EXPLAINED: What it's really like working in Switzerland

Naomi Tsvirko
Naomi Tsvirko - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What it's really like working in Switzerland
Our readers tell us what it is like to work in Switzerland. Photo:

What are the positives and negatives of working in Switzerland and what should foreigners really concentrate on when it comes to finding that elusive job? Here, our readers explain.


We asked our readers to tell us what they love about working in Switzerland, what they find difficult and what their advice is for newcomers to the Swiss job market. Here are the results:

What's great about working in Switzerland

Almost all readers who took part in our survey agreed that Swiss salaries were an appealing drawing card. When asked about the benefits of working in Switzerland, most reader responses included ‘money’, 'the pay' and ‘high salary.’

Read also: This is how much people earn in Switzerland

Also, rated highly on our reader survey was Switzerland’s efficient public transport system. Readers noted how easy it is to commute to work on a daily basis without the stress of worrying about being late. 

"The beauty, the transport and the salary."

“The public transport. It’s easy to calculate how much time to get to work, then you can’t miss meetings, job interviews and or be late to your job,” said The Local reader Gabriel.

For Wendy Farden, who lives in Lausanne, the positive aspects of working in Switzerland were “the beauty, the transport and the salary.”

Making lifelong friendships was another reason foreigners love working in Switzerland. The Local reader, Jason Courson, said: "working in Switzerland is great because of the lifelong friendships I acquired, the broadening of my global perspective and the newfound love of Swiss cuisine."

Read also: Five insider tips for job seekers in Switzerland

What our readers find difficult about working in Switzerland

Some respondents expressed thoughts about their struggle to fit in and feel valued in the workplace as a foreign worker.

“I'm a foreigner so from my perspective, one of the hardest aspects is to have to prove yourself two or three times more than locals. Even with the same level of education or professional experience, you're still seen as inferior or less capable,” said Matheus Graziano, from Lenzburg in the canton of Argau.

“It’s very hard to prove your value when they ignore almost any education or experience you had outside Switzerland or Europe. And to understand the dialect. Sometimes German isn't enough,” said Gabriel Carvalho, from Zurich.

Other readers found learning a new language or dialect difficult.

One reader communicated his frustration with Swiss languages: “Expats learn German, Swiss co-workers speak Swiss-German. This makes it difficult to integrate. Switzerland needs one language, not four official ones and one unofficial (English).”

Meanwhile, as a teacher, Wendy Farden finds work–life balance in Switzerland difficult to attain. 


Read also: Jobs in Switzerland: Where the vacancies are in 2019?

“The hardest thing is having to be organized with your shopping if you work full time. As a teacher who is involved with activities for school, to get to shops before they close at 6:30 pm is very challenging. 

"And if you live in an apartment, trying to get a good laundry time slot, which is why I bring my laundry in to get washed and folded. Worth the cost. But then it is challenging to get there before they close,” said Wendy.

Our readers offer job advice for foreigners in Switzerland

The respondents of our survey generally recommended learning an official language in order to communicate at work. They also advised knowing your rights at work and being patient with the Swiss locals. Below are three tips pointers from our readers who have found work in Switzerland:

“Learn the languages and the dialect of the canton you are living in"

"Learn the languages and the dialect of the canton you are living. This will be crucial with job interviews, business contacts and forming relationships with Swiss neighbours. Without a language domain, you are like a second class citizen. And watch out for your rights. The company you work for may not do the same,” said Gabriel Carvalho.

“Be Patient”

“The Swiss do not like admitting they made a mistake, so be patient and put your request or concern in polite terms that does not sound like blame to them,” said another reader.


“Negotiate your salary”

“Find out about the salary before the interview. If you don't know the salary range, you could end up with a lower salary than your Swiss co-workers doing the same job, or aim too high and not get the job. Salaries are not included in job adverts - you have to negotiate it at the interview,” advised another reader. 

Have you got a story about working in Switzerland you want to share with our readers? Do you have comments on anything in this article? Email us here.

This article was originally published on May 13th, 2019. 


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