The first step to being accepted for a job in Switzerland is to have an excellent Curriculum Vitae (CV). Switzerland has many specific requirements for a CV that can enhance your chances of getting a job. These are simple inclusions that can be made to tailor your CV for each individual application, plus a selection of things you should focus on when writing a CV and cover letter.
Useful websites for writing CVs in Switzerland
Do you need some extra help creating the perfect CV? There are various companies who offer CV advice and help such as:
Format of a Swiss CV
In Switzerland, CVs are designed to be as clear and coherent as possible. Employers look out for CVs that are simple and clear in their design and format. It is not recommended to embellish the content of your CV with buzzwords or jargon, instead, it is recommended to list all the relevant experience you have and let your abilities speak for themselves. The way you design and structure your CV is up to you, but generally, you must follow the following structure:
In the first section of your CV, you must include:
- Full name and date of birth
- Residence status
- Marital status
- Contact information (phone, email, LinkedIn)
- A professional photograph of you in the top right or left of the first page
- A short description of yourself, aspirations and field of expertise
Education and qualifications
This section is to provide your employer with details of your education. This usually relates to higher education and universities. It is recommended to include in your education tab the exact details of your course including specialisms, the qualifications you’ve received (such as a degree or vocational certificate), and the location where you earned the qualification.
In this section, you are advised to put all relevant work experience to the job you are applying for. This can be presented in either reverse chronological order or in degrees of importance / relevance to the role. It is a good opportunity to list the responsibilities behind each position and to draw upon your relevant experience to support your job application in the same way as your cover letter.
Notable skills and languages
The final section is given to any awards or skills that you have not mentioned in other sections. This can be your proficiency for languages, any relevant awards you have won or any hobbies that can give a greater insight into your character. Bear in mind, Swiss hiring manages do not approve of long or verbose descriptions of hobbies, especially if they are not relevant to the position offered.
Do I include references in my CV?
In Switzerland, it is advised to have three referees included on your CV. These referees must provide their full contact details and must be willing to provide references to you when requested by the employer. Some employers will allow you to submit pre-written references alongside your application.
Do’s and don’ts for writing a CV in Switzerland
There are many unique things that you should and shouldn’t do on a Swiss CV in order for your application to be a success, these are:
- Do write your CV in the language that was used to write the job description.
- Don’t include your personal address or details of your Swiss bank.
- Do make a tailored CV for each job application.
- Don’t write “to whom it may concern” at the beginning of your cover letter, take the time to find out who the CEO, head of recruitment or head of human resources is.
- Do be concise, practical and clear with all qualifications.
- Don’t be verbose or, in other words, use overly flowery language.
- Don’t waste the employer’s time.
How to write a cover letter in Switzerland
An important part of any application for a job in Switzerland is the content of the cover letter. This is the letter that will convince your prospective employer that you have the knowledge, skillset and drive to do the job advertised. The cover letter must be around one to two pages long and it is advised to be short but thorough. Many international companies in Switzerland still appreciate a handwritten cover letter. There are multiple sections in a cover letter that can be used as a paragraph structure.
Section 1: Basic details and your employer
The first paragraph of a cover letter is designed to introduce yourself, say what you are applying for and what you know about the company. Here it is important to know some of the main features of the company you are applying for, such as an ethos or something you find engaging about their work.
Section 2: Relevant experience
In the second and third paragraphs, you should try to list all of your relevant skills and experiences. Here it is good to go back and look at the job description and use the keywords related to the job in your text. Be sure to use personal examples in order to reinforce your expertise, although be sure to make each skill relate back to the job in question.
Section 3: Final remarks
The final paragraph is used to explain why you want the job you are applying for. This is where you are able to illustrate your desire to work for that specific company and where you see that job in your career progression. This is also where you must note down any outstanding commitments and your availability to start work.