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Old 07.01.2015, 12:11
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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This, really. I am so sorry you have not found a job, but you've had 2 years of 'free' time to learn German- so really you should have a good level by now. Not always easy to find time for a young parent with kids, or someone who works full time, to learn a language- but when un-employed it should be quite easy and seen as a huge priority in a country like Switzerland, where it truly can be THE key. Good Luck.
If had read my posts more clearly you would have read that I have been working for free for over 8 Months. On top of a 8-5 volunteer job I need to do job applications and find time for sport, friends and family....I have not been sitting on my ass at home with lots of free time to spend learning German Plus my French is not so bad but I have had no luck in Lausanne/Geneva.

Fluent German would be great to open up jobs outside my training (customer service, factory work etc) but not required for most of the jobs I applied for in International Companies, Pharma, Postdocs, International Organisations etc

Switzerland is not a good place to look for a job as a foreigner without solid industry experience. Many former colleagues left after their PhDs due to lack of opportunity here (including many Germans).
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  #22  
Old 07.01.2015, 12:20
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Re: Long term Unemployment

On the topic of languages for working here, Italian would be very useful in Geneva. Twice I was rejected for a job because I was "the wrong fit". In both cases the bosses were Italian and all the staff were from Italy/Ticino
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Old 07.01.2015, 13:26
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Agree .. this is a bit of a difficult country for a foreigner with no local lingo .. more so because 'the fit factor' is more important for the employer than the skills they bring in. The time spent looking for a job eventually tends to take away the focus from your core competence to other things like learning languages or networking etc. just a matter of time and luck i would say. but once you are in .. you could set sail for the long run
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Old 07.01.2015, 14:05
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Sorry to hear of your struggles, soon2go.

I know this is cold comfort, but I am surprised that with a molecular biology PhD (putting aside field specifics), and assuming a nice swathe of papers under your belt (as a result of the PhD), striking out even after two years is actually possible. After one year, especially with little tangible alternative, I would have more than shifted gears, I would have changed cars (so to speak). Otherwise, I'd likely go crazy (if I hadn't gone broke).

What kind of volunteer work have you been doing?

I'm an sustainability engineering (field was mining engineering, bachelors in environmental engineering) PhD from Australia. I found my current job at EPFL, and luckily didn't need to know French to land this position, as did at least two of my other colleagues. (That doesn't quite help my being completely self-sufficient in CH, but that's another story, and I am learning French as a I go). I actually found this job after looking abroad from Australia for appropriate postdocs or even industry positions, of which there were none appropriate. But even though I found this position here, I wouldn't say it's because Switzerland was exactly aplenty with postdocs or research positions, I just happened to find a position here. I hear it's been an overall depressing year for jobs (at least in Australia), except in particular fields or unless you have tremendous depth of experience. Ironically, because I had some field experience (months) and full time research assistant experience, this - combined with the PhD - was enough to disqualify me from applying to graduate programmes in Australia.

Unless the postdocs in the field you are applying for are absolutely swamped in with applicants (and many of them local/EU), then interesting that those jobs would require German language proficiency. I'm not saying it's wrong or unusual, and in an otherwise equal field of applicants I can see that factor being a discriminator, but at least here the lingua franca for work is English (papers written in English, reports written in English, the literature is English, etc.). The main thing that French is useful for here is (a) dealing with administrative matters, and (b) undergraduate instruction. Not sure how it is in the German side of Switzerland. Suffice to say that locals and EU nationals take precedence over third country nationals, which is fair enough as it is like that pretty much all over the world. I was warned as such before I applied for my current job; luckily I seemed to have beaten out the others as it were.

On that note, what has kept you here for so long? (Maybe I need to read up on your postings) Unless you have family here or other financial support or the like, this doesn't seem like the best country to be in if you are without a solid job (or otherwise some form of income), unless you live on a farm on a rural lifestyle or something like that.

Good luck!
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Old 08.01.2015, 16:38
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Hey SoftBedPlease

Like many others I fell in love and cannot leave until I find a job and can support my wife to do the same.

