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Old 18.12.2018, 10:21
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Salary rip offs...

Ok, its probably a potential Friday topic, but anyways: Since people in my professional network know me as "the guy who used to live in Switzerland" does everybody who considers moving there ask me about it... and I got a couple of weird requests over the last months. For each proper job offer in the 120k league do I have to tell at least two guys that somebody is trying to screw them over... Is this just me, is the sample size of a handful too small or is it a new trend to try to get EU staff coming over for an EU salary? I understand that some agents would of course try to take advantage of some stupid foreigner and offer him some 15% less... but that's not the sort of thing I am talking about:


- IT contractor, masters degree, 10-15 years work experience contracting in the UK and EU for top banks is offered a day rate for a senior project manager role by an agency I know is normally reputable... I'd estimate this to be an 800-1000 CHF job and the offer was 600. I told him to take the 500 EUR offer in BE he had instead...


- business professional, college degree, expert knowledge, making 75k EUR in NL is offered to get the same salary in CH. "You could live across the border and commute to save some costs"...


I understand that there is some cost pressure on Swiss companies. But who really thinks that underpaying employees is a sustainable answer? They'll just leave at the next best opportunity...
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Old 18.12.2018, 10:38
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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Ok, its probably a potential Friday topic, but anyways: Since people in my professional network know me as "the guy who used to live in Switzerland" does everybody who considers moving there ask me about it... and I got a couple of weird requests over the last months. For each proper job offer in the 120k league do I have to tell at least two guys that somebody is trying to screw them over... Is this just me, is the sample size of a handful too small or is it a new trend to try to get EU staff coming over for an EU salary? I understand that some agents would of course try to take advantage of some stupid foreigner and offer him some 15% less... but that's not the sort of thing I am talking about:


- IT contractor, masters degree, 10-15 years work experience contracting in the UK and EU for top banks is offered a day rate for a senior project manager role by an agency I know is normally reputable... I'd estimate this to be an 800-1000 CHF job and the offer was 600. I told him to take the 500 EUR offer in BE he had instead...


- business professional, college degree, expert knowledge, making 75k EUR in NL is offered to get the same salary in CH. "You could live across the border and commute to save some costs"...


I understand that there is some cost pressure on Swiss companies. But who really thinks that underpaying employees is a sustainable answer? They'll just leave at the next best opportunity...
People are just getting more ruthless and its a race downwards. everyone tries to get everything as cheap as possible, not just labour, so all quality goes out the window. its sad, but its not just in CH.
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Old 18.12.2018, 10:48
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Re: Salary rip offs...

In same respect, salaries also got a bit out of hand, as when people got to ask if Chf 120k is enough to livevon, the le el of inteligence could easily be called into question too !
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Old 18.12.2018, 11:14
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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In same respect, salaries also got a bit out of hand
Did they? I came to CH for the first time in 2002 and since then did salaries generally go only down... at least in IT. The perm 120k really was some sort of a standard and I see a lot of people being more in the 100k range today. Contractors were in those days easily in the four digits with their day rates... which you don't find that often to be the case today anymore.
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Old 18.12.2018, 11:31
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Re: Salary rip offs...

yep that been my experience too, contract rates have gone through the floor, permie salaries are well down and employers expect a hell of a lot more, weird combinations of skill sets that people just wouldn't have.

but we've been here before, I remember similar happening at least 2 times previously and when the tide turns again all the decent people will leave (again), but it seems companies and managers really don't understand (or care) about their staff.
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Old 18.12.2018, 11:41
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Re: Salary rip offs...

This is, in my opinion, the direct result of the strengthening of the CHF with the catalyst being the SNB abondoning the PEG/CAP of 1.20 vs the EUR and the general downward pressure on wages specially within the IT sector in CH where competing labour forces from neighboring countries are giving the locals a good run for their money.

The new guys from across the border and beyond are being blindfolded into accepting jobs where they wonít be able to sustain a good standard of living but they accept it because it a slight improvement on the salaries in their home countries (20-30% premium is good enough) and they have a theoretical upside if they move jobs (usually doesnít materialize in the short to medium term)

In the meantime, the guys in Switzerland are being squeezed out of their existing jobs through ďjuniorisationĒ or redundancies where they get replaced by their cheaper sometimes more qualified EU counter parts and are forced to take new roles somewhere else with lower salaries.

