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How has Covid-19 impacted Dubai?

Around the world, countries have been impacted by and responded to Covid-19 in different ways. While Switzerland chose to rely heavily on testing and offered support to businesses, the United Arab Emirates implemented a travel ban, cut interest rates and rolled out a stimulus package. As a travel hub with many expat and temporary workers, Dubai has been presented with unique challenges during the pandemic. Now as individuals and businesses start to recover and now look to the future, what can we expect for the city, and how might the economy recover? Travel plans have changed Dubai came to a standstill in April as the UAE government imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world. Now, the emirate is opening the economy back up, and a significant part of this is travel. As one of the world’s most significant travel hubs, Dubai was heavily impacted by lockdown measures. It's a city reliant on tourism, hospitality and aviation, so the grounding of planes and imposition of strict travel restrictions have had a major effect on the economy. March’s complete halt of passenger flights has contributed to passenger travel through Dubai dropping by a fifth in the first quarter of 2020, though special repatriation flights still operated to ensure travellers and contract workers could return home. The transport and storage sector, which includes aviation, land, air and water transport, made up 18.5% of Dubai’s GDP in 2017 and was its most active economic driver in the first half of 2019, so such a significant halt could be detrimental to the wider economy. However, there is now good news for the aviation and hospitality sectors with the resumption of travel from to and from Dubai by July 7. Airports and national carriers are resuming large-scale operations whilst maintaining strict health and safety measures, which may help to accelerate the predicted economic recovery. We can therefore expect to see more opportunity for investment in the travel and tourism sector over the coming months. Staff consider their options While the UAE did roll out a stimulus package to help its economy in the midst of the pandemic, Dubai hasn’t seen the same level of support that other parts of the world has when it’s come to securing businesses. With no furlough scheme, some employers have been forced to reduce headcount and salaries to ensure survival during and after Covid-19. As the nation is made up largely of expats, many residents are making the decision to return home, and Oxford Economics estimates that the UAE could see 10% of residents leave its shores. However, with job losses and tanking economies an issue worldwide, those in stable industries may choose to stay on in Dubai rather than facing an uncertain future back home. Some nations in the GCC are actively looking to reduce expatriate worker numbers, with Kuwait and Oman looking to fill a higher percentage of key positions with national candidates. As international flights resume and restrictions ease, we anticipate there will be more employment opportunities within the UAE, particularly within the healthcare, distribution and logistics and technology industries. E-commerce is thriving throughout the pandemic, so specialist skillsets in this area will be highly sought after.  Oil and gas take a hit We know that the commodities market has taken a considerable hit in 2020, not just with Covid-19 but with the oil price wars as well. Supply has outweighed demand and we saw storage facilities reach maximum capacity, resulting in a record low oil price that created significant disruption throughout the global industry. However, the past two months have seen the market recover somewhat, and there are predictions that the second half of the year will see oil prices rise back to $50. As lockdowns continue to be lifted around the world and the mobilisation of people and supplies resumes, we hope this sector continues to strengthen and more job opportunities will emerge. Investment shows confidence There are clear signs of opportunity and optimism in the UAE already. One such sign of confidence is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announcing a $20.7 billion energy infrastructure deal with global investors, operators and sovereign wealth and investment funds. It’s one of the largest global energy infrastructure transactions and is positive news for the UAE’s gas market – and indeed, clients and jobseekers. Emiratis are optimistic about an economic recovery, according to Mckinsey, and the relaxation of lockdown rules should speed this up. Dubai has maintained its position as among the top three destinations globally for greenfield foreign direct investment, thanks to its ease of doing business, location and security. This should help the city to recover economically, perhaps more quickly than other areas. Flexibility into the future Through this crisis we’ve seen many clients in Dubai and UAE implement remote working, reducing business travel as much as possible and placing projects on hold. We can expect to see some of this continue long into the future, particularly regarding employer flexibility, potentially creating more opportunities for workers who may not otherwise have been able to work full time in an office location. As 22% of UAE employers say working from home has increased their business’ productivity, many organisations may introduce new remote and flexible working policies to allow employees to work from home on a permanent or part time basis. Unnecessary business travel will likely be reduced or eliminated entirely, with a focus on working – and hiring – locally. That’s not to say there won’t be opportunities for global workers to take up lucrative contracts in the UAE, however. For the right candidate, opportunities will remain. Established in 2007, Swisslinx’s Dubai office is focused on banking and finance, oil and gas, and technology. We have a multilingual team of sector experts who are committed to matching the right candidates with the right roles, providing ongoing support before, during and after the recruitment process. View our latest UAE jobs or contact us to talk about how we can help you.

How have startups pivoted to respond to Covid-19?

