Jobless in Switzerland

Who remembers “Sleepless in Seattle?”

Well, if you do remember when it came out in the movie theatre you probably have the same age as me. So what does that mean? It’s hard to find a new job. Anywhere. But if you are new in Switzerland and you do not speak one of the four national languages you are probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown right now. (Another awesome movie btw).

 

Jobless or at the brink of a nervous breakdown?
Jobless or at the brink of a nervous breakdown?

You have just unpacked your boxes, fixed the electricity in your apartment, got the stove running, know where to buy high-priced groceries at Migros or Coop and are ready to go on the job hunt. Computer in place, Google opened, jobs.ch found and (zack) you send out the first five applications before you start discovering Basel, Zurich or Geneva for the weekend.

 

Worst case: Less than 24 hours later you find a rejection (Email template along the lines of “we have received your documents but we have other candidates matching the profile better”).

 

Better case: After an instant “we got your documents please be patient” but then you don’t hear anything for two weeks…or three…or four. You call them nervously after three days. The reaction on the other end is less than friendly. “We will get back to you.” Then you get the rejection. Your application might have gone lost or it might have ended up in a pile of candidates the company kept as “back-up solutions”. But calling them and pestering them after less than three weeks they did not like.

 

Best case: After about three weeks a nice HR person calls you and invites you for an interview which will happen within a time frame of another three weeks.

 

You stomp your feet, you bite in your desk and you complain to your partner every night.

 

So you contact headhunters and recruiting companies and hope they will place you but the sheer amount of them overwhelmes you . You tell your story for the seventh time and all you get is a “There are tons of applicants with your profile in the market: I advise you learn German / French first. Then your chances will be higher to land a job.”

 

Yes, Switzerland has an official unemployment rate below 4% (3.5%) but all the EU job searchers, expat spouses, self-employed, freelancers and Swiss parents with children do not necessarily appear in this statistic. You need to receive unemployment benefit to be counted as “unemployed”.

Let me share the current three filters in the recruiting process

Filter#1: Global companies have split up Human Resources in factory-like process items.  Filter #1 is a computer that looks for key words. This computer does not care about your feelings.

Filter #2 is a very junior HR coordinator somewhere in Bratislava, Pune, Manila or Costa Rica. Outsourcing and offshoring has led to the creation of shared service centres in most global companies. (These are usually the companies you target first.)

Then the last filter #3 is an HR Recruiter who sometimes is also an outsourced service provider sitting in any location in the world responsible for one silo (line of service) of the organisation. The HR Recruiter often works on a mandate basis but does not necessarily know the hiring manager well nor does he or she know the people in the team.

The hiring manager has certain ideas about the “ideal” candidate and often looks for a more junior version of her self or him self. Hiring managers tend to forget that they are unique so that it will be hard to find the “ideal” match. Many candidates therefore do not even get to the hiring manager as the filter #3 HR recruiter does not want to be seen as not being able to select the right candidates not to come up with the right shortlist.

The process breaks down and everyone is frustrated!

The hiring manager starts talking to her or his colleagues about how “HR is wasting time” and colleagues start talking about the vacancies to the team members. They speak to their friends on Facebook and LinkedIn and suddenly by miracle a good candidate appears through the network. The referrer gets a referral fee and the desperate hiring manager is happy to lower the standards he or she earlier had as the position has now been vacant for a few months.

This is not the “War for talents”. It’s just bad recruiting.

We need to improve recruiting again and come up with better standards.

1)   In my opinion recruiting needs to change, processes need to be reviewed in global companies.

2)   Hiring managers need to open up to a wider range of candidates.

3)   Candidates need to expand their network and use various channels to land a good job.

4)   Cooperation and performance is not predictable in a recruiting process. Even though we have two or three step modular processes with tests, case studies and competency-based questioning we can still hire the wrong person.

5)   Headhunters and recruiting firms need to be more open to candidates and support them better through the process.

 

What is your experience in the Swiss market?

Share and retweet if you want recruiting to improve.



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