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Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by mermy, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    Hi all,

    I don't post often, but hope someone here can help.

    A job in Switzerland has come up and I'd like to apply. My husband and son are happy for me to go for it, they'd support me with this life changing move (if I got it).

    Now, where to start? Could someone please help me with guidelines on CV and covering letter? Do Swiss CVs include a photograph?

    Does anyone here work in Switzerland? I have looked at rent prices and they are very high, but have read that Swiss teachers earn quite a lot, so I'm hoping it is do-able. My husband would take early retirement, so a small second income would be there too.

    It's an international, fee-paying school. Would my son (age 6) stand a chance in getting a free place there? I know I could in theory ask the school directly, but don't want to sound pushy/annoying.

    Any other tips on Switzerland and schools there in general will be appreciated.

  2. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    If it's an int'l school then it will likely follow int'l school conventions rather than local Swiss school recruiting conventions. Someone with more detailed information will likely come along but I will offer my two cents for what it's worth.

    I have applied to and interviewed with several large Swiss int'l schools and this is what worked for me in getting short-listed. CV's will generally have a picture, as well your DoB, citizenship and marital status/dependent situation. Some people will not list family situation but then cover this in their cover letter. Format is somewhat flexible but should be very similar to what you are used to. Try listing accomplishments rather than just duties whenever possible. Also pay close attention to the job description if one is listed and tailor your CV and cover letter to give them exactly what they are looking for.

    Switzerland can be expensive but as you say salaries are generally higher to compensate for this. Again, each int'l school will have it's own salary scale and benefits package. As for your son, I would greatly hope that the school would offer a free (or greatly reduced place) for him. It is generally the done thing and I would be hesitant to make such a move if you were expected to secure/pay for schooling for him on your own.

    A cover letter should be (at least IMHO) a combination personal and professional introduction, brief CV summary and mini-teaching philosophy, all in one page. Basically who you are, why you are applying to that specific school and anything in your personal/professional background that would make you a good fit for their open position and an asset to their school community (e.g. excellent results, unique skills, extra-curriculars etc.).

    Again you will likely be applying to School Heads/Leadership from the UK or other Western countries rather than to Swiss administrators so many of the tips for job applications on TES will also apply to your situation. Good luck!
  3. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    Dear mermy,
    I would strongly recommend that you do not- especially if it your first overseas posting. You certainly could not support a husband and kids there. The packages are NOT the same as other overseas posts. I did 2 years there. It is virtually impossible to get accommodation- they like to rent to Swiss first- estate agents do not even get back to you. Unless the school actually arrange and rent the apartment for you do not consider it. I ended up moving three times ( all sublets) and finally happily sorted somewhere in France and commuted in. I paid a huge amount and lived in places that even students in the UK would refuse to rent. Any teachers who were truly international had to leave as they could not afford to live if they had dependents. The salary is MASSIVE - but i was the poorest and saved the least of any of my posting. I could not really afford to do too much. If you have a child you would almost certainly end up in an apartment with no garden- hell on earth. It also may not have parking- the SWISS PARKING rules are a nightmare. You may have to rent a separate parking space/ garage. You need to rent for 2 years minimum with contracts- unless you take over someone elses or find a sub let. Even then the lady I rented from could only sublet fro 6 months- they have these Owner/ Managers ( Regis) that RULE- and massive rules. You do not even get a washing machine in most apartments- you get allocated a slot ( twice a week if lucky) that is the only time you can use it. I ended up buying for a huge sum a small one and it took up most of my bathroom. I could not always get in the two hour slot I was allocated. If you have an arsy concierge- even worse- I had to buy token from him at his convenience- machine keep breaking down- missed slot, etc- you imagine doing that with a kid.

    The other reason I would not recommend it for first posting is they are NOT international schools like most places. In huge school only about 8 of were international teachers ( hence none of the normal provision- welcome, induction, socials to get to know people, help to bank account, help with finding place to live) My Head and his wife did a good job to help me- but off their own back. Nearly all the teachers will be wives/ husbands of people with good jobs over there- and they actually live in Switzerland and have the salaries to allow a comfortable life. In my old school - they DID charge the teachers for fees- some had made deals.

    You have to pay medical insurance and this can be VERY expensive each month out of your salary- this is Swiss Law and you have to prove you have it. I guess for a family it could well be about £700 a month ( but you need a current poster to update.) Mine was £400 for a single.

    Petrol is cheap - but my winter tyres cost £1000. You do NOT make what the swiss teachers do in an International school- not ONE swiss person worked in our with over 2,000 pupils- guess why? there is one group Ecole Lint- in geneva (they have three school now I think- la chategnairee- or something like it! - that do pay an appropriate package and the teachers there were happy.

