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Old 27.11.2013, 02:11
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Difficulty in finding employment as a returning Swiss expat

I'm a Swiss citizen who moved to the US in 2001 and was recently forced to return to Switzerland because my employer wasn’t able to file for permanent residency in time to stay there legally. So far it’s been a nightmare trying to reintegrate into Swiss society and I had to find out the hard way that despite Switzerland claiming to have a good social safety net this isn’t really the case when one doesn’t fit the mold.

Case in point--when I registered with the unemployment office (RAV) I was quickly told that I would not be eligible for the standard unemployment benefits because I worked in the US and consequently am limited to receiving financial support for a maximum of 90 days and that they would use a flat per-diem rate instead of the standard 70% of my previous salary. Two months have passed and I have yet to see a single Franc in unemployment benefits and they had me jump through hoops with bureaucratic requirements that border on insanity. They demanded everything from US immigration documents proving that when I resigned I did so because my visa was expiring (if they disagree they can delay payments by another 60 days) as well as a notarized letter from my previous employer certifying that I was indeed employed by their company. Luckily I left on good terms sothey were willing to go through the effort and expense of providing that for me.

Even the job search itself is proving to be rather challenging since I can’t produce a “Swiss” application package with performance reports from all my previous employers. I did my best to adapt my CV to Swiss standards (it even passed the RAV advisor's inspection) and obtained a few letters of recommendation from previous supervisors and coworkers but have yet to be invited to an interview.

Part of the challenge seems to be that while I hold a BSc in Management/Marketing all my work experience is in the US defense industry which is pretty much useless here and yet when I try for entry-level jobs I get rejections based on having too much work-experience. Applying for jobs that would fit the bill in terms of age/experience seems to lead to rejection because I am underqualified for the positions as I don’t have the experience in the business sector they’re looking for. Never mind that not speaking any French seems to be very detrimental in the Marketing field.

I also accumulated quite a bit of IT experience since I have a natural affinity to it but without holding any certifications that seems to be a dead-end too. My best chance seems to be in sales but given that I have not been able to convert my US driver license I obviously have the problem that I am restricted to public transportation until I get that issue resolved. I can’t even use my US license since I handed it in when I applied for the Swiss one over twomonths ago and after wasting weeks producing all the paperwork they required theycame back to me saying I need to undergo a medical examination before they could convert the license so right now I am waiting for my scheduled exam (takes over a month to get an appointment!) and hoping that I will be able to get a Swiss licenseby the end of the year.

It’s just very frustrating to see bills stacking up and being unable to support myself (currently an air-mattress dweller at my mom’s). If anyone else has gone through something similar or has any good ideas in how to get back intothe labor market (please don’t say go back to school, I simply cannot afford it right now) I would be interested to hear about it.
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