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a raft of changes across industries, from home working and virtual business meetings through to social distancing and reorganisation. Beyond the day-to-day of how we’re working, we’ve also seen dramatic changes within some industries as to what we’re working on. One of the most interesting impacts of Covid-19 has been the response of businesses who are trying to not only survive, but also help in the face of a massive global pandemic. Restaurants have moved to online delivery models, fashion labels are manufacturing face masks and life science organisations worldwide are devoting their efforts entirely to finding a vaccine. This is easier for some than others – changing business models and production plans suit organisations that are agile and free from the restrictions that many established large-scale businesses have in place. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at how startups have pivoted in response to Covid-19. What does ‘pivot’ mean? Anyone who’s worked in technology – and particularly the startup world – will be familiar with the pivot. It’s the term given to a change in approach to test a new business model or product, usually after receiving feedback that the original approach is not effective. It’s common in the startup community where entrepreneurs typically follow a lean methodology where everything is questioned – even the purpose of the organisation. Famous organisations that have pivoted include Nintendo, whose previous products have included instant rice and vacuum cleaners, and Twitter, which was once a service called Odeo that allowed people to find and listen to podcasts. Which startups have pivoted as a response to Covid-19? The 2010s saw a huge amount of hype generated over 3D printing, yet the technology has so far seemed somewhat underutilised. Now, however, Covid-19 is presenting new demand for additive manufacturing, thanks largely to the stranglehold China has had on manufacturing personal protective equipment and other products that have been in short supply during the pandemic. When Chinese manufacturing came to a halt during lockdown, startups and other businesses stepped up to use 3D printing to fill the gap, with designs for face shields and medical equipment shared on open source platforms to allow anyone to create these much-needed products. The Middle East and North African market have seen 3D printing startups such as Eon Dental pivot to contribute to the Covid-19 battle, reconfiguring machines and temporarily changing their entire business models. Meanwhile, UAE commodities startup Immensa produces 10,000-12,000 face shields a day to export to Europe, the US and Middle East. Closer to home, Swiss-based fertility tracking organisation Ava Women is researching whether its fertility tracking device can be used to detect early signs of Covid-19. Another life sciences startup, Warsaw Genomics, has moved away from its genetic testing to now offer Covid-19 tests for distribution within Poland’s hospitals, while delivery network Gophr is now delivering pharma, bio-sample and test kids for health services companies. The fintech market is not exempt from virus-driven pivots. Examples include US neobank Moven selling its direct consumer offering to focus entirely on developing financial technology for other banks, and British credit rating startup Credit Kudos launching a tool that allows freelancers to verify their earnings to benefit from the British government’s financial support.  What does this mean for me? These pivots demonstrated the rapidly changing business landscape we are finding ourselves in, and the need for businesses and workers alike to take a flexible, agile approach to the marketplace. While experience in healthcare and life sciences is naturally in demand in the current climate, so too are digital and technology skills to help startups and other businesses pivot and digitalise their offering. If you’re in the market for a new role, we’d love to help. We have deep experience in our specialist markets and are paying close attention to the current market conditions. Contact us to start a conversation about your next steps.

How has Covid-19 heightened the demand for tech and digital skills?

Since the start of the Information Age, the technology industry has grown year-on-year and this trend has only been escalated by Covid-19. The industry is playing a crucial part in the response to coronavirus – helping the healthcare sector track the virus, aiding banks at a time of heightened cyber threats and supporting companies across the globe take their operations online.   Before the outbreak, Europe’s technology industry achieved an annual investment of $34.3 billion, with $1.7 billion of that capital being invested in Swiss companies, therefore, ranking Switzerland in the top five. 2020 looks set to be a promising year for this industry as companies in every corner of the globe become increasingly reliant of technology professionals.   While we only seem to be in the foothills of Covid-19’s impact on the global workforce there are clear trends emerging and tech and digital skills are proving themselves to be more valuable than ever.     The healthcare sector Covid-19 has seen the healthcare and life sciences sector become more dependent on technology. As the spread of the virus continued to pick up pace, companies and governing bodies turned to the one thing that could be shared faster – information.   New apps designed to track Covid-19 using the Apple and Google Exposure Notification API swiftly entered the scene with the first release in Switzerland. The SwissCovid app has been trialled on a voluntary basis and gained backing from 70% of users. Swiss developers are now looking to roll out the app to the Swiss army and medical professionals. This presents an opportunity for developers to offer their coding skills to fight against the virus – or pick up the basics of coding - but it also signals we’ll see mobile apps as solutions to future global problems and therefore drive up the demand for user experience (UX) skills and cross-platform development.   Meanwhile in the US, technology professionals have been pushing their AI skills to new limits to create innovative data platforms that provide information on the availability of hospital beds.   The growing ecommerce industry Covid-19 has not only heightened the demand for tech and digital skills, it has nurtured our developing technology ecosystems. Ecommerce spending was growing at an unstoppable rate well before coronavirus and since it’s unknown when or if things will return to normal many retailers may choose to take their operations entirely online. This $3,535 billion industry will call for more sophisticated websites and high-level digital infrastructure - a challenge for retailers but an interesting opportunity for web developers, software support specialists and even solution architects.   A call for data scientists In a similar way that ecommerce has taken a larger share of the consumer spending pie, banking institutes have resorted to taking their services online too. This ever-increasing digitalisation is generating more data than ever before and causing a swell in data analytics. Employers were already showing an increased interest in data analytic skills, with data science job postings surging by 256% in the last six years, and this demand shows no signs of slowing down. In response to Covid-19, organisations are going face to face with the increasing digital skills gap and actively fostering a digital culture.   The cloud has become more important than ever For many individuals, the introduction of the cloud was the perfect answer to limited storage space, but for organisations, cloud services have proved an essential piece of the remote working puzzle. Within the tech and digital industry, cloud and infrastructure have asserted their dominance as top skills for employees to list on their CVs.   The rising threat to data security Whilst businesses hail the functionalities of cloud services they must also recognise the added threat that cloud storage poses to their documents and data. Databarracks report in their 2019 Data Health Check that from 2016-2019 the number of data loss cases as a result of cyber attacks had almost increased twofold.   Evidently, cybersecurity was already proving to be a rising star in the digital and tech skills sphere but Covid-19 has offered a fast-track ticket to the top. The pandemic is not only bringing new tech and digital skills into the limelight but it’s magnifying the need for larger digital teams, introducing new roles such as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and creating a boom in technology recruitment.     How can Swisslinx help you? Prior to Covid-19, digital and technology was establishing itself as one of our key developing markets and this surge in recruitment activity is only set to increase. We recognise the importance of keeping pace with technology drivers and trends, and our deep understanding of the industry enables us to identify talent from both local and international markets. Contact us to find out how we can help you during the time of heightened demand for tech and digital skills.

