A Great Alternative to Start Your Career in Switzerland

There is a great alternative to starting with full time employment in Switzerland. Some people call it interim management, others call it contracting or temp work. I call it “project based” work or position in this article because I’m talking about the project driven roles.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s great for a few reasons.


1. For Career Changers

It helps you determine in which direction you really want to go because you can test a direction but don’t have to commit to it from the start. You can work on a project for 3 months and see how you like the direction.


2. To Explore an Organization

Have you ever taken a job in the past where you realized after a few weeks that this is not what you signed up for? Maybe your job was not even close to what was mentioned in the job description during the interviews. Or the organization’s values on paper looked great but did not reflect what was happening within the company. 

You can increase your chances of avoiding such a scenario by exploring the organization first on a project based assignment and then see if it matches what you are looking for.


3. A Save Way to Self-Employment

You can use project based work as a spring board into self-employment. Especially in technology driven industries, this model is very common. You either have your own limited company in Switzerland and work on client projects or you work through agencies who specialize in project based businesses. Both sides have upsides and downsides.


I used to work in recruitment for project based positions in technology for years during my recruitment career. It’s a vey challenging environment for all involved parties. It can be very rewarding, financially and emotionally, to work in such an environment if you are the type of person for such work.


Two of my Coaching Clients

Very recently, two of my coaching clients got offered such project based work as a starting point into an organization. 

The first was one of my Russian clients who got offered a consulting based contract with a startup company in Switzerland to expand their business abroad. They hired him for an initial three months with possibility to join them as a board member with all the benefits after the initial three months have been proven to be successful for both parties.

The other client is originally from New Zealand and has been offered a three months contract to join an organization in Switzerland outside of this previous industry experience. This way he can see if he wants to work in this new industry and both parties have a higher chance to develop a successful long term work relationship.


The Hidden Job Market in Switzerland

I’m sure you have heard by now that approx. 80% of all jobs filled are never advertised. For project based positions, it’s closer to 99%.

During my time in recruitment in this sector, only a few of these project based positions have been advertised. There are many reasons for this. 

These positions are in many cases highly critical and the hiring decision maker wants to have somebody on board she can trust.

Another factor is time. Usually these positions are open for a maximum of 1-2 weeks and then either somebody starts working there or the project based position has been cancelled.


How I Found These Project Based Roles

It was all relationships. When I started out in recruitment in this sector, I did not have any contacts or relationships. I had to build everything from scratch and then keep in touch with the people who were willing to listen to me and eventually work with me.

The key was to be at the right time at the right place and my chances to do so increased drastically when I chose to keep in touch with people instead of just adding new business cards to my Rolodex all the time.


The Demand for Project Based Positions

There is always a need for those types of positions in many industries in Switzerland. They usually arise when a critical change happens which is the same reason why full time jobs are created. As you can see there are a lot of similarities between the two categories.

Some examples of such changes are new projects, new product launches, the need for someone to leave work for several months due to maternity leave, accident or other reasons. 

In some family businesses, the current owner may want to hand over his business to his son who is not ready yet to take on this position. Therefore he needs someone to take on this job as an interim manager until the son is ready or somebody else is found (or you establish such a great relationship that you stay in this job).


Who the Decision Makers are

You get such a project based position in Switzerland the same way you get a job, by talking to people. You should even approach it the same way. The decision makers for such project based positions are in many cases the same as the decision makers for the full time jobs. 

For some projects, the actual project manager and not the line manager may make the decision to hire you because you are hired on the project budget.