Navigation auf

Career Services at the University of Zurich

How Do I Identify the Right Employer?

For the perfect job, it is not only important that you fulfill the employer’s specifications and that the job itself enables you to use your skills and qualifications, it is equally essential that your employer meets your workplace needs.

While job hunting and sending applications you should therefore be aware of what is important to you at the workplace. What exactly do you expect from your employer? What are your priorities?

Certain important factors to consider include (in random order):

Who Is the Employer for You?

  • Do you want to work in a large corporation or in a SME, for a global market leader or a start-up? Depending on your employer, your levels of freedom will vary - as will your levels of security.
  • The working culture in a family business is not the same as that in the public sector.
  • How important to you is the product that the company offers?

What Is Your Preferred Working Environment?

  • Do you place importance on personal contact with your colleagues or do you prefer to work for yourself? Do you prefer to work in an open plan office or to have your own office?
  • Do you like going to work in an office every morning or would working at home suit you better? Or would you like a combination of both?

Working Culture

  • Do you prefer a flat hierarchy and a relaxed working atmosphere with open doors, or do you prefer a more formal approach?
  • How important to you are clearly defined areas of responsibility and working processes? Do you like clear statements on how things are done or do you prefer some scope for yourself?

Work-Life Balance

  • How important is a work-life balance to you? Do you expect support from your employer in this respect?
  • Should your employer encourage sport, good nutrition, and well-being or is this a personal issue that has nothing to do with the employer?
  • How important is it to you to align your family care commitments with your career?

Working Hours

  • Some people prefer regular working hours, other are happier when they can be flexible (e.g. annual working hours, compensation options, part-time work).
  • Are 4 weeks’ vacation sufficient or do you need 5 weeks?
  • How many extra hours are you prepared to do and what do you expect from your employer in return?
  • How important is it to you to be able to advance in your profession yet work part-time?

Formal Conduct / Dress Code

  • Do you feel comfortable with dress codes or do you prefer a more casual style of dressing?
  • Would you like to be on first-name terms with your coworkers or on more formal terms?

Career Opportunities plus Personal and Professional Development

  • Do your career plans align with the promotion opportunities given by your potential employer?
  • Would you welcome a structured career plan set by your employer or would you prefer to shape the course of your career yourself?
  • Are you satisfied with advancing in your specialized subject or would you like to develop on a personal and all-round basis?

Financial Aspects

  • Even if statistics say that most people put a good working environment at the top of their list, financial aspects such as salary and profit-sharing are also relevant factors. 
  • What expectations do you have in this respect?
  • How does your future employer assure you that as a woman you will receive the same salary as your male colleagues?

Corporate Values

  • How important to you is sustainability and environment protection at your future workplace?
  • Are there any ethical values that need to be respected?
  • Are customer focus and/or quality focus important to you?
  • Would you like to work for an employer who prioritizes financial aspects or are other values more important to you?
  • Should your future employer practice corporate social responsibility - or enable you to continue with your social responsibility activities?

While all these reflections are important, try to maintain some flexibility as far as your expectations are concerned - after all, employers are often also flexible when looking at a candidate’s profile. But do decide under which circumstances you would be prepared to compromise and which criteria are non-negotiable.


How Can I Determine Whether an Employer Fulfills My Expectations?

The job ad only gives initial indications as to whether your preferences correspond with those of the employer. It can also supply clues to the corporate culture by explicitly mentioning certain values. However, it is important to remember that behind such ads there is always an HR marketing strategy and ultimately it will be in the application process that you will experience first-hand how the organization treats people. The expression candidate experience says it all. It is up to you to assess the extent to which your experience meets your expectations of a future employer.

If you would rather know in advance, the organization’s digital presence  will give you further insights on its website and in social media. Do you know anyone in your  own network  who has already worked for this employer and can give you more information? Can your questions be answered by the HR department or is the company attending one of the on-campus Career Days and you can ask for a non-binding meeting? Detailed questions can then be answered personally at an interview  – remember, you maintain full decision rights up until the employment contract is signed.

Take the opportunity to find out as much as you can about potential employers. Given that you will spend a good deal of your time there, it is important that you reach a sound decision.