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Old 19.01.2017, 14:25
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Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Hello there

This post is basically to get some advice on how to be successful in my job hunt from the community and/or setting up some coffee meetings with anyone who could be interested in having a chat about work/football/cycling/skiing/the weather.

A little background:
I am a Danish guy who moved to Geneva early last year as my partner was offered a position here and I have been looking for a job since moving – so for just about a year now. I have a masters degree in Economics and I work with IT in the area of data analysis / business reporting – in more specific terms: I have a little over 3 years of experience as an SAP BI consultant in Denmark for a large international company (Fortune 500), where I mainly worked with SAP BW and Business Objects - as developer and project manager in the area of finance. I have also worked for a couple of years on the technical side with financial consolidation in a medium sized Danish company.

What I have done so far:
Since arriving I have been plying the various jobsites: LinkedIn, Experteer, Jobs.ch, jobscout24, jobup, Monster, Indeed.ch and a few more applying for a lot of positions with basically no feedback. I have also built an extensive list with companies that I keep an eye on in case they post new positions and I have also sent a few unsolicited applications before the turn of the year.
Perhaps more relevant, I have engaged with a lot of recruiting companies such as BROMsolutions, Experis, Hays, Helvetica, Michael Page, Randstad, Ratbacher, Red Commerce, Swisslinx, Wirz & Partners etc. I have spoken with them and my name has been put forward for quite a few positions but likewise with no feedback.

There have been a few very close calls (even an offer that was withdrawn due to expense freeze) but I have not had the rub of the green so far.

What I think I know:
A major roadblock for me appears to be the language; I am not fluent in French and I do not speak German. I have not had this confirmed from anyone apart from at Ratbacher where they said that 95% of their positions were for German speakers only. However, many job posts require you to speak fluent French or German along with English. I still apply though.

What I would like to do:
I'm looking for positions in Business Intelligence/business reporting - it could be in an SAP BW/BI/BO related position, where I have experience, but I'm open to other things and tools: I have a little experience with Tableau for data visualization and good old Excel can of course still be used to do a lot of magic. I also have some programming skills (SQL, VBA, JavaScript) that could be of use. I am looking across CH; not only in Geneva.

If there are anyone here who are engaged in a startup and have a lot of interesting data floating around, but needs some structure for it to be of any use, I can offer my expertise for free if I think it is an interesting project.

What I would like to achieve:
As stated above: I am asking for a little help in here in case anyone of you have some friendly advice they want to share (you know someone who knows someone, recommend any career fairs/events etc.) but also if anyone in here is interested in having a chat over coffee on any of the above mentioned topics.

I would love to hear from you
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Old 19.01.2017, 14:37
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

I find that as my knowledge of the local language increases so do my opportunities. Switzerland is also a lot about who you know and not what necessarily what you know in my experience. Networks are very important here and a lot of jobs aren't publicly advertised.

You've had a year to improve your language skills, what level would you say they are at now and how big is the gap between your current level and effective business use of the language?

On of the companies I work as a consultant for is hiring and data analytics would be a useful skill to have, but you need to speak a decent level of French.

Edit: My wife (works full time for said company) is currently working in Geneva and may be able to meet up with you to discuss the job opening if you are free for lunch tomorrow.
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Old 19.01.2017, 15:04
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Do you have a permit to live and work here?
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Old 19.01.2017, 15:14
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I find that as my knowledge of the local language increases so do my opportunities. Switzerland is also a lot about who you know and not what necessarily what you know in my experience. Networks are very important here and a lot of jobs aren't publicly advertised.

You've had a year to improve your language skills, what level would you say they are at now and how big is the gap between your current level and effective business use of the language?

On of the companies I work as a consultant for is hiring and data analytics would be a useful skill to have, but you need to speak a decent level of French.

Edit: My wife (works full time for said company) is currently working in Geneva and may be able to meet up with you to discuss the job opening if you are free for lunch tomorrow.
Thanks for your reply. I am currently taking French classes and would consider my level to be an A2 on the international scale. My biggest challenge is the lack of vocabulary - I feel my understanding of French is decent but I am not able to speak it very well. As I have never worked professionally in French, I can't say that I am close to speaking it professionally.

I am certainly able to make lunch tomorrow if your wife has the time. You can just send me a PM.

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Do you have a permit to live and work here?
Yes

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.01.2017 at 20:09. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 19.01.2017, 15:55
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Are you making that clear on your CV? Many employers these days want to know any applicant already has a Swiss permit, even though it's not difficult for an EU national to get one once they have an employment contract.

Have you thought of doing a short intensive language course to get your skills up to the next level? Also maybe consider volunteering somewhere one or two days a week where you can speak with others to increase your vocabulary?
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:19
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

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Are you making that clear on your CV? Many employers these days want to know any applicant already has a Swiss permit, even though it's not difficult for an EU national to get one once they have an employment contract.

Have you thought of doing a short intensive language course to get your skills up to the next level? Also maybe consider volunteering somewhere one or two days a week where you can speak with others to increase your vocabulary?
Regarding specifying the permit, I put it just below my nationality on the CV like indicated below. I have a Ci permit so it should be pretty straightforward if you ask me.

