Working in Geneva

Updated 2019-07-31 12:53

Geneva is Switzerland's second most densely populated city after Zurich – and one of the country's best expat destinations. Home to the UNO's European headquarters and a major player in the finance sector, Geneva keeps attracting European and foreign nationals due to the different career opportunities available there.

Economy & labour market

Geneva's labour market is also expanding, with the employment rate growing nearly 10% in recent years. But finding a job is not always easy: it can take some time and networking to find something suitable.

The city of Geneva may only have a population of about 200,000 people, but it is considered one of the world's 'largest small cities'. Home to over 20 international organisations such as the European headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations, the Red Cross International Committee and the World Health Organisation, Switzerland's second most populated city is truly an international hub. Over 160 countries are representing their governments through permanent missions in Geneva's international organisations and conferences.

Staff for the banking services sector are in high demand in Geneva. More than a hundred foreign banks have their headquarters in Geneva (as well as national banks and other financial institutions) turning both private and corporate finance the main field of employment.

Geneva is also the headquarters for companies and industries specialising in pharmaceuticals and chemicals, distribution, prestige watches and information and communication technology. Among these, prestigious firms such as FIFA, Procter & Gamble, Colgate, Palmolive, IBM, Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Baume & Mercier, and Sun Microsystems are based in the city.

Geneva city's leading recruiters are the private sector and multinational companies operating in the region. In fact, expatriates are more likely to be hired in fields such as industry, commerce, distribution, banking and finance, high technology and information and communication technology. But jobs are also available in the health care and public administration fields for European Union citizens.

Job hunting in Geneva

You can check out job offers on the internet and in classifieds ads in local newspapers. In Geneva, these 'offres d'emploi', can be found in the 24 Emplois section of 24 Heures (a free week-daily paper found at tram stops and coffee shops throughout the city) and "Pages emploi" in the Le Temps newspaper.

The canton and the city of Geneva's website also has many sections dedicated to employment. Among other things, you will find a comprehensive list of placement agencies. These include Michael Page, Manpower and Adecco.

There is a strong Unemployment Fund specifically targeted at young people, and the city is taking great care to integrate job seekers, both professionally and socially. The City of Geneva is also its biggest employer, with 4,000 employees, and are always looking for new people.

Top tips for finding a job

If you are an EU national, you do not need a residence permit for the first three months while looking for a job. If your job search takes longer, you need to apply for a short-term residency permit to look for a job for another three months. However, it will only be issued if you are registered with a regional employment centre.

Speaking French will give you a competitive advantage and open you up to a wider range of job roles - if you are looking for a job in the hospitality sector, this is almost considered a mandatory requirement. However, because of the international character of the city, there are many instances where you will simply need a good command of English.

Good to know:

The Cité des Metiers du Grand Genève also offers some free, valuable tools to assist you on your job search, from professional advice to direct access to programmes and workshops, specialised books and individual counselling.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.