This post was first published on LinkedIn.

2 Getting a Swiss recruiter’s attention is almost like asking her out on a date. When you write a cover letter you want the other person to like you and find you attractive enough to read your résumé. The cover letter is your appetizer and the résumé is your main course. If you get to the interview stage then that’s like having the dessert on the first date. And after three interviews you might get kissed. I mean you might get the job offer you are longing for.

Don’t spoil the Swiss recruiter’s appetite by presenting the main course in the cover letter.

Imagine you are on your first date and your counterpart tells you for half an hour how great he or she is. Rather boring right? You zoom out of the conversation and wish to run away. Same is true if a recruiter reads your whole résumé already in the cover letter.

What could you do to make the conversation more interesting?

Cover letter writing is an art. With modern technology applicants often do not see a need to write a cover letter these days but in my view, it is the most artistic part of a good application and in Switzerland, it is a MUST.

Many recruiters want to read it. They would like to see you made an effort to get that interview. I receive a number of cover letters and most of them sound like they were copied from a textbook. Only the more personal ones gain my attention. They have to be personal, crisp and show me who you are.

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Here are rules for fresh cover letters:

  • Use the correct name of the recruiter instead of Sir or Madam. Make sure you also spell names of references correctly. Be respectful and address recruiters formally.
  • Make the letter appealing and nice looking by using one font only and adhering to normal letter writing style in the country you are applying to.
  • Speak about the needs of the other party before you speak about your needs.
  • Find a personal connection between either you and the company or you and the recruiter. Maybe you use one of their products or you associate positive feelings with the brand because of a personal story.
  • If you copy and paste (which is not a good idea in general), please check that you did not use the wrong company name or contact person. It helps to read the letter out loud.
  • Use active language and full sentences. When I say active language I ask you to use more verbs than nouns, avoid passive constructs and keep sentences short.
  • If you are not an English native speaker check your translation and let a native speaker review your grammar.
  • Be brief and stick to a maximum of one page. Five paragraphs are sufficient.
  • Add your contact data in the last paragraph especially your phone number and email ID. Make sure your email sounds respectable and the name is memorable.
  • Avoid slang and casual writing style. You are a professional so behave like one! Even if you are from Generation Y or Game, remember that this is a letter and not a chat. The person you want to date might be the age of your parents.
  • I just read a great post by Liz Ryan on LinkedIn about modern companies asking applicants to send them 250 to 300 words to describe their “WHY”. A lot of applications still do not get that this is the whole purpose of the cover letter. I also recommend brainstorming exercises to my clients on why they want to work in the role and the company before they start writing a fresh letter.

Send convincing testimonials

In Switzerland and Germany work certificates, references and testimonials are usually summarized with the word “Zeugnisse“. They are required for any job application. Some employers only request them once you are offered a job, others want to see them when you send your initial application. When a job advertisement asks you to hand in your “complete documentation” or “dossier”, then you should include all your work certificates, references, and testimonials

Helpful types of work certificates, references, and testimonials

1) Work certificates and confirmations 

Show proof from all your previous employment. Here we expect to see a qualitative element in them explaining what you do well and how you performed in your job. If you apply from abroad request a three liner from your previous employer confirming the times you have worked fort hem and a contact person who will give a reference. If you only have names of referees make sure they expect to be called by the potential employer.

2) Certificates of language certifications and seminars

Our assumption is that the more additional training you have undertaken, the better you are at your job. Even if the certification is a bit older it is worthwhile adding it to your file. Make sure all foreign language certifications are translated into English.

3) University and high school diplomas

Usually, the last diploma and transcript are required. If your marks do not translate into German try to give an explanation on a separate sheet. Please note that even Switzerland and Germany have completely opposite grading systems so it is always good to explain (1.3 in Germany is excellent, in Switzerland, it is a fail).

4) Client testimonials and performance reviews

If you have a chance and it is not against any confidentiality agreements you can add client testimonials and even your performance reviews in your file. It is often more credible to hear words of praise of others than your own. You can ask your former clients and managers to edit and sign a draft that you send to them so they know exactly what you would like them to confirm about you.

How do you arrange your testimonials?

To make it easy for the Swiss recruiter I would advise you sort the testimonials in chronological order and give an overview on a cover page too. Scan all docs in one pdf and make sure that the file size is not more than 2MB as a lot of recruiting platforms won’t accept bigger files. If you do not have all your documents together yet mention on the cover page when you will hand them in. You can download our templates here.