    Be aware that the kids may not also meet the profile of an expat school. Lots of rich Russians there for the passports! Lots of extreme ESL- do not speak a word of English at 12.

    Yes go for it overseas! WE have had amazing experiences- in UAE at present- BUT start researching- planning reading- take about 6 moths to choose your target country- Do not apply on a whim. Switzerland really is NOT that great to live in. It is really boring if you do not ski! It was a handy commute home with a sick parent though.
  4. cantonbean

    cantonbean New commenter

    ps if you do pursue it ask these questions- ( and by the way are you fairly fluent in French German or Italian- you need to be depending on which part) although alot of business is conducted in English- English is NOT accepted for any official communications.

    Will they do all the documentation of the apartment- massive contracts, inventory documentations with every mark on the wall - and be assured should there be one mark- they will keep your deposit and charge for repainting, Everything in one of the above languages.

    Will they assist you to sort out internet/phone - for everything you need an "attestation" and without the school supporting - or a helpful member of staff it is really difficult.

    Do NOT hesitate to ask about fees for your kids- they would probably think you are weird if not. They may not do the package information unless you are shortlisted.

    if you do pursue it pm me and I may have some inside info.

    Go for an international career- but somewhere that has a truly international staff and knows how to look after them. Europe EU I am afraid is the worst.

    They will give you
    flights for all family, free medical insurance, accommodation often appropriate for family, free school places etc. Though some places do not allow dependent husbands ( the other way around is ok! )
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Switzerland is a great place to live and bring up kids. Sure, it is a tad pricey, but certainly manageable. We have been here for nearly 8 years and are happy enough.

    Be aware though. Competition for jobs is intense.
  6. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    Thanks all for your replies. Sorry for my late reply, you know what it's like at this time of the year. Just managed to get a couple of hours today to make a start on a CV.

    Wrl, lots of info thanks.

    Cantonbean, I have read your warning, but I still want to apply. But I will definitely not have rose-tinted glasses on.

    I am in fact fluent German and my French is pretty good too. I was born in Germany, lived there for 24 years. Moved to England 11 years ago. To be honest - I've had enough of the system here. I just want to teach again and enjoy my job and not scrutinize data over and over again. This is not why I chose the profession.

    I need to get out and have a complete change of life while I can. My son is young enough to adapt, my husband is ready to retire and I want a future in teaching. I still have this job for 30 + years, I want to enjoy it.

    A few more questions to you all please, if you don't mind:

    Is it ok for me to contact the school before applying regarding a package? Or should I just apply and see what happens if I get to interview when I will definitely ask.

    Job description is very vague, it doesn't tell me anything really. They need someone with qualifications and two years minimum in the classroom. I have eleven years experience, a German degree and English QTS. How can I tailor it if it doesn't give me much info?

    I know I can sell myself by my skills, expertise, achievements and I take part in many extracurricular activities. I'm hoping some of the things will set me apart from others.

    If any of you is ok with it, do you mind sharing your CV just so I get the format for Switzerland right? I want to make sure it's all right so I will be considered. PM me if it's ok.

    Thanks again and I'll try to respond sooner next time.
  7. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Cantonbean wrote accurately of the tribulations of living in Switzerland; although Karvol's counterclaim is as always worth heeding - but spoilt it all with this:

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of your view of Switzerland, old Bean, it is very misleading to tar the whole area with the same brush: after all, Europe EU means Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Rep. Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden and the UK.

    This rather large and diverse territory does not, in fact, include Switzerland, but hosts hundreds of schools that know how to look after an international staff.

    OP mermey, by the sound of it, does not need to be told the obvious, but it may just be worth reminding her that many cities in her native country offer a quality of life in and out of school superior to what she will find in all but the most elite environments in Switzerland.
  8. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    SMT Dude, you got it right. Being from Germany and having gone through the full education system there I know what it's like. It's definitely not like England, that's for sure! I yearn to teach again and not constantly assess and re-assess and then stare and analyse data thereafter. And be held accountable if the data doesn't match their predictions. No matter if little Joe has just lost his dog and can't concentrate because he is upset or if Suzie has got pregnant and is off on maternity. Progress still has to be made. (The latter case is not even a joke, I have this at the moment)

    The job is ideal and we are in a good position to uproot and go. Husband wants to retire, son young enough, debt free. We could just go. And the job is perfect, I have plenty of experience in that subject.

    If something else came up in Europe, yes I'd apply. But having visited Switzerland before, it's one of those countries where I can see myself and my family settle down and be happy and England is just a short flight away to visit family here. This is why I'm not looking into Asia or so, I want to stay in Europe. You never know, I might even go back to Germany, but I need to find a job there first.

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