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  #61  
Old 07.11.2008, 23:59
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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You seem to imply that an Arbeitszeugnis is a desirable thing to have. But unless it is very positive it is more of a hindrance than a blessing.
If you have worked for a company for a significant amount of time (meaning: you mention it on the curriculum) and don't provide a potential employer wouldn't he suspect that you are either lying about your role or hiding an unfavourable reference?

Can a Human Ressources person clarify this please? Also I suspect there may be differences depending on the position that has to be filled.
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  #62  
Old 08.11.2008, 00:08
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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If you have worked for a company for a significant amount of time (meaning: you mention it on the curriculum) and don't provide a potential employer wouldn't he suspect that you are either lying about your role or hiding an unfavourable reference?

Can a Human Ressources person clarify this please? Also I suspect there may be differences depending on the position that has to be filled.
There are also huge differences with regards to WHERE the company is.

The importance of the "Zeugnis" is only emphasized in the Swiss and German labor markets. Other European countries and the U.S. do not allow such direct testimonies, instead they rely on the resume, personal references and other sources of information.

It was quite funny when my Swiss employer was hiring me and kept asking me for a Zeugnis from my prior U.S. employer ... took them a while to understand there is no such thing. Just like the Zurich Migrationsamt (migration office) that kept asking for a family book ... no such thing in my family.

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  #63  
Old 08.11.2008, 09:14
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

For important jobs (e.g. managerial, finance, etc.) potential employers would phone the cited referees and the previous employer/supervisor. Advantage is an unfiltered, plain language and immediate response.

For less important jobs, the above process is too much effort. Then it is easier for HR to screen solely based on standardized testimonials.

As we move into a recession, testimonials become more important. HR will not shortlist applicants without testimonials.
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  #64  
Old 08.11.2008, 18:31
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

"ZwischenZeugnis" (intermediate testimonial) is sometimes very useful. You may be transferred, or your boss is transferred or massive reorganization occurs. Subsequently, no one remembers the fantastic work you did and your achievements are not reflected in your exit testimonial. So you should ask for a ZZ when you anticipate changes.

Sometimes the employer wonders whether you are planning to leave when you ask for a ZZ. You can smile enigmatically ...
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  #65  
Old 08.10.2009, 10:56
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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There are also huge differences with regards to WHERE the company is.

The importance of the "Zeugnis" is only emphasized in the Swiss and German labor markets. Other European countries and the U.S. do not allow such direct testimonies, instead they rely on the resume, personal references and other sources of information.

It was quite funny when my Swiss employer was hiring me and kept asking me for a Zeugnis from my prior U.S. employer ... took them a while to understand there is no such thing. Just like the Zurich Migrationsamt (migration office) that kept asking for a family book ... no such thing in my family.

Very interesting thread - I am always amazed at how traditional and 'fixed' things like the job application process are in Switzerland, compared to many other countries (e.g. UK).

Just yesterday, I submitted an application for a Zurich-based job at a multi-national company. I had a reply from the HR contact quite quickly, asking me if I could send my Arbeitszeugnisse (work references). I wrote back to say that, as all my previous work experience has been in the UK, I do not have any Arbeitszeugnisse to provide (as only direct references are given to the hiring company in the UK). However, I gave the hiring HR contact the details of my two referees (previous manager and previous senior colleague) in the UK. I really don't know if this will be sufficient (I'm waiting to hear back) but I'm worried that my application won't even get past the first stage without these 'readymade' references...

This is the first job I have seen in a long time that it so suited to my skills and experience and is within commuting distance, so I really hope that the HR contact shows some flexibility and doesn't dismiss my application straight away.

Has anyone else been in this situation and successfully got the job (or at least far into the process) without providing Zeugnisse at the intial stage? Sounds like tomcat did... It would be reassuring to know that there might still be a glimmer of hope for me...
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  #66  
Old 08.10.2009, 11:19
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Very interesting thread - I am always amazed at how traditional and 'fixed' things like the job application process are in Switzerland, compared to many other countries (e.g. UK).

Just yesterday, I submitted an application for a Zurich-based job at a multi-national company. I had a reply from the HR contact quite quickly, asking me if I could send my Arbeitszeugnisse (work references). I wrote back to say that, as all my previous work experience has been in the UK, I do not have any Arbeitszeugnisse to provide (as only direct references are given to the hiring company in the UK). However, I gave the hiring HR contact the details of my two referees (previous manager and previous senior colleague) in the UK. I really don't know if this will be sufficient (I'm waiting to hear back) but I'm worried that my application won't even get past the first stage without these 'readymade' references...

This is the first job I have seen in a long time that it so suited to my skills and experience and is within commuting distance, so I really hope that the HR contact shows some flexibility and doesn't dismiss my application straight away.

Has anyone else been in this situation and successfully got the job (or at least far into the process) without providing Zeugnisse at the intial stage? Sounds like tomcat did... It would be reassuring to know that there might still be a glimmer of hope for me...
Hi London Di,
If the employer deals with a lot of foreigners, they are likely to be flexible. I didn't even know what a Zeugnis was until someone asked
for one.

