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Old 06.05.2011, 07:08
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IT Salary Questions

I'm living in Los Angeles at the moment and looking to relocate to the Geneva/Lausanne area. I'm working in IT as a Senior Systems Administrator/Analyst for a large well known hedge fund. Prior to that, I worked for a large well known investment bank. I've worked in this role for about 12 years now. I specialize in large Microsoft Server / VMware deployments, but also actively administer *nix systems as well as supporting Mac servers and users.

Although I'm a generalist admin, I also am fairly strong on the network side of things. I hold active U.S, Irish, and British passports, have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and MSCE, CNA, and A+ certs, as well as specialty non-certified training. It would be nice to continue to work in the Finance vertical, but I don't have to continue. I will work in another industry if the pay and the culture fits.

Before you release the hounds and turn the water cannons on me, I just want to say I've read and searched through thousand threads in this forum (as well as Google) but still have only a fuzzy idea of what salary range I should ask for when looking for jobs, especially when you factor in differences from Canton to Canton. I'm really looking to live and work only in Suisse Romandie as I speak and write (terrible) French, but could be fluent in a year with dedication and classroom training. I'm still taking daily French lessons now.

Salarium has my salary range at 8200 to 13000 CHF -- does that sound accurate to you? If I ask for a range of 120.000 to 140.000 a year am I going too high or low?

One other thing -- I've been on many Swiss job forums and I've noticed listings for Geneva and Lausanne are somewhat limited probably due to the low populations of both cities. Do you think three months is a reasonable timeframe to get a job in, or should I plan on actively applying earlier? When I tend to job search, it becomes a daily effort.

Thanks for reading this long-winded post. Input from my fellow IT geeks out there would be greatly appreciated, even more so from people that are familiar with the Lac Léman area.
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Old 06.05.2011, 07:48
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Re: IT Salary Questions

Those ranges are not unrealistic.
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Old 06.05.2011, 08:05
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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Those ranges are not unrealistic.
unrealistic for systems admin..90-low 100's is more like it
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Old 06.05.2011, 09:21
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Re: IT Salary Questions

You can probably get 120-140k + bonus in a financial company in GE even without French, depending on how you negotiate. But you can't expect to find job while being here - it really doesn't work this way here. Most of the people I know found jobs/were recruited before coming down to GE.

Also, I can tell you for sure that you won't be able to have the same lifestyle in GE you have in CA. Housing (good luck with that) and insance prices for a lot of things can drive you mad initially.

Switzerland looses on many levels compared with CA.

My advice is to really calculate things like taxes (unless you plan to work for a UN orgranization), housing costs, travel to/from US.

Good luck
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Old 06.05.2011, 09:48
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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Salarium has my salary range at 8200 to 13000 CHF -- does that sound accurate to you? If I ask for a range of 120.000 to 140.000 a year am I going too high or low?
Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Geneva's market, but for Zürich, 120k would be rather an upper, not lower end. I am fully aware, that there are people out there with similar education and experience which are at 140k level, however, the reason for this is that they have been hired in better economic times and are still able to keep their salary level.
Second, if you want to find job fast - 3months, you don't have time to wait for a perfect offer. You might want to get whatever comes and look further.

V.
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Old 06.05.2011, 10:39
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Re: IT Salary Questions

Permits could be another thing to consider assuming you need one. If you do, better to get a job before coming over, which should be easier than doing it once here. I also think you have a better chance of getting a good rate while in a good US job. An EU passport holder over here with no job and no permit might cost you 15k/year and 3 months of stress.
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Old 06.05.2011, 10:56
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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Permits could be another thing to consider assuming you need one. If you do, better to get a job before coming over, which should be easier than doing it once here. I also think you have a better chance of getting a good rate while in a good US job. An EU passport holder over here with no job and no permit might cost you 15k/year and 3 months of stress.
With two EU passports, the permit is unlikely to be an issue.
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Old 06.05.2011, 10:58
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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Those ranges are not unrealistic.
yeah I agree. 120 to 140 if you have decent financial previous and any strengths in virtualization.
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Old 06.05.2011, 11:20
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Re: IT Salary Questions

I were just in an interview with a leading recruiter yesterday and were discussing regarding Sys Admin / Senior IT Support / Networks and infrastructure, based on their recommendation and assessment, they suggested somewhere in between 105k to 130k depending on the organization, size and required skills.

As mentioned before, you definitely won't have the same CA lifestyle in Geneva and it can be frustrating at some point making that much and not be able to have what you get anywhere else on half this income, but this is what is broadly referred to as "You been Switzerlanded!!"

Don't just think salary wise only, assess the situation on all levels first, money is not everything.

Search the forum here and go through all the topics related to living in Switzerland and the Swiss system before moving ahead.

I'm not saying it's bad but it's totally different and there's quite more restrictions than CA.
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Old 06.05.2011, 11:45
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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With two EU passports, the permit is unlikely to be an issue.
I saw the EU passports, which is why I didn't mention permit quotas affecting non-eu passport holders. 3 months is not long to find a job in the French part. Arriving without a job, apartment angst (serviced apartment? Hotel? or large deposits and cleaning cost woes), registering with the geminde not knowing where you will settle, applying for your own residence permit as a non-working EU citizen living in a hotel. Crazy angst. You will get the permit, not my idea of fun.

Alternatively, get something up front, say a contract for 6 months, work from day 1, permit done for you.
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Old 06.05.2011, 11:59
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Re: IT Salary Questions

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..., get something up front, say a contract for 6 months, work from day 1, permit done for you.
Agree, but easier said, than done ..

V.
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Old 06.05.2011, 16:34
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Re: IT Salary Questions

Guys, thank you VERY much for the feedback... incredibly helpful. I think my stated range will be aimed at getting 120K CHF yr and anything on top of that I'll consider a bonus (although I won't say that out loud).

I'm pretty familiar with the terrible Geneva housing market, but I'm willing to live farther out and commute. I'm already commuting more than an hour each way a day, so that is not a problem. On a bad traffic day, commute might be two hours .. I wish I were kidding. I understand the pros and cons of the situation.

That said, I will definitely get a job *before* coming out -- that way I don't have to worry about the permit issues and can maybe get housing assistance as well from the employer. If no housing assistance available I'll be living out in the countryside and commuting.
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