Finding a Job in Switzerland With Limited German Skills

23
Share.

Being new to a country, be it for work, studies or both, is always an adventure. In Switzerland, one of the biggest adventures for a lot of foreigners is learning German. So first thing to do before looking for a job: start learning German. Believe me: You will need it. Unless you have two engineering degrees or are specialized in machine-learning, for example. The language is what helps most foreigners, in the long run, to find a decent part- or full-time job.

German might not be the most beautiful language, but it is a big plus on the job market in the German speaking part of Switzerland. (Photo credit: Jeeshots)

Till then, pretty much every job will do. Yes, you read right: Pretty much every job will do. You know why? Because no one waited for another person that speaks only English. Of course it is good to stay on track and persistent with finding your dream-job. But for anything that pays your bills on the way to the peak, don’t be picky. I have a friend that has a PHD in biochemistry and is fluent in English, French and Portuguese. She moved here because of her husband. Despite her impressive professional background, it took her over a year to find a job that fits her professional field.

Cheating a bit wont hurt anyone

She kept her head above the water with small jobs in the hotel industry which she got, amongst other things, because she followed rule number three: cheat on your CV. And no, I don’t want you to cheat like crazy on your CV and pretend that you are a genius. In the case of my friend cheating meant putting a B1 for German instead of an A2. She learned the most important vocabulary for day-to-day-conversation plus the one in catering and managed to get a good rating for her first shift, despite her having cheated on the CV.

Finding the right balance between truth and exaggeration on your CV is an art. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

On www.coople.com, the platform for “flexible workers and companies” for example, it barely happens that anyone checks whether you actually speak the language at the level you mentioned. Especially, if the shift needs to be filled at short notice. The downside to that platform is, that the confirmation of a shift often comes in very late, sometimes just a few hours before the shift starts. The shifts itself are usually just a few hours a day. If you get lucky you find a job that comes with shifts for several weeks. Especially when you are paid per hour make sure to read the fine print and know your rights. For example, when you are called in for a shift and, as soon as you have reached the place, they tell you they don’t need you after all, they still have to pay you the salary. So make it very clear that you don’t want to go home because they will try fooling you.

Same goes for what is called “Probetag” (trial day). They might tell you that is common that this one is unpaid and they are right about that (sadly). What they wont mention though is that by law they have to pay you even for a Probetag, given you are working a normal shift (no matter if it is three hours or eight – work is paid!). It is a different story though if you get to witness what a normal shift looks like (without working) then it is ok if it is unpaid. However, even now that you know that by law they would have to pay you you might have to grit your teeth and give it a try. At the end of the day, if they give you the job, it is free labor well invested. You can find a good overview on your rights in English here (ch.ch).

Networking is the magic word

Next to the places mentioned above, it makes sense to sign up with some of the temporary offices in the region. In Lucerne there are about 15, Zurich has about four times as many offices. Other websites that might help you find a job are the marketplace of Zurich University, the marketplace of Lucerne University or the marketplace of Basel University. Another one that is quite popular in Zurich is www.ronorp.ch. The page also exists for other cities, but there they are not as active.

On Facebook there are also several groups that can be helpful when job hunting. English Speaking Jobs & Opportunities in Zurich for example offers the possibility to post and look for a job but you can also just look for advice and get support on your quest. People also share their success stories over there sometimes, which can be motivating, especially if you have been looking for a job for quite some time.

Facebook groups can be very useful. The Group English Speaking Jobs & Opportunities for example offers an 80-page jobhunt guide for free. (Photo credit: Solen Feyissa)

Another thing you can do is to simply call the company and ask whether they are still looking for someone. Now, that Switzerland is relaxing its restrictions, you could even take that further and pay your future employer company a visit. Ask for the manager, smile and give her/him/them your CV and all the other documents that are required. The Swiss are very precise and pay attention to details. So it is important that your application is complete and without flaws. I once got rejected a job interview because of a spelling mistake – that should tell you how serious this is.

You can find out more about job hunting in Switzerland in my other blog posts:

Your LinkedIn Profile From the Perspective of a Recruiter

Get Your CV Ready for the Swiss Job Market

Prepare Yourself for Your Job Interview in Switzerland

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment in Switzerland

7 Tips for Your Salary Negotiation in Switzerland 

Cross-cultural Work Environment in Swiss Companies 

 

 

 

Share.

