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Old 17.11.2015, 00:42
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Software Development

Hello all.

I'm currently living in the UK, working full time a software developer (earning just over 30k GBP). I'm looking to move to Switzerland within 1-3 years.

After searching around the forums (and some googling!) I'm feeling relatively positive about searching for a software development job in Switzerland. The main reason that I'm feeling positive is that my searching on this forum found as many (if not more) questions about hiring developers as there were questions for people applying.

I'm aware that it's going to be a competitive market, and so my primary concern is a lack of a degree. I currently have 2 and a half years of experience as a mobile developer, but not many qualifications relating to computer sciences. I have A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, and Physics, (but not computing, it was more of a hobby that I then managed to turn into a career).
I think that the Maths is an advantage, and am hoping that experience will be enough to get me an interview in which I can show my knowledge.

Does anybody here have experience in applying for software developer jobs? Could any recruiters tell me what they look for most (especially regarding foreign citizens who are yet to move to the country) - what would make you willing to consider/hire somebody who would have to move before they can work (as I'm currently living in the EU, it shouldn't cause much of a delay)?
Do you think it would be worthwhile to attempt to attain a Swiss/International qualification in computer science/development (or perhaps another field that may be used in conjunction) before I begin applying? If so, again, what is most in demand?

I currently only speak English, and would like to learn the language of wherever I will move to. To do that, however, I need to know where I will be moving. Does anybody here have resources (or knowledge that they can relay) regarding "hotspots" for software development? It seems that most of the country is German speaking, so that seems most likely, but I thought I'd check in case the French-speaking West provides an easier-entry/better job market for this field.

I was hoping to use this link - http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/e.../salarium.html - for pointers, but a language barrier combined with google translating insisting "the page is already in English" has prevented me.

I know that I'm asking a lot, but I have been searching for this information myself (and am continuing to do so)and could use a little help.

Thanks!
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Old 17.11.2015, 07:46
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Re: Software Development

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I was hoping to use this link - http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/e.../salarium.html - for pointers, but a language barrier combined with google translating insisting "the page is already in English" has prevented me!
Copy foreign language content you are interested in into https://translate.google.com/
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Old 17.11.2015, 10:06
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Re: Software Development

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I was hoping to use this link - http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/e.../salarium.html - for pointers, but a language barrier combined with google translating insisting "the page is already in English" has prevented me.
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Copy foreign language content you are interested in into https://translate.google.com/
Already tried that.
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Old 17.11.2015, 11:08
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Re: Software Development

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I'm currently living in the UK, working full time a software developer (earning just over 30k GBP). I'm looking to move to Switzerland within 1-3 years.

I'm aware that it's going to be a competitive market, and so my primary concern is a lack of a degree. I currently have 2 and a half years of experience as a mobile developer, but not many qualifications relating to computer sciences.
I'm also a software developer of UK origin. I moved to the Geneva area from London in 2004. The job market here isn't very dynamic and while your French doesn't have to be perfect to work here you really do need to be able to communicate in it, unless of course you're on an expat package and will be working in an exclusively English-speaking environment.

I had a few lean years here because my primary skill (at the time), Perl, wasn't much sought-after. In London the opportunities are much, much wider.

They like degrees here - they *really* like degrees. You say your timescale is 1-3 years. After my BSc in an unrelated and much-hated (by me ) subject I did an MSc part time in Computer Science in the late 90s. It didn't seem particularly relevant at the time but it has opened a lot of doors for me. It would take you something like 4 years to do a part-time BSc I imagine were you to go down that path.

Note: many people in Switzerland have a full and well-paid career in IT without a degree, but having one would make your life a whole lot easier, especially as a foreigner wanting to get your foot in the door.
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Old 17.11.2015, 11:40
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Re: Software Development

I moved two months ago to Zurich into a software development job here. I don't speak any German but am trying to learn as fast as possible, and am joining local clubs here (kayaking, skiing) to meet local people here.