If they are a smaller Swiss company, they are less likely to understand
your situation.

Can you get a "Zwischenzeugnis" from your current employer?
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  #67  
Old 08.10.2009, 11:36
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Thanks HollidayG,

Good news - I have just had a reply from the HR contact. They seem to understand my situation (they are a multi-national company) and have thanked me for the details I supplied and said they will not contact my referees until the final stage. So I still seem to be in the running...

Thanks for the suggestion of getting a Zwischenzeugnis - I can see that that would be helpful. However, I am currently unemployed and the only work I have done in Switzerland was remote work from my home office for a company based in the UK.

My fingers are well and truly crossed!
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  #68  
Old 17.10.2009, 08:04
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

HI those knowledgeable in the arcane arts or reference letters.

I have read all I could on this topic here and, basically I am much more confused now

I have been most of my career in the same company, moving from another country to Switzerland. Basically I am leaving Switzerland for good back to my home country on my own will and need a reference letter for my stint here. I am of a relatively middle/senior post. Just 1.5 levels below Managing Director ( of the business unit) and work in the financial line.

My boss has asked me to write my own reference letter. This is important for me, because I am moving to a new country with new "political zones". I wish to know all the points that have to be covered in an excellent reference letter. i think it should be excellent, because I started out as a trainee in this company and am now promoted to co-head a business unit from Feb 2010.

HR cannot help me as no one knows of my move yet, and are not allowed to know. I sincerely hope someone could hellp me here. Thanks!!!
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  #69  
Old 17.10.2009, 09:05
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

The second post in this thread (now quoted below) outlines the exact structure of a reference letter.

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Okay here is the first part of an epic.

The Structure of a Zeugnis.

At the start ie the first paragraph is not dangerous and always the same. It is Persönliche Angaben. This says

Mr Smith of *Country of origin or if Swiss heimatsort(town of origin)* has worked in our company since Jan 1st 2000 (optionally if you have not changed roles) as a chief bottle washer or whatever the job is.

Easy hey.

The second part of the Zeugnis relates to the role and the tasks associated with it. Here depending on the company policy they may make comments to your performance. But they should not it should be a role description.

In this role Mr Smith was responsible for:
  • Organising the collection of bottles
  • Ensuriong the bottles were cleaned according to company policy
  • Ensured that they were placed in the correct containers
  • Organised pick up of the bottles
  • Ordered new bottles
  • Placed the bottles on the shelf ready to be picked up by users.
A good Zeugnis should look like this.

The third section relates to how you performed the role along the lines of.

Mr. Smith performed the job with interest and to our (full - good) (fullest - best) satisfaction. He was able to correctly differentiate the different types of bottles and place them in the correct containers. etc.

The next part relates to your personal behaviour. ie His behaviour towards his fellow workers was always correct. To his managers he was usually understanding.

The final part of the Zeugnis relates to the relationship between the company and the person. This means something like this:

Mr Smith requested this reference due to a change of management. He is currently working in a continuing contract with us and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his efforts over the past five years. We wish much success in his career and personal liife.

Signed ...

So that is the end of the structure of a Zeugnis. In the next part we will look at each section with German words and I will translate these and point out what to watch for, what is good and of course what you don't want to see
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  #70  
Old 07.07.2015, 16:37
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Hi Richard,

A friend got these words from an employer. Please could you tell what they mean.

Thanks/
Taniya
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  #71  
Old 07.07.2015, 17:04
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Hi Richard,

A friend got these words from an employer. Please could you tell what they mean.

Thanks/
Taniya
I'm not a "Swiss insider" but rather an English speaking manager who's read a load of these - on the whole it looks fine, it uses "complete satisfaction" rather then just "satisfaction" and so on.

The only bit that stood out as a bit "meh" was the "thank her for her cooperation" - I'd try and get that amended to "excellent work", "dedication" or something. Cooperation sounds a bit like "reliably worked the hours".
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  #72  
Old 07.07.2015, 17:59
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Cooperation sounds a bit like "reliably worked the hours".
Sounds to me like a naïve translation of zusammenarbeit, I don't think it's intended negatively.

By the way- as a Swiss person involved in hiring at my employer - I have never read one of those things and consequently never based a hiring decision on them. And nobody even forwards them to me.

I guess HR uses them to check that candidates really did work for the last few employers, but certainly it's not a big factor in any actual decision making. The CV is far, far more important in my experience. The covering letter may also get attention.
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  #73  
Old 07.07.2015, 19:07
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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Sounds to me like a naïve translation of zusammenarbeit, I don't think it's intended negatively.

By the way- as a Swiss person involved in hiring at my employer - I have never read one of those things and consequently never based a hiring decision on them. And nobody even forwards them to me.

