Practical tips for Geneva job hunters
Whether you are new to Geneva or you've been here a while though for some reason away from the job market (child rearing and generally managing a home, anyone?), once you start sending out applications, you realize that job hunting in Geneva requires a great deal of perseverance. I've been told that more than half of the jobs here are not advertised. So, yes, it is hard.
Here are three things that are likely to be more effective (and fun) than just browsing JobUp and LinkedIn from your home desk.
Join a networking group
This one may not come naturally if you are a perfectionist self-conscious critic like me, but trust me, it’s just like swimming: once you start moving, the water doesn’t feel cold anymore and it’s actually fun. A good way to start is joining one of the many networking groups for women in Geneva, where you will meet others who also have stimulating ideas and projects. Surrounding yourself with driven people who also wish to thrive in Geneva keeps your motivation up and is an essential part of a job hunting strategy.
Women Rock Switzerland and its local sister Womenpreneurs: Vaud, Geneva & Surrounding France are Facebook-based groups of women creating all sorts of products and services, from the ones who are still planning their business to those who are successful entrepreneurs. It is the best online group I've ever been part of, thanks to the active and caring moderation by Denise Nickerson and Michelle Giuliano. A great place to find feedback, exchange ideas and connect with other women with similar projects/interests. Synergies are bound to follow once you join! Free membership.
OWIT (Organization of Women in International Trade) Lake Geneva Chapter hosts monthly networking meetings and offers a mentoring program and various volunteer opportunities -- a good way to apply your skills within a friendly and supportive organization. It has a business focus, with the mission of promoting women’s leadership and connecting the community with inspiring leaders and exceptional women. Membership is 180 CHF/year.
Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Geneva-Lausanne has regular networking events and a mentoring program. A considerable part of the Geneva-Lausanne chapter members are entrepreneurs. Membership: 150 CHF/year.
The American International Women’s Club of Geneva hosts a wide array of leisure and volunteer activities where you can meet new friends. They also have a blog with practical tips about Geneva everyday life. To learn more, attend one of their free welcome coffees, which usually take place on the second Wednesday of the month from 10h to 12h. Membership is 250 CHF/year.
Last but not least, Genuine Women is a French-speaking network of womenpreneurs in the region that runs various events on a monthly basis. Members often create collaborative projects. The atmosphere is one of mutual support, friendship and goodwill. Genuine’s founder Emilie Hawlena is an absolutely amazing woman who dared to follow her inner voice and switch her career in the banking sector for this innovative venture supporting entrepreneurship. Membership fee is 300/year or 29 CHF/month.
Even if you are planning to stay just for a couple of years, dedicate some of your time to learn French. You never know, many of us who have been here 10 years now originally came for a short spell and ended up staying! Plus, it also counts as networking and it does make a difference in your everyday life.
Prêt à Parler organizes virtual and face to face speaking lunches called French Fridays, a fun way to practice French at an attractive price (5 CHF + the cost of your meal). Isabelle also offers private online French classes over a 3 to 6 month period, depending on your goal.
Speak and Lunch is a platform that matches people willing to learn with those willing to share their knowledge of a language over lunch time.
If your family pays taxes in Geneva, you are entitled to chèque annuel de formation, an allowance (up to 750 CHF/year) that can be used to pay for courses in selected institutions in the canton, including the French classes at Association Découvrir, which focus on improving your chances of getting a job. As you know if you read my posts, I am a huge fan of Découvrir.
If you don’t have the budget for a regular class, you can study online for free or look for a someone willing to teach you in tandem (they teach you French, you teach them another language or skill).
Showcase your expertise
Depending on your field of work, showing your expertise on social networks may be an interesting way to connect with people in the same field and remain active until you find a job. You can produce your own content (pictures, articles, videos, podcasts) and/or act as a content curator.
You’re a nutritionist? Go on and share any recipes you are learning/loving with local ingredients. Write about the differences in the market regulations between your country and Switzerland, about what you admire, what surprises you... record everything you are learning and discovering through your professional lenses and share it with the world.
If you feel it's too much work to create a blog and deal with all the nuts and bolts (and it is, indeed), pick a ready-to-go platform. For instance, you can use LinkedIn’s publishing tool if the subject and angle you are writing about are aligned to your professional goals (just go to your LinkedIn homepage and click "write an article").
Or create an account on Medium, where people go to share content about most anything. Besides the clean design and ease to use, it has the advantage of allowing you to publish articles only visible to those who have the link for it. Very useful if you want to share a preview with a selected audience before you make it public.
You don’t want to produce your own content? You can still show your expertise on a subject by curating third party content. But what is content curation anyways? It is exactly what it says. You know those people who are always posting the best articles on a topic of your interest, and also sharing their thoughts about them? They are content curators. You select the content that is relevant for your audience and add value to it through your own comments, or make the link between various pieces of content to tell a story or explain a concept.
A simple way to do this is to use Scoop.it! as your annotated news board where you organize all the interesting links that you come across about your topic of interest along with your own notes. The basic version is free and I find it very useful to store information about a given subject in one place.
You can then share what you saved there with your audience using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, if you so wish. Or simply add the link to your curated Scoop.it board to your CV as proof that you are up to date on developments in your field of work.
Thoughts, questions or comments? Leave a comment below or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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