I got a job through Nicoll Curtin. I suggested in the pub last week to them that they should maintain a guide on moving here for English people, since much of the information I had while moving here is out of date. it's hosted on github here and may help you as I'm suggesting them things to change: https://github.com/nicollcurtin/Guide-to-Switzerland. I'm not sure one is supposed to post personal information up here, but if you PM me I can give you the name of person there who got me a job here.
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Old 17.11.2015, 11:51
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Re: Software Development

Firstly, as has been mentioned, formal qualifications matter in Switzerland, much like the rest of continental Europe, much more than in Anglophone nations where experience often can be seen to compensate. Of course experience compensates here too, but two and a half years would bring you limited benefit in that regard. In short, you'll be at a minor, at least, disadvantage.

Secondly, language is important. In the mobile IT sector, most firms are home grown and even where English is the working language being able to speak German/French/Italian is very important and in some cases obligatory (although basic German might be acceptable in many cases). With only English, you'll be effectively out of the running for about 40% of jobs.

Swiss job applications are radically different to Anglophone ones; the CV's will contain things you'll never see in an English CV, such as a photo, and they'll sooner (with the application) or later demand written references (which are the norm here) to be included. There are threads galore on CV's and applications here you can pour over on this, as well as jobs sites listed.

Mobile is not huge in Switzerland and there is an emphasis on iOS here, with Android being less in demand. However, there are some non-native technologies that crop up from time to time, such as Unity 3D or PhoneGap, in job adverts.

Hope some of the above is of help.
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Old 17.11.2015, 20:42
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Re: Software Development

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I'm also a software developer of UK origin. I moved to the Geneva area from London in 2004. The job market here isn't very dynamic and while your French doesn't have to be perfect to work here you really do need to be able to communicate in it, unless of course you're on an expat package and will be working in an exclusively English-speaking environment.

I had a few lean years here because my primary skill (at the time), Perl, wasn't much sought-after. In London the opportunities are much, much wider.

They like degrees here - they *really* like degrees. You say your timescale is 1-3 years. After my BSc in an unrelated and much-hated (by me ) subject I did an MSc part time in Computer Science in the late 90s. It didn't seem particularly relevant at the time but it has opened a lot of doors for me. It would take you something like 4 years to do a part-time BSc I imagine were you to go down that path.

Note: many people in Switzerland have a full and well-paid career in IT without a degree, but having one would make your life a whole lot easier, especially as a foreigner wanting to get your foot in the door.
Thank you for your reply!

I could only begin a degree around September next year due to personal circumstances. This would push my 1-3 years to 5 years+, unless I could find part-time work as a developer in Switzerland in around a year, and attend university there (or complete a degree online). That would however mean that I'd be trying to live on part-time wages which would (presumably, from the mood I'm gathering here) be lower than the norm due to a lack of a degree during this time, resulting in a considerably lower overall income for four years (not to mention the added cost of tuition fees).

Do you think a degree from within Switzerland would be more respected there than one from the UK?

Another concern is with the expected introduction of immigrant quotas from negotiations in/by 2017. My expectation is that a move would be much easier before this time than after (my 1-3 years included up to 3 as a worst-case-scenario, I'd really be hoping to move as soon as possible after one year).





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I moved two months ago to Zurich into a software development job here. I don't speak any German but am trying to learn as fast as possible, and am joining local clubs here (kayaking, skiing) to meet local people here.

I got a job through Nicoll Curtin. I suggested in the pub last week to them that they should maintain a guide on moving here for English people, since much of the information I had while moving here is out of date. it's hosted on github here and may help you as I'm suggesting them things to change: https://github.com/nicollcurtin/Guide-to-Switzerland. I'm not sure one is supposed to post personal information up here, but if you PM me I can give you the name of person there who got me a job here.
Thank you! That looks very useful, I will indeed PM you soon.





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Firstly, as has been mentioned, formal qualifications matter in Switzerland, much like the rest of continental Europe, much more than in Anglophone nations where experience often can be seen to compensate. Of course experience compensates here too, but two and a half years would bring you limited benefit in that regard. In short, you'll be at a minor, at least, disadvantage.

Secondly, language is important. In the mobile IT sector, most firms are home grown and even where English is the working language being able to speak German/French/Italian is very important and in some cases obligatory (although basic German might be acceptable in many cases). With only English, you'll be effectively out of the running for about 40% of jobs.