How has Covid-19 impacted the commodities market?

The global commodities and natural resources market has had its fair share of highs and lows of late, and like many industries it has not been spared from the damaging impact Covid-19 has had. However, some commodity firms have found themselves weathering the pandemic storm more successfully than those in other sectors, thanks to their experience in handling fluctuations that are so common within this ever-changing industry. While the full impact of Covid-19 on the national and global economy has yet to be revealed, we can already see some clear challenges and opportunities for firms and professionals in this space. Here’s how Covid-19 has impacted the commodities market. Mobilisation and supply chain issues Lockdown conditions all over the world have had a significant impact on the mobilisation of both people and parts over the past months. With many countries imposing strict measures to control the spread of coronavirus – including closing borders, restricting visa supplies and asking people to stay at home – the global commodity supply chain has been significantly impacted. Commodity trading and shipping activity has been impacted, with flow-on effects to freight capacities, rates, speed of processing and delivery time. According to Swissinfo, restrictions have seen activity decreased at ports, although cargo has still been flowing to and from most destinations, albeit at a delayed rate. This is partly due to increased pressure to keep supply chains moving in order to ensure countries have stocks of their required goods. This even extends to Swiss coffee and cocoa reserves – Swiss commodity trading companies have been working with roasters and chocolate makers to ensure federal reserves are maintained. Some firms more stable than others The energy industry – and in particular oil trading companies – already had a rocky start to 2020. The oil price war between USA, Saudi Arabia and Russia saw barrel prices sink to a 17-year low in March, and oil prices even fell below zero in the United States as sellers were forced to pay customers to take unwanted oil. The price war combined with Covid-19 presented enormous challenges for natural resources markets all over the world. Energy prices are expected to be 40% lower than in 2019, according to the World Bank, with the economic slowdown also impacting industrial commodities such as copper and zinc. Interestingly, gold prices have risen as a result of buyers seeking safety in the turbulent financial market. The firms that are weathering this storm the most successfully are those which have sufficient cashflow to enable them to buy gas and oil when the market is down, as well as having the means to stock it. We’re seeing oil trading companies at the forefront of this market turbulence, taking opportunities to profit from price movements. Accustomed to volatility and risk taking, these trading firms are no stranger to uncertain times and may well come through this crisis on top. Firms with assets, refineries and mines are generally perceived to be more stable in the current market than the classic trading shops. Indeed, some European refineries have resumed work after the coronavirus lockdown, adapting their activities according to market changes. This is a positive signal for the industry and jobseekers alike. Meanwhile, Sberbank has just announced a physical commodities trading company in Switzerland, suggesting some firms are faring better than others. As well as stable pockets of the industry, we’ve also seen some jobs experience more stability than others. At Swisslinx, we’ve seen an uplift in the number of risk and compliance roles within the commodities sector, as well as legal functions and trade finance. Technology pushes forward New technologies have been creating innovation within the commodities and natural resources sector for years, and their importance is perhaps now more heightened than ever. We’ve seen calls for increased digitisation of the commodities market to counteract fraud that has blighted the market recently, with suggestions of a digital platform to track the entire logistics lifecycle of transactions. Blockchain technology can help to achieve this, thanks to its focus on privacy preservation. We’ve observed the market move to adopt distributed ledger technology products for commodity trade finance, something innovative Swiss firms have been at the forefront of. Make your next move in commodities and natural resources at Swisslinx At Swisslinx, we have a wealth of knowledge on the global commodities market, with clients across up-mid and downstream organisations across EMEA. Whether you’re an industry professional considering your next career step after Covid-19 or an organisation looking to secure the market’s top talent, we’d love to hear from you. Find out more about our commodities and natural resources function or read more about our client services.

