How My Russian Friend Found a Job in Switzerland in 4 Weeks

In this article, I will tell you the full story about how my Russian friend found his job in Switzerland when he first came here.


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 friend arrived in Switzerland at the beginning of 2012 without a job. He left his career in Moscow and started a new journey in Switzerland for personal reasons. He did not know a single person in Switzerland and had to start to build his network from zero.

He had a clear idea of what he wanted in terms of position and company type but had no idea what companies existed in Switzerland except for the big players as he has never been here before. As he was not interested to work for a large corporation, he started with no knowledge at all about potential companies in Switzerland.

To get a better understanding of the local culture and the job market, he took some time off to prepare. He researched online how things work in Switzerland in terms of job search but also about general life in Switzerland. As he did not speak a single word in German, it was not easy to get around first.


Talking to People

After his initial research, it was time to get out and talk to people. He knew that events were a very powerful tool to do this so he started to search Google and for suitable events and came up with a few. He signed up for some of the most relevant of them.

One was a web startup event that he attended.

The event was small with 15-20 people attending and was hosted in a bar/restaurant. He started talking to the first people he saw about where they are from and how they found the event. The people who he spoke to were software developers, young and experienced entrepreneurs and IT managers.

Later that evening he got to know two founders of an international startup in Switzerland. He talked about how he sees the industry, what he believes and mentioned that he wanted to learn more about the goals and vision of the company.

Once he got to know them better, he was able to give inputs how they could grow their business. That’s when they decided to take the discussion to the office the next day.

They met the next day after a short night and had a more formal interview. After the discussion in the office, they scheduled a formal assessment with him and two other potential employees and one week later, he had the job.

The fact that he is Russian with no German language skills and the work permit difficulty in Switzerland for non-EU citizens was not a real issue because he got to know the people on a personal level before he ever sent in a CV.


Lessons Learned

What can we learn from him?


1. Do Your Homework

First of all, he did his homework and understood how things work in Switzerland. He started to study the Swiss culture and realized there are some major differences but other things worked the same. For example, it’s equally important in Russia as it is in Switzerland to build relationships in order to be successful in your job search.


2. Communicate Right

When he talked to the two startup founders at the event, he understood the “WHY-HOW-WHAT Technique”

He started with expressing his point of view about the industry and his beliefs. Then, he learned about the company, their vision and goals to effectively give inputs and ask more specific questions so the founders could see in realtime how he could be of help for the company. Finally he also mentioned briefly what he did in the past.

If he would have started with communicating what he did in the past and then briefly mentioned how he could help the company grow, the chances of him being hired would have been significantly lower.


Let’s compare the two communications for a moment.



“I have 10 years experience in the startup industry and successfully lead 3 startups in Russia. I also have a masters degree in business.

I manage my employees and lead the business with integrity, a highly personal approach and with a clear focus on goals.

How about you tell me a bit more about your company?”



“I believe the startup industry is the most exciting and personally rewarding field. I get to wake up every morning and do work I love with a high level of energy and passion. In everything I do, I feel a sense of freedom and fulfillment.

I treat my employees with the utmost respect and value their personality and motivation over their skills. To achieve the desired results, I set high goals for myself and my employees.

I received my masters degree after my studies and then spent the last 10 years building successful startups in Russia.

How about you tell me a bit more about your company?”


Which communication do you think is more powerful?

If you want to improve your communication, download the 34-page Communication Excellence Workbook here.


3. Talk to People

If he would have stayed at home, applied for job advertisements and contacted recruiters at agencies, he would probably still be out of work. Because he is Russian, the work permit was another issue he would have had to deal with next to his lack of German language skills.

The company that hired him did not care about the lack of language skills and the work permit issue because it was much more important for this company to hire somebody who fit as a personality and believes what they believe.