I have a great publication record and I have applied for postdocs all over the world but only had 5 interviews. Every time I was second choice (the PhD research of the successful candidate was always in EXACTLY the same field as the proposed postdoc project).

People cannot understand how I can be unemployed for 2 years with a PhD but having a PhD actually makes it harder to get a job. Blame a shit economy and the unwillingness (due to cheapness or risk aversion) of industry to train people
  #26  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:02
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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...I have a great publication record and I have applied for postdocs all over the world but only had 5 interviews...
If your heart is set on staying in academia, then you're probably stuck with just post-doc assignments - and as you've noticed they can be competitive.

However if you are willing to branch into industry there will be many more positions open to you. I know of several people with PhDs that went straight into industry without a problem. The upside of doing that is you can start earning better wages right off the bat (post-doc assignments are notorious for being cheap labor with long hours). The downside is you might not be able to get back into academia for a while.

Are you tailoring your application materials to every position or is it all sort of generic? For example, do you use the same cover letter for every job and only change the name and address of the company? Or are you making each letter and CV specific? Have you had a friend review your materials to remove stale phrasing like "I'm a team player that likes new challenges"?

You have to put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and ask what you have to offer that they can't live without. Then focus on that.
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:10
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Never suggested btw, that you've been 'sitting on your proverbial' doing nothing- but that, as Switzerland is a country where German is the most used language in business and academia, it would have made sense to spend the last couple of years learning German, or perhaps Italian, a priority- perhaps your volunteering could be cut down to 3 or 4 days, so you do have more time to improve either German or Italian. It is probably one of the main keys to progress here, so...

Or get a job in the German or Italian part which would help you to acquire such, with some home study- but not in your field? I've known many people who have taken jobs 'below' their qualifications and future aspirations, in order to do this as they could not afford a formal course. Mentioned before the young Romanian working in a Leisure Spa/Hôtel/restaurant where I used to live in the UK, who was a young qualified doctor- and needed to improve his English whilst earning money. He was a great asset to the resort, earned his board and lodgings and a fair wage on top- and got to fluency very fast- with a little help from some of us who used the resort.
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:13
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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I know of several people with PhDs that went straight into industry without a problem. The upside of doing that is you can start earning better wages right off the bat (post-doc assignments are notorious for being cheap labor with long hours). The downside is you might not be able to get back into academia for a while.
I think this depends on context and where you end up applying. Certainly, many industry people can enter (back) into academia without much problem and the experience has helped them. Having the PhD only guarantees as much the capacity to enter professional academia (i.e. the "research apprenticeship").

The main issue with PhDs entering industry is experience. Again, this depends a lot on which industries and what was achieved during one's PhD candidature. Sometimes the pathways to entry into industry are unorthodox compared to standard processes, e.g. relies a lot on connections, recommendations, even a cold call...
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  #29  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:24
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Re: Long term Unemployment

I also know many people that had no problem; but often it is a case of having the right research topic, inside connections or dumb luck.

I have about 20 different CV templates. I have sought professional advice and tailor a CV and cover letter for every job. It is hard to stand out when there are 300 applicants for every job. Publications are also meaningless and I have never been asked about what I did during my PhD...only what I can do for the company
  #30  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:30
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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I also know many people that had no problem; but often it is a case of having the right research topic, inside connections or dumb luck.

I have about 20 different CV templates. I have sought professional advice and tailor a CV and cover letter for every job. It is hard to stand out when there are 300 applicants for every job. Publications are also meaningless and I have never been asked about what I did during my PhD...only what I can do for the company
Just so I understand this correctly... in this 2 years that you have not been gainfully employed, have you not even looked for employment in other areas unrelated to your PhD, to bring in a stable income with which to support yourself and your wife, and maybe learn some German?
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:38
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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Just so I understand this correctly... in this 2 years that you have not been gainfully employed, have you not even looked for employment in other areas unrelated to your PhD, to bring in a stable income with which to support yourself and your wife, and maybe learn some German?
You probably mean well, but please phrase these sentences better. He might have done things wrong or not but he's here asking for help. Don't have to be patronizing to make a point.
  #32  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:39
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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Never suggested btw, that you've been 'sitting on your proverbial' doing nothing- but that, as Switzerland is a country where German is the most used language in business and academia, it would have made sense to spend the last couple of years learning German, or perhaps Italian, a priority- perhaps your volunteering could be cut down to 3 or 4 days, so you do have more time to improve either German or Italian. It is probably one of the main keys to progress here, so...

