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Working in Zurich

Working in Zurich is an attractive prospect for many expats-to-be. Maybe you are one of them? Read our guide to Zurich for an introduction to Zurich’s economy and find information on job hunting, social security, working conditions, and more.

At a Glance:

  • The Greater Zurich Area is also known at Switzerland’s economic growth engine, with finance as a key employment sector.
  • There a number of foreign chambers of commerce in Zurich, these are a good place to start when you are looking for work in the city.
  • The Swiss social security system is made up of three pillars: a national pension fund, company pension plans, and private pension funds.
  • Women are entitled to maternity leave in Switzerland: for up to 14 weeks after giving birth, they will receive 80 percent of their former income.
  • Although there is no national minimum wage in Switzerland, the pay in many fields of employment is regulated by collective agreements (Gesamtarbeitsvertrag or GAV).

A Service-Oriented Economy

Working in Zurich, you will be participating in one of Switzerland’s strongest regional economies. Switzerland is a very affluent country, which recovered well after the financial crisis of 2008/2009 and held out during the Eurozone crisis. However, the country’s economy does depend heavily on the growth outcomes of Europe especially.

Current economic predictions are promising for the country, and the unemployment rate remains pretty low, at around 2.5 percent in late 2018 according to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Forecasts predict that unemployment will only slightly increase in the next few years.

The Greater Zurich Area is often referred to as Switzerland’s economic growth engine. This growth is strongly service-oriented. Nowadays, few of the highly skilled labor force are working in Zurich’s manufacturing sector, let alone in agriculture. In the city, about 90 percent of all employees work in the service industry. The most important field of employment for those working in Zurich is, unsurprisingly, finance.

Zurich’s financial sector is synonymous with the professionalism, wealth, and discretion of Switzerland’s banks in general. In fact, Zurich is among the top 10 financial markets around the globe, according to the Global Financial Centres Index. In addition to the Swiss Stock Exchange, the city and canton feature such household names of finance and insurance as UBS, Crédit Suisse, Swiss Life, Swiss Re, the Zurich Insurance Group, and AXA Winterthur.

Alternatives to Finance

Even if you don’t plan on working at one of the banking and insurance companies in Zurich, the city and the canton offer plenty of opportunities for highly qualified expats, and the Zurich Office for Economy and Labor is also actively trying to strengthen other industries in the region. For instance, tourism, health and life sciences, aerospace businesses, and the creative industries are attracting more and more people.

Potential growth sectors like medical technology, micro and nano technology, and IT/CT as well as research and development and business intelligence in general profit from the presence of several renowned universities in the Greater Zurich Area: Zurich University, the ETH Zurich, or the University of St.Gallen. Today’s MBA or PhD student may become tomorrow’s entrepreneur working in Zurich’s technology park or in the Google engineering labs.

Apart from Google, various other multinational companies have their Swiss or even European headquarters in the Zurich area. So, you may as well land a job in vehicle engineering (BMW, Ford, Renault, Volvo), chemistry and pharmaceutics (Bayer, Pfizer), or business consulting (PWC).

Advice for Jobseekers in Zurich

Executives working in Zurich are often hired via headhunters or international recruitment agencies. Well-qualified expats below the upper-management level will probably have to do most of the work themselves. If you see yourself working for a global player, start by checking the company websites directly. Businesses of that size usually advertise all vacancies online and have a standardized recruitment process.

For networking purposes, the numerous foreign chambers of commerce in Zurich are a good place to start. Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US are among Switzerland’s biggest trading partners. Nationals of these countries or people with professional experience in these markets may therefore have a good chance of working in Zurich. Last but not least, below you’ll find some job search engines that expats dreaming of working in Zurich should check out.

Online Resources for Job Hunters

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

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