Moving Your Career to Switzerland

Posted on Dec 13, 2016 | 0 comments

Moving Your Career to Switzerland

Ever thought about giving your career an international boost by moving to Europe? If so, Switzerland is the place to be. Switzerland is an extremely safe, beautiful country with an excellent education system and a high standard of living. In big cities like Geneva and Zürich, French and English are widely spoken. Twenty-one percent of Switzerland’s residents are not Swiss so you won’t feel left out.


During the week, the Swiss work hard, and on the weekend it is time to relax. They go skiing in the winter and hiking or swimming in one of the country’s beautiful lakes in the summer. Or they spend time at one of the many sports clubs which are present in every town. These are the hubs of Swiss communities. It can take a while before you really get close to the Swiss, but if you do, it is a real friendship. Good websites with information about working and living in Switzerland besides Passport Career are Hello Switzerland, InterNations, Expatica, and ExpatExchange.


In order to be well prepared, here some tips about working and living in Switzerland:




Switzerland is divided in so called “cantons” which are provinces or states with a high level of authority. Every canton issues permits which allow visitors to work or study. The number of permits issued are determined each year. The company that hires you is responsible for applying for your work permit. To do so, they must prove that no Swiss job seekers meet the job requirements. For non-EU citizens stricter rules apply than for EU citizens. Check the Swiss Government website for details.


Labor Market


The Swiss labor market is stable with many international company headquarters. Look for more details on international companies in member listings of various foreign chambers of commerce present in Switzerland on the SwissInfo. The financial industry including large banks and insurance companies, as well as luxury goods companies, pharmaceutical companies and consultancy firms provide jobs at all levels. Swiss salaries are around 30 to 35 percent higher than other EU countries, but so is the cost of living. In particular compulsory health insurance and rent are extremely high. Labor contracts are around 45 hours a week and people have four to five weeks of vacation a year. Childcare availability is limited and quite expensive. An au pair can be a good alternative.


Application process


Vacancies are easily found on company websites and job search sites like and, or in the jobs sections of newspapers such as Neue Zuercher Zeitung and Tages Anzeiger. Recruitment agencies and head hunters are also quite active, especially in the higher job segment. For entry-level professionals, job fairs such as Absolventenkongress and Womenexpo are another way to contact companies. Recruitment processes are formally arranged, contain steps like telephone and Skype interviews, face to face interviews, presentations of business cases, and assessments. With large international companies, processes can take weeks. Don’t take it personally if you apply for a position and you never receive a response. This is quite common.


Swiss application letters are no more than one page and the layout is similar to a traditional printed letter with address blocks and other sections. Your résumé should be between two and three pages and preferably have a business picture on it. Attach recommendation letters from your former employers if available. Try to collect them before you start applying. The same goes for certificates and diplomas. If you are a student, include copies of your transcripts as well. It is customary to provide a list of references upon request from the potential employer.


The inside scoop


  • Clubs, called Vereine, form the bases of strong communities in Switzerland both personally and professionally. In every city you will find the “country name” business club, where people meet. Join a few and you’ll be treated to inside access to your new network.
  • Recruiters actively use LinkedIn and the German version of it called Xing, to find good people so make sure your profile is up to date.
  • The Swiss always welcome you by shaking hands and stating your name and the same goes for saying good bye. Therefore train yourself to remember the name of the person you are speaking with. Also, in German is polite to preface someone’s first name with Sie (similar to saying Mr. or Ms.) until you get official permission from the person to use the more informal word du followed by the person’s first name.
  • The Swiss are famous for their watches and therefore are always punctual! In Switzerland “on time” means being there 10 minutes before the stated start time.
  • Business and school hours begin around 7 AM.


Keeping those things in mind, you will have great time in Switzerland!


Mir freued eus, eu bald ide Schwiiz begrüesse z’dörfe! (I am happy to welcome you to Switzerland!)


Patricia Heemskerk, Global Career Expert



Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources as well as career training about networking, finding a job, internship, alternative career opportunities, job search using social media as well as information on writing CVs, cover letters and interviews. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to: regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.

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