Swiss job applications are radically different to Anglophone ones; the CV's will contain things you'll never see in an English CV, such as a photo, and they'll sooner (with the application) or later demand written references (which are the norm here) to be included. There are threads galore on CV's and applications here you can pour over on this, as well as jobs sites listed.

Mobile is not huge in Switzerland and there is an emphasis on iOS here, with Android being less in demand. However, there are some non-native technologies that crop up from time to time, such as Unity 3D or PhoneGap, in job adverts.

Hope some of the above is of help.
It is very much of help, thank you!

I have plenty of experience working with iOS. Most of my experience has been mobile, but I have done other things. Mobile development specifically isn't something that I adore, it's just a platform for me to work on. I'm very flexible on that, though I do realise particular SDK knowledge will be useful.

What areas would you say are more in demand?

I am planning to be able to speak (if not fluently) the language of the region I move to by the time I move, but first I need to figure out roughly where I'll be headidng, so that I can learn the right language.
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Old 17.11.2015, 22:32
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Re: Software Development

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Already tried that.
Hardly did the OP try that.

I said "content", not "URL"

Trust me, I know the ins and outs of Google Translate, both built into Chrome, and on the web.
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Old 18.11.2015, 10:51
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Re: Software Development

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Mobile development specifically isn't something that I adore, it's just a platform for me to work on. I'm very flexible on that, though I do realise particular SDK knowledge will be useful.
Being flexible is only useful when you at least partially match a prospective employers wishlist. Switzerland is a continental European nation, not an Anglophone one. This means that employment is far more 'old school', based on formal qualifications and written references and less on 'hands on' experience and 'can do' attitudes.

As such, I'd avoid companies with HR departments and look more to start ups where the latter will be better appreciated - not to mention that start ups often have smaller budgets and thus can't afford to hire the best qualified candidates.
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What areas would you say are more in demand?
That's for you to find out TBH. All I can say is that iOS is still more in demand but demand Android has increased substantially in the last few years. What the precise situation is now I don't know; were I you I'd trawl the job sites for "mobile development" jobs and note what's out there, making specific note of technologies, locations and local language fluency, as well as anything else that crops up more than once.

What exactly has your mobile development experience been in, BTW? And was it as a permanent employee, contract or freelance?
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I am planning to be able to speak (if not fluently) the language of the region I move to by the time I move, but first I need to figure out roughly where I'll be headidng, so that I can learn the right language.
That's pretty unrealistic unless you want to limit yourself to applying to one linguistic region (German or French - I wouldn't bother with Italian), thus decreasing your chances significantly. Otherwise, you'll only know where you'll be heading when you get an offer, and by then it'll be too late to learn how to speak the language beyond ordering a meal and asking someone if they do it 'doggy-doggy' - neither of which are hugely useful in a professional environment. Or you could learn both French and German...
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Old 18.11.2015, 12:26
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Re: Software Development

plus bear in mind, that language spoken in different part of country is properly useless in another (german in romandie, french in german-speaking part). if you know both and plan to freelance around, then that's a major plus for you. If you want to settle in first place you find the job, again it's effectively useless skill for employment.
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Old 18.11.2015, 13:00
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Re: Software Development

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I could only begin a degree around September next year due to personal circumstances. This would push my 1-3 years to 5 years+, unless I could
...
Do you think a degree from within Switzerland would be more respected there than one from the UK?
I understand about the cost issue. I did my part-time MSc while I was working at another university, and they were kind enough to give me a day off a week (without pay cut) to pursue my studies. Also note that I'm old enough to have got through higher education when fees were either non-existant (for my BSc) or relatively little (MSc).

With "foreign" degrees sometimes they struggle a bit to work out what the local equivalent is, but in practice it hasn't been an issue for me. With a Swiss degree you'd need to be up to speed in the language of instruction.

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Another concern is with the expected introduction of immigrant quotas from negotiations in/by 2017.
Well, yes. It's unclear what the effect will be. My hunch is that in Geneva it will change little, Geneva having been one of the many cantons that voted against the reintroduction of quotas and also being utterly reliant on foreign labour. You also have the issue of being a UK citizen and the UK's status within the EU not being certain, and what that would mean for Brits in Switzerland should push come to shove (presumably something would be negotiated but who knows how long that would take).
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