how to apply for a job

Job ads

Universities or international companies often publish their job ads in english. More national oriented companies or institutions often look for employees speaking the national language, and their job ads are often published in this language. It might therefore enlarge your chances to get a local job is you speak the local language.

Application file

An application file usually contains: 
  • A cover letter in which you describe your skills and why you apply for the job.

  • A CV containing personal information, education, working exprience etc.   

  • A copy of your diplomas   

  • In some countries, it is usual to add reference letters from your former bosses. If you don’t have reference letters, you can ask your former employers to write you reference letters even in retrospective.

  • The customs might vary slightly from country to country. In some countries, it is usual to join a photo with your CV. Or to indicate your family status or to add personal interests. Sometimes, you need to add a complete publication list, sometimes not at all.  

  • Your CV should look different if you are applying for a job in a company or at university. If you have questions about how to apply for a job outside university, you can use our application service.

Job interview

  • If an employer is interested in your resume, they will invite you for a job interview. This can be a short talk with one person or a long assessment during several hours with several persons. Sometimes, employers takes the decision after one interview within a short time, sometimes several rounds of interviews are organised.

  • The most important thing: enjoy the job interview. Don’t be nervous. It is a possibility to present your skills and to learn more about your future job. Even if you won’t get the job, an interview is always a good experience.

  • Get informed about the university / company and about the kind of job you are applying.

  • How to dress? The dress code depends on the country, but also highly on the kind of job (PhD, junior researcher, top manager, ...) and where you apply (university / industry). In case of doubt, chose a suit (with tie), no baskets, no mini-skirt, no plunging neckline.


  • Anglo-Saxon countries tend to advertise the salary in the advert itself. It is on the contrary not usual to indicate the future salary in the job ad in most continental European countries. Often, the issue will only be discussed during the first or second job interview.

  • In some countries, employees speak openly about their salary, whereas in others, the income seems to be a well-kept secret. It is therefore sometimes difficult to find out which salary you can expect.

  • However, have a salary range in mind prior to the job interview as the employer may ask you about your salary expectation. Be prepared to this questions and try to find out which income is usual for the kind of job you are applying. 

  • Be aware that the salary the employers proposes can be negociated in the most of the cases. 

  • Get informed about the tax systems and the extended benefits you get: How many % of taxes are deducted from your gross salary? Which amount will you really get each month? What is included in the salary (holidays, health insurance, bonuses, ...)?  

  • Get also informed about the living costs: A salary might seem to be high/low compared to the incomes you are used to, but it finally depends on the living costs in a country. Check out what you will have to pay for an appartment, food, public transport/car, childcare etc. 

  • These informations are sometimes difficult to get. Colleagues or friends living in that country may help you. Try also the webpages of the statistical offices: they often publish the mean salaries, costs of living etc. of their country. UBS publishes every second year "Prices and earnings" that compare prices, incomes, income taxes, purchasing power, working hours and vacation days for 71 major cities across the globe.

Tips for getting a job

  • Focus your job search: One of the most important steps in any job search is figuring out what you want to do and then identifying companies and career paths that match your interests. Once you identify some fields or companies you’re interested in pursuing, find people who work there and talk to them about what they do. Ask your friends, teachers, colleagues... It is also important to build your network.
  • Make your resume stand out, but keep it relevant: The résumé is often a recruiter’s first impression of you, so make sure it doesn’t contain any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. Find somebody to look at your résumé to check for mistakes and make sure that the information makes sense.
  • Don’t distort the facts: It’s okay to promote yourself on your résumé, but be honest. To much exaggeration may eliminate you from consideration.
  • Use technology the right way: Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can help you stay connected. But keep in mind that even though these networks can play a role in your job search, they shouldn’t replace traditional job search methods. It’s relatively common these days for people to have a personal website. By referencing it on your résumé, you can direct employers to additional information about you that might reinforce your case. They can include publications, research summaries, and information about other relevant activities that won’t fit on your résumé. One note of caution: Anything posted on the Internet is public, so be careful what you post and keep it professional.
  • Be well prepare: If you’re lucky, you will be invited to an interview. Get ready for the interview. Be e.g. prepared that he interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" You should have a list of questions prepared ahead of time, and don’t be reluctant to ask them. Interviewers expect candidates to ask questions.
  • Introverted? Use it to your advantage: Although extroverts are natural communicators, introverts have a strength they may not realize. Introverts are excellent listeners, and they are very perceptive when it comes to body language. Introverts have a great advantage over extroverts in that they are doing an audience analysis all the time. They can learn to be great performers and that this skill can win over hiring managers during an interview.
  • Send a thank-you note: A simple thank-you note can increase your chances of getting hired. These days, an e-mail thank you can be just as effective as a handwritten card, but make sure you have a clear subject line so that the e-mail doesn’t get lost in an interviewer’s mailbox or spam folder.
  • Be patient and persistent: Job hunting is not easy, and success doesn’t come overnight. But the previously mentioned skills can be applied over and over throughout your career. And someday you might find yourself offering these tips to a new job seeker.

Tips when applying by email

  • Indicate in the subject line for which job you apply.
  • Ad a cover letter to explain why exactly you want the job.
  • Use common formats for the attachments (doc, pdf). No ppt and no attachments of megabites.
  • Don’t send your application to info-addresses but to personal addresses. Ask to which person you should send your application.
  • Don’t forget to indicate your postal address and your phone number.  

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