There are many foreigners who work in Switzerland, and many others would like to do so. Switzerland is a perfect model for a free market economy. Its economy is mainly based on the tertiary sector (70% of GDP), which is largely dominated by finance and banking and partly by tourism. The remaining 30% of GDP is in industry, some of which are among the most important in the world, such as Nestlè (food), Rolex (watches), La Roche (pharmaceuticals) and other companies (chemicals, technology, energy and biomedicine).
Switzerland is the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world after Luxembourg. This factor, together with political stability and low unemployment (rate of about 2.4%), make the country a popular destination for immigrants from all over the world.
This is evidenced not only by the high number of immigrants (almost 2 million), but also by the more than 300,000 cross-border commuters who come to work in Switzerland every day. Switzerland is a magnet for highly qualified workers from abroad.
All information on work visas/work permits can be found on the government website
Work in Switzerland, in the cantons
Switzerland is a country where 3 languages are spoken. So you must know at least the language of the canton you want to move to. You must know that in the canton of Ticino, although the official language is Italian, sometimes German and French are also required.
Knowing other languages will certainly give you an advantage when looking for a job in any canton. The competition for the job is very tough and you must also keep in mind that employers will always prefer a Swiss employee to a foreigner and will only resort to foreigners if the position cannot be filled with local employees.
Not all regions of Switzerland offer the same employment opportunities. In the Italian canton, for example, employment opportunities are lower than in the French and especially in the German canton, which is by far the best, and wages for the same work are also higher. In the French canton, Geneva and Lausanne are the cities where many companies and banking institutions are based and it is easier to find work. In the German canton, Zurich, Zug and Basel offer many job opportunities, but in general there are good job opportunities throughout the canton, while in the canton of Ticino the job market is quite poor due to the high presence of Italian residents and cross-border commuters.
For information on documents and work permits to work in Switzerland, I recommend you read the article: Moving to Switzerland
Work in Switzerland most in-demand jobs
The jobs currently most in demand in Switzerland are in the following sectors:
- banking and insurance (mainly Zurich and Geneva)
- health (nurses, doctors)
- pharmaceutical chemistry
- tourism (mainly hospitality)
- construction (bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, architects, etc.)
If you are not a skilled worker, it is not easy to get a job. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find good opportunities for unskilled and low-skilled workers.
You can read more about this in this interesting report (not new, but always up to date) about the labor market situation in Switzerland (in German).
Working in Switzerland job search
For your job search you can use:
1 Linkedin, social networks are frequently used for job searches in Switzerland
2 Twitter, the use of this social network
3 Eures, the European job website
4 Personal acquaintances, personal acquaintances are essential in Switzerland. If someone introduces or recommends you to a company, it is almost a guarantee of employment.
5 Contacting companies, when you send your self-application, always address it to the HR manager so that it does not end up in other departments and get lost.
- Kompass, you can check if a company is represented in Switzerland
- Europages, you can search companies by industry
- Yellow Pages, addresses and data of many companies in Switzerland
6 Arbeit Swiss, website of the Federal Employment Agency. In addition to job listings, the website contains advice and information.
7 Job search websites
- Stelle, official government website
- Jobtic , vacancies and information
- Jobs, in English, French and German. One of the most popular websites
- Jobup, another of the best webjob for job search
- The Local, job offers for English speakers
- Topjobs, job offers for qualified workers, (English, German and French)
- Jobmarket, (English, German)
- Jobwinner, (English, German and French)
- Jobijoba, (German)
- Jobs in Zurich, job offers in Zurigo
- Efinancialcareer, (English, German and French)
8 Recruitment agencies. It should be noted that some agencies only consider applications from people who already have a residence permit
- Luisoni, recruitment agency in Ticino
- Pointservicesa, recruitment agency in Ticino
- Interiman, recruitment agency
- Adecco, international recruitment agency
- Manpower, online recruitment agency
- Ranstad, international recruitment agency
- Asoag, Swiss recruitment agency
- ABS, Swiss recruitment agency
9 Zeitarbeit or Temporary Wrk Agencies, for those who do not have acquaintances in Switzerland and do not speak the language, temporary employment agencies could be an opportunity, hiring employees and then placing them with companies that need workers. The salary is 20% lower than the average salary, but at the beginning, if you have no other alternatives, this could be an interesting way to enter the Swiss labor market. Here are some agencies:
- Swissstaffing, with branches all over Switzerland
- Work24 , with branches all over Switzerland
- Global, (German)
- Job-contact, (in Ticino)
- 3pclc, (in Ticino)
- Team Work, (in Ticino)
10 Job Fairs
Job fairs are a great way to get an overview of the Swiss job market and search for job opportunities. There are many companies at the fairs that are in urgent need of personnel.
There are general job fairs and specific job fairs (for specific jobs). Usually you have to register online in advance and send your CV. After employers see the resumes, they decide who they want to meet. A list of some trade fairs that take place in Switzerland.
11 Internships, in Switzerland there are many multinational companies, so it is not difficult to find a company that offers internships, such as:
- Swiss Airlines, offers internships in various areas
- Credit Suisse, internships in their Swiss offices
- Roche, annual internships in different areas
Work in Switzerland, best opportunities
To those who want to move to Switzerland, I immediately say that the labor market in the Italian canton is very saturated due to the high number of cross-border workers.
The German canton is the one that offers the greatest opportunities in terms of work and salary. So it might really be worth dedicating a few months to studying German and considering a move here.
I still hear of people sending applications from abroad to the German canton without knowing the language. Switzerland is not what it was 20/30 years ago when everyone who came here, even unskilled workers, had no trouble finding work. Today Switzerland is changing, employers choose first from the internally unemployed, then from those who have a residence permit and know the language, then from those who have a residence permit and know little German and finally from the others.
