• Switzerland edition
 
SWITZERLAND LIFESTYLE GUIDE
Finding a job in Switzerland

Finding a job in Switzerland

Published: 28 Feb 2011 17:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2011 17:21 GMT+01:00

The benefits of finding a job in Switzerland are juicy: high wages, at least four weeks holiday and an unemployment safety net that beggars belief. But with fierce competition and vital paperwork, you need to do your homework before setting out, writes Marcus Berry.

With one of the best-paid workforces in Europe and an equally gold-plated social safety net, it's easy to see why working in Switzerland is so attractive. These factors are enhanced by low crime, picture-book scenery and the very best winter sports facilities. 

There are hurdles however . . . The work force is small, competition is fierce and while EU/EFTA accords have eased employment restrictions for member states, job seekers from outside Europe will find their attempts hampered by red tape. 

 Job seeking sources

Nowadays the best job finding resources in Switzerland for English-speakers are online.

The Local’s own jobs section has listings of hundreds of English-speaking jobs across Switzerland. 

Sites such as Jobwinner.ch (Jobup.ch in French-speaking regions), or the more executive alpha.ch and MPB , are popular among both job seekers and employers. Depending on the canton you will find scores of offers from companies that require staff armed with an English mother tongue. 

The service provides a free system to download your CV and cover-letter and send them directly to the employer. It works. However, don’t expect too much from merely posting your CV on the site (another service) – much better to be proactive. 

Perhaps the best newspaper sources are the Tagesanzeiger (Zurich) 24Heures (Vaud) and Tribune de Genève (Geneva) which publish employment sections one day per week.  

Agencies including Adecco still form a major pillar of the Swiss employment market but are generally more useful for applicants already in possession of a work permit. 

Considering the transient nature of expat life, speculative applications are certainly worth a shot. Before mailing your cover letter and CV, identify your target: Personalabteilungsleite in German or Directeur de Ressources Humaines (French). Addressing these officials in their respective languages if possible will win brownie points. Many Swiss consider that English speakers don’t make enough linguistic effort and they have a point. This brings us to . . .

Language requirements

Although Switzerland employs three major national languages, English is frequently used in the work place. Nonetheless, knowledge of German, French and, to a lesser extent, Italian is going to be an advantage. Take note though – the German-Swiss dialect contains vocabulary and expressions entirely alien to high German speakers. On the other hand the French used in Switzerland is more manageable and far slower than say, the machinegun delivery of Parisians. Meanwhile, both Chinese (Mandarin) and Russian language skills are fast becoming valuable additions to linguistic requirements.

Permits 

EU/EFTA members enjoy the right to move between cantons, change jobs, bring their family into the country and for those family members to work. They can spend up to three months in Switzerland searching for work if they choose. If intending to spend more than three months here they are required to register with the canton of residence. 

 For non-EU/EFTA nationals the process is far more painful. Annual quotas are limited and employers are obliged to prove that the job on offer isn’t one that could be filled by a local. Permits are also restricted to those with higher education. 

If you get that far and have agreed terms, the employer will send you an official job offer. The HR department will then apply for your residency in the same canton. If accepted by local authorities, your employer will send you a Zusicherung der Aufenthalsbewilligung or Autorisation de Séjour, essentially pre-approval for residency. This is the document you must present to secure the final residency permit when you arrive in Switzerland. Be warned – the entire process could drag on for several months and promises of a permit from your potential employer should be taken with a pinch of salt. The final decision lies with the canton. 

International organizations are major employers in Switzerland, especially in Geneva. Work permits are not required and staff are issued with a special ID card (Identitätskarte or Carte de Légitimation).

Interviews

Swiss companies are scrupulous about screening and we’ve also heard from some natives and long-serving expats that wearing a watch to a job interview is a consideration. While we’ve yet to confirm or refute this claim, it would be a shame to risk disqualification over such an oversight. 