 

Please share this post with anybody struggling with the job search in Switzerland and make sure you all subscribe here to our “Global People Club Sandwich”.

We can also send you an excerpt of the Global Career Workbook.

International Relocation is usually stressful. It ranks among the top 10 stress factors in life. I have worked as a Global Mobility Manager and I regularly consult expats and their spouses on career choices and one of the lessons I had learned is that you cannot take away the stress from international relocation completely but you can make it easier by following those seven rules I will share with you now.

1) Organize your move into smaller tasks with a checklist.

It is all about organizing yourself and all those relocating with you. Try to break down the move in as many steps as possible and work those off day by day. Better one baby step a day than a huge step in a week. I’m a fan of an online and an offline checklist and you can use our checklist if you find it helpful. Shortly before the move, I would rely on hand-written notes and post-its. Kanban-style visualization helps in any kind of project.

2) Reserve time to get tasks done

You can set aside a time in your diary possibly early in the morning where you get 1 or 2 relocation items off your checklist. You will instantly feel better for the rest of day. If you are a couple make sure that every one of you as a block of tasks bundled that make sense together. For example, your spouse might clean out closets while you check the exact moving allowance and contractual agreements with the moving company. You might take charge of selling household goods that are no longer needed while your spouse writes to insurance companies and other authorities.

3) Work with the relocation company from the beginning

If you work with a professional relocation company clarify expectations early. Find out what their service includes exactly so you don’t do superfluous work. Usually, they will do the packing but not the unpacking of your boxes. Get an understanding of the volume your company will pay for you to relocate. If you move internationally for the first time you will not know how much a container holds. Invite the relocation consultant to your home as soon as you know about the relocation. The relocation consultant will tell you exactly how much of your furniture and stuff will fit into one container. The less “stuff” you have the better. You also don’t want to take valuable furniture into a climate that is tropical. Make fast decisions about what needs to be stored. In my last move, I used colored stickers to help me identify which picture will go into which building. You can use stickers for everything that will go into storage. Also, make sure that the relocation company will be authorized to dispose of anything you don’t want anymore.

4) Separate important documents

Sometimes the most important customs documents or your child’s passport end up in a moving box. Important documents need to be separated and best kept outside of the apartment during the packing process. Scan all of them and put them in an electronic folder like Dropbox where you can access them at any time. Moving companies tend to have a “red box” for all items that should not go into the container. Request it with the consultant’s first visit.

5) Plan at least two days for arrival and unpacking

My mum once had to unpack all my boxes because I needed to start to work. It took me quite a while to find out where everything was. Some of the things my mum put away nicely are still where they were three years ago. Try to make sure you have enough time to unpack. With children, you need to plan extra time too.

6) Make sure people have enough to eat and drink

Moving is a physical exercise too and if you are a nerd like me you probably hardly carry out that much. You don’t use the stairs so many times normally and you will feel exhausted from answering a lot of questions. You can create a good atmosphere with the movers by providing enough food and drinks to get through the packing. You should also tip them generously. So have enough cash with you at the location you depart from and the location you are moving to. Since an overseas shipment will take at least 6 weeks there is enough time to prepare for the moving day in the host location. Remember also that you should stay in corporate accommodation until you are positive that your consignment will arrive on time. In emergencies, relocation companies will rent out furniture to you but it is an unnecessary hassle.

Miracles cannot be expected but if you ensure movers have enough to eat and drink it usually helps the mood.
Miracles cannot be expected but if you ensure movers have enough to eat and drink it usually helps the mood.

Abu Dhabi Mosque

7) Keep all receipts and expect Murphy’s law

Sometimes moving goods get lost at sea or damaged. If you care too much about granny Susanne’s old kitchen cupboard you might need to consider to store it. If it is valuable to make sure you get proper insurance. Keep all receipts of expenditure you had due to the move even if you get a lump sum cash allowance to cover your relocation costs. You might need them to claim insurance. You will have a packing list and you can take photos of your important furniture and paintings for example. Otherwise, you might not have proof of damage. Most relocation companies are very generous with handling issues (unless they are not adhering to industry standards). Before you get into a fist-fight with the relocation company it is best to escalate the issue to your in-house Global Mobility Manager.

These are seven small tips for keeping sane during relocation.

