After moving to Switzerland as a graduate in 1993, Caroline Ruedin worked for boutique recruitment consultancy Interskill. It was here she developed not only a broad set of skills that she would use throughout her career, but also gained an overarching understanding of the recruitment industry in Switzerland. Here’s her story:
“I started out doing the absolute basics, which gave me a great grounding in recruitment”
Throughout her eight years at Interskill (now part of the Adecco Group), Caroline covered many functions in the business. She worked her way through back office, research, account management, sales management and business development roles during her time at Interskill, working with clients all over Europe and attracting international candidates to Switzerland. In those days, relocation was a much more complex process, with work permits and regulations meaning candidate acquisition was complicated. Gaining an in-depth understanding of every aspect of service delivery across candidates and clients, as well as cultural differences when doing business across France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Luxembourg, Caroline was well prepared to take on the next challenge – co-founding Swisslinx.
“We wanted to set up a business that was profitable but also provided a top-quality service to all stakeholders”
The idea for Swisslinx was born from a desire to establish a recruitment consultancy driven by quality rather than KPIs, targets and profits, one that would focus on providing the best possible service to clients and candidates and grow organically as a result of its service excellence. This focus on service was something that was missing in the Swiss – and arguably the wider European – recruitment sector at the time. Caroline knew there was a gap in the market for the level of specialist service she and the partners wanted to provide and their shared experience in consulting and recruitment meant they had the skills and knowledge required to make it happen.
“In the early days, our business objective was very streamlined”
The fledgling days of Swisslinx were focused entirely on IT recruitment based in Zurich, which was the biggest business area for the IT market. Focusing on the banking and financial services sector, everything was created from scratch, developing contracts, marketing materials and everything you’d expect from a start-up. With no financial backing, Swisslinx was self-funded, and it was six months before the partners took salaries or any other employees were brought on. Looking back, Caroline says this was an intense period of her life but such a successful one, followed by quick organic growth and development of the internal team.
“Competing successfully against global brands to become preferred supplier to many organisations is one of my Swisslinx highlights”
In addition to sustained growth over 20 years, Caroline says a company highlight has been becoming preferred supplier
to many leading organisations including Roche, UBS and Credit Suisse, competing successfully against large global brands to establish Swisslinx as a key market player. The addition of new service lines has also been a success story, with Swisslinx branching out into non-IT recruitment within finance and business, plus the addition of commodities and natural resources, (re)insurance and healthcare and life science desks.
“We’ve seen so much industry change in the last 20 years”
Caroline has seen a lot within her 20 years of developing Swisslinx, from how candidates are engaged through to how new business is approached and won. What was once a fairly linear process now looks very different, with more mediums and interfaces used to do business.
One of the biggest developments has been how candidates seek employment. The previously candidate-driven process is now one where recruiters must actively seek out candidates. This has largely been driven by the arrival of job boards, social media and professional business platforms, giving candidates access to huge numbers of jobs and employers. Market conditions have led to pressure on the recruitment process, and Caroline believes it would be much harder to enter and compete in this market now compared to 20 years ago. There is an expectation for recruitment businesses to reinvent processes and marketing strategies, with much more to consider and a much quicker pace of work than 20 years ago. Caroline points to her dynamic, energetic team as being key to helping to adapt to this change and deliver in a more transactional recruitment culture.
“I’m so proud of our team’s professional and personal development”
Swisslinx cares about its people and nurtures an environment of trust, confidence and loyalty. Because of this, the team is cohesive and works like a family, with a low level of attrition many members of the team have worked in the company for more than 10 years. Caroline loves seeing Swisslinx team members grow and develop, as well as receiving the positive feedback from clients and candidates that this generates. Swisslinx has built a fantastic reputation and has remained completely independent, one of the few companies of its size in the market to do so.
“Our caring culture guides the way we work with candidates and clients”
The Swisslinx team is expected to treat every individual they work with with respect, care and provide the best possible service. There are high ethical standards in place, with honesty and transparency valued across the business. The training team members go through is very comprehensive, with coaching and mentoring to develop professional skills and ensure all members of staff deliver a consistently high level of service.
“We have an enormous capacity to deliver on every role given to us”
Swisslinx prides itself on its ability to deliver. Whether that’s for clients or candidates, Caroline says the team’s experience, connections and market knowledge means they can fill even the hardest briefs. One of the company’s USPs is being able to source extremely niche skills and requirements, and Caroline says she is confident they can fulfil even the trickiest requests.
“I’m looking forward to continued growth and development”
With 20 years under her belt, Caroline is looking forward to the future at Swisslinx and anticipates consistent growth in terms of both the business and the development of her team.