How is Switzerland's life sciences market responding to COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an opportunity for Switzerland's life sciences market to deliver the world the one thing that it’s crying out for right now – a vaccine. Researchers at the University of Bern are working around the clock to become the first to produce a vaccine and have delivered the ambitious goal of immunising 100% of the Swiss population against the virus by October.   Other large biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland are proving determined to find a vaccine, as smaller enterprises rely on the nation to provide economic relief packages which will help them survive the virus. While it’s uncertain what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be, there are two outcomes of the pandemic that are hard to ignore – innovation and collaboration. Read on to find out how Switzerland’s life sciences market is responding to Covid-19.   Where the action is happening Switzerland has long been known as an innovative nation and the dynamic life sciences sector is what attracts so many key players in the global market to establish headquarters or run operations on its soil. In Basel alone, there are 700 life sciences companies, employing 33,900 employees who produce goods and services valued at a staggering $405 million each hour. Despite Basel being known as Switzerland’s hub of life sciences, it’s companies in the capital city, Zurich, and nearby town, Bern, who are showcasing the most promising developments towards a Covid-19 vaccine.   Swapping Swiss chocolate for antibodies The Swiss biotechnology sector has seen continued growth over the past several decades and just last year 19 biotech companies were established in the country. Though the pandemic may have stopped most of the world in its tracks – causing many people to learn how to be productive when working from home - that’s not the case for biotechnology companies who have instead reallocated their resources in the race to create a vaccination. One Swiss biotech in particular – Memo Therapeutics – are screening healthy participants who have recovered from a strong bout of COVID-10 and repaying them in Swiss chocolate. MEMO is a recognised leader in antibody discovery and is using these proteins which are extracted from recovered patients to develop a vaccine as well as to help create therapies.   A global collaboration The Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator was initiated by the Gates Foundation in an effort to combine the expertise and facilities of life sciences companies around the globe. The CEO of Novartis – a Swiss pharmaceutical giant – has stepped up to co-chair this group of 15 companies to ensure seamless collaboration. The newly-established group recognise that sharing their ‘proprietary libraries of molecular compounds’ will accelerate the progress in identifying a suitable compound meaning that the in vivo trials could be running within two months. This global alliance between life sciences companies may see a vaccination reach the population sooner than imagined and could be the future of faster drug discovery.   Novartis is also dedicating time to understanding the severe life-threatening complications that Covid-19 can present. Their ongoing trial, CAN-COVID, has progressed to Phase III clinical trials and is enrolling participants across Europe with the hopes to develop a therapy which increases the survival rate for those who contract the virus.   A forward-thinking approach According to Swiss Life Sciences' 2020 Trend Analysis, the nation is home to 1,885 life sciences companies, one of them being Neurimmune. This biopharmaceutical company is also working on a Covid-19 therapy and is at the development stage for an antibody-based treatment that will be administered directly to the lungs. This forward-thinking approach to therapeutics could dramatically reduce the damage that coronavirus has on the lungs, therefore improving patient recovery and lowering the mortality rate.   An alternative to a vaccination Global health experts predict that a vaccination won’t be delivered until early 2021 but that has not stopped Swiss biopharmaceutical company Molecular Partners from developing an innovative response to the virus. Rather than formulating a medicine that provides the body with immunisation to Covid-19, they’re working towards creating a class of protein therapeutics known as DARPin which will act as inhibitors that prevent the virus from entering the human cell. This approach would limit the potential of the human population developing resistance to a vaccination and could be an essential treatment to eradicate coronavirus.   A steady recovery In 2019, the combined biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries in Switzerland employed over 50,000 people and contributed to 40% of the nation’s exports. Though the global health emergency initiated an economic downturn in sectors across the world, the displays of innovation and collaboration in recent months ensure that Switzerland’s life sciences market will remain competitive into the future.   Swisslinx is here to help Our team of consultants at Swisslinx are keeping abreast of new developments in the life sciences market meaning that we’re best placed to provide industry advice. Read how Switzerland is responding to Covid-19 and find out what we’re doing to support our clients and candidates. If you’re looking for fresh life sciences talent, Contact us and a member of the Swisslinx team will be in touch to discuss your recruitment needs.

Using lockdown to your advantage

Home working was already popular in Switzerland in 2019, with 33.7% working from home at least occasionally. This number has of course dramatically increase in 2020, thanks largely to Covid-19. The black swan event was neither expected nor planned for by these employees and their businesses. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of resources which will help you make your lockdown space a productive one. More than two-thirds of office workers say they are more productive when they’re working from home. This ‘new normal’ is the perfect time to focus on where your career is heading, upskilling and even prepare yourself for the next career move. Using this advice, you can be sure that you’re using lockdown to your advantage: Project your career path It’s important to always have sight of which direction you want to steer your career in, yet studies show that people spend more time planning their holidays than they do their career. As our global workforce experiences a sizeable shake-up this is the perfect time to assess where your career is heading. In light of recent changes, new opportunities may have presented themselves or you might have reached a fork in your career path. To make a well-informed decision you must begin by writing down specific goals. For example, becoming the Chief Finance Officer of a multinational company with a gross revenue of £150 million is an extremely clear goal. The more precise that your target is the better it serves you when trying to make career decisions. To improve the effectiveness of your goals write them down - psychology professor, Dr Gail Matthew, shares that we are 42% more likely to achieve them when we do so. Learn a new language There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone an existing one and learning a new language could have more career benefits than you’d think. This is particularly true in multilingual Switzerland, where there are four official languages and regional dialects that can make business communication challenging at times. Take the opportunity to brush up on your German, French or Italian and you may see yourself with improved career prospects at the end of lockdown. An American study found that in just five years the number of job advertisements aimed at attracting bilinguists has more than doubled. Commit just 30 minutes each day and use free apps like DuoLingo to expand your vocabulary or enrol in virtual language courses from the Open University if you’re focused on becoming fluent. This free learning platform also offers courses in business, politics, health and more. Pick up the basics of coding If you’re not a natural linguist but want to learn a language there are several computer programming languages that you can choose from. Many websites, like CodeCademy, provide free tutorials for whichever language of code you want to learn and they help you do more than just add a skill to your CV. These resources strengthen your problem-solving abilities as you begin learning the basics of HTML and CSS, laying a solid foundation for programmes such as Python – which is great for beginners – and JavaScript. Get to grips with technology Understandably, the global recruitment landscape has been largely impacted by the imposed lockdown. Hiring managers can no longer meet candidates in person but must rely on technology to match the right candidate with the right job. Already, 53% of HR professionals reveal that they routinely use video interview and we expect this figure to soar throughout and beyond the lockdown as the recruitment industry notes the benefits of a virtual interview over a traditional interview. Get prepared and ahead of other job seekers by learning how you can make an impression on a video interview. It all starts with having the right technology set up so there any no glitches on the day. Alternatively, now could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of Microsoft Excel and pick up some new functionalities. AMT Training are offering a free Excel fundamentals course which will teach you Excel best practice and share top shortcuts to help you maximise your productivity. Alternatively, take a look at online training courses on LinkedIn, Udemy and Coursera, where you can do everything from learning business analytics skills to gaining a master’s degree in computer science. Digital networking We’re amidst the largest disruption to the global workforce but that doesn’t mean to say new job opportunities aren’t on the horizon. Many industries have adopted a business-as-usual stance – particularly Switzerland's pharmaceuticals industry - and others are concentrating on bouncing back from the impact that the outbreak has had on hiring efforts. Now is the time to brush up on your digital networking knowledge. With in-person interviews and large networking events off the cards for some time you need to focus your efforts on your digital presence. Begin by optimising your LinkedIn profile so that you’re visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Remember that networking is not always about gaining connections - use this time to reach out to old contacts. Start the job hunt with Swisslinx The lockdown is no reason to put your personal and career development on hold. You now have the resources and advice to help use this time to your advantage and even ready yourself for the next career move. Begin the search now – browse our latest opportunities in life sciences and financial services.