So you understand that it’s impossible to hire someone who is still abroad, does not have a residence permit, and does not know the language. I have known a few people who found jobs online from abroad, but they were highly skilled workers.
I maintain that it is much easier to find work if you are in Switzerland, but you do not have to move until you have mastered the language to at least A2 level. I am not saying it’s impossible. I have met people who did not know German and worked in restaurants or in a cleaning company, but it will be a very hard challenge.
For recognition of qualifications in Switzerland, you can contact SERI, (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation).
In addition to improving your language skills, volunteer service offers you the opportunity to make contacts that could be useful when looking for a job in Switzerland. For those who are interested in volunteering I recommend Swiss Volunteers
Working in Switzerland, useful resources
- Seco, (State Secretariat of the Swiss Economy) you will find information about working conditions, employment contracts, rights and obligations of the employee, etc.
- SDBB, contains all the addresses of the vocational training offices and the regional employment offices.
- The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions has created the Salarium, a useful tool for calculating salaries in different regions of Switzerland
- Working in Switzerland, information brochure
Winter jobs in the Swiss Alps
Tourism is an important source of jobs in most countries. In Switzerland, with its 10 million visitors per year, tourism also plays an important role in the Swiss economy and offers numerous employment opportunities. About one in twelve people in employment work directly or indirectly in tourism, especially in the Alpine regions, where the percentage of people employed in this sector is higher than in urban areas.
Most jobs in tourism in Switzerland are seasonal, especially in winter in the Swiss Alps, in hotels, restaurants: waiters, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, housekeeping, entertainers, receptionists, beauticians, hairdressers, lifeguards, electricians, IT technicians, ski instructors, etc. Local transport offers employment opportunities for drivers, technicians, mechanics, maintenance personnel, etc.
All information about the tourism sector can be found in this Tourism Report, (in English). Not new but always up to date.
As I have had occasion to write, Switzerland offers good job opportunities, but it is no longer the Switzerland of years past. Today, competition has intensified, employers choose first among the Swiss unemployed and those who already have a residence permit. In order to choose you, the employer must be forced to do so, you must offer him something that those who are already in Switzerland cannot offer him. In addition to your skills, it is important that you know German and if you know other languages, all the better. Otherwise, it will be very difficult.
It used to be much easier to find jobs in the hospitality industry where accommodation was included. Today, few employers offer accommodation and if they do, the cost of it is deducted from your salary.
Working in Switzerland in tourism
You have several options when looking for a job in tourism:
1 Submit your resume in person
2 Place job ads in local newspapers
3 Use a recruitment agency
4 Hospitality job search websites:
- Hoteljob, hospitality jobs
- Jobs Hotel, catering and hospitality jobs (German)
- Hotelcareer, catering and hospitality jobs (German)
- Agenturmessner, catering jobs
- Gastrosuisse, Swiss hotels and restaurants federation
- Gastro-s, catering and hospitality jobs
- Gastro Kaufen, catering jobs
- Search group, catering jobs
- Hotelis, hospitality jobs
- Grindelwald, you can send your applications to work in the Jungfrau region
- Gastro net, recruitment agency in Zurich
- Adecco, hospitality jobs
- Lindt, vacancies at the Lindt chocolate company
- Swiss Hotel, list of hotels in Switzerland
- Swiss Youth Hostel, list of youth hostels in Switzerland
5 cruise ship job search websites:
- River Advice, a company headquartered in Basel that specializes in river cruises and employs more than 2,000 people
- Sea Chef, a company headquartered in Switzerland. It is one of the leading providers of cruise services around the world. It handles restaurant and crew management for both ocean-going vessels and river cruise ships
- G&P Group, company based in Basel, provider of cruise services all over the world
6 websites for job search in amusement parks
- Alpamare, amusement park in Pfaeffikon, about 30 km from Zurich
- Aquaparc, amusement park in Le Bouveret, Port-Valais, on Lake Leman in French-speaking Switzerland
- ConnyLand, amusement park in Lipperswil, near the Swiss shore of Lake Constance
7 Useful websites for job search in tourism in Switzerland
- Stv-FST, website of the Swiss Tourism Federation, useful information and link
- Gastrosuisse, Swiss Hotel and Restaurant Association
- Hotelleriesuisse, Swiss Hotel Association
Work in Switzerland wages and cost of living
Switzerland is a nation famous for its cheese, chocolate, mountains, banks and, of course, wages. It is well known that wages in Switzerland are higher than in the rest of Europe, the average wage is even one of the highest in the world.
However, the cost of living is also a factor to consider if you decide to move to Switzerland and negotiate your salary. The Swiss themselves call their country an “expensive island.” In fact, Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest cost of living in the world.
Work in Switzerland, conclusion
In summary, the first obstacle to overcome in order to access the labor market in the best area of Switzerland is languages. A good knowledge of French and especially German is essential in most cases to work in Switzerland and compete with native speakers. German and French cross-border workers seeking higher salaries.
If you are looking for a job in multinational companies, international organizations, in research or on IT, English may be sufficient for you; in all other cases, arm yourself with patience and learn German. Try to understand the market before sending out “random” resumes. You will certainly receive a response, but in 99% of cases it will be negative.
The only way to work without experience and language skills is to work for a lower salary. The employer can only be satisfied with a motivated employee who costs less. In the beginning, you will have to settle for a lower salary and less favorable contract conditions to gain a foothold in the Swiss labor market.
This way you will have the opportunity to learn the local language and if you are a good worker, you will have the chance to make a career. Because in Switzerland there is a rule dictated by a single word: Meritocracy.