Wearing a tie is probably the safest option, but there are increasing signs of relaxation in the Swiss workplace. This depends on the company you’re aiming to join. If in doubt, ask what is expected.  

Taxes

Holders of B permits – generally the version newcomers are awarded these – are taxed at source according to cantonal fiscal regulations. This means you never get to see the cash. As soon as you graduate to a C permit, which takes five to 10 years, then you are required to process your own contributions. 

Politics

Some perceive that the rise in power of the right wing Swiss People’s Party (those behind the infamous ban on the construction of minarets) in recent years has prompted an increase in national xenophobia. 

Nonetheless, it’s worth remembering that the majority of the population doesn’t share these views and embraces easier employment policies, provided immigrants respect Swiss customs and stay out of trouble.  

Working illegally

Not advised. 


 

Today's headlines
Celebrated Swiss portrait photographer dies
Burri at the Elysée museum last year. Photo: Elyséee Museum

Celebrated Swiss portrait photographer dies

Swiss photographer René Burri, celebrated for his portraits of Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso, died Monday in Zurich aged 81, the Magnum agency said. READ  

'Monstrous' child molester jailed 15 years
Photo: Canton of Ticino

'Monstrous' child molester jailed 15 years

A 35-year-old man who sexually abused five girls of primary school age a total of more than 900 times was sentenced to a 15-year prison term by a court in the canton of Ticino on Monday. READ  

Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni
Bastian Eichenberger: speaks nine languages. Photo: Sandra Meyndt/University of Freiburg

Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni

A Swiss teenager has become the youngest university student in Germany, according to media reports in Switzerland. READ  

Electrolux to close Swiss manufacturing plant
Photo: AFP

Electrolux to close Swiss manufacturing plant

Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux plans to close its production plant in Schwanden in the canton of Glarus, eliminating 120 full-time jobs, partly because of tighter rules about Swiss-made products. READ  

Three kids hospitalized in crossing car crash
Photo: Zurich cantonal police

Three kids hospitalized in crossing car crash

Three children are in hospital, including a six-month-old infant, after a car collided with a family walking across a pedestrian crossing in Oberglatt, a municipality near the Zurich airport, police said on Monday. READ  

Quarter of workers 'stressed out': survey
Photo: AFP

Quarter of workers 'stressed out': survey

More than 40 percent of employed people in Switzerland believe they suffer from overwork, while a quarter of them say they are stressed out, according to a new survey. READ  

Canadian Ebola vaccine headed for Geneva
Geneva's university hospital. Photo: Julien Gregario

Canadian Ebola vaccine headed for Geneva

Canada will start sending more than 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to Switzerland this week as part of the global fight against the deadly virus, a Geneva hospital says. READ  

Swiss mountains claim four weekend victims
View of Fluebrig mountain where the passenger of a tandem paragliding pair died in a crash. Photo: Roland zh/Wikimedia Commons

Swiss mountains claim four weekend victims

Swiss mountain accidents claimed the lives of four men at the weekend, including a 61-year-old man who died from injuries suffered while flying as a passenger with a paraglider in the canton of Schwyz. READ  

Federer and Nadal seek different goals in Basel
Federer at last year's Swiss Indoors. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Federer and Nadal seek different goals in Basel

Home hero Roger Federer and ailing Rafael Nadal will be working to completely different agendas when the Swiss Indoors begins on Monday. READ  

Neckwear exhibit set to tie Swiss into knots
A wall of album covers showing singers wearing ties or bow ties is photographed during the exhibition "The Tie: men fashion power" at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Neckwear exhibit set to tie Swiss into knots

From a symbol of power to a fashion statement, ties in all their guises are on show at a new exhibition dedicated to the neckwear at the Swiss National Museum. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Business & Money
Court rules against appellation for absinthe from Neuchâtel valley
National
Two hundred passengers rescued after landslide derails Swiss train
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,256
jobs available