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Old 18.07.2018, 08:48
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How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

Hi, I am a software engineer with almost one year of experience and would like to inquire about conditions in Switzerland.

My main concern is with regards to UK leaving EU and how it will affect the job market. Also, I have visited Switzerland multiple times, especially around Zurich area, which left me a good impression.

Are there many companies there apart from banks, pharma industry? London is okay because of it's size, the amount of choice where to work is astonishing but since Swiss market is much smaller, is there a concern for being stuck to working for banks? I worked for one and don't really want to do that again.

I work in finance, but not in a bank. What are the trends for EU national finding work in your country?
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Old 18.07.2018, 09:01
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

Do you speak a local language? What are your specific skills?

IT is also required in retail and services - not just banking and pharma.
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Old 18.07.2018, 09:57
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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Do you speak a local language? What are your specific skills?

IT is also required in retail and services - not just banking and pharma.
I do not. I had an interview once at the end of my year with a company called Beekeeper and the guy who interviewed me was from South Africa and he does not need German as he said.

I am, however, spending my time on the tube listening to Michel Thomas German language course, so mostly learning speaking German. One of the motivations for me is to learn another language and living in a country that speaks it would force me to do so. I spent a week in Oslo, Norway, where I managed to understand some of the stuff people speak about just in a week, passively listening.

My skills are not specific so far. I have not found what to specialise in nor I feel like wanting to do that yet. I am more of a generalist and enjoy switching contexts a lot.
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Old 18.07.2018, 14:24
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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Do you speak a local language? What are your specific skills?

IT is also required in retail and services - not just banking and pharma.
Isn't IT one of the areas where German is the least required?
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Old 18.07.2018, 14:40
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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Isn't IT one of the areas where German is the least required?
The least I do not know, but there are plenty of IT companies where English is the main language on the working floor and during meetings.

No local language in combination with only one year of experience might make it hard tho unless he can show projects he has made that will convince them wether it be a mobile game he wrote or involvement and submits on open source projects to just name two examples.
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Old 18.07.2018, 14:57
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

Switzerland is for senior developers with expertise, otherwise a horrible place for juniors/new starters.


Come back after you have 5 years under your belt and speak a bit better German.
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Old 18.07.2018, 15:19
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

You might be lucky and get a starting position in an English speaking company, but usually they're after people with experience.

Entry level jobs, which is effectively what yours would be, will mostly want local language speakers.

With my work (I'm a developer), while it's possible to work effectively in English, it's definitely advantageous to be able to communicate in German - especially written communication.

When my son got his Masters, it took him a further 6 months to find his first job. The fact that he's fluent in English was not important to prospective employers. What mattered was that he's fluent in German. Once you've got two years experience, it's considerably easier to find a new job. Five years is even better. Generic experience is not really a strong selling point.

Stay in the UK another four years, gain specific skills, learn German. And hope Brexit doesn't screw things up.
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Old 18.07.2018, 15:33
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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Isn't IT one of the areas where German is the least required?
It is here, Italian being the preferred language.

Tom
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Old 18.07.2018, 20:25
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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You might be lucky and get a starting position in an English speaking company, but usually they're after people with experience.

Entry level jobs, which is effectively what yours would be, will mostly want local language speakers.

With my work (I'm a developer), while it's possible to work effectively in English, it's definitely advantageous to be able to communicate in German - especially written communication.

When my son got his Masters, it took him a further 6 months to find his first job. The fact that he's fluent in English was not important to prospective employers. What mattered was that he's fluent in German. Once you've got two years experience, it's considerably easier to find a new job. Five years is even better. Generic experience is not really a strong selling point.

Stay in the UK another four years, gain specific skills, learn German. And hope Brexit doesn't screw things up.
Interesting perspective. I mean, I will try nonetheless, but it is fine to be in UK for a bit longer. I don't hate it here but am rather concerned about Brexit being a mixed bag. All my jobs were in finance, currently I do financial machine learning and work with many exchanges around the world. Is specialising means working with a specific narrow set of technologies and being good at it, or a particular sector or both?

Thank you for your insight.
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Old 18.07.2018, 20:47
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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It is here, Italian being the preferred language.

Tom
I meant in the developed part of Switzerland Tom.
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Old 18.07.2018, 22:29
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

What do you mean by Software Engineering Industry in Switzerland? - There is only a few real "Software Engineering" jobs in Switzerland, maybe Google, Avaloq and a few more because Switzerland failed to develop a software industry like Silicon Valley or Germany (SAP). It is quite sad, because it has one of the most reputable Universities (ETH) - but many of it most capable graduates migrated to USA to work in companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google. Most IT Jobs in Switzerland are in the "IT Services" industry, that means a job in a bank, insurance or other company where you will support IT operations, parameterize/install software or process a list of open tickets every day (like in a Call Center) - maybe not the dream of a "real" IT Engineer.
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Old 18.07.2018, 22:39
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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...where you will support IT operations, parameterize/install software or process a list of open tickets every day (like in a Call Center) - maybe not the dream of a "real" IT Engineer.
This is not the case. There's plenty of innovative development projects.

