How to work in Switzerland?

Working in Switzerland is synonymous for many with Eldorado: high salaries in Swiss francs, renowned companies. But it’s often an obstacle course as jobs are in high demand. Here are 10 practical tips in this guide to finding a job in Switzerland according to your sector of activity.

Be very well informed beforehand about the position you are looking for

It is preferable to select the companies and positions you are looking for rather than sending a large number of applications. You should therefore take your time and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your sector of activity in France exactly the same as the one you are targeting in Switzerland?
  • What are the main companies in your sector?
  • Do you know the ways of working in the canton you are interested in?
  • Have you identified influential contacts in your field?

This valuable information will help you to refine your CV and cover letter, which are the keys to getting a job. During the job interview, these points of reference will be essential to show the recruiter that you are familiar with the job offers and the job market in Switzerland. Many job offers can be found in the Swiss online press: Tribune de Genève, PME magazine for example. Finally, it is advisable to limit yourself to the cantons near Geneva and Lausanne if you are French-speaking only. However, the cities of Zurich and Bern also offer good prospects for jobs or internships in the German language.

Writing a CV adapted to Swiss recruiters

A Swiss CV has to respect certain characteristics in terms of both content and form. It is important to detail your areas of expertise in sufficient detail to give the recruiter a clear idea of your suitability for the job. In France, the opposite is true, as the CV is very synthetic. You should follow the same approach for your cover letter, giving details of why you are applying.

Propose a profile sought after in Switzerland to negotiate a good salary

As you are French, you will have a status of border worker or resident. For this reason, your skills must be highly sought after on the Swiss market. This is a very important indication, as it will tell you whether you will face strong competition or whether you can increase your salary requirements. Indeed, even if the minimum wage in Switzerland is more than €3,200, which may seem like a lot for a French person, you can claim a much higher salary depending on your profile. For French border workers, many sectors are particularly well paid.

The professions that are most in demand in Switzerland are the following:

  • Computer scientists and engineersare in demand, Switzerland is often short of these profiles, which are sought after in finance and computer engineering.
  • Highly specialised technical and technical-commercial profiles are quickly recruited, as the job offer is so strong.
  • Medical and paramedical professions are in short supply, as Switzerland has many clinics and university hospitals. With good working conditions and very high salaries compared to France, this is an area to explore.
  • Finally, as in France the construction, hotel and restaurant trades are not much sought after by the Swiss themselves, this is an opportunity to be hired more easily with good salaries, even if the worker does not speak the language well enough, training can be offered.

By looking at the professions most affected by unemployment in Switzerland, you will know that you should not look in certain sectors. We also have a dossier on the best paid jobs in Switzerland to point you in the right direction.

Choosing the right work permit and unemployment insurance in Switzerland

Switzerland is not part of the European Community, with two fundamental consequences: the currency is the Swiss Franc and it is not possible to work freely if you are a foreigner. The labour market requires a Swiss work permit. There are four types of work permit: G for cross-border commuters and B, C or L for residents. The permit is issued by the Swiss authorities either at the applicant’s request or by his or her employer. Living in Switzerland is expensive, so it is important that your professional activity is sufficiently remunerative to guarantee you good benefits. This guide will enable you to select the best professional activities year after year.

This administrative procedure is an easy right to implement for EU nationals, for non-EU nationals it is very difficult to obtain.

Important: As far as health insurance is concerned, the CMU allows you to benefit from the French health insurance scheme: Social Security for your whole family. However, it costs you about 8% of your income.

The CMU allows you to benefit from the French health insurance scheme, the Sécurité Sociale. All family members benefit from it. But this is not the same as free social security for life: the CMU for cross-border commuters is not free and depends mainly on your income. In this country, most insurance is private and workers have fewer rights despite high salaries, regardless of where they work. Switzerland, especially Zurich, has a low unemployment rate, as does Germany. However, it is necessary to take out unemployment insurance to guarantee that you, as a frontier worker, will receive benefits in the event of health problems. A guide to benefits is offered by insurers to workers, which will be calculated in Swiss francs according to the location and the jobs or internship sought.

Classified ads, unsolicited applications, recommendations: what to choose?

All methods of applying for jobs are useful for finding a job in Switzerland. Job advertisements are available on the major specialised search engines, but also on sites dedicated to a specific professional branch such as watchmaking. A good knowledge of the targeted companies allows you to send an unsolicited application to the person in charge of recruitment, which is an important asset for success.

The most effective way to be hired as a foreigner in this country is through recommendations. It can also be called networking, plumbing or simply doing a favour. A friend, relative or acquaintance recommending you is the best way to get an interview and to reassure the employer of your abilities.

Show humility and group spirit

The mindset of the business world is very different in Switzerland compared to France. Individuality and exuberant characters are not appreciated, our neighbours prefer, as in Germany, team spirit and what does not stand out. They look for integration into a company that favours the strength of the group. These differences are fundamental in your future recruitment interview. Don’t hesitate to talk to cross-border commuters to understand some of the subtleties of company life in Switzerland. In this country, the salary often depends on good practices which reflect the health of a company.

Giving your recruiter confidence to get a good contract

Above all, you should stick to the reality of your skills, experience and language level. If you exaggerate or omit certain parts of your background, the relationship of trust will be broken and the interview will end immediately. You will not get a second chance with this employer. The individual employment contract is the most common contract in the service and industrial sectors. The contract is either open-ended or fixed-term. A verbal agreement can be a valid contract, but it is preferable to sign a written contract for an indefinite period for more legal certainty. In terms of the rights of the foreign worker, it is necessary to find out about the offers of the mutual health insurance companies in order to have the best rights and the best service for coverage. The worker’s training is often proposed according to the level of activity, the canton and the language level.

Professional social networks: a mine of information and contacts

To look for a job in Switzerland, it is essential to also use professional social networks. They will allow you to gather information, to make yourself known, to make contacts and to understand the structure of a company. It is a real mine of information. In Switzerland, Linkedin is widely used. It is a practical way to discuss with people working in the same field as you.

The discussion groups are very useful for building a network before coming to work in the Swiss Confederation. But as mentioned before, you have to keep a certain distance and not put yourself forward in order to be in line with the culture of this country. Other networks such as Facebook may have specialised pages which are very useful. If you are looking for a job in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the Xing network is used quite a lot, as it is in Germany.

Time limits for finding a job in Switzerland

As with any job search, you have to be patient before you get the job you are looking for. It is not abnormal that the delays are getting longer. Up to 6 months is normal, you should have some concrete leads waiting for confirmation or interviews. After this period, it is a good idea to ask yourself if this is your first job in Switzerland, whether the information related to your activity is suitable for the positions sought. If the sectors are too competitive, employers will prefer to choose a candidate who has already worked in Switzerland.

Finally, in the event of multiple rejections, it is important to modify your positioning (CV and cover letter) to put all the assets on your side.

You can also read our guide: Finding a job in Annecy, which is also a very dynamic French city with sustained economic growth.