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Monday, May 7, 2012

How do I keep motivation high during my job search in Switzerland?

Last week I attended a workshop about networking specifically organized for dual career partners having freshly relocated to Switzerland.
At the end of the presentation, one of the spouses asked the speaker how to stay motivated during the job search. To provide her with a specific and complete answer and because it’s a real concern for many other job-seeking spouses, I decided to write a blog about the subject.

Here are 6 hints to consider:

1- Manage expectations: The most important is to know what to expect.
If you start your job-search having in mind that it’s a matter of 3 or 4 weeks of intensive work of sending applications, going to interviews and taking assessment tests, you may find it difficult to pursue your effort during the next months.
Assuming you are already well prepared, have a clear target, know your strengths and unique selling points, a job search in Switzerland will take you 3 to 6 months for Junior to middle management position and 6 to 12 months for executive positions.

2-   Do not compromise on your objective.
You can compromise on the means to reach you objective but not on the objective itself.
I give an example: You were a manager in the industry, had a team reporting to you, and were praised for your good results and got recognized for your strategic mindset.  Imagine you have just taken a 3 years’ break to take care of your children and have just moved to Switzerland.  Many people will tell you: “just take an easier job, 1 or 2 level below your previous job”.
Now, I am asking you: Will you be motivated to invest 4 months of hard job search work to look for such a job?
Shouldn’t you rather ask yourself what should be your next career step? What should you do to get there?

3-  Understand your internal motivation process.
Take some time to think about what you are looking forward to in your next job. Is it working in a team? Is it getting recognition from your management; is it getting a good salary, or is it something else?
Do not forget to remind yourself regularly what it is exactly what you will get and how much you value it.

4- Get involved in a secondary project, which will counter balance the down mood periods you may experience in your job search with positive ones.
It could be a voluntary job, with Compétences Bénévoles for example ( or active participation in a network (IDCN spouse comity; Internations, French or German conversation groups or professional networks existing or to be created), starting a small business etc.

5- Do a lot of what you like.
As stated in point 1, your job search is going to be a middle to long term occupation, therefore you’d better organize it in a way that it brings a lot of satisfaction. Keep some time to do what you like and to enjoy the new location: Outdoor sports (skiing, hiking) with other job-seeking partners having comparable time schedules, meeting new people, traveling around Switzerland: Why not treating yourself to a touristic visit of each town where you’re invited for an interview?

6- Get professional support to guide you though the process.
A professional career coach will not only help you preparing your application file, facilitate your networking, support you in setting a strong personal brand, we will also help you to implement the 5 previous hints shared in this blog.


What about you? How do you keep motivation high during your job search in Switzerland?

Sandrine van den Oudenhoven

Copyright job4U2 2012


  1. Hi Sandrine,
    Very interesting post about motivation.
    As you have asked, to keep my own motivation high, I do run or swim once a day, I am trying to volunteer with local institutions (this is not working yet, but it will come also) and I do a lot of "Swiss Watching": walk around to see people, read about local life, listen to local radio. This gives me some knowledge and helps me feel "home".
    I had to regulate my expectations (down, of course) as I missed on a beautiful opportunity but, as I am on a professional transition, I am still to see my objectives clear and crystal, hence, it was probably not a bad thing.
    Thanks again for the post.

  2. Carola, many thanks for sharing on the blog.
    Indeed, a job search is a moving process and sometime you have to adjust your strategy on the way...
    I like your Swiss Watching concept:-) it's a nice immersion exercise!
    If you are still trying to volunteer and are located in the French speaking part of Switzerland, I relay recommend you to contact Emmanuelle at Compétences Bénévoles, you can say that I told you to contact her.
    An other forme of volunteering, with a little touch of social media and networking ( sounds like a good recipe, doesn't it) is to find a linkedIn group you like and offer to to the group manager to co-moderate. If there's no existing group fro your industry: why not starting one?
    Good luck in your next steps!

    1. Hi Sandrine, Thanks for your reply and ideas.
      I did come across the Competences Benevoles website but have never contacted them, they have great ideas and are always looking for people.
      Thanks again and speak soon,

  3. Thanks Sandrine!
    As a job seeker in Switzerland I found your blog very interesting. Can you tell me how to contact Emmanuelle as well, I could use some professional help, I am located in Geneva.

  4. You can contact Emmanuelle Sierro-Schenk
    Fondation Compétences Bénévoles
    Route de l'Etraz 20b
    1260 Nyon
    Tél. 022 361 30 44

    If you need professional help for your job search, you can contact me directly at job4U2:

    Kind regards,

  5. Hi Sandrine,

    That has indeed been an interesting comment.
    I find it quite difficult to find a job just now. I arrived to Switzerland at the beginning of March and have been looking since. I have experience in administration and events management, however when I apply for administrative or personal assistant jobs, I am told that my experience does not match the job description. Of course I have not done the PA job, however working in very busy international offices has given me plenty of experience, and I have a masters degree as well, so surely it means that I am smart enough to learn something new. This is really frustrating and I find it difficult to stay motivated. I am not sure anymore if I am looking in the right direction. Another barrier for me is the language, as at the moment it is basic German, I will be passing my A1 exams in August, but that doesn't change the fact that the employers think my ;level of German is too low to communicate within the workplace.
    I live in Niederlenz near Zurich, can you please advice what other opportunities I can look at around here?
    Many thanks,

  6. Hello Sylwia, Many thanks for your post.
    I can understand your frustration but would like to encourage you to follow the tips I listed in my blog.
    I have a proposal: What about taking each of the 6 tips and write down what you are actually doing in each of these 6 areas: If it helps, you can send me your text via email. I promise I will take the time to read it.

    Now, maybe you applied though the job portals. It's somewhat a bit depressing for everybody: Hundreds of CV sent, few negative answers and a lot of silence...
    Read my blog about the job portal: and specially the bold comment: I guaranty it will help.

    About the language: you have a great asset: you are proficient in English: do not forget that!
    I do not know your nationality , but maybe you speak an other language? What about a LinkedIn search to find VP's in international companies who are coming from the same country: you could contact them directly to offer your services as a PA.

    Sometime it really helps to have some professional support to help you set your target considering on one side your unique skills and expertise and one the other side the job market demand.
    A professional career coach will also help you to prepare a Swiss application file, target the right audience and make your branding more visible.

    I hope this help.


  7. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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