in. Thankfully, nowadays, that is one of the easier tasks we have to tackle. Once you’ve established what you want to work and where you want to do it, you can search the work-place online. Sometimes, you can get all the information you need just by looking at the requirements they’re listed.
For a general idea of what language you’ll need: Swiss-German in the center of Switzerland and some east regions, French in the west, and Italian in the south.
4) Get Your CV Switzerland Ready
Switzerland may not be part of the EU, but it sure mirrors a lot of its qualities. One of these similarities would be the way they look at job applications. The way they got about their applicants’ CVs reminds us of a lot of European countries.
So, if your technique has been piling on pages and pages of previous work, forget that and start from scratch. Your CV is not supposed to be an autobiography, it should be a few pages set to market your skills and experience effectively.
A further step to making your CV Switzerland ready is knowing how many pages long to make it. You’ll need no more than two for it, except if you have a very long working history behind you, that’s when three is okay.
What these pages should include is a few sentences about yourself at the top and usually a professional photo of yourself. This document should be clear, error-free (they notice the small stuff), and ideally pinpoint and underline your finest and most relevant skills. And be sure to make language skills part of it. As a known multilingual country, the Swiss have a deep appreciation for it.
Last but not least, prepare for any fact-checking that might happen. Basically, don’t overhype your skills and be honest about them. When it comes to substance, Swiss people want to know if you can back up everything you claim. This means that asking you for certificates or testimonials from your previous co-workers is not out of the question.
5) Get Yourself Interview Ready
If your remodeled CV got you noticed, then another element you need to prepare for is the interview. This can be especially important if you have to do the interview via video call. This can be quite different from a face-to-face meeting, as it’s harder to establish a rapport with the interviewer. What could come in handy in these situations is a smiling face or even a hint of joking.
Now, if the meeting is in person, you should take care of the way you refer to your interviewer in the respective language. A little formality can go a long way. And if you were asked for any of the ‘fact-checking tools’ mentioned before, you should bring copies to your interview, it shows a grade of professionalism.
To confirm your interest and show some knowledge in their culture, a thank you note (sent by either an e-mail or a letter) to the interviewer is appreciated. This note and being on time can be seen as slight signs of respect for the person you’re hoping to be in business with.
6) Have an Online Presence
Having an online presence doesn’t hurt your image anywhere you intend to apply, and the case is no different from Switzerland. The main point of having an maintaining this presence is that it leads to networking. As a result of networking with the right bunch, you’ll have not only worthy information but connections too.
Building an online network is a good way of making sure that, even before you set foot in Switzerland, you’ll have outside help. To help you start a career there, you’ll need contacts and people in your field. That is the whole point of this process.
With everything digitized, the search for like-minded people who share your interests and profession has never been easier. And there are platforms and clubs dedicated to this kind of thing. You can either turn to a professional site like LinkedIn or go for local Swiss networking clubs and go from there. It wouldn’t hurt to do both at the same time, in fact, it might even be beneficial to get a more wide-spread network.
In no time, your contact list will be swarming with useful and compatible people to help you get where you want to be. This will make moving and working in Switzerland not seem like a far-fetched concept.
7) Prepare for the Swiss Lifestyle
If you successfully undertook the previous challenges and steps, and already have a job waiting for you in Switzerland, start getting ready for the Swiss lifestyle. Getting used to their way of living is a journey of its own.
Rule number one to co-existing with the Swiss is always being on time, even early. This comes in hand, particularly with first impressions, and it means that not running late on your first day of work is important. That’s a subtle way of showing your employer and co-workers that you respect their time. Achieving this shouldn’t be a hassle, considering the public transport system is blooming in Switzerland and a train will never be more than 3 minutes late.
Another thing about Swiss people is that they are very polite and can be seen greeting a stranger at any time. Which is not to say that they’re not private people. They are, very much so. This quality of their essentially translates into being nice without oversharing.
Hard work is a vital part of this lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that leisure time is of no importance to them. They tend to use this free time to enjoy the vast variety of activities their natural resources make possible.
Lastly, a tip for living in Switzerland is to never leave shopping for Sunday as all the shops are closed. Also, if you love snacking, you’re in the right place. You’ll be happy to find out that snacking is highly encouraged in work environments, but it does come with a timeline of its own. This is seen as a way to increase productivity.
There may be rules for integrating yourself in the Swiss community, but there is nothing wrong with holding on to your authenticity. If anything, it’s appreciated. And if you’re already moving there, don’t forget to set up your Swiss bank account, as you can hardly find an international bank with day-to-day usage in Switzerland.
Starting a career in Switzerland comes with its own obstacles, and they differ depending on the region, company, nationality, etc. And, hacks on getting in the Swiss job market can only do so much for you. What you really need with you is a driven and skillful personality, as an addition to your education. Although for non-European citizens, the road to success can be a bit rockier and getting a work permit doesn’t rely solely on competence, but it’s not unattainable.
Wherever it is that you’re from, good luck on your job quest, and hopefully, these tips helped pave the way.