I guess HR uses them to check that candidates really did work for the last few employers, but certainly it's not a big factor in any actual decision making. The CV is far, far more important in my experience. The covering letter may also get attention.
The Arbeitszeugnis plays a crucial role in the run for a job.
http://www.beobachter.ch/arbeit-bild...rem-joberfolg/
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  #74  
Old 07.07.2015, 19:19
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

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I'm not a "Swiss insider" but rather an English speaking manager who's read a load of these - on the whole it looks fine, it uses "complete satisfaction" rather then just "satisfaction" and so on.

The only bit that stood out as a bit "meh" was the "thank her for her cooperation" - I'd try and get that amended to "excellent work", "dedication" or something. Cooperation sounds a bit like "reliably worked the hours".
In Switzerland usually the Zeugnis finishes off with the reason why the person is leaving and a 'thank you' for the time she/he worked with the company:

Baustein "Austrittsgrund":
- Er verlässt unser Unternehmen auf eigenen Wunsch, um sich selbständig zu machen. Wir bedauern seinen Austritt ausserordentlich.
- Er verlässt unser Unternehmen im gegenseitigen Einverständnis. Wir wünschen ihm für die Zukunft alles Gute.

Schlusssatz:
- Wir danken ihm für die gute Zusammenarbeit in unserem Unternehmen und wünschen ihm für die Zukunft viel Erfolg.
- Wir danken ihm für die ausserordentlich gute Zusammenarbeit und wünschen ihm für seine Zukunft in der Selbständigkeit alles Gute.
source: http://www.advocat.ch/fileadmin/user...zeugnissen.pdf
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  #75  
Old 07.07.2015, 20:56
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Being mentioned as popular is, to my knowledge, never a good thing.
Do try and find someone who really can interpret this, as honestly, despite the nice words, I think there are some wordings that could be interpreted differently. Was this written by a German/French speaker and then translated?

The last sentence is very good though!
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  #76  
Old 10.03.2016, 05:57
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

Dear all,
I have looked through your Q&A's and I didn't find my particular question...

So here goes If I am currently employed (first job in Switzerland 1yr +) and require a zuegnis (or a schwissen zeugnis?) for an education course that I wish to apply for can I request one from my employer or will they get suspicious?

The course starts in 5 months time and if accepted to my course than I would give notice to my current boss the required 3 months ahead of time.

It is not a given that I will get the course placement so I need to be a little discreet about this but not sneaky. I am an honest person but obviously if I ask for the Zeugnis than they will think something is up. so A friend suggested that I tell my boss that it is for some Gemeinde paperwork but does that story Float? Any suggestions.

I feel like Julia Roberts in "sleeping with the enemy" Yes my boss is that scary!

(post written by another person then the one usually using this account - with her permission of course :-)

Last edited by galago; 10.03.2016 at 06:34. Reason: different person then usual wrote this post
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  #77  
Old 10.03.2016, 07:03
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

You have a right at anytime to request a Zwischenzeugnis. Since you
have been there for 5 years, it is not that unusual, or you could just


tell him why you are requesting a Reference, education purposes.






Hope this helps!
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  #78  
Old 10.03.2016, 10:45
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

I thought I'd make a contribution to this thread on the subject of the Zwischenzeugnis.

What's the difference between a Zeugnis and Zwischenzeugnis? Well the latter is for when you're still in the company and the latter is your final reference for when you've left. In practical terms, a Zwischenzeugnis is exactly the same as a final Zeugnis, except it's in the present tense, lacks an end date to your employment at the start and at the end lacks a reason for you leaving and the subsequent best wishes for the future.

How is a Zwischenzeugnis useful? There's only one point where I've found one useful, as I've never been asked for one if going for another job (although you could be) and that is during your notice period.

If you need to carry out a knowledge transfer before leaving, getting a Zwischenzeugnis early on in your notice period will effectively fix your final Zeugnis (your reference can't really realistically change that much, if at all, over three months, after all). This means that if your soon to be ex employer really needs your good will in those last few months, they'll be incentiveised to give you a good Zwischenzeugnis, which will translate to a good final Zeugnis (unless you decide to stop making any effort at work).

Otherwise - without a Zwischenzeugnis - you'll simply get a final Zeugnis after you've left and negotiating all those nice pretty code phrases becomes a lot more difficult as you've nothing to leverage off.
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  #79  
Old 10.03.2016, 10:50
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

In other words:

Zwischenzeugnis is Interim Reference Letter
Zeugniss is Final Reference Letter or Leaving Reference Letter

For instance, I requested the first one during employment. In the end, I had both of them whereas the latter one also quoted the former one in the text, because I used to work in three different departments before leaving.
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Old 10.03.2016, 13:13
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Re: Zeugnis [reference letter] - Q&A thread

A Zwischenzeugnis is also useful if you have a change of bosses or departments. If your next Boss/department tries to give you a worse
Zeugnis, you can use the Zwischenzeugnis to negotiate with HR.


If your Zwischenzeugnis is not so stellar, you know your Position
with your Boss and may want to Change departments.
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