The major part of my coaching clients are executives and experts from anywhere in Europe who are looking for a job in Switzerland but don’t speak either French or German. This makes the job search not easy in Switzerland because it’s very hard to find a central source of jobs as well as lists of companies who hire English speakers. This blog post will show you some unconventional approaches because this is what you need if you are looking for a job in Switzerland without local language skills.
1. Call/Email before you apply
Because it’s difficult to find job openings for English speakers, you might tend to apply for positions that mention German or French as language skills or are even written in German or French. Before you do that, make sure you do some research on the companies, i.e. call HR or the hiring manager and ask them a few questions. In case you can’t reach the responsible person, send an email. Don’t send an email before you did not call at least 3 times.
Here is an example:
I found your job advert on your company’s website and saw that it mentions German as a language skill. I have been working in this exact environment for the past 3 years and also have industry experience.
[Company name] fascinates me because…… I read in [magazine] that your department [department name] received the award of excellence in 2012, this is a very big achievement.
I was wondering if German is an absolute must criteria or if it would be possible for me as an English and [native language] speaker to work in that position as well. I would be very interested to learn more about [company name] because…..”
And then you wait and see what the person says. By using this approach when you call, you talk about them first instead of just rushing through the door with your head and asking if they want to hire you. Keep this approach in mind and always make it as personal as possible.
If you have the contact of the hiring manager, you can even do more preparation work. Try to find out something about them as a person instead of the company. You can use LinkedIn, Google, Facebook or other tools to do that.
2. Find companies who are expanding to Switzerland
These companies are perfect for you, especially if they expand from a non-German speaking country. You can find them through several sources.
Set up Google Alerts for keywords like “expanding Switzerland”, “expansion Switzerland”, “new office Switzerland” or “new Switzerland”. There are many other variations you can use. You can also include the name of companies you want to follow and get updates about them.
Industry news are the perfect source for this information. You can either buy the printed magazines or subscribe to the newsletters online. I have found some excellent information about the IT industry on netzwoche.ch. You can also use Google Chrome to translate the website into English if the source is not available in English.
Listen to what your network is talking about. The offline way would of course be asking the people you meet or talk to if they know something about expansion plans of companies to Switzerland. The online way is to screen i.e. LinkedIn for this information. LinkedIn Today offers great resources and whenever I find some information about management changes or expansion plans to Switzerland or Europe, I post them into the Career Network Switzerland group in LinkedIn.
3. Join the Career Network Switzerland and other groups on LinkedIn
I created the Career Network Switzerland for English-speaking job seekers in Switzerland as a platform to share information and make connections. It’s an excellent place to network and find valuable information and the group is very active with over 1200 members today. You can also find many interesting job openings for English speakers in the jobs section of the group.
When you join the group, make sure you become an active member. Comment on other people’s posts, like them if they help you and share valuable information yourself. When you find information about companies expanding, management changes, reorganizations or any other changes in Switzerland, please share it with the group. Everybody will benefit from that information and you will be seen as an authority within the community.
Joining the group and doing nothing is like standing at the bar to pick up girls or waiting until somebody finds your perfectly optimized LinkedIn profile. It’s not a very effective way to move forward so be pro-active!
4. See your language skills as an opportunity
This has to do with your mindset but can have a massive impact. Stop thinking about your lack of German or French and instead think about your asset of your native language. Think about how your language skills could benefit the company you are targeting. Do they have clients in your home country or in a location that speaks your native language? Do a LinkedIn search to see if many people with your language skills work at this company.
Also, when you see your language skills as an asset, you will talk to people with more self-esteem and enthusiasm. It will also lead you into a clearer direction and towards companies that value your language skills instead of demoting them.
5. Expat events
Check what events with expats involved are happening in your community or town. Get in touch with other English speakers at these events and ask them where they work. Also ask them what other companies they know of who hire English speakers. This will give you a better idea about the market and which companies could be interesting for you.
You don’t necessarily have to go to meet ups. You can also meet expats in the gym, while going out, through friends or other ways. Make sure you always keep in mind that you want to gather information about the market wherever you go and you will find out a lot of valuable information.
Now it’s time for you to take action. Knowing about these strategies and actually doing something are two completely different chapters. Your quest for today: Pick one strategy from the above that suits your needs the best and execute on it!