WORKING ABROAD / DEC. 31, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Find a Job in Switzerland

Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the most stable economies in the world, and it is hardly surprising that it featured as the third happiest country in the United Nation 2013 World Happiness Report. Although finding a job as a foreigner in Switzerland is not easy, those who do find one, enjoy high salaries and excellent benefits. Here some steps to help you find work in one of the cheeriest countries in the world:

Demonstrating the right qualifications

Given that the Swiss economy is primarily driven by high-tech, engineering and manufacturing industries, employers place a lot of emphasis on educational qualifications. To find a job here, your qualifications need to match Swiss educational standards. High-skilled professionals are usually regulated. For these jobs, you are required to apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) who will issue you with a recognition certificate if your qualifications match Swiss educational standards. It takes up to four months for SERI to process your application. Some professions are unregulated such as catering and tourism, and you do not require a qualification certificate to work in these jobs.

The largest employers in Switzerland

Foreign workers within and outside of the European Union typically find employment in Switzerland through recommendation or sponsorship by a foreign company that has offices in Switzerland. The biggest employers for both citizens and non-citizens are manufacturing companies, engineering firms, high-tech companies, and financial investment firms. Several international organizations have a presence in the country and may bring employees to Switzerland. Unlike in other European countries where labor in areas such as care, hospitality, retail or farming are in demand, the availability of such jobs for foreigners is limited in Switzerland.

Obtaining a Swiss visa and work permit

European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) residents do not require a visa to enter Switzerland. However, they are required to obtain a residence and work permit if you are planning to stay and work in Switzerland for more than three months. The process of obtaining a visa and work permit is more stringent for non-EU and non-EFTA residents. You must secure employment first after which your employer will apply to the local government (also known as a canton) requesting them to issue you with a work permit. The local government will forward your application to the Federal Office for Immigration who will assess whether to offer you a work permit based on your educational qualifications and professional experience, and the availability of EU or EFTA residents who can perform the same job. If you receive your work permit, the Swiss consulate in your country will issue you a visa to travel to Switzerland.

Starting your job search

You must secure a job outside from of Switzerland before you can be granted a work permit and a visa. One of the best ways to work in the country is by applying for a job in a company in your country that has offices in Switzerland and is willing to sponsor you to work there. Alternatively, you can look for jobs on online portals, newspapers, and Chambers Of Commerce. The International service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) offers a comprehensive list of platforms that feature available jobs in your area of specialization.

The job market in Switzerland is small. Most citizens are employed, but non-citizens account for the larger percentage of the 3% unemployment rate in the country. Before you even start to look for a job in Switzerland, it is worthwhile realizing that employment opportunities are largely available only for highly-skilled workers with advanced education and professional experience. Entry-level and low-skilled jobs for foreigners are scarce.

 

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