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Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

Switzerland’s two largest cities and their surrounding areas are where most employment opportunities can be found. This is what you should know about what each of these locations has to offer.

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?
Photos: Geneva: Image by ChiemSeherin from Pixabay / Zurich: Image by Julian Hacker from Pixabay

While Zurich and Geneva are different in some regards, such as the language spoken there — Swiss-German in the former and French in the latter — the two cities also have some things in common.

For instance, both frequently feature among the most expensive cities to live in various international surveys.

The latest one, carried out by a global mobility organisation, ECA International, found that globally Geneva and Zurich were ranked in the third and seventh place, respectively, in a survey of 20 most expensive cities for international residents.

However, on the European scale, Geneva was placed in top spot and Zurich in third.

But what about their job markets? Where should you look for a job — in Zurich or Geneva?

Your search may depend on personal factors such the area where you already live (or want to live) and the language you speak.

If you are fluent in French but not so much in Swiss German (or high German), then the choice is clear (and vice-versa). Even if English may be the main language in the office, you will still heed to speak local language outside of work.

But if you are open to moving wherever good job opportunities are plentiful, regardless of language skills, which city / area should you opt for?

The Local asked Stephan Surber, Senior Partner, Page Executive – a sister company to Michael Page recruiter for some insight.

Which market is more attractive to qualified employees, and why?

“Both Geneva and Zurich provide considerable opportunities to skilled professionals”, Surber said.

However, according to the Michael Page Swiss Job Index, the number of advertised jobs in May was over nine times bigger for canton Zurich than for canton Geneva. 

Do both cities/region offer similar positions in similar industries, or are they different and if so, how?

“Both offer roles in key industries such as financial and professional services, as well as health and life sciences”, Surber said.

They typically differ from one another in the concentration of industries. For example, Geneva has a higher concentration of international NGOs such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organisation, as well as commodity traders.

Zurich also has these sectors but is better known for its concentration of Swiss-based, international financial institutions such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re, among others.

Is there a difference in terms of salaries for the same jobs / positions in each city?

There is no significant difference for professionals, in salary and compensation levels, according to Surber.

He pointed out that salaries in all major Swiss cities are at similar levels, with differences typically occurring between major Swiss cities and smaller, regional areas, and within small to medium organisations.

Compensation levels also vary across industries and according to the level of experience and the type of role.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland

Demand is especially strong right now in sectors such as technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as the private market industry.

For job seekers who are new to either city, Surber recommends building your professional network, for example by joining local chambers of commerce and / or professional associations.

These articles provide more information about finding work:

‘It’s competitive’: Essential advice for finding a job in Zurich

How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier
 

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What’s the outlook for the Swiss job market this autumn?

The prospects of finding a job in Switzerland towards the end of 2022 are promising, especially in certain sectors, a new study has shown.

What's the outlook for the Swiss job market this autumn?

The outlook for the Swiss labor market will say positive towards the end of 2022 even with a worsening of the overall economic outlook, according to Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS.

Most sectors are recruiting, with the exception of finance, insurance and real estate, a new survey of 500 employers revealed.

However jobseekers with certain qualifications or experience are more in demand than others.

“Among the top 10 qualifications sought after are recycling and waste management, ecosystem and biodiversity management, human resources and cybersecurity,” said Jan Jacob, the head of Manpower Switzerland

According to the survey 500 employers carried out in August with 500 employers, 36 percent of companies said they plan to hire in the fourth quarter, while 16 percent plan to reduce their workforce. Some 42 percent of those companies surveyed see no change in staff levels in the coming months.

All Swiss regions reported positive job prospects, with particularly high scores in Ticino  and Central Switzerland.

But 24 percent of companies surveyed in the Geneva region and 14 percent Zurich said they were planning to recruit.

“Considering that the survey was conducted in the context of geopolitical and economic risks, the war in Ukraine and the consequences of the pandemic, the hiring outlook is still positive,” Jacob said.

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