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Expat Advice: Working in Olten, Switzerland

Submitted by zwitserlaan

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Olten

What type of work do you do and how did you find your job?

I work with the Swiss national railways. In the Netherlands, I worked with the Dutch railways.

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How did you obtain your work permit? What advice would you have for others about work permits?

For your work/stay permit, you need:

- Passport

- Proof of work / income

- Proof of (mandatory) Swiss health insurance (you need to provide this within 3 months of your registration)

- Proof of stay (contract in which it is clear that you rent/bought a place to live)

For most EU-citizens, this will do. Bring the documents to the "Einwohnerkontrolle" of the place where you (are going to) live and they will register you. Depending of the town, they may organise your work/stay permit, or provide you with the documents that enable to apply for your work/stay permit yourself. You should obtain the permit without too many problems.

If you are not an EU-citizen, keep in mind that quotas apply for work/stay permits. There is a maximum to the number of work permits per year that are issued to non-EU-citizens. Moreover, your Swiss employee has to prove that he has made ample effort to find someone from Switzerland or the EU for the job, before he can hire you.

A vicious circle may arise when looking for a place to live. Most landlords ask for your permit to stay when you want to rent property, and conditions for buying property may be bad when you cannot show your permit to stay. On the other hand, you need proof of a place to live when applying for the permit to stay! Solutions:

- If you have Swiss friends or relatives: ask whether you can stay with them for the time being. You register on their address (and they or their landlord may have to produce some document in which it is declared that you are living there)

- Much more expensive: you can stay in hotel or hostel for the first period. Proof of stay at the ho(s)tel will do for registering for your permit to stay

- As this is a common "vicious circle", many landlords will understand the situation and you may ask them to be a bit flexible, and promise to provide a copy of the permit to stay as soon as you have it.

Have you taken language and cross-cultural training courses to prepare for your assignment? If so, how have they helped you on the job?

I could speak German, French and Italian before I moved to Switzerland. When moving to the German part of the country, knowledge of the strong Swiss German dialect is not needed (anyone speaking dialect is also able to speak standard German). For good integration into Swiss society, however: The Swiss highly appreciate when you learn to understand the dialect asap. There are even courses in Swiss German. Unless many other places in the world, the Swiss German dialect is spoken almost everywhere in daily life, also at work.

If you were transferred abroad by your employer, were you guaranteed a job upon repatriation? What type of mentoring programs does your employer offer?

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What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?

Prepare well for applying for a job. Your CV should be complete, well ordered, and must be accompanied by copies of diplomas, job references, and so on, and a good photograph of yourself (no holiday picture!). The job interview usually is quite formal (suit and tie is an absolute must for men!). It is not unusual that the employer will ask you about your salary wishes during the first interview, so be prepared for that question.

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