How can you maximise productivity when working from home?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home was often seen as something reserved for those in flexible roles, with highly supportive employers or situational circumstances that required it. Now, however, it is an enforced reality for many of us. Research varies on how many Swiss employees were working from home regularly before Coronavirus, with anywhere from 20% to 70% of the office-based workforce purporting to work remotely at least some of the time, but we know that flexible work conditions were in-demand even before the pandemic. In fact, a 2019 study found that 83% of people would choose a job that offered flexible working over a role that didn’t. But once faced with the reality of doing one’s job from the comfort of the living room or home office, how can we ensure that work is productive and tasks are completed to a high standard, without compromising work-life balance? If you are in the position where you can work from home, you may be wondering how you can ensure you’re not only working effectively, but also sustaining a positive work-life balance. Here’s how you can do both:Use the right toolsA 2018 Deloitte study revealed that just under half of employees are provided a laptop that would enable them to work remotely, with 53% using chat functions or instant messaging and only 36% proficient in video conferencing. This highlights how unprepared many workplaces may have been in the lead-up to the March lockdown enforcement. However, many people working from home have found adapting to new technologies and tools easier than anticipated, with an abundance of free and low-cost services available to make remote working easier. If you’re setting up your home office, here’s what you should consider implementing: Whatever device/s suit your role best. This can range from a simple laptop with strong internet connection to a full PC setup complete with multiple screens, a dedicated mobile phone and headset. In general, the faster and more powerful your technology, the faster you will be able to work and less frustrated you will beSpeedy, reliable, strong internet. For many, this is essential, particularly when it comes to video conferencing. If your wireless is unreliable, consider using your mobile data for important calls or conferencesCommunication tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or whatever is industry- or company-preferred. Many conversations are taking place via video call, so a webcam (built into your device or purchased separately) can be advantageousCloud-based storage solutions. In the absence of dedicated office-based hard drives and systems, many organisations are turning to the cloud to store and share files and information quickly and effectively. Make sure the cloud system you use is compliant with your organisation’s security policiesCommunicate clearlyThe abundance of online communication tools means workplace communication should be easy, but for many of us, the absence of in-person conversations and team meetings can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnect. In fact, a 2019 study found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge by remote workers – and loneliness has been found to make us feel less motivated and productive than usual.  Counteract this by setting clear intentions and expectations with your team, manager, colleagues and clients around communication. This might involve scheduling regular video calls to provide updates and brainstorm, establishing more informal chat times with co-workers or asking for a regular check-in with your manager at the start of the day. While you’re communicating more, make a note to mute outside distractions as much as possible to avoid dips in productivity. Turn off social media notifications, avoid looking at non-work-related tasks outside of your dedicated breaks and hold off on chores and home tasks until you have a break in between work. Productivity is possible when working from home – 65% of workers say they’re more productive when working remotely, thanks to fewer interruptions and no commuter stress – but it takes a conscious effort to strike this balance right.Separate work from homeWhen work is your home and home is your work, creating distance between the two settings – physically and mentally – can be incredibly difficult. Where possible, create a dedicated zone that you use only for work, which you disassemble (or cover up) at the end of each workday. This can be as simple as putting your laptop away or putting a cover over your screens each afternoon. Prepare for your day as if you were going to the office, creating a daily routine that includes getting up and showering, dressing for your work day and moving to your dedicated work zone. It’s easy to let work and home seep into one during this setting, but these measures can help to avoid that and ensure that when you’re working, you’re working well. A clear structure and routine have been proven to help in times of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to mental wellbeing. This can look different to different people – for some it might be planning the week’s work schedule in advance and ticking off tasks each day, while for others it might involve starting every day with yoga, breaking for a snack at set times and having a regular social call with a friend. Find what works for you and your workload and stick with it.Stay up to date with Swisslinx Swisslinx continues to be business as usual (and we will be slowly repopulating the office in the coming weeks) with all teams available to assist clients and candidates. Stay tuned to our insights hub for more on how work is changing, or contact us to start a conversation on how we can work together.

How is Switzerland responding to Covid-19?