About Author

Désirée Klarer

Hello there! I am Désirée Klarer, journalist by profession and recruiter by passion. Being surrounded by people from different countries with various professional backgrounds, it has always been my pleasure to help them finding the right career path in Switzerland. May it be a job where you don't need German that simply pays your bills while you study or finding your dream-job - I am happy to help.

23 Comments

  1. Mark Mikail on

    This article is amazing and really exactly the kind of tips i needed when i first moved here. Its not that easy finding out those facebook groups or the coople app if no one introduced it to you. And obviosly you just go ask fora job and somehow all of the doors seem closed unless u speak german. I wish i found this two years ago. Instead i had to learn it the hard way. Great job. This will definatly help alot of ppl

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      Thank you very much for your feedback! Yes it is true that it is not easy to find out about those things. Even to me as a Swiss it was quite surprising that it is indeed very hard to find a decent job in Zurich without German skills. Given pretty much everyone in Zurich speaks English, I always thought it should be easy, at least in the hotel industry. But I was wrong. However, let me know if there is a topic you think one should people could be particularly interested in.

  2. Hi Desiree! Very interesting article indeed! I wish I read it when I moved to Switzerland years ago, it took me some time to discover some of the websites you are mentioning here! Looking forward to reading your next posts!

  3. Sofia Demidenko
    demidenko sofia on

    Desiree, it is a very useful topic! I cannot wait to read more. Thank you for the advice on some of the platforms, where one can find a job!

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      Hey Sofia

      Thank you very much! I hope it helps. In case there is a topic you are particularly interested in: Just let me know 🙂

  4. ben aharon nissim
    ben aharon nissim on

    Dear Desiree, many thanks for the amazing and useful advice. I couldn’t agree more that if you wish to integrate and to work in Switzerland you need to be able to communicate in the local language.
    What do you think on using uploading your CV on LinkedIn or Xing?
    I will definitely share the link with my friends and I cannot wait for your next post.

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      Dear Nissim

      Thank you very much for your feedback. I will definitely take this into consideration for another post 🙂

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      Dear Nissim,

      I just realized I never answered your question about uploading your CV on LinkedIn and Xing. I apologize for that. I would say yes, upload your CV but I for my part would cross out all the sensitive data such as the exact address, before uploading it to LinkedIn, as you never know who is downloading it and for what the info stated on it might be used. Nevertheless, it is a plus for many recruiters if they are given the possibility of downloading your CV right on the spot as, especially if you are headhunted, the first round is usually comparing CVs – before they even contact you. I hope this answers your question. If not: Let me know! Have a lovely day 🙂

      • ben aharon nissim
        ben aharon nissim on

        Thank you very much for the detailed answer, Desiree. I cannot wait for your next post.

  5. Hey Desirée,
    you are taking on such an important topic. As integration is never a one-way road, maybe you also have some tipps for employers valuing diversity on how to actually act in a diversity sensitive way.
    Cheers, Carla

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      Dear Carla,

      Yes, you are right: It is never a one-way road. Unfortunately, most companies I know of that are talking about diversity do it mainly for marketing reasons but don’t really act on it. So thank you for the idea, I will cover it in one of the following posts. 🙂

      Best,

      Désirée

  6. Yusif Takiyu-Deen on

    Hi Désirée
    Thanks for the insightful article. May I ask if this applies for students from 3rd country? If no, what are some of the options for students from such countries.

  7. bucur maria-bianca
    bucur maria-bianca on

    Oh wow, Great Article Desiree! Couldn’t think of a better idea than this one. This is very useful for everyone! Looking forward for your next article! Thank you for your tips!

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      You are most welcome Bianca. If there is a topic you would be specifically interested in just let me know 🙂

  8. Francesca Bosancic on

    As someone who recently moved to Switzerland, this article couldn’t have come at a better time! It’s so interesting and relevant to newcomers! Thank you, Désirée! 🙂

    • Désirée Klarer
      Désirée Klarer on

      You are most welcome, Nina. Im am happy that you like the post. If there is another topic you’d be interested in that is related to Jobhunting in Switzerland, let me know! Have a lovely day!

Reply To Yusif Takiyu-Deen Cancel Reply