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Old 04.06.2010, 11:15
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Starting Salary for Foreigner -- not THAT kind of thread

Hello all,

I'm still in the process of wrestling with the Behörden and have been in contact with my potential employer(s) the last few months.

I was offered a very challenging position in the medical field -- managing a holding company. At first I was very excited about the job opportunity, the idea of living in Switzerland (Kanton Zürich) and continuing my work in business development in the nuclear medicine industry.

I have read countless threads on this forum, spent hours researching - using several websites/databases in order to educate myself on the subject. Among them:




I have since become a bit jaded and feel that I have been offered, on the one hand, the closest thing to a dream job I could imagine -- BUT the pay is abysmal.

This got me thinking about other non EFTA / EU OPs on this forum and the patterns I have seen in their emails , now viewed in the context of mine:

Two (general) problems come to mind:

A.) naive foreigners (of which I seem to be one) not truly understanding the daily financial expectations a life in Switzerland (in my case Zurich) require.

B.) employers seem eager to take advantage of A.)

I have seen many threads on this forum in which university educated IT professionals from India, US, etc have, according to Swiss industry websites, been offered salaries lower than those of ETH PhD students or technical/factory workers with significantly less formal education.

I'm not sure to which degree each affects the other, but I'd wager its case-specific. In my case, I was eager to go back to Europe (I'm American) and the opportunity excited me to the point where I foolishly forgot to do the economic and demographic research. Shame on me, I suppose.

Just to put things in context: I am 29, have an MA in Economics from a top British University, have technical experience and training in the Nuclear Medicine field, 3 years related work experience in marketing and business development and am fluent in Spanish, German and Russian.

They have offered me 4,000 Swiss Francs per month with no mention of providing healthcare. Thankfully, I've not yet signed a contract but the original salary discussed now seems like a proper insult.

I am meeting with ye olde bossmen next week and will discuss this issue candidly but politely. If they are non-receptive, I think I would be best off walking away. If they really want me they will pay me more. Period.

TO ANYONE ELSE IN THIS SITUATION: If you feel you are being taken advantage of in such a way, it's best to be direct, forthcoming and honest. While it's hard to discuss salary for some, you'll be thankful in the long run if you start your professional relationship with the understanding that you are to do your job as an employee and the employer is to pay you FAIRLY for said work.

Also: do your homework. Getting on this forum and asking "is this fair?" or "how much am I worth" without even bothering to look on your own is not only a waste of other people's time, it is an insult to your own ability to establish a preliminary notion of what your salary should be (which isn't hard!!) There is more than enough info out there !

I would encourage any and all, regardless of nationality or professional background, to consider the situation in a similar fashion.

Any thoughts and/or comments would be welcomed but I mostly wanted to vent and provide a few lines of anecdotal encouragement to any other non- EU Ausländer who may find themselves in a similar situation.

"And that's all I have to say about that." - F. Gump

- WL

Last edited by wanderlust; 04.06.2010 at 12:10.
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