The tasks you describe are largely already outsourced, but they're not key business uses of IT.
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Old 18.07.2018, 22:40
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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What do you mean by Software Engineering Industry in Switzerland? - There is only a few real "Software Engineering" jobs in Switzerland, maybe Google, Avaloq and a few more because Switzerland failed to develop a software industry like Silicon Valley or Germany (SAP). It is quite sad, because it has one of the most reputable Universities (ETH) - but many of it most capable graduates migrated to USA to work in companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google. Most IT Jobs in Switzerland are in the "IT Services" industry, that means a job in a bank, insurance or other company where you will support IT operations, parameterize/install software or process a list of open tickets every day (like in a Call Center) - maybe not the dream of a "real" IT Engineer.
There is a nice bunch of software developing companies varying from 1 to hundreds of employees., so nope to me it is not as sad as you make it sound.
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Old 18.07.2018, 22:55
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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There is a nice bunch of software developing companies varying from 1 to hundreds of employees., so nope to me it is not as sad as you make it sound.
Yes .. maybe there are af few in some niche industries, but most of them are junior or low end positions in the <100K/year range. And if you finde one on jobs.ch there are at least 10 jobs from recruiters that look for the same position. In the US a good software developer can easily make 150K USD /year. It is sad but in Switzerland Software Development is regarded as something that should be outsourced to "cheap" countries.
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Old 18.07.2018, 23:21
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

check:


Back to the future, the history of the computer on Swiss TV.



https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/sternstun...3-fd5cd6e895a7


at: 30'25''
and at: 31'05'' "In the USA the engineer is the king, here he is the servant"
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Old 19.07.2018, 07:44
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

Switzerland is definitely looking for experts and/or niche players. And I experienced very rigid requirements like knowledge of a very specific version of a software. The Swiss has a 'no risk' mentality and something 'uncommon' would sound suspicious and even blocking.
The strangest requirement I heard from the headhunter: looking for an English-speaking software developer with a Spanish accent !

Do not underestimate language requirements. I would say it is almost mandatory to know German or French if working in a Swiss company (or foreign company but mainly managed by Swiss). And if a job is looking for a Swiss-German knowledge, it means they will hire a Swiss national. Period.
I worked in a private bank in Geneva and our team was looking to hire a very specific profile in cybersecurity. We interviewed an Italian guy, married with a latin-american who spent 2 years in Basel and 5 years in Australia. So the guy was fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and some German knowledge with a perfect technical match. But no French. At some point, it was a no-go from the management because of this language barrier. Eventually, he was hired but had to commit to following intensive French lessons.

I also tend to think that general IT profiles like Java, .NET, web developers jobs are given to Swiss. Showing business knowledge might help though.
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Old 19.07.2018, 08:48
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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Switzerland is definitely looking for experts and/or niche players. And I experienced very rigid requirements like knowledge of a very specific version of a software. The Swiss has a 'no risk' mentality and something 'uncommon' would sound suspicious and even blocking.
The strangest requirement I heard from the headhunter: looking for an English-speaking software developer with a Spanish accent !

Do not underestimate language requirements. I would say it is almost mandatory to know German or French if working in a Swiss company (or foreign company but mainly managed by Swiss). And if a job is looking for a Swiss-German knowledge, it means they will hire a Swiss national. Period.
I worked in a private bank in Geneva and our team was looking to hire a very specific profile in cybersecurity. We interviewed an Italian guy, married with a latin-american who spent 2 years in Basel and 5 years in Australia. So the guy was fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and some German knowledge with a perfect technical match. But no French. At some point, it was a no-go from the management because of this language barrier. Eventually, he was hired but had to commit to following intensive French lessons.

I also tend to think that general IT profiles like Java, .NET, web developers jobs are given to Swiss. Showing business knowledge might help though.
Thanks, this is what I meant by asking about the industry in the country. If others have similar thoughts, let me know.
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Old 04.08.2018, 14:10
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

In Zurich there are certainly American multinationals focused on Software Development like Google, Facebook (Oculus), IBM, Microsoft, Amazon.

I can offer my own experience as I’m currently a software engineer at one of the above who transferred here just over one year ago from the SF Bay Area. I can’t compare with London as I’ve never lived or worked there, but I can with California generally since I’ve worked in Southern California in addition to Silicon Valley.