If you liked this post please share it with a person who is currently relocating to another country.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS. If you wish to have a chat with me you can book a call with me here.

RockMe! Retreat

 

Have-Done-Lists are a great tool to boost your productivity. It is the opposite of the To-Do-List and was promoted by my coach educator Drs. Boudewijn Vermeulen. Like me, Boudewijn used to work in a consultancy company and he also coached a lot of lawyers. He knew about our ridiculous hours and how we were always trying to multitask to get more done in a shorter time frame but you probably know this situation from your own experience.

It’s 6.05 AM and you are just getting out of the shower… Your hair is toweled up and you light two candles. You get into your meditation pose and close your eyes. Then you realize that you have not set your alarm. So you get up and get your phone from the bathroom where you were reading an interesting article about the entrepreneur scene in Europe. Then you see that you have three new messages on WhatsApp…

At 8 AM you realize that your late and you hardly remember to take the train ticket, your badge, your purse and sunglasses and whoosh – you’re out of the door. You remember the candles, open the door again, blow them out and while you run to catch the train you think: “Didn’t I plan to meditate?” Sounds familiar?

We have too many distractions nowadays (oh no…I overcooked the pasta while writing this) that I often wonder how people get any work done at all. Have you ever caught yourself in the last 24 hours thinking “What am I actually doing right now?”. We have programs and routines and they do not seem to require the same brain activity as real challenges and often we are just keeping busy but our output is not really that relevant.

I saw several people walking on their Sunday stroll the other day and they all talked to someone on the phone via a headset. They did not just get a call. They planned to use their walking hour to speak to someone. I sometimes combine routine activities with other activities too. For example, I would watch a video or listen to a podcast while ironing. It works really well to combine such activities.

However, it does not help me in order to create. I prefer to mono-task and give my full attention to the task even if it seems mundane. I want to give my brain time to reflect and digest the input it receives during the week (and believe me there’s a lot of input). My creative side suffers when I don’t give my brain time to digest, reflect and organize. Unfortunately, with Social Media, I have such a love-hate relationship that I really need to discipline myself to get off them.

If you constantly feel that you are not getting enough relevant work done, I urge you to try the Have-Done-List.

1) Write down how you spend your time by using a “Have-Done-List”

I find the easiest way to do this is by having a notebook (old-school) next to my laptop or computer which just serves for this purpose (and other crazy ideas running through my head). You can add anything on this list that you have done during that day even this: “Sat down on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine in my face.”

Use Have-Done Diaries
Use Have-Done Diaries

2) Join our RockMe! Program and Retreat

In RockMe!, we make weekly reflections a mandatory process. 15 minutes per week and you will be amazed at how much more you achieved than you thought. The thing is that if I don’t gently encourage you to do this you’d rather spend those fifteen minutes watching cat videos. For the youngsters amongst you, we have developed the RockMeApp.  If you are constantly feeling in a rat race you will profit from joining our RockMe! Retreat.

Please share this post with all your rat lab friends and corporate clones.

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

PS: If you wish to have a fun chat with me about productivity please book a call with me here.


I promise you 10 life-saving rules from my experience as a Global Mobility Coach when you embark on your Expat Journey. Moving into another country poses a lot of challenges. Too often we all rely on our employer and hope that they will make sure everything is done properly.

When we get an indication that an international assignment could have challenges because we talk to other expats, we might not take those so seriously or we might think that certain issues do not apply to us. You probably also think you can outsmart everybody else, correct?

Still, here are 10 rules you should follow when embarking on your Expat Journey.

