Category Archives: Global Mobility

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailInspiring clients and communities

Recently, I co-hosted an event with around 80 women in Zurich and surrounding areas. One of the speakers almost made me cry because she has made such a leap since we met first in this community about 1.5 years ago.

Why is this group so inspiring?

It has to do with all of us. How we are when we are together. How we connect.  It’s not really important “what you do”, if you are a mom or not, if you are married, single or divorced. We just like each other and give each other credit. That’s why I love to work for this cause. It’s pure love.

Social Media helped us build the community spirit

Contrary to common opinion we started a group on Facebook (after we already had a LinkedIn group) believing we need a shared space that is only open for members. I know that some members still prefer LinkedIn but let’s be honest: When did you last post a discussion in a LinkedIn Group without being worried that you make an idiot of yourself?

Have you never worried that your peers would look down on you? I am constantly worried about what I can say on LinkedIn and what I can’t. On Facebook it’s less critical, more honest and a different circle.

Social Media is the real world.

We need cheerleaders. We need tweeps who love what we tweet, we need friends who share and overall we are not successful unless we put in a lot of time and / or money.

For my business I have outsourced Social Media because I know I can get lost in it. I want to focus on my clients and the least thing my clients need is to follow me on Twitter. They have enough stress to adjust to Switzerland, learn German / French and search a job. They get one or two posts per week (to their email account).

Don’t worry too much about Social Media. If you focus on serving your community and your clients you will work it out along the way.

Child psychologist

This is Clara. She moved to Basel in 2012 from the UK. Her husband had received a very good job offer and they both decided to move here together. Clara was not aware that her degree in child psychology would be less known in Switzerland plus she had to learn the German language before she could function here. After one year she felt rather useless and depressed.  In one moment she focused on your job search, the next moment she was playing with children. In another minute she opens her email account only to find that she was rejected for all the jobs she applied for the previous week.

Sounds familiar?

  • You feel disappointed and angry.
  • You blame Switzerland.
  • You blame the fact that your German is not fluent
  • You hate your partner for exposing you to this situation.
  • You might even feel like you do not know who you are anymore.
  • You stand in the line at Migros and a person barks at you and you stop to care.
  • You do not get that the cashier asks for your “Migros Card” because of his or her funny foreign and Swiss accent.
  • Maybe this is the day you called the handyman to fix a light bulb only to discover that you cannot communicate with him or her.

You are exhausted, tired, emotional and you just wish to pack up and go home. You certainly do not want to meet another Swiss person tonight. Then your wife calls to cancel the dinner you had planned for both of you.

This is the typical expat spouse experience. What often happens is that you have a “culture shock” a bit later than your (working) partner as in the beginning of the international assignment you are too busy to organize the home and settle in everyone. You are too busy supporting your children and your partner. One day, you notice that you have your own needs too. Some expat spouses therefore only have a “culture shock”  late in the first year of assignment or even the second year.

What can you do to overcome “culture shock” and focus on your job search again?

1) Develop a regular routine.

2) Go for a short walk of 15 to 20 minutes per day.

3) Practice a relaxation method such as progressive muscle relaxation.

4) Write a diary or blog to digest your experience.

5) Go on a weekend trip with your family.

6) Reconnect with friends and family.

7) Build up a social circle.

8) Meet professionals through structured networking groups.

9) Watch your eating and drinking habits.

10) Invite one person you do not know well for a coffee per week and get to know this person better.

What happened to Clara?

Clara took a course and rebranded herself. She also built up her network in Basel and continued to study in her field. Today she is working as a freelance teacher working with global children at the International School in Basel.

 

Discussion with Jill

 Jill is a successful Global Marketing Director with over twenty years of experience. She moved to Switzerland in 2009 as a local hire when she received a good offer from a large pharma company. As a US citizen and single professional woman integrating in Switzerland (a country largely dominated by males earning the main income while females keep the household and children in perfect shape) she initially had a hard time adjusting. After two years she finally felt settled and at home. Jill loves her work and next to a bit of exercise and travelling she does not take a lot of time off. She is successful and strong in a male environment. She is accepted because of her international background, experience and the high quality and fast output.
Then one day early in 2014 the company she works for had to downsize. Foreigners go first. Why is that? There is no logic in the employment law requiring certain criteria to be met when downsizing is on the agenda. Contrary to many European countries Swiss employment contract and employment law is closer to the US and UK case law. It is actually very easy to terminate an employee.

What most foreigners moving to Switzerland underestimate though, is that their work and residence permit status is closely linked to their employment. Unlike EU citizens (which still have the benefit of the blialteral agreement with the EU) a US , Canadian, Indian or Australian is considered a “third country” citizen. (Not to be confused with third world country). The immigration status therefore depends on having employment.  The fact that you are eligible for unemployment benefits is not giving the authorities grounds to extend your work and residence permit.

Last month I had two clients who were made redundant or are about to be terminated. Often not even the HR department understands the implications of the termination. I offer advice and support to clients in such cases.  I am not going to blurt out what I told Jill but we will update you if it works out. In a worst-case scenario she only has 60 days to move out of Switzerland (with an L-Permit it is only 15 days).

Here are three tips what you can  do now to avoid such a situation:

1)   If you are made redundant speak to HR about your personal situation. It might be possible to extend your termination period.

2)   Keep in contact with recruiting companies and headhunters in your field.

3)   Strengthen your network in your industry as most jobs are given to personal connections these days.

4)   Get married to a Swiss person or EU citizen.

5)   If you are transferred by a company, negotiate a repatriation clause in case of redundancy.

6)   Before you become desperate, make an appointment with us.

Urs, the global HR ManagerThe last you know of Urs, the global HR Manager is that we agreed to meet again in three months. Urs and his wife had taken a brave decision. They went to Bangalore and Kerala for a small vacation. Urs wanted to have a conversation with Rajeev’s father. Rajeev then was allowed to support the company in Switzerland for nine months. Urs told me later that through his vacation he got a better understanding of how Indian families lived. He also understood that Rajeev needed a lot more support and what he called “fatherly love” than his Swiss team members.

While Rajeev worked in Switzerland they took coffee and tea in the morning. Urs did not have a team in Switzerland but a few other colleagues where interested in India so they would join them. Rajeev enjoyed the small coffee breaks. He learnt about Swiss sports and politics. He dared to ask questions about the religion and about single life before marriage. When this topic started Urs would excuse himself to go to a meeting while Rajeev. For the rest of the day Rajeev would work hard to meet Urs’ expectations. He often worked longer hours than his Swiss colleagues but he enjoyed his work. Once he was back in Bangalore and even when he moved on to a new employer Rajeev would see Urs as a mentor and ask him for guidance. Urs once told me with teary eyes “You know with Rajeev and also Kasha I almost feel like they are my children. It’s a new feeling for me since we never had children. I enjoy to be so useful now and I am much more relaxed.”

That day we ended the coaching. There is only so much a coach can contribute.