Covid-19 continues to have a stronghold over much of the world, creating uncertainty and change in many markets, not to mention economies and lives. The virus has impacted all of us in one way or another, yet the response to it varies from person to person, country to country. The government has categorised the Swiss situation as “extraordinary”, with a raft of measures put in place to contain the coronavirus as well as protect people, businesses and the nation. So how exactly are the Swiss handling it? An extraordinary situation with extraordinary measures Because of the “extraordinary situation” label given to Switzerland’s Covid-19, authorities have been able to take over specific powers from the nation’s cantons and impose measures to restrict conditions in the country. This is the first time these legal provisions have been applied in Switzerland, with new conditions including a ban on all private and public events, and the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural spaces, sporting facilities and schools. Business providing essential services – such as grocery and food stores, pharmacies, post offices and banks – remain open and serving the public.Recommendations and restrictions While stopping short of some of the stricter enforcement measures other countries are imposing on its people, Switzerland has issued very clear guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include a recommendation to all citizens to stay at home unless necessary, particularly those who are sick or aged 65 and older, as well as announcing a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people. Some individual cantons have taken this further, forbidding over-65-year-olds from leaving their homers outside of specific circumstances. Borders are closed and the message is clear: stay home and be sensible. Economic support Switzerland has been a world leader when it comes to supporting its businesses, announcing a CHF20 billion package of emergency loans to support small businesses on March 25 and disbursing more than CHF15 billion to just over 76,000 companies within the first week, prompting Bern to double the initial package. This will provide relief to companies with liquidity problems, allowing those hit by the crisis to defer payment of social insurance contributions temporarily. The measures also apply to the self-employed. The scheme has been viewed to be so successful in terms of efficiency and speed that Swiss banks and government have been liaising with European counterparts to share information on the scheme’s structure. In many cases, business loans have been granted and money made available within 24 hours of completing the simple online application, a level of efficiency that was been widely applauded by the business community. Like other nations in Europe and worldwide, Switzerland has responded to the economic implications of Covid-19 by offering support to companies whose employees are facing reduced hours due to a lack of work. Currently one quarter of Switzerland’s workers are on reduced hours (short-time working) in a bid for businesses to save costs without making redundancies. Employees are compensated 80% for the loss of income caused by this, with an unemployment insurance fund helping to cover the shortfall. More testing, earlier While the rate of cases in Switzerland is high, the nation is proving to be one of the world’s most successful countries in dealing with the pandemic’s later stages. Authorities started in February by testing people who had travelled from high risk areas or had come into contact with an infected person, but this approach intensified as the virus spread. The population is now being tested at a higher rate than any other country and potential cases are being tested earlier, with a strong focus on high-risk groups. This is a more comprehensive strategy than what is being seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.Public sentiment The vast majority of people in Switzerland are following the government measures, according to a Swiss Broadcasting Corporation survey, with the nation’s sense of civic responsibility ensuring people take the social isolation guidelines seriously. Just under 70% of survey respondents say they are optimistic that Swiss hospitals can cope with the number of patients, with 40% of respondents in favour of relaxing the Government-imposed restrictions. With these restrictions currently extended until April 26, time will tell what other developments will unfold this month and over the course of the year. Supporting our candidates and clients While it is too early to say how the coronavirus situation will impact recruitment in Switzerland long-term, we are already feeling some ripples. Contract workers have already been impacted by Switzerland’s closed borders, with some who were preparing to take up contracts in the country now shut out due to not having the required permits. This has led to more recruitment from within the Swiss market, with predictions that permits will be limited post-Covid-19 as a response to increased unemployment.  Swisslinx has been able to facilitate workers starting on a remote basis under the border closure situation changes, while the Swiss authorities are providing flexibility around the rules applicable to remote workers by allowing them to stay on CH contracts despite working abroad. Some of Swisslinx’s key clients have offered solutions to ensure workers are paid in full. These include encouraging flexibility for remote work, compensating part of the employer costs in cases of short-time working compensation, and honouring contracts and finding solutions to enable these. There has been a natural slowdown in recruitment activity in some markets while others are thriving, and the rise of virtual interview tools and techniques has helped to ensure candidates and companies can continue to be active in their search. Meanwhile, as workers around the country adopt to new working-from-home measures, we might see new ways of doing business emerge from this pandemic, bringing new meaning to flexible working. At Swisslinx, our team is hard at work to ensure our candidates and clients can continue to make contact and work together. For us, it’s business as usual – albeit from home – and we’re always looking to hear from anyone considering their next steps. Contact us here to start a conversation about how we can help.