  1. Host Market Salary: Often the salary in the host country is determined at “peer” level. However, it might not be very transparent what that exactly means. Often there is room for negotiation. Familiarise yourself online with the cost of living especially for rent. Try to budget your spending in the first months as you might not have a good feeling for the currency yet.
  2. Host Grade / Title and Role: All too often we accept an offer that does not totally match our experience level. Try to find out what your role entails and address your expectations early in the process. Get a written role description.
  3. Repatriation or Transition Plan: I have seen many assignees who never clearly articulated what they would like to get out of their international assignment experience. They also do not know how the experience would lead to a new role in the home entity. Formulate a plan for your repatriation before you go on the assignment.
  4. Immigration, Tax and Social Security: Usually assignees see those three areas as burdensome administration. However, mistakes in immigration, social security or tax can be costly. Follow the instructions from your employer closely. Make sure you have understood what the assignment conditions are in these three areas. Do you know what is expected of you and when you have to meet certain deadlines? If you are not getting supported by your company seek external help.
  5. Life Partners & Spouses: Many of my assignees discuss the assignment with their life partners and spouses and rely on their consent to come along with them. Often though I get the impression that the decision is a wish of the assignee and the other partner has to decide to come along to maintain the relationship. Often this puts a high strain on the relationship because in the host country your spouse or life partner is on his or her own, does not have a network and even worse does not have a meaningful job like you have. Get coaching and find communities on the internet before you embark on your journey. Building up a network in the host country is key.
  6. Kids and Teens: I do not have children myself but I can imagine the strain of having to take your child out of school and moving to another place since I was one of those children too. It is hard and your children might need more attention than usual. Often they have to learn a new language and make new friends. Work with your spouse/life partner through the issues, find out how easy an international education will be in the host country, discuss with other global parents and most importantly listen to your children’s needs too.
  7. Parents and elderly family members in the home country: Before you embark on your journey consider what to do in family emergencies. What can you do if your parents need help or have an accident? What about your old auntie or uncle who was always there for you and is all alone now?
  8. Emergencies in the host countries: We all believe that we will live forever but there are moments in our life when we are suddenly in the middle of a bomb attack, civil unrest or exposed to a natural catastrophe such as a Tsunami. Have an emergency plan ready. Discuss with your partner and friends at home what to do in case of you getting injured or dying. Learn the emergency services of your companies and their phone numbers by heart so you can call them. Enrol on their websites.
  9. Global Mobility Experts: Accept that there are professionals in the field who support expatriates all the time. Seek their advice and support. Be nice to them! We usually have very good relationships with our assignees. We know a lot about your personal concerns. For us, an assignee is a human first. So if you are nice to us we will gladly help you through all your topics and hold your hand when the going gets tough.
  10. Make friends for life: In our global world today it is easy to feel at home in most places once you have established some meaningful relationships and once you have had a chance to see the country you moved to. Work is important but remember: Work will always be there. The moments you will remember later are those you have either shared with people, been to places or doing special activities.

All the best for your adventure.

If you find this post helpful please share it with all your expat friends.

Angie Weinberger

The Global Mobility Coach
Angie Weinberger
Global Talent Deer

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

I need to get this off my chest before I start shouting it out loud: What is going on with global recruiting in 2018? On the one hand, we have a huge number of open positions in Zurich, we hear that companies cannot find the right candidates, war for talent, shortage of talent and all that. On the other hand, I speak to a large number of global talents, who cannot seem to get a foot in the door. We are talking about highly qualified, well-experienced and reliable GenX professionals with the right attitude and skill set. I blame the process, not the people.

We need to really up our recruiting game

Last week, I started to vent on Twitter. By the end of the week, I am more constructive. I did not want to touch the subject matter of recruiting but you are the evil twin sister of Global Mobility after all. We have so much in common. We came from the same womb of shared services. Today, we are both trying to get out of kindergarten of the center of expertise we were dumped into because we are considered “difficult to handle”. Take my hand and let’s walk this path together.

So, recruiting sisters and brothers, listen up. I am writing this post for you. I want to help my candidates have a better experience. I will share my client’s stories and we can always share our pink lunch box to discuss this further.

ATS – The Applicant Torture System

Most of the applicant tracking systems I currently see are a milder form of torture. Why do they never allow you to save a process in the middle? Maybe you did not yet write your cover letter. Maybe you get a phone call or you are interrupted during an upload. Also, they never give you enough space to upload your extensive collection of testimonials and certifications. They hardly ever give me a status update. That should be so easy to program. Here is where you are, then you get a drop-down or similar with a few status updates: We received your valuable application, one of our staff members has reviewed your application, we have forwarded your application to the hiring manager, you are in the pile of rejections, we might take a second look, we will call you for an interview, we will call you again. Maybe you could get an amazing copywriter to make it sound appreciative.

Going back to the 70ies with individual cover letters

Seriously? Do we need cover letters and do we have to make them several pages long? If you really want a well-written cover letter it will take the candidate at least 30 minutes if the person is a native speaker and good at writing. If not, it will take them an hour or two. Just to go into the black hole or to receive a robot response. If you want to get a candidate’s motivation it’s simple: We need to make a living in one way or another. We have studied hard, worked hard all of our lives and now we had to face a job loss/ offshoring/ burnout/ international move of the partner. You will not get a lot of additional value from the cover letter and if you must make it compulsory, can it not be a field where you can just write 200 words instead of an A4 Letter upload and all that?

