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Old 25.08.2006, 18:01
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Working in Financial Zurich without German

I'm French speaking Swiss, currently living in london. I was wondering if anoying had any input on the work market in Zuerich.
I'm looking for a job in Finance, banks, investments. More specifically Portfolio Management and fin. analysis. Looking at the ads, it seems that German is required most of the time.
Any inside views ?
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Old 25.08.2006, 18:03
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

English is widely-spoken in most businesses especially in Zurich. Let's just say that if you can't speak German but can speak French, Italian and English......you'll find most people choose English to speak to you.
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Old 26.08.2006, 11:10
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Thank you. But does anyone had any experience in terms of being easily hired in this industry, without speaking German all ?
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Old 26.08.2006, 17:58
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Here's what I've heard from Swiss HR people, off the record:

The German Language requirement is often necessary for jobs that require direct contact with german speaking clients and associates. But it is also often used as a type of euphemism to mean that they don't want foreigners, or foreigners who have not integrated into the local culture. Now there is often the case where a foreigner has highly desirable skills, yet does not have German skills. In this case, the candidate's willingness to "learn German" may be taken into consideration. "Learning German" is less about the ability to learn the language, rather to adapt to the local culture.
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Old 28.08.2006, 09:34
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

This may be a little off-topic (sorry Mark) but I recently heard of a case where a candidate on the short list for a job was given time to further improve his German to get a particular job. Two weeks later he was advised that not only did they want fluent German, but they really now wanted fluent Swiss German (as well as fluent English and French!!) . This to me is a blatant attempt at excluding foreigners (funny since the company is a large UK HQ'ed firm).
I think that most companies do want at least a commitment to learning German, as it does help in communicating with colleagues, I think that's fair. And I think that many will help in (partly) funding German language classes.
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Old 28.08.2006, 09:40
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Quote:
Thank you. But does anyone had any experience in terms of being easily hired in this industry, without speaking German all ?
I know of a lot of English-speaking people who don't speak German at all being hired for front- and back-office investment, PM, financial and risk analysis, etc.

So yes, I have experience of people being hired in this area without German. I don't know how "easy" the jobs were to get.....but I know these people actually applied for the jobs to start the process.

Are you working for a multinational in London with Swiss presence?
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Old 28.08.2006, 09:57
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Ahh, Swiss HR people... bless their cotton socks. At the risk of being completely toasted (fools rush in...) has ANYONE good experience with Swiss HR? I'd love to hear which companies have respected HR departments. Even recruitment agencies have warned me before interviews about the HR at certain companies... is it just me who finds them strange? For people who should be totally 'people' people, I've met quite a few who were as warm as the Borg.

As for German - as is mentioned above - it's necessary to show willingness to improve. Employers are looking for potential as well as ready skills; a vague mumbling about wanting to learn sounds a bit slack but at least you're addressing the weak point in your application.
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Old 28.08.2006, 10:00
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Quote:
Two weeks later he was advised that not only did they want fluent German, but they really now wanted fluent Swiss German (as well as fluent English and French!!) . This to me is a blatant attempt at excluding foreigners (funny since the company is a large UK HQ'ed firm).
You are right, this is blatant. You should tell your friend to report them - requiring fluent Swiss-German for a job is illegal, but requiring German is not (if it is necessary of course). Remember that Swiss-German is not one of of the official languages of Switzerland, it is a dialect. Requiring a job applicant to speak or understand dialect discriminates against people from other EU member states (for example Germany and Austria). I heard of a case of someone getting a big fine for this a couple of years ago.
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Old 28.08.2006, 11:40
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

What do you mean "other" EU member states? CH is not part of the EU so the free movement rules don't apply AFAIK, even though the work permit thing will be stopped (and apparently passport control already has been, but they haven't told the passport people yet).
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Old 28.08.2006, 11:46
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

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What do you mean "other" EU member states? CH is not part of the EU so the free movement rules don't apply AFAIK, even though the work permit thing will be stopped (and apparently passport control already has been, but they haven't told the passport people yet).
I mentioned the EU because Switzerland has bilateral agreements with the EU. The free movement thing WILL apply, and is currently in the transitional stage. Summary: a German has just as much right to a job in Switzerland as a Swiss does, and an employer cannot decide between the two based on their ability to speak Swiss-German or their nationality. This has been the case since the transitional period started a few years back. The work permit thing is just a formality for EU citizens at present. So it's not a free-movement question, it's more about discrimination. Other Swiss in the French or Italian speaking parts may have learned High German, so it's not fair to exclude them because they can't speak dialect either.
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Old 28.08.2006, 11:50
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Quote:
What do you mean "other" EU member states? CH is not part of the EU so the free movement rules don't apply AFAIK, even though the work permit thing will be stopped (and apparently passport control already has been, but they haven't told the passport people yet).
just a FWIW on the passport front - more often than not, stops at the border are down to customs not papers. Certainly on certain border crossings, they're frankly not bothered about your papers, more the amount of meat, alcohol and shopping items of value.

Back on-track, statistically there are 100s if not 1000s of workers within the financial businesses in the Swiss-German region who do not speak any German at all.
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Old 28.08.2006, 11:56
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

I corss the border regularly and often get asked for a specific document: Pass, Fahrerausweis or Fahrzeug ausweis. Passport control has in theory gone, but it doesnt stop them asking.
dave

Quote:
just a FWIW on the passport front - more often than not, stops at the border are down to customs not papers. Certainly on certain border crossings, they're frankly not bothered about your papers, more the amount of meat, alcohol and shopping items of value.

Back on-track, statistically there are 100s if not 1000s of workers within the financial businesses in the Swiss-German region who do not speak any German at all.
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Old 28.08.2006, 17:15
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Quote:
You are right, this is blatant. You should tell your friend to report them - requiring fluent Swiss-German for a job is illegal, but requiring German is not (if it is necessary of course). Remember that Swiss-German is not one of of the official languages of Switzerland, it is a dialect. Requiring a job applicant to speak or understand dialect discriminates against people from other EU member states (for example Germany and Austria). I heard of a case of someone getting a big fine for this a couple of years ago.
I just looked up the ad for the job and was amazed to see it blatantly states (and I quote):
Swiss citizen- fluent Swiss German, German, English and French

Does anyone know if this is allowed?

Thanks.
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Old 28.08.2006, 17:26
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Re: Working in Financial Zurich without German

Quote:
I just looked up the ad for the job and was amazed to see it blatantly states (and I quote):
Swiss citizen- fluent Swiss German, German, English and French

Does anyone know if this is allowed?

Thanks.
Hi, firstly it is entirely legitimate and legal to request fluent Swiss German or Swiss French. It is illegal to request this as a mother tongue. And it is furthermore for certain professions entirely acceptable to have Swiss citizen but this is rather the exception. Professions such as Notar and Policeperson are good examples. Notar is interesting however as this can be a self-employed profession as in Aargau or working primarily with German customers as in Basel... But you must have a little red book to do it...
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