How to get your first executive job

It’s widely reported that more than 50% of jobs aren’t advertised, and this proportion stretches much higher when it comes to executive roles. Therefore, landing your first executive job will be an entirely different process from any other job you’ve gone after. With fewer executive roles on the market, securing one of these coveted positions can be a highly competitive process. You need to strategise how you will distinguish yourself and position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars. Here’s our advice on getting your first executive job, right from the point of personal development up to preparing for your interview: Develop your personal brand  45% of executives agree that a CEO’s reputation will directly impact the reputation of the company. So it will come as no surprise that an executive’s reputation – or personal brand – comes under serious consideration during the hiring process. Just as it’s important for any company’s success to have a strong brand, your personal brand is a powerful way of showing hiring managers why you’re a good fit for the role. When portrayed correctly your brand will highlight your ROI and specifically how you will add value to the organisation if you get the job. Since many professionals at this level work with Personal Branding Strategists and Career Coaches you can’t afford to leave your reputation as just an afterthought. Your personal brand should be crafted so that it accurately reflects not just who you are but how you solve problems, your authority areas and ultimately what your unique positioning is. Though this may seem a daunting process, Blue Step’s Global Guide to Personal Branding for Executives offers helpful advice, starting with the question “What do you want to be known for?”. Start by asking yourself this and the rest of your approach should come easily. Get personal with an executive search firm On average it takes 71 days to place a C-suite candidate, which is considerably longer than the 43 days spent filling the average role. But for the job seeker, finding an executive role can sometimes take six months – or longer - because these senior positions aren’t as common as the jobs you’ve searched for before. So you need to position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars and you want them to know you on a personal level. One way of doing this is to share your career goals with these expert recruiters. As they’re in the business of finding candidates for executive roles they can provide insight as to whether you have the right skill set or experience. If they advise that you need more time to hone your leadership skills, don’t despair - you now have that contact at an executive search firm to reach out to once you’ve hit the necessary experience level. These recruiters have seen thousands of CVs and applications so you can trust their verdict. Remember that it’s about nurturing these relationships with executive recruiters. You won’t land a job in a few weeks, it can take months to find the right executive role so you need to stay in touch with them. Get networking  The Executive Career Brand reports that only 10% of executives are hired from job board advertisements. This supports the notion that your chance of getting an executive job is heavily reliant on networking and a great place to begin is by developing a strong online presence. It’s no new information that your LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool in the job-hunting process but have you considered optimising yours for search engines? To improve your LinkedIn profile’s visibility you need to include targeted skills and keywords, set your location and industry, and use all the characters available in each section. This will ensure executive recruiters find your profile and will help you make connections in your field of work. Consider upping your game and establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn by posting and sharing articles on topics in your industry. Beyond the digital world, you should be attending industry conferences and reaching out to old contacts. After all, networking isn’t always about making new connections. Time for the interview You’ve put a lot of time into your personal development and nurturing connections – the next step is impressing at the interview stage. A good executive recruiter will only put forward a very small number of candidates for roles at this level, most of which will have exclusivity, so if you make it to interview stage you have a strong chance of securing the role. Now all that’s left to do is show the company how serious you are about working for them and improving their bottom line. Beyond a deep understanding of the organisation's verticals, the current state of the market and opportunities for you to add value, you should also research the business's financial status and their current challenges. Some businesses will have an investor relations tab on their website which will tell you a lot about how they are performing. To delve a little further, search their company filings and public financial statements - and if the company you’re interviewing for is private you can get a good picture of their status from news releases and articles. As for the competitors, beyond knowing who they are you need to search how the company is performing compared to them and what they have in the pipeline. Having this knowledge for the interview will show that you’re invested in the company and will allow you to have a genuine conversation about what you plan to do within your first three months. Think of this research as background information to create your 90-day plan.Take your next career step with Swisslinx Want more advice on finding your first executive job? As a market-leading recruitment firm in Switzerland, our expert consultants can offer valuable guidance when looking for your next senior-level position. Whether you’re job searching in financial services, digital and technology, or healthcare and life sciences we’ve got two decades of insight to help you.

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COVID-19 - Swisslinx is fully operational at this time!

We want to reassure you that Swisslinx is prepared and working to ensure continued service delivery during these challenging times. To facilitate business continuity we remain fully operational, with our motivated and dedicated teams set up to work remotely, as well as from our offices. Our internal processes and systems allow us to continue offering seamless service delivery to Clients and Candidates, from any location using virtual tools. Swisslinx is closely following developments relating to employment and immigration and is happy to provide guidance on these matters. Despite current market volatility, we assure you of our continued commitment to offering complete talent solutions. We wish you and your families good health and remain available for any queries should you require assistance during this time. ​Kind regardsOlivier RuedinCEO

Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Colin Tivendale

Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today. Colin Tivendale started his career working in journalism and event promotion before entering the recruitment industry in 2002, where he’s remained ever since. Working within the recruitment markets of Digital & Technology and Change & Consulting, he’s worked his way up to Director level at Swisslinx and is looking forward to seeing the company continue to grow into the future. Here’s his story:“I worked in multi-lingual call centres before moving to recruitment”After moving on from his work in call centres, Colin first gained an insight intro recruitment when he worked at S3 in London on one of their Swiss desks. As an English, French and German speaker, Colin was able to further develop his multi-lingual skills during these early days of his career, before deciding to venture into more of a business development role.“I wanted to be based in Zurich at a company that placed a high value on the customer experience”Colin had his sights set on a boutique company where he could make a meaningful impact and commit to a long-term career. Swisslinx fit the bill – he joined in 2002 to specialise in technology, finance and business support, and has since added executive search, program resourcing and consulting to his skillset. His journey has seen him touch on most sales topics, including business development, research and account management across technology, corporate functions, finance and executive search, spanning the regions of Zurich, Geneva, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and London.“I manage a team of four in a space that is ripe for disruption”Colin’s team’s focus is primarily developing the business lines of the future for Swisslinx, which he believes to be Consulting/Professional Services and Executive Search for CIO/CDO and CTO functions. These spaces are primed and ready for disruption and Colin says better service levels can be delivered to customers by providing more transparency, a shorter timeline from engagement to hire and a more direct and delivery-focused execution style. “There have been so many highlights since I joined the company”Swisslinx has grown enormously during Colin’s tenure. When he joined the offering was mainly banking, and he’s proud of helping hedge this portfolio by introducing two large key accounts, one in reinsurance and one in industrial, garnering CHF 20-30 million per year spends. He’s also worked on the majority of the firm’s largest fee generating searches and placements.“I never thought I’d enjoy management as much as I do”Having seen the company grow from fewer than 10 people in one office to a 50 person company with offices around the globe, Colin says Swisslinx’s development has been significant – but there’s still a long way to go. He’s grateful to have who he believes are some of the most talented people in the local and international markets on his team and says their potential to grow and develop is unlimited.“If I ever start feeling too comfortable in my chair, I ask for a new project”Colin remains stimulated in his work thanks to the autonomy he is afforded at Swisslinx. He says he’s been given the freedom to develop business lines and add new elements to existing areas, which has resulted in the introduction of the Commodities and Natural Resources business and the recent focus on Consulting and Professional Services. The former was instrumental in Swisslinx moving away from being a generalist recruitment agency towards the highly specialised boutique model of today. Meanwhile, the Consulting and Professional Services offering provides customers with a sustainable and credible alternative to the established management and tech consulting firms.“Good recruiters are at their best when they are the broker directly communicating with the client and candidate”While Colin counts himself lucky to have started in recruitment in the early days of LinkedIn and new technology platforms, he maintains that the personal touch of a recruiter cannot be digitalised. As client needs continue to evolve at pace, Recruiters and Swisslinx as a business must be proactive to keep developing. “Here we are given enough freedom to innovate and create, coupled with just the right amount of support to succeed”In addition to having the autonomy and ability to craft, design and implement business plans, Colin loves working alongside people who are passionate about what they do. From the partners who have been with Swisslinx since day one to the management team and new joiners, he believes the most important elements are in place to continue to exceed expectations.  Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team. 

