Jobs in Switzerland

Work in Switzerland: Finding jobs in Switzerland

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How to find work in Switzerland, with information on the Swiss job market, available jobs in Switzerland, Swiss work permits plus where to look for jobs in Switzerland.

Switzerland is a very appealing place to come and work: the salaries, working conditions and quality of life are very high. But competition for Swiss jobs is fierce and opportunities are more limited for those coming from outside of the EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) as there are often quotas for foreign workers in Switzerland, even for highly skilled, well-qualified specialists. However, finding a job in Switzerland is possible.

Work in Switzerland

The Swiss job market

The Swiss economy is stable and the Swiss unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world, standing 3 percent as at May 2014, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). However, foreigners account for almost half of those who are officially unemployed.

The positives are that salaries are amongst the highest in the world, you get at least four weeks’ holiday a year, there are excellent social security benefits if you’re out of work, and you’ll enjoy one of the highest qualities of life in the world. However, the labour market is small, competition for jobs is high and if you’re from outside the EU, then only a limited number of management level, well-qualified and specialist employees are admitted into the country to work.

Available jobs in Switzerland

Switzerland may be a small country but it’s a nation with a highly skilled workforce (in hi-, micro- and bio-technology for example) and an important industrial nation, with half of all Swiss export revenue coming from mechanical/electrical engineering and the chemicals sector. It’s also one of the world’s major financial centres. So there are jobs for skilled workers in engineering and technology, pharmaceuticals, consulting, banking, insurance and IT, with financial analysts, business analysts and systems analysts in great demand.

Multi-national companies tend to be the major employers of English speakers and some of the world’s biggest are headquartered in Switzerland, including Nestlé, Novartis, Zurich Insurance, Roche, Credit Suisse, Adecco, Swiss Re and Glencore.

Many international organisations are also based in Switzerland, especially Geneva. You can look for work at the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, and the International Red Cross, as well as visit this list of links to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Geneva and elsewhere in Switzerland.

Swiss management culture

The Swiss appreciate sobriety, thrift, tolerance, punctuality and a sense of responsibility, and this is reflected in their business practices, which tend to be formal and conservative. The culture within a Swiss company can vary according to whether the company is in the French, German or Italian region of Switzerland. As a rule, the hierarchy tends to be vertical, with decisions being made at the top of the company. Companies in French and Italian areas may be more laid back than German areas. Meetings are task-orientated and rather impersonal; discussions are precise, cautious and can seem a little negative to some. The Swiss are considered tough but fair negotiators and humour has no place in negotiations. Keep your business and personal life separate: the Swiss don’t like to mix business with pleasure. Working hours are long: some 45 to 50 hours a week.

For more information, see Expatica’s guide to management culture in Switzerland.

Swiss work visas

Switzerland is not part of the EU but citizens from countries which are part of the EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) can come to Switzerland without a visa, move between cantons, look for work for up to three months and work without the need for a work permit – although if you’re planning to stay longer than three months you’ll need to register for a residence permit with the canton in which you’re living. There are further restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens entering the labour market for the first time, which may remain in place until May 31, 2016 at the latest. Quota restrictions for Croatians will remain for an indefinite period. For the latest information, see the Federal Office for Migration (FOM).

It’s much harder for everyone else as there are strict employment quotas for foreigners, employers have to prove that the job can’t be done by a local and permits are limited to managers, specialists and those with higher educational qualifications. If you do get a job offer, your employer makes an application in the local canton who will forward it to the FOM for approval. If this is granted the FOM authorises the canton to send a visa clearance certificate to the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country, where you can apply for a visa. For more information, see Expatica's guide to Swiss work permits.

If you get a job with an international organisation, you don’t need a work permit but you’ll be issued with a special ID card (Identitätskarte or Carte de Légitimation).

Languages

Switzerland has three main national languages: German-Swiss is the most widely spoken, especially in the centre and areas in the east; French is spoken in the west; and Italian in the south. While English is often spoken in the workplace, having some knowledge of these other languages will give you an advantage in the job market, as would being able to speak Russian or Mandarin.

