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How to transition between sectors and industries successfully in Switzerland

Article published by Isabelle Litzler on May 04. 2018

When I received a job offer to come and work for a big multinational in Geneva, Switzerland back in 2007, I thought I would grow a career in the Technology sector for a long time and was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, this opportunity did not last and I quickly found myself in a country where I knew absolutely nobody. What to do? Offers in this very particular sector tend to be scarce, especially as a specialist. My employer offered a coaching programme for career transition upon leaving which ended up saving the day for me. This experience also opened up a new door in a whole new sector within international organizations.  I want to share with you below how I was able to transition and how you can also apply some of the principles if you want to do the same.

Tips to transition successfully:

·     Identify your skills: Consider doing a full skills assessment to understand your strengths and how to plug them to the regional market and whether the changing orientation may be a good idea or not.

·    Define your market potential: Transition is best until 40?s. Age is a criteria in a challenging marketplace if you are going to take risks in trying different sectors, industries or starting a business..

·     Invest in re-inventing yourself: Make sure you do a re-branding of your resume + online professional image.  For example, if you worked in Retail your entire life and now want to move to Pharma, make sure you build your profile to ?look and feel?Pharma. This is a necessary marketing type of exercise to position yourself.

·     Build a portable career: You can create a job/activity you can take with you anywhere. Develop your skills and go for multiple streams of income.

·     Have a concrete goal: Convincing an employer to trust you even though you have no experience in a similar industry is going to be tough in Switzerland. Build-up a logical story in your resume of why you decided to make the move. What makes you legitimate? For example, if you want to get into Not-For-Profit and you are now in the private sector, volunteer in an NGO to add a line on your resume and show your strong interest before applying for a professional position. 

·     Network: Try to meet professionals who are working in the field and sector you target.  I like to have people confront their project with the real world to see if they convince. Pleiades HC supports you with the networking and can help you find the right contacts.

·     Build a pitch with the new objective: This is connected to how much you invested in your new goal. If you re-trained, volunteered and already tested your project, this part should be easy because you convinced yourself of your value.

·     Allow some time for your transition: You will need to build all the small stepping stones for a while before you see the light at the end. In Switzerland especially, the culture and language factors are important and you need to be patient to integrate fully in the local needs and flavour.

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