Important Tips About Finding a Finance Job in Switzerland

Job search

Anyone who once searched for a finance job in Switzerland, no matter whether Swiss or from abroad, knows that it is a challenge and finding a job advert that fits your profile is only the beginning of a very long journey… or sometimes it is not even the beginning. In this short article I will try to show you that if you start looking for a job by looking at the job adverts, you are doing it all wrong. This piece of writing is not about statistics and it does not aim at showing universal truth about Swiss job market. It is about individual experiences of a CFA® charterholder who set off on this journey. Definitely, the stories of other people will vary but I hope this short piece of advice will help you to better understand Swiss job market and be better prepared for what lies ahead.

Applying for jobs on the internet? You are doing it wrong!

It is often the case that we start our job search by looking at different career portals on the internet to see if there are advertisements that would be a good fit for us. While this may be perfectly fine when you are applying for a job in a bigger market or in a market that is a bit less popular, there are few things that make it a completely inefficient strategy in Switzerland.

  1. The size of the Swiss market

Although Switzerland is renowned financial center, it still remains a country with only 8mn citizens and financial institutions, although they manage huge amounts of capital, they only employ as many people here as they have to and the rest of positions is either close to clients/markets or simply in countries where labour is cheaper. This means that the number of positions created in Switzerland is quite limited. Do not expect that you will find thousands of open positions you can apply for.

  1. The competition for jobs

The unemployment in Switzerland is more or less inexistent- around 2% according to official statistics. Does that mean that when you look for a finance job you have extremely good chances? Not really… you have to remember that there is a huge number of applicants from abroad who are looking at finding their way into Switzerland (pursuing Swiss dream?). It goes into real extremes, a partner from a Swiss investment company whose abbreviation may be confused with one of the top global FMCG firms has once mentioned during a presentation he held for students that his company receives as much as 30-40 thousand applications for one spot. Even if in reality it is half that… we are still looking at 15-20 thousand. I imagine it may look similarly for the most popular positions at banks starting with “U” or “C”.

  1. Applicant tracking systems

The simple consequence of that situation is that you should not expect that your application will be read by anyone. At least not at first. After you send your application it will be scanned by a tool known as Applicant Tracking System. It will compare your application documents with the job advertisement you applied for and will look for keyword matches. If you achieve a match rate of 75 to 80% you can call yourself lucky because you are likely to get an interview. However, you may be a perfect fit but still be far from getting to an interview stage, inasmuch as although ATS should help doing screening, it is still not really a flexible tool. Sometimes, you may not get a match because you simply used a different form of the same word and the ATS was not fed with this form by the HR department.

Trick the system

The hurdles for finding a job here appear to be quite significant, but there are a few things you could do to stand a chance in this fight. First thing is quite technical. To trick Applicant Tracking Systems and achieve over 80% match rate you can simply use the tools available on the internet that compare your resume with job offers- looking for the key words and showing the match rate. You can then pretty easily add the missing words to your resume.  

Moreover, as a CFA charterholder you stand a much better chance to be successful in an application process and not only because by passing all three levels of the CFA examination you possess extensive financial knowledge and you uphold to globally recognized standard of ethics and professional conduct, but because you are a member of a large community that is there to help you. The piece of advice is thus- network. Only in this way you have a chance to be referenced to your dream position. So, go to CFA meetings, meet people, talk to them and do that not only when you want to find a job. On the contrary, do that especially when you do not need one. It is exactly when you do not need a job when you have time to establish long-term relationships with people who may help you in the future and remember- it always has to go both ways. Help others, let them see that you are a reliable and smart individual, volunteer and then you may not only get a job in the end, but you can also win over some friends. 

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