Whenever I ask people what their biggest challenge is in finding a job in Switzerland, the top answer is almost always consistent.
Many people think that their lack of German or French means a dead-end for their job search in Switzerland. I think people mainly believe so for three reasons, which are:
1. They don’t do enough in-depth research
2. They don’t have the local market knowledge in Switzerland
3. They simply apply for jobs on job boards
If this sounds like you, I can understand that you don’t see hope in your job search in Switzerland without German or French.
In this blog post I am going to talk about 6 types of companies that actually rather hire you for your native than for your German or French language skills. How awesome is that?
Note: If you are looking for an extensive list of Technology Companies in Switzerland, check out the 160+ Technology Companies in Switzerland That Hire English Speakers.
My Discussion With a Reader From Sweden
Last week I had a chat with one of my readers from Sweden as he told me he received the feedback from almost all companies and people he talked to that he needs to speak German to find a job in Sales & Business Development in Zurich.
I told him that’s nonsense. I know plenty of people working in this area in Switzerland who don’t speak a word of German, some of these people are close friends, others are clients or readers of my blog.
He admitted that he mainly applied for jobs through the official channels and that he did not do enough in-depth research. So we figured out the reason why he did not get a job in Switzerland by now in an instant.
If you don’t do enough research and if all you do is sending in your CV, I can almost guarantee you won’t get a job in Switzerland without German or French language skills. If you do, that’s called a lucky punch.
So What Do I Do Then?
It’s still astonishing to me how many English speakers think they will get a job in Switzerland simply by sending in their CV and waiting for something to happen.
It’s almost never going to happen this way, except if you are one of the lucky 0.5% (calculated as a modest average of 200 CVs sent for an English speaking position at a large company in Switzerland). Is a chance of 0.5% enough for you to wait for something to happen? I hope not.
Finding a job in Switzerland as an English speaker comes down to three things:
1. Setting your foundation in terms of communication and goals
2. Doing in-depth research on where the highest likelihood occurs for you to get hired (Major part of this blog post)
3. Talking to people and building meaningful and genuine relationships
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The Companies That See Your Native Language Skills as a Benefit
Now, as we figured out what you need to do, let’s see who these companies in Switzerland are to give you some starting points for your research.
If you do proper research on those types of companies and do the hard work of connecting with individuals at these organizations, you will be astonished by the sheer amount of untapped opportunities you discover.
1. Companies in Switzerland That Sell in Your Native Language Region
I say native language region because if you are speaking Spanish as a native language, there are plenty of more opportunities than just the companies that do business in Spain. The same thing goes for French.
These companies have clients in your native language region. An example is UBS who also does business in Mexico. One of my friends is working in this department in Switzerland and almost exclusively works with Mexican clients.
If you are in a customer facing role or customer support role, the benefits of speaking the language of this company’s clients and sales representatives fluently is huge. Your value to that company immediately breaks through the ceiling if you specifically target that department.
An example of a Swiss company doing business outside of Switzerland is Magnolia.
One of my friends just started working there in business development and is leading the expansion plans to outside of Europe. Magnolia is a fairly small company but with a huge growth rate over the past years and it continues to successfully grow and expand their operations and therefore is hiring for passionate leaders who can make change happen.
My friend who is working there can hardly order a beer in German.
They hired him because he built a real relationship with one of the executives over time and when they needed somebody to take their business to the next level, they hired him without even looking at his CV because they knew how exceptional he is based on the informal interviews over lunch, dinner and coffee he had with the executive.
He showed his abilities to communicate passionately, keep in touch, lead the process, show up at the right times and build a strong relationship, which are all attitudes and abilities everyone in a leading business development role must have today.
He had no competition during the hiring process because he showed them that he is their best choice and not because he merely talked about it in an interview.
2. Companies From Your Native Language Region That Are Headquartered in Switzerland
Because of the wonderful tax system for companies in Switzerland and other factors, plenty of companies from all over the world are headquartered in Switzerland. Some examples include Ebay, Infinity, Kraft and Glencore.
At many of those companies you don’t need to speak German or French and your native language can be of great value.
It’s been said that you only truly understand a culture if you speak the language. So if you understand the language and therefore the culture of this company and have to collaborate with others from the same cultural background, you have a much higher chance for acceptance and to lead others at the company.
One of my coaching clients from Russia is a great success example for this type of company. He is now working at a technology startup with 70 people that is headquartered in Switzerland and does almost all of their business in Africa. The headquarter in Switzerland consists of 6 people including him.
He got a job as a board member and executive in business development through the hidden job market because he talked to people and built strong relationships. He got referred to people inside and outside of his network countless times because he did the hard work of connecting and asking questions and over time, the doors to the career opportunities started to open.
3. Companies in Switzerland Expanding to Your Native Language Region
This type of company is also a huge opportunity for you if you are a native language speaker of the country they want to expand to. The market for such companies is huge in Switzerland.
An example in this case is another one of my coaching clients from the Ukraine. When we brainstormed about which companies would have the highest likelihood to see his experience in the Ukraine and his native language skills as benefits over his lack of German or French, we found an interesting organization.
The joint chambers of commerce recently hosted an event for small to medium sized companies in Switzerland that are expanding to Russia and the Ukraine.
Who do you think is attending such an event?
This is the place you meet major decision makers who are leading these expansions and will need passionate leaders to support them soon.
4. Companies That Import or Export From or to Your Native Language Region
Did you know that Switzerland is among the top 20 largest import and export countries in the world? I think that’s huge.
Think about the opportunities that you can find in those businesses if you can come in as a native language speaker of the places they import from or export to.
Recently somebody asked me if there are opportunities in Switzerland for somebody coming from import and export management in Europe. I hope this part of this blog post clarifies my answer once again.
5. Companies in Switzerland That Are Outsourcing to Your Native Language Region
I attended an outsourcing convention in Switzerland a while ago where I met technology companies. I was amazed how many of them outsource parts of their business to places like China, India, Vietnam or Eastern Europe.
There are a large amount of opportunities as companies try to cut costs wherever they can today. Speaking the native language of those regions is a huge benefit if you do anything that is related to this business.
6. Companies From Your Native Language Region That Have a Subsidiary in Switzerland
That’s another type of company many people overlook.
One example is Cemex, one of the largest cement companies in the world. They have their so-called “Center of Excellence” based in Switzerland where they employ people from over 20 different nationalities including a large part of Mexicans, as Cemex is a Mexican company.
As you can see there is no lack of opportunities, just a lack of market knowledge (one of the reasons why you may want to work with me) or a lack of doing in-depth research. If you decide to do the hard work you will always find opportunities.
Of course it’s hard to find these companies and of course it’s hard to find the opportunities there. If it would be easy, everybody would do it and there would be no value and it would not be called the hidden job market.
To make your life a bit easier, why don’t you join the Career Network Switzerland on LinkedIn and start building some great new relationships with people there. It’s one of the most active and thriving communities with amazing people I have found by now in Switzerland.