Name
Address
Telephone
DoB
Nationality
Permit

Although I actually often get the question whether I hold a permit from recruiters but I suspect it is just because they tend to look more on qualifications than names and nationalities. Business Intelligence is to some degree a niche market still in Switzerland so I suppose permits are easier to get but I am not sure on that one.

Volunteering is a good idea that I have considered. As I mentioned in my original post, I would love to help someone who are in need of a hand with data insights but does not have the capabilities or time. If anyone here has any input on how to get in contact with such people, please let me know.

But maybe you are thinking of something different? And do you have any experience with voluntary work in Geneva?
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Old 19.01.2017, 17:24
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Could the limitations of a Ci permit put prospective employers off?
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Old 19.01.2017, 18:02
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

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Could the limitations of a Ci permit put prospective employers off?
I don't know. Of course it is temporary but I suppose all permits are?

Effectively I guess it is like having a C permit. I am not subject to foreign labor limits, quotas, recruitment priority schemes or other labor market requirements (priority to residents) and with a contract, I automatically get the ability to work without delay whatsoever. I can even start my own company just by writing to the cantonal authorities that I want to do so.
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Old 19.01.2017, 18:53
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Permit Ci (residence permit with gainful employment)
The residence permit with gainful employment is intended for members of the families of intergovernmental organisations and for members of foreign representations. This concerns the spouses and children up to 25 years of age. The validity of the permit is limited to the duration of the main holder's function.

The last sentence is the bit I meant.
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Old 19.01.2017, 19:40
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

PM me your phone number, my wife is available for a lunch meeting tomorrow.
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Old 19.01.2017, 21:14
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PM me your phone number, my wife is available for a lunch meeting tomorrow.
Done

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Permit Ci (residence permit with gainful employment)
The residence permit with gainful employment is intended for members of the families of intergovernmental organisations and for members of foreign representations. This concerns the spouses and children up to 25 years of age. The validity of the permit is limited to the duration of the main holder's function.

The last sentence is the bit I meant.
Sure, makes sense. My permit is therefore valid to November 2020. I am not sure if this should be put on the CV? I guess it should not make a lot of difference for a potential employer?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.01.2017 at 22:10. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 19.01.2017, 21:29
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

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Sure, makes sense. My permit is therefore valid to November 2020. I am not sure if this should be put on the CV? I guess it should not make a lot of difference for a potential employer?
No, your permit is only valid as long as your wife is employed. If she loses her job and can't get another here then you'll also lose your permit and any employment you may be doing at the time. That's what the sentence means and I suppose it could put some employers off, but really it's no different from hiring a non-EU national who's a dependent of a non-EU national B permit holder. You both have the right to work and don't fall under any quotas.
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Old 19.01.2017, 21:31
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

I know this sounds like splitting hairs, but any employer offering a job to someone whose permit is dependant on another permit is taking a slightly higher risk than when giving the job to someone who has a permit in their own right. I'm sure there have been cases on here before when things went pear-shaped. Let's just hope your search is successful.
Good luck tomorrow.
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Old 19.01.2017, 21:52
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

I certainly remember one where the husband I think it was lost his job (non-EU main permit holder) and tried to get the cantonal migration office to allow a swop so that his non-EU wife who also worked became the main permit holder, but the migration office refused.

Actually may not be so bad in your case as you are an EU national so changing the permits around might not be a problem if she does lose her employment. Still, you have to get the job first.
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Old 19.01.2017, 21:59
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No, your permit is only valid as long as your wife is employed. If she loses her job and can't get another here then you'll also lose your permit and any employment you may be doing at the time. That's what the sentence means and I suppose it could put some employers off, but really it's no different from hiring a non-EU national who's a dependent of a non-EU national B permit holder. You both have the right to work and don't fall under any quotas.
Thanks for the feedback. I actually think it is an interesting discussion and worth having in any case.

I get your point in that if she loses her job I lose my permit. So if this happens, I am still an EU national and will still have the right to work in Switzerland on equal terms with Swiss nationals. Will it then just not be a question of swapping the Ci permit with a B permit? The work will still be there for my part.

This also goes if she changes jobs here I suppose? If she changes from working in position where she qualifies for a Ci to a position where she qualifies for B?

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I certainly remember one where the husband I think it was lost his job (non-EU main permit holder) and tried to get the cantonal migration office to allow a swop so that his non-EU wife who also worked became the main permit holder, but the migration office refused.

Actually may not be so bad in your case as you are an EU national so changing the permits around might not be a problem if she does lose her employment. Still, you have to get the job first.
Yes, my point exactly. I don't see the risk for an employer in hiring me. I only see the advantages in the sense that I am eligible to work on the same terms as one with a C permit at the moment. And if that changes at a later stage, then it is just a question of changing the permit to a B.

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I know this sounds like splitting hairs, but any employer offering a job to someone whose permit is dependant on another permit is taking a slightly higher risk than when giving the job to someone who has a permit in their own right. I'm sure there have been cases on here before when things went pear-shaped. Let's just hope your search is successful.
Good luck tomorrow.
Well, I think that splitting hairs is important as many things can stand and fall with the small details so I think the discussion is important. After all I am not the only one in this position I am sure.