Or get a job in the German or Italian part which would help you to acquire such, with some home study- but not in your field? I've known many people who have taken jobs 'below' their qualifications and future aspirations, in order to do this as they could not afford a formal course. Mentioned before the young Romanian working in a Leisure Spa/Hôtel/restaurant where I used to live in the UK, who was a young qualified doctor- and needed to improve his English whilst earning money. He was a great asset to the resort, earned his board and lodgings and a fair wage on top- and got to fluency very fast- with a little help from some of us who used the resort.
My problem is lack of experience outside academia....working at a hotel is not going to help me land a job in Pharma. But I am sure it would make the Swiss happy to have another non-EU Dr driving their taxi or serving them drinks :P
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:44
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Well, the young doctor I mentioned did think it was worthwhile- and he was serving food and drinks to Brits, not Swiss. He was not too proud to do so- and his initiative I'm sure did impress future employers. I/we (+OH) would have gladly given him a great reference related to his chosen field.

Many of us here on EF have taken poorly paid jobs in the past in order to gain experience and other skills- in my case to learn English and acquire translating skills, and to support ourselves. When I was a young mum, I took a job as a child-minder to contribute to the household.
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:45
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Re: Long term Unemployment

By the way, how have you been able to support yourself? 2 years is a long time in this expensive country. Parents?
  #35  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:53
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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You probably mean well, but please phrase these sentences better. He might have done things wrong or not but he's here asking for help. Don't have to be patronizing to make a point.
It was a simple and direct question, and I'm sure the OP can answer for himself without you playing Mother Theresa. You probably mean well, though.
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  #36  
Old 08.01.2015, 17:53
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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Just so I understand this correctly... in this 2 years that you have not been gainfully employed, have you not even looked for employment in other areas unrelated to your PhD, to bring in a stable income with which to support yourself and your wife, and maybe learn some German?
My wife is a modern and capable woman and does not need to be supported by a man

BTW I have 2 words for you but it would be too rude to write them here! I did not choose to be unemployed and I have worked my ass off to find a job. I think your user name says it all really.
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:55
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Re: Long term Unemployment

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My wife is a modern and capable woman and does not need to be supported by a man

BTW I have 2 words for you but it would be too rude to write them here! I did not choose to be unemployed and I have worked my ass off to find a job. I think your user name says it all really.
is that your way of saying that you have not looked for another job besides in the field for which you did your PhD?

I'm simply asking if in this 2 years you have looked at other forms of income like working in a bar, doing an admin job, etc. From your immediate defensiveness, I'm guessing maybe not.
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Old 08.01.2015, 17:59
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Re: Long term Unemployment

What is so awful in your opinion to this question? Lots of people have made a career and started out in a different area of expertise or an area they were not trained for.
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  #39  
Old 08.01.2015, 18:01
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Mate, reading through your posts, hard as it may be to hear, it seems that your attitude in the interview, might be the problem.

You get the interview, but fail to reach the goal-post. In one post you say you "weren't the right fit". Yes Ticino.. but if they like you, and want to hire you, and can see themselves working with you, then they bend the rules.

An old friend once said, in the interview, you have to "believe that this person is your new best friend."

Of course dressing the part, shaving, clean non-religious underwear etc goes without saying.

Give it a go, mate. Whats the worst that can happen?
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  #40  
Old 08.01.2015, 18:03
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Re: Long term Unemployment

Thank you everyone for the helpful suggestions and support. I will keep working on the local lingo (French and German) now that I have more free time. But fingers crossed something will come up soon here or in the States.

California dreamin
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