Brace yourselves! It’s job search in the pandemic!

Hand out of water

In January 2020, no one could expect that the global economy would experience such a hard reset in the coming months. Coronavirus pandemic, an event on an unprecedented scale in the modern history, has wreaked a havoc among companies and severely affected employees around the world. At the same time, those who sought after a new job during this time had to quickly adapt to a new reality, as companies drastically reduced job openings or suspended hiring processes. Switzerland was no exception as coronavirus has also taken its toll leaving many people unemployed.

Are there any takeaways resulting from this experience? Which aspects of a job search process should every candidate have on mind when looking for a job in Switzerland these days? Definitely, there are a couple of points worth mentioning.

Get your homework done…prepare!

It is important to stress that finding a finance job in Switzerland already has been a challenging task even before anyone heard about corona. As reported by Adecco and University of Zurich, the number of finance jobs’ advertisements has steadily fallen in 2019[1], which was mainly driven by transformation processes such as digitalization[2]. At the same time, a demand for niche specialists such as financial controllers, senior credit analysts or risk managers has been increasing, which reflects the fact that local companies face increasingly complex problems[3]. All these factors combined with a huge number of applicants and the current economic downturn make finding job a pretty difficult task.

How do these trends affect the way you should approach the job search process? In a nutshell, a solid preparation is a key to your success and this statement does not relate to candidate’s qualifications solely. A prospective applicant for a specific role should extend his/her efforts beyond submitting standard application documents only. In this context, every business-related information which you collect in advance may eventually be of high value. This knowledge will not only let you consider your role-specific strengths and adjust your application documents accordingly, but also help you effectively stress the contribution you will bring to a company.

Don’t forget to reach out!

When applying for a position, you may need some concrete information regarding the specific role. Although basic data is usually provided in a job announcement, it is oftentimes scarce and does not allow for preparing a convincing application. Therefore, do not hesitate and approach responsible recruiters, whose contact data is usually posted in the job ads. This is a unique practice commonly exercised in Switzerland to provide either an email address or a telephone number of the hiring manager. It can be a great chance to learn more about specificities of the role and expectations regarding candidate’s attributes.

Moreover, consider reaching out on LinkedIn for additional advice from employees within a given company. Especially, you may want to inquire not only about requirements stated in the job advertisement, but also about the work culture. This is also a very important aspect of work after all. You should expect that during a subsequent interview, both your hard skills and a personal fit into a team will be examined. Finally, in case your interview is not successful, do not forget to ask the recruiter for the feedback on their decision, which will certainly help you to improve for future recruitment processes.

Take a look behind the curtain.

One facet of a job search is applying for roles already posted online. However, according to various studies, a substantial number of opportunities are never advertised and constitutes a so called “hidden job market.” Then a question arises, where to seek information about these chances? There are several ways to obtain these valuable insights.

First, you can directly connect with hiring managers at companies you wish to work for. Even though no open position is currently advertised, take the opportunity and contact them to propose a short conversation. During such a discussion, you will have a great chance to introduce yourself and explain how your experience could contribute to solving ongoing business problems. It may turn out, that your professional skills and experience may be highly valued and sought after.  On top of that, reach out to your network to see what the current business environment and hiring outlook looks like.

Industry conferences are also a perfect platform to learn more about current tendencies and developments in the industry, for instance, regarding upcoming projects in business niches. As you have probably encountered, the Swiss financial industry gives numerous occasions to attend such gatherings. A practical example of such events are conferences and networking meetings organized by CFA Society Switzerland in cooperation with other experts from the local investment industry. During these sessions, you will definitely gain valuable insights from market practitioners regarding ongoing market developments. Strict lockdown measures over the recent months have clearly removed many face-to-face meetings from agendas, however, the coming months may reintroduce them once again. In order to address this issue, a lot of industry organizations have meanwhile launched thematic webinars or online lectures. Considering a remaining risk of a second lockdown, these events become an important channel to communicate with industry professionals.

Finally, seek advice from external recruitment agencies, who have first-hand knowledge regarding hiring trends on the market. They might not only tell you about existing opportunities, but also shed more light on requirements of particular companies. This knowledge may eventually help you draft your application documents to precisely address a company’s prerequisites. You will also learn which skills are demanded to enrich your professional experience.

Networking did not die of corona!

Networking practices have clearly changed over the recent months. Most importantly, meeting in person was not possible and communication switched to professional platforms. This obstacle has affected not only interpersonal conversations but also job interviews and recruitment processes, which now are taking place virtually. However, a sudden switch to platforms such as LinkedIn or Zoom did not come easy for many job seekers. Still a majority of us prefers a personal interaction, as it facilitates a precise exchange of ideas and leads to a better understanding. Is there something we could learn from this experience?

Definitely, it has unveiled that a frequency of communication appears to be especially important. As trivial as it may sound, no one can build a strong relationship without the regular interaction and the physical isolation has clearly highlighted this basic truth. In fact, regular exchanges during the lockdown would have not only given the chance to share professional views, but also to speak informally, which in many cases could have reduced anxiety resulting from a lengthy isolation. Therefore, reach out and offer support during this difficult time using your knowledge and professional skills.

A time of review

Recent months were certainly tough for employees as it ruthlessly forced some of them to rapidly requalify. It is worthwhile, however, to use such disruptions to reconsider long-term job perspectives and personal aspirations once again. It is wise to take such situations as an opportunity. At the same time, signs of recovery appear on the horizon. As hiring processes are slowly reviving, job applicants will soon be able to return to their career development tracks. Therefore, stay abreast of ongoing recruitments and remain connected with others!


[1] The Adecco Group Swiss Job Market Index

[2] Deloitte Swiss Banking Business Models of the Future: Embarking New Horizons

[3] Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020 Switzerland

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