Isabelle Litzler, expat career expert at Pleiades HC
Expat careers specialist Isabelle Litzler talks to Bonjour Geneva about trends in the Swiss job market, overcoming the reluctance to go out and network and the importance of having a diversified job search strategy.
This interview is also available in audio format on Anchor.
Bonjour Geneva: What profiles would you say are more likely to get a job in Geneva and what job seekers who don't correspond to this profile could do in order to enhance their chances of being hired?
Isabelle Litzler: People who have market potential in Switzerland in general tend to be specialists.
As jobs are getting more digital of course you can see huge growth for those IT jobs, developers, digital marketing, digital support, as well digital sales. So if you have a technical expertise, even if it is in a different country, you would be interesting for Switzerland.
The other category is what I call non-typical profiles. People who have done several different things and when they come to Switzerland they're not really fitting anywhere. For these people the first step is to do a skills assessment so that they can make sense of all this experience. Then they can compare their knowledge and skills to the current offer in the market, and consider training in something new or discover an unexpected opportunity.
BG: Networking is key in a job search yet so many of us find it very hard to do. You may think nobody will want to talk to you, that you don’t have anything interesting to say... What would you recommend for people facing this block?
Isabelle Litzler: Networking is one of the hardest things for most people, but you have to take a different perspective. Think of it as going there just to meet people, instead of thinking that you’ll meet someone who is going to give you a job. That takes a bit of the pressure off.
Professional networking events can be a little bit too stuffy. You go there and you're too focused on meeting the right person for your career, whereas if you go to events that are more casual, you meet people at the heart level.
So go to an event about a topic that you like, for example, sports. I know a lot of individuals who met people at ski clubs or sports clubs and ended up with career opportunities. In the beginning it was a hobby, but it ended up being a good network to find a job.
And the advice I give to my clients is to have at least one networking event a week, so they can start to get more contacts and grow their career.
BG: You say in your blog that it's important to have a diversified job search strategy. Could you tell us more about this?
Isabelle Litzler: The way most people go about a job search is to reply when they see a job offer that matches their skills. The return on investment is very low. Probably your chances are close to zero when you apply like this.
So I like to push people towards a diversified strategy. You can still apply online, especially if the job matches your skills, but you have to spend more time on the hidden market as it's called.
A lot of jobs in Switzerland don't even go online because people have enough of a network that they know, trust and go to when they have the need. That's hard for expats because they are not aware of it.
Reach out to organizations that could need your skills in a more proactive way, through spontaneous applications. Go to events regularly so that you get some business cards on a regular basis. Connecting with other people brings you more chances than if you just go online, apply and wait. There's not necessarily a job that you're competing for, but you may be able to get into an opportunity before it becomes visible. That's the idea, that you meet someone who is not yet at the stage where they would have a job advertisement but because they know you they think of you before the job gets advertised.
BG: Thank you, Isabelle. Is there anything you would like to add?
Isabelle Litzler: I’d like to say that opportunities are all around us, it's just the way we look at things. Sometimes we miss them because we think it's not the right place or it's not worth it, but you never know where you're going to meet someone who is going to be a mentor, or a reference for you. So I would say: just be open, go out there. It’s not easy to be in a new city where you don't necessarily understand the language, but go out to meet individuals and to grow your network.
BG: That's great, thank you so much for talking to Bonjour Geneva Isabel I wish you a great day and much success to you and your clients!