The robot response

The robot response is a little bit disheartening even if you are packaging it nicely. With the GDPR I am not even sure if it is legal that you keep the candidate’s profile in your database. Have you considered writing a line that is a little more personal? In the old days, we used to give candidates feedback and give them a chance to call us by telephone. I guess that’s no longer possible since you are now based out of Wroclaw or Pune. But maybe you could give a hint, WHY the application did not match (especially when LinkedIn thinks you have 7(10) skills. Was it because the candidate seems too lazy as he did not write a cover letter? Was it because the candidate did not adjust his resume, because I told him not to do that? Did you maybe think he was too old, she was too expensive or too xxx? Give us an idea of what to improve next time.

Thanks for your interest in the role of (insert role here). After reviewing your details, we’ve decided not to progress further with your application. We’ll keep your profile in our database. If you are interested, we put new jobs on our careers website (xxx) every day. Thanks for your interest in working with us and we wish you success in your future job search.

The black hole

It’s hard for most of my clients when they receive a lot of robot responses but for many of us, a robot response is better than 0 response. I don’t understand how you can do this and still look in the mirror in the morning. A busy person is using 30 minutes to 2 hours of their precious life to communicate their interest to you and you do not even find it necessary to send a thank you note? Where you raised by wolves? Seriously, sisters and brothers, this is just not good enough.

The fake job

If you have just posted a job online you cannot tell a candidate 24 hours later that you have found an internal solution, changed the job profile or that you found someone from your network. It screams “fake job”. What were your trying to achieve? I don’t get it and I don’t think that posting a fake job all over the Internet will increase your credibility. You might raise your website’s ranking if you are a newly established recruiting company but who will come back to you a second time? You go back to play hide and seek with the kids in Kindergarten. I don’t think you are ready for school yet. If you must post a fake job for any political or whatever reason at least have the decency to check if the candidate matches other roles. Give them a call, try to see if you can work with them in the future. Maybe they would be great as freelancers.

The sick bird stays in his cage.
This is how a lot of global talents feel in Zurich.

Unconscious bias

Prof. Dr. Gudrun Sander pointed out in a superb webinar last week that unconscious bias is still dominant in the recruiting process. She gave examples of how a name change from a Germanic name to a Turkish name reduced the number of invites from 20% to 14%. When the same candidate wore a headscarf the number of invites went down to 4%.

I had written a (German) post in 2015 about how important it is that we train our HR Professionals in recruiting in intercultural competence. It seems that we have not really made progress since then. Maybe we even went a step back when it comes to diversity and inclusion in recruiting. If you are wondering why you don’t have any female candidates, for example, you should implement the actions Prof. Sander recommends.

Companies complain about talent shortage. Maybe we would find more talents if we took a different route and asked talents more about their needs. Examples could be a four-day week (at 100% pay), decent pay and benefits, home office options and family time. And for heaven’s sake could you please eliminate age brackets and other discriminatory items from your job profiles.

Could you also consider that the requirement “native speaker” is discriminatory? In my experience, most of the positions you advertise do not require native speakers but fluency. Be careful how you advertise language skills and you could have a lot more qualified candidates.

LinkedIn Easy Apply

If you use this function, please make sure that it is understood by candidates and companies alike. I don’t know why “your job profile has been shared with the job poster” is less significant than a formal application. Is that not already an indication of interest? How can technology become a process enabler and not just an annoyance?

Is there hope?

Maybe, after all, there is hope. Maybe we should bond and not wait for disruptors in the field. We can be stronger together! Candidates and recruiters. You could be Ginger and Fred, going on amazing dates, dancing wonderful shows together if you just learned to speak each other’s languages better. Ask the candidates about their wishes. Apart from a job, they mainly want to be respected. How can you treat them with respect? What would you do if the candidate was your next date? How would you treat them? What if the candidate was your next manager, supporter or friend?

These are questions you should be asking yourself, my dear recruiters. Now, do your homework and then you can come to school with us in the fall.

Share this post with all of your friends who are frustrated with their job search. Tell them to book a call with me.

Angie Weinberger

PS: You can book a call with me here if you dare.