Celebrating 20 years at Swisslinx: An interview with Director Jennifer Bego

Swisslinx is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and to celebrate, we’re speaking to some of the people who’ve helped make Swisslinx become the business it is today. Jennifer Bego has been with Swisslinx since 2005, when she arrived in Switzerland after spending a year in Australia. While she never anticipated such a long and successful career in recruitment, she’s loved every step of it. Here’s her story: “At university I never really imagined a career path for myself” Like many in this industry, Jenny didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a Recruiter. Rather, the career is one she fell into, and she’s not looked back in 14 years. During her schooling and uni days Jenny wasn’t sure what career pathway might interest her, although she had the fundamental skills that make up a good Recruiter: communication, confidence and social intelligence. After graduating she was eager to start earning, and when searching for jobs within her skill set and qualifications she kept coming across recruitment vacancies. With no reason not to, Jenny interviewed for her first role – and the rest is history.  “Swisslinx is family – literally” Many people say that their work is like a family, but Jenny really means it. Her then-UK-based father was recruited by Swisslinx whilst Jenny was travelling in Australia, and after her trip ended she returned to her new home of Zurich to join them. Her father suggested she consider a role at Swisslinx, and since then the company has had a hand to play in bringing her brother, his best friend and Jenny’s school friend to Zurich. She says the ripple effect of that first call from Swisslinx to her father has been amazing, changing the course of not only her life, but those of many people she knows. “My reasons for joining weren’t strategic – I really just liked the Partners” When Jenny first joined Swisslinx, she had no idea she’d had such an illustrious career with the business. With little thought to her future or any strategic reason for joining a company, Jenny says she simply liked the people she met at Swisslinx and wanted to work somewhere that seemed friendly and focused. Starting out as a researcher on the finance desk, Jenny soon saw herself drawn to the speed and style of the IT side of the business, where she’s been ever since.  “In my 15 years I’ve experienced different roles all over the business” Jenny’s time at Swisslinx has spanned research, consultant and management roles, before she moved into her current Director position in January 2018. She says it’s important for her to remain hands-on and play an active role in managing accounts, particularly as Swisslinx retains the number one position in numerous Preferred Supplier Lists (PSL). Managing a team of Consultants, Jenny has contributed significantly to the strategy and growth of Swisslinx with the creation of new service offerings such as RPO. “15 years in any industry brings a lot of change” Jenny says one of the most dramatic changes she’s seen during her time at Swisslinx has been the introduction of automated and system-driven recruitment delivery models. Relationship building will always be a crucial part of recruitment, but the addition of new technologies has allowed many processes to become more efficient and effective. This has meant well-written CVs have become more important than ever in the recruitment process, as Recruiters can no longer discuss certain attributes of a candidate directly with line managers. In addition, Jenny has seen a growth in interest for flexible talent solutions such as RPO has stemmed from an increase in scale-ups and start-ups, as well as the candidate-driven market which requires more manpower to reach the top talent. Many roles end up being filled by the passive candidate market who can only be reached by active sourcing, which is in itself a hugely time-intensive task. This is an activity that is not a part of traditional HR responsibilities and is therefore typically outsourced to active sourcing specialists, such as Swisslinx, to run in tailor-made solutions such as project or long-term based RPO.  “The people are what I love most about Swisslinx” Swisslinx has become a family to Jenny over the years, and she says the way employees are treated is unique. “They truly care and make you feel valued as a person” says Jenny. “The trust and freedom they provide creates a natural and deeply rooted sense of loyalty which I am sure is shared by many here.” Jenny says Olivier and Caroline extend so much trust in their team members and are flexible, understanding and supportive.  In addition, Jenny says she’s stayed with the company due to its ethics and ways of working. Swisslinx has a strong moral compass, says Jenny, and will not “make a deal at any cost”.  “It’s been great to see the evolution of the company and the success we’ve had over the past 15 years” Jenny says Swisslinx has become so well regarded in its market space and its expansion into new areas is testament to its ongoing growth and success. She’s particularly proud of the success the RPO model has already had and says the level of transparency Swisslinx works with fosters a high level of trust with both clients and relationships.  “We’re seeing demand for RPOs and dedicated talent acquisition teams, and I’m excited about what’s coming in terms of the service lines we’re growing and offering,” she says. Start-ups and scale-ups are increasingly looking to Swisslinx to help fill their talent pipelines and build a database of candidates, which Jenny is keen to see develop into the future.  “As long as I’m working in recruitment, I’m working at Swisslinx” Loyal to Swisslinx and excited for the future, Jenny is looking forward to helping consultants on her team develop and grow with the company – just as she has.  Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Swisslinx or do business with the company? View our blog to find out more, or click here to meet other members of the team. 

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