In my recent discussions with people ranging from technical experts to executives, I realized that many people only consider working for the big names. Some don’t even put in the effort to find other companies than the ones similar to UBS and the Novartis in terms of size in Switzerland. But there is a whole other world of opportunities out there that almost nobody taps into, the startup and SME world.
Companies to exclude
There are companies you should absolutely include in your search efforts and others you should exclude. Companies who only hire locals and even crave for somebody with “Swiss German” language knowledge are absolutely not for you. You should let them search for their five legged dogs. If they can’t find that perfect golden candidate in 6 or 12 months, they might lower their expectations. Before that happens, let them be.
As I mentioned in my article 122 Companies That Hire English Speakers in Switzerland, there are many corporations that consider candidates who only speak English. These are great opportunities of course. But consider that there is a limit to large fortune 1000 companies, approximately a limit of 1000 and in Switzerland it is even more limited because most companies, in fact 99.7%, are NOT large corporations but “Small to Medium sized Enterprises” (SMEs). Approximately 67% of all employees in Switzerland work for SMEs and not large corporations according to an article in NZZ from 2008.
Startups and SMEs offer a huge potential
As you might just have realized, almost all companies in Switzerland are SMEs or startups. This provides an enormous opportunity for several reasons.
My definition of a startup in the internet age that we live in today and that is interesting for you is a fast growing, largely funded company with a highly motivated crowd of founders and investors to move the business forward as fast and effective as possbile for a long-term success. These companies have the potential of becoming the next Google or Amazon and you want to be part of them.
By the way, did you already join the Career Network Switzerland group on LinkedIn and connect with me directly? If not, make sure you do to get the most out of your relationship building efforts.
These companies have an urge to make fast but thought through decisions and are not able to wait for the perfect golden, five legged dog to come along eventually. They are under huge pressure and need to move fast.
When you work for a large and rigid organization, there is not much possibility or flexibility to work remotely. But what if you live in Spain and want to work for a company based in the UK but are not interested in relocating? Or what if you are an Executive living in Switzerland and have an offer from an international company in Germany but want to stay in Switzerland?
I think many new-age companies see this as an opportunity to cut travel costs and give their employees much more freedom and flexibility.
Especially startups are sometimes very flexible in terms of location. You might not be able to work 100% remotely but think about how much more freedom you would get if you could work 2-3 days from home or another office in your geographical location.
Making a difference
I don’t know about you but sometimes, large corporations are not the most fun to work at. There are exceptions of course but many that I know are not able or willing to let their employees make a big difference or have an impact.
This is different in many startups or SMEs. If you are responsible as the Product and Business Development Manager for a startup, your impact is significant and the company’s growth is much dependent on you. For some people this can be a burden but I believe for you this is an opportunity to show everybody including yourself what you are capable of.
If you start out as a developer in a small company that is growing fast, you have significant promotion opportunities in front of you if you put your heart and soul into your work. Also changes into other departments in areas are much easier than in large corporations where all the policies and standards must be met.
With a fast growing startup, you can ride the wave of promotion along the way and you do not have to wait until a seat above you is becoming free.
Which startups to choose?
Basically the most important companies for you are international startups that operate from Switzerland and SMEs expanding into Switzerland. I will give you two examples of startups I know.
One of my good friends is working at Cargo Media. From what I hear from him, they offer a great and flexible work environment and fantastic opportunities. The work is very challenging and a lot of fun every day. They are a young crowd with a massive growth potential. This is a company you want to work for.
I first read about Talentory in August of 2011 when they received a seven-figure funding.
The growth of the company has been astonishing and based on the fundings, it seems somebody out there believes in this company very much. This is a company you want to get involved with early.
In Switzerland, you will find many startup communities. I suggest you have a look at www.startup.ch, www.ifj.ch and www.venturelab.ch.
3 Actions to take today
1, Search for industry news about startups and SMEs
2. Connect with the senior executives and founders of the company on LinkedIn and follow them
3. Help out the people you connected with in any way you can