Qualifications

If you want to work in a regulated profession – health, teaching, technology, law and social work – in Switzerland, you’ll need to have your foreign qualifications recognised, even if you’re from the EU/EEA. If your occupation isn’t regulated you may still wish to get a ‘level certificate’ that provides Swiss employers with information about how your foreign qualification relates to the Swiss education system. You can find out more information and do this process through the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Academic qualifications (not for regulated professions) from some countries are recognised via the Bologna Process. University qualifications (bachelor degrees and above but not those related to regulated professions) can also be recognised for work purposes through Swiss ENIC-NARIC.

Jobs in Switzerland
Finding jobs in Switzerland

Expatica jobs

Make your first stop Expatica’s jobs in Switzerland where you’ll find a constantly updated list of jobs in different sectors across the country.

EURES

If you’re from the EU or EEA you can search for a job in Switzerland through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal. This is maintained by the European Commission and designed to aid the freedom of movement within the European Economic Area. As well as looking for work, you can upload your CV, which can be viewed by prospective employers, as well as get advice on the legal and administrative issues involved in working in Switzerland.

Public employment services

The Regional Employment Centres (RAV/ORP/URC) in the different cantons throughout Switzerland will help EU/EEA citizens find work, you can register at your local office or look at current vacancies on their Job Area pages.

Job websites

General jobs in Switzerland:


Specialist jobs in Switzerland:


Jobs for English speakers:


Recruitment agencies

Register at one of the many private employment agencies. Private recruitment agencies are called Arbeitsvermittlung or agence de placement in Switzerland. Manpower and Adecco are two of the main agencies but to find a list of agencies who are licensed to work in this field, see here.

Teaching English in Switzerland

Getting a job teaching English can be hard as many Swiss nationals already speak it, but if you can find a job the pay is good. See i-to-i Teach English in Switzerland for more information. Circle of Schools has jobs for English teachers in state schools but you must be either an EU citizen or married to one.

Swiss newspapers

Jobs may be published in newspapers: look in the classifieds under stellentinserate in German, les offres d’emploi in French, or annunci di lavoro in Italian. The main newspapers that carry ads include Basler Zeitung, Bund and Berner Zeitung, Corriere del Ticino, Finanz und Wirtschaft, Handelsblatt, Le Temps (Geneva), Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Schweizerische Handels-Zeitung, and SonntagsZeitung. Tages Anzeiger (Zurich), 24 Heures (Vaud) and Tribune de Genève (Geneva) each publish jobs ads one day a week. You can find a full list of Swiss online newspapers here.

Networking

Vacancies are often filled through contacts in Switzerland so networking can be key. Join professional networking sites like LinkedIn, and check out the many networking organisations. Here are a few of them: American International Club of Geneva, Organisation of Women in Trade: Geneva, Executives International, Career Women’s Forum, Irish Business Network and Business and Professional Woman (BPW).

Chambers of commerce (Wirtschaftskammer /Chambre économique) in each canton often organise networking events for professionals; find the contact details for each canton here. You can also try linking up with others in the same field through social networking sites like Meetup and through Expatica’s own forum in Switzerland

Make the first move – speculative job applications

Many jobs in Switzerland are filled by people contacting the company directly rather than through advertisements in the press or online. So check out Swiss firms to see what vacancies are being advertised or find out who to approach to make a speculative application. You’ll find up-to-date information on many Swiss companies on SwissFirms, a Swiss Chamber of Commerce website, and on the Federal Commercial Registry website. Make sure you address your CV and cover letter to the right person (and in the right language): look under Personalabteilungsleite (German) or Directeur de Ressources Humaines (French).

Applying for a job in Switzerland

When you have found a job, you’ll need to know how to put together a Swiss-style CV and cover letter to make sure your application gets the consideration it deserves. To find out how to prepare your CV and covering letter, as well as what to expect in a Swiss job interview, see Expatica's guide to applying for a job in Switzerland.

More information

 

Expatica

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Find a job in Switzerland using Expatica's job search.


Updated: 2012; September 2014.

