All you need to know about working in Switzerland

If you are an EU citizen, you don’t need a work permit for Switzerland. Thanks to the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU, any EU citizen may work in Switzerland; the only challenge may be to find an employer. As soon as you are in possession of a work contract, you can apply for a residence permit.

Many EU citizens are attracted to Switzerland because of the high income, beautiful nature and high standard of living.
Many EU citizens are attracted to Switzerland because of the high income, beautiful nature and high standard of living.

How to apply for a job in Switzerland

Most employers in Switzerland require you to send in a cover letter, CV, copies of any certificates you might have as well as copies of your written references. Your CV should be in the form of a personal data sheet and not be longer than two pages. Contrary to the practice in many other countries, you should include a photograph with your CV. You may also be asked to submit an example of your handwriting as well as work samples. Employers particularly value diplomas, written references and certificates; without these, it will be difficult to find work. It is also common for future employers to conduct background checks; they may well ask previous employers for their opinions about you.

You might also be asked during your interview to supply names and contact details of previous employers or colleagues as references. It is important that these references know you well and that you ask them ahead of time if they would be prepared to give you a good reference. More often than not, a potential employer will actually get in touch with them.

Higher value is placed on vocational and other educational qualification in Switzerland than in other countries. In my experience, this is due to higher standards in vocational and other education in Switzerland. Vocational training takes longer here as well: most apprenticeships take four years to complete.

Most employers in health care and education require that you speak Swiss German. This is because local customers/clients simply feel much more comfortable speaking their local dialect. It is not a requirement to speak Swiss German perfectly in the beginning, but it is certainly a huge advantage with employers if you can at least understand and speak a few words of the language.

Life-long membership, one-time 69 CHF

(80% discount valid until December. Regular price: 399 CHF)

 

Job postings, part-time work and holidays

The bottom line is that due to the strong Swiss Franc and no inflation since 20 years, you can earn more here than elsewhere!
The bottom line is that due to the strong Swiss Franc and no inflation since 20 years, you can earn more here than elsewhere!

Vacancies are never advertised as „full-time“ or „part-time“ work; they are always posted as 100%, 80%, 50%, and so on. Renumeration is according to the percentage you work; for an 80% job, you will get paid 80% of the full salary. Quite a number of Swiss choose to work just 80 or 90% in order to have more time to spend on private projects.

The minimun holiday entitlement for employees is 4 weeks; employees under the age of 20 are legally entitled to 5 weeks. Older employees usually get more holidays; however, this is not established by law. Maternity leave is for a period of 14 weeks after giving birth with 80% of the employee’s salary (up to a maximum of 196 CHF per day) paid out.

There is a trial period of 3 months when you start a new job of maximum 3 months. Within this trial period, the notice period is 7 days and, subsequently, depending on your work contract, the period for giving notice extends to 1-3 months and can even be 3-6 months for executive staff. Both employers and employees can give notice without having to provide a reason.

Working hours in Switzerland are usually longer than is common in the EU. A 45 hour week is not unusual. Striking is virtually unknown, as Swiss unions decided to abolish strikes in 1934 and agreed to „industrial peace“.

Salaries are generally high in Switzerland, but vary largely in different regions and sectors. The difference between men’s and women’s salaries is also, on average, larger than in the EU. Legally, men and women have equal rights, but, much like anywhere else, change comes slowly to entrenched attitudes.

Surveys have shown that Swiss are happier in their jobs than (for instance) Germans. This is backed up by less sick leave taken and the emphasis placed on continuing education even as employees age. Most companies offer regular further education such as seminars and training events.

Looking for a job

Currently, skilled manual workers and nursing staff are in particular demand in Switzerland.
Currently, skilled manual workers and nursing staff are in particular demand in Switzerland.

The two most common media for job searches are newspapers and the internet. If you are looking for newspaper job ads, it is worth reading regional newspapers or those that have high circulation figures in the area you want to work. For instance, in Zurich, this would be the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

You can find a list of all Swiss newspapers on Wikipedia.

Job sites in Switzerland

Industry and job specific job boards

Webseite Industry
Praxisstellen.ch Medicine
medTalents Healthcare
Pflege-Berufe.ch Nursing
Gastronet Gastronomy
Hotel Career Gastronomy and hotel industry
IngJobs Engineering
WorkerJobs Skilled work
ictcareer IT
Krippenstellen Early education
Schuljobs Education and teaching
Vikariate Education and teaching: substitutes

Employment agencies

Adecco is the largest job agency in Switzerland.
Adecco is the largest job agency in Switzerland.

It is quite common for job seekers to use an agency who will match you up with employers seeking staff with your skills and preferences. The most popular employment agencies are:

Webseite Job agency
Treffpunkt Arbeit Governmental placement service
Adecco Popular private employment agency
Manpower Popular private employment agency
AVG-Seco Directory of all licenced private employment agencies

 

Summary Swiss German

Most employers in health care and education require that you speak Swiss German. This is because local customers/clients simply feel much more comfortable speaking their local dialect. It is not a requirement to speak Swiss German perfectly in the beginning, but it is certainly a huge advantage with employers if you can at least understand and speak a few words of the language.

Our online Swiss German course can help you become fluent in Swiss German and give you an understanding of the basics of Swiss culture in under two weeks.

Life-long membership, one-time 69 CHF

(80% discount valid until December. Regular price: 399 CHF)
Working in Switzerland: How you succeed!
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