And thanks.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.01.2017 at 22:10. Reason: merging consecutive replies; please use multi-quote (to the right of quote)
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Old 19.01.2017, 22:25
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Yes, if you're both EU nationals there should be no problems swopping Ci permits for B's providing you have a job/new job.
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Old 27.04.2017, 02:39
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

I thought I might wrap this one up.

During the months after the discussion here I continued to write applications but also engaged with a language partner in order to have more French conversation together with the classes I had been taking. I also continued to work with my network in order to make new connections. Everything takes time and requires patience.

In the end I got lucky. I applied for a job (60%) and was invited for an interview after perhaps 2-3 weeks. At the same time I was contacted by a recruiter for a 100% position where I was also invited for interview. Both jobs in the German speaking part of CH. After 3 interview rounds I was offeree both positions and decided to accept the 100% position starting 1st of April and will stay in Canton Aargau 5 days a week and spend the weekends in Geneva. Not optimal but it is a start. Both jobs were interesting and a good match for my profile.

So, in the end I did not benefit from my networking or my language classes but from my practice with writing applications and keeping an up to date LinkedIn profile. I won't say the time with this is wasted though as it helps you to settle in CH and learn about the customs and so on.

I do not speak German at all but will now start to take classes to learn it as it is the language everyone speaks at work. In fact, the job ad for the position I got actually listed fluent German as a requirement?!

Regarding my permit, my conclusion is that in general, the hiring manager and HR do not know it and the discussion can quickly turn into something like: 'well, is it not just a temporary job, your girlfriend has' which is quite dangerous as that may give them the impression that you are only here for a year or two. So this is were it is important to be prepared to give a plausible answer as to why this is not the case. Whether it is the truth or not of course. You must show commitment to sticking around.

My conclusion on job hunting in CH: language and network is important as mentioned many times in this forum - it will give you an insight to the companies and culture in CH. Don't limit yourself to your local area. You can always say no if you are offered something far away but the interview experience is priceless. Job sites (monster, jobup, indeed etc.) did not give me anything useful except for company names. Recruiters is definately worth it but there are as many bad ones as there are good ones - I talked to perhaps 20-25 and many I never heard from again although they thought that my profile was matching the position they were looking to fill. LinkedIn helped me find relevant people to talk to and helped recruiters find me. Being able to write a good CV and cover letter should not be underestimated! But it takes an awful lot of time for each application. And patience! I waited 15 months before I landed a new job. That is a very long time but I ended up with something which is very close to what I was looking for all along.

Oh and the very last thing: I had to wait around 6 weeks for my work permit to be issued by the cantonal office.
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Old 27.04.2017, 09:33
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Re: Finding work in CH as a Dane with a background in IT/SAP

Congratulations on getting the job and thanks for this post. Hopefully inspiration for others on the forum.

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I thought I might wrap this one up.

During the months after the discussion here I continued to write applications but also engaged with a language partner in order to have more French conversation together with the classes I had been taking. I also continued to work with my network in order to make new connections. Everything takes time and requires patience.

In the end I got lucky. I applied for a job (60%) and was invited for an interview after perhaps 2-3 weeks. At the same time I was contacted by a recruiter for a 100% position where I was also invited for interview. Both jobs in the German speaking part of CH. After 3 interview rounds I was offeree both positions and decided to accept the 100% position starting 1st of April and will stay in Canton Aargau 5 days a week and spend the weekends in Geneva. Not optimal but it is a start. Both jobs were interesting and a good match for my profile.

So, in the end I did not benefit from my networking or my language classes but from my practice with writing applications and keeping an up to date LinkedIn profile. I won't say the time with this is wasted though as it helps you to settle in CH and learn about the customs and so on.

I do not speak German at all but will now start to take classes to learn it as it is the language everyone speaks at work. In fact, the job ad for the position I got actually listed fluent German as a requirement?!

Regarding my permit, my conclusion is that in general, the hiring manager and HR do not know it and the discussion can quickly turn into something like: 'well, is it not just a temporary job, your girlfriend has' which is quite dangerous as that may give them the impression that you are only here for a year or two. So this is were it is important to be prepared to give a plausible answer as to why this is not the case. Whether it is the truth or not of course. You must show commitment to sticking around.

My conclusion on job hunting in CH: language and network is important as mentioned many times in this forum - it will give you an insight to the companies and culture in CH. Don't limit yourself to your local area. You can always say no if you are offered something far away but the interview experience is priceless. Job sites (monster, jobup, indeed etc.) did not give me anything useful except for company names. Recruiters is definately worth it but there are as many bad ones as there are good ones - I talked to perhaps 20-25 and many I never heard from again although they thought that my profile was matching the position they were looking to fill. LinkedIn helped me find relevant people to talk to and helped recruiters find me. Being able to write a good CV and cover letter should not be underestimated! But it takes an awful lot of time for each application. And patience! I waited 15 months before I landed a new job. That is a very long time but I ended up with something which is very close to what I was looking for all along.

Oh and the very last thing: I had to wait around 6 weeks for my work permit to be issued by the cantonal office.
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