Itís a race to the bottom and as wages get squeezed down so will everything else as you canít sustain high goods, services and asset prices without affecting the affordability of such things. The bottom here being a Nash equilibrium state where the premium offered to EU migrants compared to their home countries is just about enough to get them to move here and maintain 80-100% of their standard of living.
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Old 18.12.2018, 13:07
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Re: Salary rip offs...

This is just the state of the current market and it won't improve as long as there are still people accepting roles for shit rates.

I have a similar profile as your first example, am a permie now, but used to be a contractor making good money.
I am also offered contracts with e.g. big banks for 600-700 / day. I just laugh it off as it makes the switch back not worth it for me.

On the other hand, I have worked with contractors making CHF 1600 / day and they were absolutely clueless!
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Old 18.12.2018, 13:13
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Re: Salary rip offs...

UBS were offering me a contract with a daily rate of 600chf and were pushing to onboard me asap. I only went for the interview as they was the possibility of it turning into a permanent role. But they could not give me an indication of the permanent salary so I declined, plus I had a better offer from elsewhere.
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Old 18.12.2018, 13:56
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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- business professional, college degree, expert knowledge, making 75k EUR in NL is offered to get the same salary in CH. "You could live across the border and commute to save some costs"...
Lol that's a preposterous suggestion and I would have told them to shove it for that comment alone.

Other than that: people will always try to screw you and take advantage of people not really having a firm grasp on what it means to live in a certain country. It's not just in Switzerland. A couple of years ago I got a job offer with one of the big four in London, i.e. arguably in a well-paying industry and in an expensive city - but the salary they suggested was an utter joke. So nope, not just Switzerland, they're trying to screw you everywhere...
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Old 18.12.2018, 13:59
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Re: Salary rip offs...

I am sure the lower contractor rates are mainly driven by supply vs. demand. Big banks stopped hiring expensive contractors and started to hire internals again. Even though they are giving up on flexibility (you can stop working with contractors quite easily), they save a massive amount of money.
The newly hired internals then are responsible for leading teams in the Corporate Centers in Mumbai, Prague, Warsaw or Bratilava.

But maybe the times will change again sooner or later for contractors and their daily rates.
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Old 18.12.2018, 14:12
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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Did they? I came to CH for the first time in 2002 and since then did salaries generally go only down... at least in IT. The perm 120k really was some sort of a standard and I see a lot of people being more in the 100k range today. Contractors were in those days easily in the four digits with their day rates... which you don't find that often to be the case today anymore.
Since 2002 the CHF has almost doubled in Value to The £ & Substantially increased v the Euro, clearly salaries of foreign hires that were inflated due to the low CHF rate at the time will fall due to the strong currency. Also free movement has made it far easier to hire & the no of hireable applicants is much bigger.
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Old 18.12.2018, 14:13
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Re: Salary rip offs...

And yet such cheaper offers were how many of my international acquaintances came to Switzerland - you start like this, it's tough for 1-2 years, then you find a better-paying job somewhere else in Switzerland.
It's a big opportunity for a better future, and you can put aside money while doing the same job as before, instead of barely being able to pay the bills in your home country. (is how they explained it to me)
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Old 18.12.2018, 15:15
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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It's a big opportunity for a better future, and you can put aside money while doing the same job as before, instead of barely being able to pay the bills in your home country. (is how they explained it to me)
Well, yes, I see that point if you happen to be from the poorest parts of the EU... but I know that I went to Switzerland as it was simply the best deal around. It surely still is compared to many places on the planet... but compared to the rates I see in other parts of Western Europe does it not really come out on top anymore. I literally told friends to stay in the Netherlands and Belgium.
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Old 18.12.2018, 16:49
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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Well, yes, I see that point if you happen to be from the poorest parts of the EU... but I know that I went to Switzerland as it was simply the best deal around. It surely still is compared to many places on the planet... but compared to the rates I see in other parts of Western Europe does it not really come out on top anymore. I literally told friends to stay in the Netherlands and Belgium.

woah, ur so old skool
make space for the new generation coming in!!!111+!
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Old 18.12.2018, 17:20
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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"You could live across the border and commute to save some costs"
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It's a big opportunity for a better future, and you can put aside money while doing the same job as before, instead of barely being able to pay the bills in your home country. (is how they explained it to me)

The problem is stupid employers not understanding how this works. And employees that for whatever reason take the offers.


Someone comes in for work. The work is worth (e.g.) 200. You pay them 120 + 60 in other costs necessary for them to produce the 200 worth, and that leaves a margin that the business makes.

A salary negotiation should only be about how much the product of an employee is worth. End of story.

The job might also offer perks. Pension, expenses, car, whatever. They are all easily quantifiable, so easy to add up to the gross salary number.