My company’s office branch here has a very similar work culture as the headquarters over in the US, which is where I was based prior to transferring. That is to say, it’s very casual and it doesn’t feel like people work any more or less hard here vs. there. I would estimate ~40 hrs average a week in both places, but it depends on the individual. Business is conducted 100% in English across the company and engineering practices and processes are standardized such that you’d be hard pressed to really find any differences in what you’d be doing in any other office around the world. Because we work closely with the west coast of the US, late meetings are not uncommon and the office starts the workday on average a bit later than probably your average Swiss office. We are hiring and expanding aggressively here, and to my knowledge, so are the other tech multinationals.

Obviously there’s a much more limited tech scene/industry in CH than the Bay Area/Silicon Valley. And that is actually a very good thing for me. A big part of the reason I left the Bay Area is the overwhelming “tech monoculture” as its called there. The environment has really become sort of a warped bubble where anything and everything is hyper-focused on ‘hustling’ the next big tech startup unicorn and “disruption.” It’s given rise to a sort of dysfunctional political and social echo chamber while all sorts of societal ills growing out of control (overcrowding, homelessness, traffic, a city full of multimillion dollar homes but with human feces smeared all over the streets, stratospheric cost of living). I spent 25 years of my life in the Bay Area, having grown up there. My family still lives there but for now, I have no desire to go back due to the lifestyle. People complain about the cost of living in Zurich but SF is on a whole different level when you factor in real estate costs/rent.

That being said, if your goal is to be at the epicenter of tech, there’s nothing that comes close from my experience. In the Bay Area, I’d get recruiters incessantly contacting me on LinkedIn on a daily basis, begging for a 5 minute phone call to pitch their gigs. I had friends coming straight out of college securing multimillion dollar investments from VCs to launch startups. It was rare to find people with more than 2 years tenure at any given company simply because you can’t take two steps as a mildly competent engineer without having jobs and big dollar figures thrown at you.

While I’m in tech myself, I can’t live and breathe it like that. Perhaps I’m less ambitious than others but I figure I only need one job. I didn’t care too much for being at the center of it all once I found a good company/team. For example, I was happier in Southern California where there was a thriving tech scene (Silicon Beach as they call it, with big companies and startups like Snapchat) but far more diversity of cultures and professions. The lifestyle simply suit me much better there.

As a foreign national, non-German speaker, the tech scene accessible to me in Switzerland seems very small even in comparison to Southern California. Anecdotally, I still do get 2-3 LinkedIn inquiries a month, sometimes from Swiss recruiters, but more often from other global hubs like London or Hong Kong. I still do get recruiters contacting me from across the pond, but more so from NYC/Chicago FinTech firms rather than California tech companies.

Finally, compensation. At least at my company, it’s in the same ballpark range as the US. There are some differences in how retirement deductions/benefits work (e.g. you pay for your own medical insurance in CH) but they aren’t really big factors IMO. Tech compensation for engineers has really risen dramatically in the last half decade or so. As a reference, I turned 30 years old this year and started working right out of college in the summer of 2011, so I have exactly 7 years of experience at this point. I am at an average and non-remarkable level of seniority for my age/experience within the company. My total compensation was 370k-410k CHF (gross) for each of the last three years. This year I expect to come in around the high end again at 410k+ CHF.

The reason for the big numbers is due to equity compensation and appreciation, which almost certainly amounts to as much, if not more than base salary for engineers at the big tech companies. The companies often give a large initial grant that vests over the first several years, during which your total compensation will be somewhat inflated. For 2019 my compensation will likely drop to the 300k CHF range, unless I do well and get the equity refreshed to a higher amount. As someone with 1 year of experience, my guess is that you would probably start somewhere in the 160k-185k CHF range at the above mentioned companies (maybe with the exception with IBM), which is in line with what you’d be getting in the US, possibly more if you have competing offers. From what I have heard, Switzerland is probably the only place outside the US to commonly get US-level compensation for software engineers.
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Old 05.08.2018, 11:22
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

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My total compensation was 370k-410k CHF (gross) for each of the last three years. This year I expect to come in around the high end again at 410k+ CHF.
Oh, you've done it now. I can hear the collective wailing and gnashing of teeth from here.

Interestingly, I made a post earlier in the year where I said we've reached the point where even junior programmers could make 300k. People thought I was joking...
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Old 05.08.2018, 11:31
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Re: How Is The Software Engineering Industry In Switzerland?

These numbers are bullshit. No one in Zurich gets 400k with 7 years experience in either Google or any other company.


150-200k depending on your niche is more likely.


With proof: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salary/G...yRedirect=true

Last edited by Troublawesome; 05.08.2018 at 11:41.
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