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Old 28.02.2015, 14:27
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Ex-pat employment advice

Good afternoon all,

I am looking to start work in Switzerland, my wife is Swiss and have been living in the St Gallen region for around 10 months now. Unfortunately I have experienced no success in the job market thus far. I have only a very limited understand of German language and have been working for myself for the past 9 years; commuting to the UK weekly since moving for work over the 10 months.

As I now need more stability and see that working in Switzerland is a great opportunity to develop and really apply myself within an organisation, I am now looking to get a foot through the door.

I would like to optimise my experience in business and as a certified project manager, however, diversifying into another sector.

My question for the forum is if anyone can offer any advice on searching for a job as an ex-pat, who are the better job agencies to deal with?,

I would require a English speaking role only to start, and then develop my language skills whilst being living as a resident in Switzerland.

Any help or advice would be much appreciated, May Thanks
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Old 28.02.2015, 15:04
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

Wishing you luck, welcome to the forum.
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Old 28.02.2015, 16:05
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

Learn German/FRench/Italian/Romansche *

Unless you are going for some high up job, with just English you are not much use and certainly don't stand out from everybody else.

You're in project management whatever that might be, if i didn't absolutely need you in Switzerland i wsould employ you outside as salaries are far cheaper.

If you have to be in Switzerland, you need to be able to communicate properly with everybody else so democraticaly speaking the language that m ost of you speak will be de-facto office speak language. May not be necesary, but that's the way it is.

Plenty of people here speak fluently their local language and Englsih with a good knowledge of another national language.


* Depending on region you live in.
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Old 28.02.2015, 18:50
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

Thank you,

I am qualified to lead projects, however, as i will need to diversify into project management within a profession that i am not familiar , I am willing to start from the bottom and work up. Surely my extensive experience in leading projects will be both an asset to a company, as they will be getting a fully qualified employee at a third of the price.

Most MNE's predominately use English as their business language, surely a native speaker is more attractive than a local who has English as a second language. This is my opinion of course but would like the opinions of Ex-pats that have made the move already.

I would be looking at Zurich or similar to give myself a better chance of landing an opening.
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Old 28.02.2015, 18:59
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

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Most MNE's predominately use English as their business language, surely a native speaker is more attractive than a local who has English as a second language.
I don't know what kind of projects you would manage, but would you not need to communicate with local companies/workers in German/French/Italian?
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Old 28.02.2015, 19:37
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

In the IT world it's not unusual at all to see job adverts explicitly specifying the role is English speaking (meaning there is no requirement to speak another language).

Especially at big multinational companies in Zurich or Geneva, it's totally do-able to find a job only with English.
Of course, I don't say it's not easier if you speak one or more of the local languages as well, but still not impossible with English only.
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Old 28.02.2015, 19:41
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

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Thank you,

Most MNE's predominately use English as their business language, surely a native speaker is more attractive than a local who has English as a second language.
May be but then you have to communicate as well with your teams, and that could/would be in the local language. So a bilingual project manager could have an advantage.

And "being qualified to lead projects" does not help much understanding what you are searching for? I have worked as project manager in my area of expertise but that could be completely different from what you are looking for?
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Old 28.02.2015, 19:43
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

the language barrier is a myth, your biggest hurdle will be networks. the MNE's generally reserve English-speaking positions for developmental purposes, meaning that they rotate people into Switzerland rather than hire them locally. I also know plenty of skilled professionals who are fluent in local languages, including Swiss who were raised abroad and decided to move back, who have been unable to find work in Switzerland - they simply lack the network to land the jobs.

despite its reputation as an international economy, the Swiss job market is very inbred and still runs on basically a stammtisch basis. I don't mean this as an insult, btw, at the end of the day the Swiss professional job market is smaller than the NYC market and the NYC professional job market also runs on the basis of contacts and networks (just like any other professional job market). if you are hellbent to find professional work in Switzerland, it will take time and you will simply need to network like crazy - it can be frustrating but I have seen it work for others.

good luck and welcome to the EF.
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Old 01.03.2015, 20:10
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

Thank you,

The employment culture does seem that way.

On the plus side, looking as an entry level position whilst possessing experience and qualifications may enable me to land a role with a good employer with opportunities for career growth in what is a new market for me.

I'll keep looking and will land the role I want

Thanks all
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Old 18.03.2015, 20:37
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Re: Ex-pat employment advice

I also find it very difficult to get a job in Switzerland for me. I am native Chinese speaker from Hong Kong and have been living in Canada more than 5 years. I realize the advantage of English speaking ability and the years of managerial working experience do not seem helping at all. I do not mind to start from the bottom again but it's still difficult.
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