But that total number is the objective of the discussion. The number that the employer thinks is appropriate for the value of work produced.


What my cost base is, what my lifestyle is, if I commute on foot or by Ferrari, by train or by private plane are MY CHOICES. Additionally, if I find the job interesting or not, is on me. If I find that it is a position with opportunities that fit me is (again) on me. Everything "additional" that the employer is "providing" they're not. These things are there because that's the job. They are not actively provided, they are just there, and actively being received by the employee as he interprets them.

So "you get to work with x, y, z", or whatever, is something that each prospective employee will weigh differently and translate to a different economic value.

But at the end of the day, I go to work to pay for rent, and sustain my life. END OF F-ING STORY.

Tell me how much you think my work is worth to you, and stop talking BS.

If i hear one more guy telling me how to spend my money, or why I need to make less or more money, or whatever, I'm going to smash a keyboard to a face.

I've heard "you like this job, you don't need to get paid more", and seen people get denied a proper raise from severly underpaid to just slightly underpaid because "you can't go 20% up in a year", and it's BS. If someone is nickel-and-diming you today, they're going to nickel-and-dime you in the future. So the moment someone will see a better offer, they'll walk.

As long as people don't understand the detracting effect of churn in a team, and only see as far as the next 2-3 quarters, they're going to have a shitty business and will always have to look for the next 2-3 quarters.


I understand that everyone's position in life is different, and that you got to start somewhere. I've been there, I've taken shitty pay (in relative terms to work delivered). And as long as there are enough people around with enough reasons to make them take shitty money for a while, short sighted employers will be stupid and low-ballers thinking they're saving money.
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Old 18.12.2018, 19:57
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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The problem is stupid employers not understanding how this works. And employees that for whatever reason take the offers.
From my experience the employers know exactly what they are doing.

The noob employees havenít got a clue and they pay price for learning by under selling their skills and abilities.

Thatís just how the cookie crumbles.

Once you realise your worth / value to a business they canít short change you anymore. Sure they can go with somebody less experienced who doesít know their worth or who offers themselves lower than the market is prepared to pay.

But would you trust such an employee with something important in your business? I wouldnít... buy thatís just me.
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Old 18.12.2018, 20:08
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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What my cost base is, what my lifestyle is, if I commute on foot or by Ferrari, by train or by private plane are MY CHOICES. Additionally, if I find the job interesting or not, is on me. If I find that it is a position with opportunities that fit me is (again) on me. Everything "additional" that the employer is "providing" they're not. These things are there because that's the job. They are not actively provided, they are just there, and actively being received by the employee as he interprets them.

So "you get to work with x, y, z", or whatever, is something that each prospective employee will weigh differently and translate to a different economic value.

But at the end of the day, I go to work to pay for rent, and sustain my life. END OF F-ING STORY.
Spot on.
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Old 18.12.2018, 20:25
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Re: Salary rip offs...

It would really help if there was a place to know what the industry average is for certain jobs, especially in IT.

Glassdoor is very unreliable in that sense, it doesn't help that it seems to be very secretive topic in Switzerland.

I know for a fact that I'm making way less than my coworkers who have less skills and certifications, but were probably brave enough to haggle for a higher salary.

Still happy to be here though!
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Old 18.12.2018, 20:47
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Re: Salary rip offs...

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It would really help if there was a place to know what the industry average is for certain jobs, especially in IT.

Glassdoor is very unreliable in that sense, it doesn't help that it seems to be very secretive topic in Switzerland.
The best barometer for industry average for your skill set is an offer made by a competitor!

Simply apply for another job then get a competing offer! Thatís your market rate!

Youíre only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for you!
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Old 18.12.2018, 21:08
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Re: Salary rip offs...

Totally agree with the OP with the current trend on lowballing new hires. In my line of work, Iíve seen that the salary has almost dropped 30% for the same work.

In every job that I apply to, I get asked the question of salary history in various guises at the application level or at 1st interview, and I believe this is done as an elimination criteria. On the other hand, when you ask them about the salary range for the advertised job, theyíre unwilling to give it to you and answer this question with another question I.e what is your salary expectations?

Instead of legislating the prohibition of asking for previous salary details like in Boston, it would be more transparent and fair if it was legislated that all jobs should have a salary range disclosed on the advertisement so that the employer or the potential employee donít waste each others time and this saves them from being nosey about salary history.

At the moment, the balance of power is tipped in employers favour, and disclosing salary range legislation would make things much fairer.
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