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Switzerland: Career Prospects - Must read

How to find a graduate career in Switzerland

Finished your studies in Switzerland and thinking of staying on? Here is our guide to finding a career in the country after you graduate.

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So you’ve finished your degree, you’ve made some great friends, and you love Switzerland. What’s next? Well, you don’t have to go home yet! Here is our guide to graduate career prospects throughout Switzerland.


What is the job market like?

Switzerland has one of the highest average salaries in Europe, and is currently going through a bit of an employment boom. Sounds good, right?


The unemployment rate is currently at just over 3%, which is considerably lower than the EU average (8.2%). There has been a huge increase in jobs in the public sector too. More than 65,000 jobs have been created since 2005 in hospitals, nursing homes, day care centres and universities alone.


Also, huge multinational companies such as Dell, Microsoft and Rolex all have offices in Geneva, which could be perfect job opportunities for international graduates like you.


Petr Jiskra, Marketing Manager and Alumni from the Hotel and Tourism Management Institute (HTMi) in Switzerland, says that the connection between universities and big companies helps students get a real understanding of the job market.


“Universities will have sessions where big companies can come in and give out projects for the students to work on, and this means that there is interaction and accessibility between the universities and these big organisations, which is really good. This is what helps students to be ready for the market and the industry that they are interested in.”


Which areas are most in demand?

The biggest industries in Switzerland for skilled workers are engineering, IT, electronics and construction/property. However, they are also expecting the chemical/pharmaceutical industry to grow in the coming years.


The hospitality industry is another crucial element of Switzerland’s job market, being the fourth largest export industry in Switzerland. Working at hospitality education institution Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), Communications Officer Sherif Mamdouh is a good person to explain why.


“The hospitality industry has an age-old tradition deeply rooted in Switzerland. It is home to the world’s first Hospitality Management School (EHL) and has been pushing the envelope of excellence in the field for over a century. Also, it is important to note that the Swiss culture and economy are highly service-oriented. The culture of service excellence can be found in Swiss banking, healthcare, luxury or any other client-facing businesses.”


The Swiss hospitality industry is served well by its education system too, says Petr Jiskra.


“The image that the hospitality industry has created in Switzerland as a Swiss brand of education is one of the strongest throughout the world. Ask anyone working in this field about Switzerland, and they will immediately talk about the high-quality staff and a great hospitality education throughout the country.”


There is also a strong engineering sector in Geneva around CERN, and Zurich is considered the banking/insurance capital in the country. Inspired? Have a look at the universities which offer finance courses in Switzerland here.


There has also been a move towards a knowledge society in Switzerland, which has meant an increase in jobs for health care and education. So, you could be in luck if you want to pursue those careers.



Can I work in Switzerland once I graduate?

After graduating, non-EU students are allowed to stay in Switzerland for six months to try and look for a job in their field. However, they can only do this if they obtain a residency permit. Whilst looking for a permanent job on your residency permit, you are only allowed to work for a maximum of 15 hours per week.


Solene Wolff, career advisor at ETH Zurich, says it is important for graduates to know “it is difficult for international students from outside the EU to stay here in Switzerland as visas have to be granted by the authorities. It is the same as in any other country in the world, companies have to justify that they didn’t find a suitable candidate in Switzerland or Europe if they want to hire a non-EU national.”


In contrast, EU nationals can utilise their right to freely choose their place of employment or residence, in accordance with The Bilateral Agreement on the free movement of persons throughout EU states, so it usually easier for them to find job opportunities.



Tips for finding a graduate career in Switzerland:

  • Make sure you apply early. Particularly if you are a non-EU student, you only have 6 months to find a job before your residency permit is up, so you have to be ready to apply for graduate jobs in your final semester.
  • Learn the language for your area. Switzerland is quite unique in that it has four national languages. Make sure you are aware of what language your local area speaks the most, and try to learn it. Although most universities have English-taught degrees, it will probably be harder to find English-speaking jobs. Solene Wolff says, “many jobs in Switzerland require a good level of German, which many international students do not possess.”  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
  • Make your CV unforgettable. Use our guide on references and writing a CV
  • Be on time! We cannot stress enough how important this is, so make sure you leave plenty of time to get to your interview.


Useful sites for finding a graduate career in Switzerland:


If you don’t want to leave Switzerland, but you also don’t want a job yet, why don’t you have a look at some postgraduate courses in the country?