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13 Comments To This Article

  • 566 posted:

    on 24th October 2016, 05:39:20 - Reply

    i have completed my b.com and mba in marketing, is there any jobs in switzerland as i am currently working as an accountant in don bosco school

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Mohammedbasheerbasha posted:

    on 9th October 2016, 12:21:14 - Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam Iam from India holding Indian passport.How can i get work permit to Swizerland.I have 9 years of experience in medical billing in insurance verification for usa process.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • leblogcarriere posted:

    on 29th September 2016, 14:18:54 - Reply

    If you are interested in opportunities in Switzerland you might want to use some headhunting companies. they will help you through the process for free if your profile corresponds to what you are looking for. They can provide feedback on your cv. So you don't need to go to any specific coach. Just ask them! There are generalists and specialists. The generalists (with good reputation) are Humanis (www.humanis.ch), and Futurestep (futurestep.com). For specialists in banking look at Horizon Recruiting (www.horizonrecruiting.ch) and for Healthcare look at Medicalheads (www.medicalheads.ch). There are many others but the idea here is to search a new job with the right companies. I hope it helps.
  • vinodkumar posted:

    on 27th September 2016, 09:18:34 - Reply

    Hi I am vinod kumar from India ( New Delhi ), I search Hindi Teacher Job in Switzerland, Please help me regarding this & contact on my cell no 91-9810793004
  • VIJEESH posted:

    on 22nd September 2016, 14:03:29 - Reply

    I am VIJEESH from india.
    Looking job in switzerland .anybody can help me to get a job there.plz...
    My contact no 918086332937

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • ENIANDIAN posted:

    on 16th September 2016, 05:02:27 - Reply

    i want job in swiss. I am from Indonesia. i can speak english and i want to be baby sister in swiss.
    maybe there is somebody looking for me.
  • Deepak posted:

    on 15th June 2016, 18:07:25 - Reply

    Dear sir,
    I am an Indian passport holder and working in Belgium since last 4 years.
    My work permit and residence permit gets renewed every year.

    I am recently learning French so that I can apply for permanent residence in Belgium.

    My question is: After I get Belgian PR, will I be then considered as EU member and hence, will it increase my chances of getting a job in Switzerland?

    Please guide.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Zulma posted:

    on 1st March 2016, 02:18:43 - Reply

    Dear sirs: I would like to live in Suitzerland, I am spanish/English teacher, bachellor in Education Sciences (university) and teacher of sciences:natural y social sciences, english teacher.... and i can demonstrate i have my own property here in Paraguay, but i love Europe and i have been In England. what opportunity do i have.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Ravi posted:

    on 1st March 2016, 02:17:24 - Reply

    Hi, I done my engineering with 70% in mechanical stream...now m working with BSDC foundation of jcf..now I want to work in Switzerland so can you please tell me what I do..?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • acemary posted:

    on 22nd February 2016, 14:55:09 - Reply

    I have just moved from Switzerland to England (I am English) but lived in Switzerland from 18-20 as an au pair and only returned to complete my GCSEs and get higher qualifications in my job. (I am a nursery practitioner at level 2 but now studying my level 3) my level 3 takes a year and a half in this time I'm planning on going to German school here in England. I also have a level 3 in customer service for receptionist, waitress and general customer care jobs. Does anyone know if these qualifications are relevant in Switzerland, what qualifications are relevant (and if it is worthwhile me completing my level 3 if not relevant) and what jobs I could do in Switzerland at my current level in either roles?

    Thank you so much 

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • FinanceJobs posted:

    on 16th January 2016, 08:04:40 - Reply

    Thanks for this valuable information. Nice list of sites for job seekers. I would recommend visiting http://www.financejobboard.ch for latest finance job opportunities across Switzerland.
  • TBS posted:

    on 20th June 2015, 10:18:48 - Reply

    Very good article! I do not see is vuesra sites list job seekers https://www.jobeo.ch. I recommend this site, it is very good.

  • DenisaBordei

    on 18th September 2014, 12:43:00 - Reply

    Hi,

    Great article. Thank you for these valuable information. I am interested in finding out some information about the types of labor contracts in Switzerland. I found some here http://www.lawyersswitzerland.com/employment-law-in-switzerland
    but I need more details. Please help!

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service]