5 Reasons Why Companies in Switzerland Hire More and More English Speakers

If you are reading this, the likelihood is high that you are an English speaker who either is in Switzerland already or is looking to relocate to Switzerland. 

Sometimes, it may feel like many companies in Switzerland demand fluent German or French speakers. The job ads are written in German or French or at least require fluency in one or the other. You receive rejections from HR or recruiters because of your missing local language skills.

What if the job ads, HR and the recruiters were not telling the entire truth?

I want to give you some good news because I believe that your chances to start or develop your career in Switzerland as an English speaker dramatically increase every day.

However, there is a hook of course. To get to know the truth about what the organization really needs, you need to talk to the hiring managers or their influencers.

Quick side note: I will be officially launching the Job Search Group Coaching for Switzerland within the next few weeks. The main goal of the program is to get you job interviews fast. If you are signed up for email updates, you will be able to benefit from the members-only pre-launch discount.


1. Outsourcing

Outsourcing has been around for a while. It started somewhere as far away as in India, moved to Eastern Europe and some companies are now insourcing again. Especially large companies will always have parts of their business outsourced somewhere. This can range from IT to Human Resources. I know plenty of examples of companies who outsource these services.

Interestingly, the boundaries to do outsourcing have become very low. Even freelancers can now outsource many of their time-consuming administrative tasks. Small to medium-sized companies in Switzerland are outsourcing more and more to stay competitive.

A few weeks ago I attended an outsourcing conference in Switzerland and it was very interesting to see how the culture at these companies changed over the course of the outsourcing duration. Most of them have become much more open to hiring English speakers and changed their business language further towards English.

One more thing to remember here: If a company outsources to China, they will be very happy to hire somebody with Chinese language skills to help them communicate better. The same thing of course applies to any outsourcing location.


2. Servicing International Companies

If a company in Switzerland is large, it is usually an international corporation. These companies need a lot of services and therefore smaller companies in Switzerland are very often servicing them.

These smaller companies are much less likely to require fluent German or French language skills.


3. International Organizations With HQ in Switzerland

There is a large amount of international organizations who have their headquarters in Switzerland due to many reasons. Almost all of them use English as the main business language. These types of companies keep flocking into Switzerland, even if it may be at a slower pace during some years. You can read more details in this study from the Boston Consulting Group about Multinational Companies in Geneva and Vaud.

If the number of international companies locating their HQ in Switzerland increases, the chances to find more English speaking environments there also increases.


My Russian Coaching Client’s Story

One of my Russian coaching clients just found a new job last week in an international company with its headquarters in Switzerland. He will be working there as part of the board of directors. 

The company is not as big as you may expect. It employs approx. 70 people and 5 (now 6 including my client) of them are based in Switzerland. Their main business is done in Africa and they grow at a very fast pace.

This is a great example of an international company with its HQ in Switzerland, hiring people from anywhere in the world without any concerns about work permit or language issues.


4. Swiss Companies Expanding

There are many companies I know with Swiss origins that either expand internationally or are bought by international companies. These organizations also have a high likelihood to hire English speakers. These companies can be found in any industry such as luxury goods, beverages and food, telecoms, financial or information services.


5. The Lack of Talents and Leadership

It has been talked about since years. The lack of talents seems to get bigger and bigger, especially in highly complex fields like Science and Information Technology. Universities in Switzerland are graduating less IT and Science professionals than there are required in the market and therefore companies have no other choice than to hire people from outside of Switzerland.

Science and IT are not the only areas where talents and leaders are scarce. In almost any field, the need for highly qualified individuals with great leadership abilities increases every year. The ability to lead and initiate change becomes far more important than any language skill that can be learned in a matter of months.


These are only a few reasons why companies in Switzerland require more and more people from diverse backgrounds and cultures from around the world. 

In case you still feel like every HR person and every recruiters tells you that you need to speak fluent German or French or that it’s almost impossible to work in Switzerland as a non-EU citizen, consider changing your approach to job search. Forget about job boards, HR and recruiters and focus on talking to people who can influence or make hiring decisions.

To learn more about how to get in front of hiring managers and their influencers, download the free 1st chapter of the Ebook “Career Excellence Through Relationships”.