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aprs le doctorat > Western Switzerland > Instructions

Finding a job in Western Switzerland

Living and working as a foreigner

The website is an official shortcut to practical information on the Swiss Confederation, the cantons and municipalities. 

For foreign residents of Switzerland: up-to-date information on work permits, moving to Switzerland, salaries, taxes, insurance, etc.

Stay authorisation

According to the terms of the current freedom of movement agreement with the European Union, citizens of the EU-17 and the EU-8 can enter, live in and work in Switzerland. 
However, to carry out salaried work for a period of more than 3 months, they must request a stay authorisation from the local cantonal migration authority. These procedures are to be carried out by either the applicant or his/her employing company.

Modifications to the law: The Swiss have approved a popular initiative, passed in February 2014, requesting the introduction of immigration quotas. The measure could modify or endanger the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU. This new immigration law will most likely not enter into effect until 2016, or perhaps even 2017 (at the latest). 

All persons considering seeking a job in Switzerland are strongly encouraged to remain up-to-date regarding this situation via the website:

The Swiss work culture

Despite the linguistic proximity of its neighbours, Switzerland is home to a work culture all its own. Particular importance is put on punctuality, as well as rigour and quality. A job "well done" is more appreciated than a "quickly done" job.

It is also important to understand the differences between the country’s various cantons, as well as between the 4 linguistic and cultural regions (German, French, Italian and Romansh).

The average work week lasts 42 hours, with 4 to 5 weeks of paid holiday per year. These figures vary according to the particular canton and type of employer.
©Sergiy Tryapitsyn

Searching for a job

The work environment in Switzerland is a microcosm in which “everyone knows everyone”, which explains the importance of formal and informal networking via friends, family and former colleagues.

Job fairs and career days offer the opportunity to meet new people, establish local contacts and widen one's network. Furthermore, they allow one to meet recruiters, to better understand the skills they seek among applicants and to forge connections with companies.

Advice for finding job in Switzerland

Career forums in Geneva and Lausanne

Identifying companies

The website of the Forum Suisse de l’Innovation ("Swiss Innovation Forum"). allows you to identify hiring companies. The annual programme of the forum lists and presents the innovative companies taking part. 

Lists of companies active in manufacturing and the life sciences:

Swiss Biotech Association
Swiss Life Sciences Database
Association des entreprises de l’industrie des machines, des équipements électriques et des métaux

Consult the job sites

Non-specialised job sites

A few examples:

Recruitment agencies

Not to be neglected!

The professional social networks

These networks are also important when looking for a job in Switzerland.

Searching for an academic position

All the hautes écoles universitaires (HEU) and hautes écoles spécialisées (HES) publish their job offers on their websites. 

The HEU and HES are both visible in the section “Innovation”.

Important websites::
  • The website myscience gathers many job offers in university research and elsewhere.
  • Euraxess jobs, the European website for scientists (country-specific search engine).

Applying for a non-academic position

A Swiss CV is specific to the position being applied for, and recruiters expect to be provided with specific information. It is therefore essential to adapt one’s CV and motivation letter to Swiss “standards”. It is also important to adapt one’s dossier to the linguistic region and the type of job (for instance, an academic position, a manufacturing job, etc.). One must also take into consideration the culture of the recruiter. The language used in the application must be the same as that of the job offer.

Employers expect to receive copies of degrees and work certificates along with the application. However, certain recruiters will first request a CV and letter of motivation. The applicant must therefore have these documents ready, if necessary.

In general, the application for the private and public sectors in French-speaking Switzerland comprises:

• CV (no more than 2 pages for a young researcher)

• Letter of motivation

• Work certificates
• Copies of all degrees

As a general rule, the CV of a young researcher applying for a non-academic job should be no more than 2 pages in length and specific to the particular position.


Swiss job offers in the public sector often include a contact’s name and contact information. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact this person, so as to gather more information on the position prior to applying (but it is not recommended to make salary enquiries at this stage!).

Advice and sample CVs and letters of motivation at: 

Success and career
Travailler en Suisse