Career Services for students
Our range of services and the information we provide will assist you in your preparation for your working life after university and when planning your career.
How do I start looking for a job?
Assess what you have to offer: Review your current situation and the direction you want to take in your professional life. Define your professional and personal skills and consider the work and working conditions which appeal to you.
You can find further information and help regarding personal career resources in the download on the right or at cresogo.com.
Measures and planning
Taking your skills assessment as the starting point, develop possible solutions and measures you can use to plan your next steps. If you need help or advice in formulating and planning your objectives and/or the courses of action open to you, you can obtain advice from career coaches. All students and staff of the Bern University of Applied Sciences can benefit from the range of advice offered free of charge by the Universities of Bern Counselling Centre.
The following activities will help you plan your next steps:
- Investigate the job platforms and employers who are relevant to your objectives. You will find a summary of all relevant Swiss job portals at Jobagent: www.jobagent.ch.
- Consider whether you may have to enhance/extend your skills and how you will achieve this.
- Collect information on your preferred industry or employers.
- Gather information about the salary level.
Now consider how you would like to present your strengths and qualifications. Plan how to go about your applications logically and with a clear goal in mind.
You will find what is important in an application at “Who am I? – Presenting my experience”.
How do I gather information?
What sectors interest me?
Obtain detailed information about the sectors which interest you or about the sectors which you would like to know more about. If you already know a couple of employers you would like to work for, spend some time researching them. Speak to friends who work there. Look for reports, trade or professional associations or newspaper articles, and study the websites of the companies/organisations in question. The best thing to do is to collect all the information together and keep it in a safe place.
What salary can I expect?
Before every interview it is important to find out about the typical salaries in the relevant function and industry. When you do this, it is essential to consult several sources and compare your findings. Trade unions, professional associations and salary information websites (Lohnrechner) can help you in your research.
If you have contacts in your preferred industry, you should certainly ask them for their estimate. Provided, of course, that the people in question are happy to talk about salaries.
The salary level is influenced by a number of factors:
- The requirements of the job
- School qualifications
- Professional qualifications and continuing education
- Professional and sector experience
- International experience and language skills (in certain cases)
- Economic and employment market situation
- Employer’s remuneration system
As well as the salary level, other factors should be considered, for example development prospects, social security payments, fringe benefits, holidays and travel to work.
Who am I? – Presenting my experience
Composing an application
Before you start writing your application, spend as much time as possible researching the job and the employer until you know what you like about the company or organisation and why you want to apply. Then give some thought to your specific qualifications and experience that will be of interest to the employer. You will find more pointers on this in the job advertisement. Then link your motivation and skills to the employer/field of activity.
It is well worthwhile investing a lot of time in your application. The Internet contains many attractive templates and ideas on formatting. It is up to you to decide how your application will look and which form of presentation suits the sector or industry to which you are applying. The application should, of course, be absolutely complete and should include:
- A covering letter saying why you want to work for the employer in question
- References, certificates and diplomas
- Samples of your work (if required)
You have cleared the first hurdle and have been asked to come for an interview. It is essential that you now prepare well for the interview. It is quite normal to be nervous. But don’t panic! They are interested in you and want to get to know you better.
- It can be possible that you sent your written application some time ago. Therefore look at the company’s website again and make sure that you know a lot about the company/organisation, what it does, its staff and general area of activity.
- Use the Internet (the company’s website, LinkedIn, Xing, etc.) to discover as much as you can about the people who will interview you.
- Think carefully about the “message” you want to get over to the interview panel: Who are you? What are your abilities/skills? Where do you see yourself going? What have you got that other candidates don’t have? The notes you made when assessing your skills in the early stages of your job search can be helpful in answering this question.
- Prepare answers to standard questions and challenges: Tell us something about yourself. What are your strengths/weaknesses? Where do you see yourself five years from now? What do you find particularly attractive about this job? Why should we pick you for the job? How do you deal with challenges / problems / criticism?
- Prepare your references (if you have not already specified these in your CV). Note how to contact the relevant person(s) so that you can send the references if required.
- What are your ideas about the salary? You should be able to answer this question without hesitating. Prepare yourself for this question by doing some research about salaries in this industry sector. You will find more information about this in point 2 of the section “How do I gather information?”
- Make a note of the questions you want to ask.
- Dress in line with the dress code of the company / organisation / sector.
- Arrive in good time for the interview and switch your mobile to silent.
During the interview:
- Show enthusiasm about the company and the job.
- Maintain eye contact with all the people at the interview, both when you meet them and during the interview.
- Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for more detail if you are uncertain about something.
- Ask questions (but be sure they are not questions which have been answered during the interview). Interviews are not just about whether you appeal to the employer but also about whether working for this company / organisation appeals to you. Try to learn as much as possible so that you can come to a realistic judgement about the area of work and the atmosphere in the company.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Be yourself and try to keep your voice normal (deep breathing helps if you are nervous).
- At the end of the interview, make sure that you know what the next steps are. When will they let you know the outcome? When will they contact your referees? How many interviews are there?
- Thank them for the interview. The interview is not over until you are out of sight of the building.
After the interview:
- Send an email and thank them for the interview. If relevant, highlight what you particularly liked. Confirm your interest if you are still interested in the job.
- Not the right job for you? If you are sure about this after the interview, tell the organisation / company right away (be friendly and honest when you do so).
What should you do if you are unemployed?
It can happen that looking for a job after university takes a long time. You will find the following information about claiming unemployment benefit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Arbeitslosenkasse) helpful.
If you are worried that you will be without a job after leaving the university, you should register with the Regional Job Centre (Regionales Arbeitsvermittlungszentrum - RAV) as soon as possible. You must register in person either at the relevant RAV or the municipality in which you live; this varies from canton to canton. Register no later than the first day you are unemployed. You are not officially considered to be unemployed until you have registered in person at the RAV / municipality in which you live.
The RAV for university graduates
The RAV is a government agency specialising in the fields of unemployment, the job market and job placements. You can expect two things from them: support when you are unemployed and a large range of available jobs – but it does not primarily offer jobs for unemployed new graduates. On the other hand, it has some special programmes for academics looking for a job, but new graduates are not the main target group of the RAV.
As the RAV is intent on placing job-seekers as quickly as possible in jobs, you have no entitlement to being placed in your ideal job.
With regard to unemployment benefit, your nationality has no effect on entitlement criteria. You need only be a resident of Switzerland, but foreigners must hold a valid residence or settlement permit.
You are eligible for benefit if, in the two years before you first registered at the RAV, you had a job which was liable for contributions (minimum income of CHF 2,300.00 per annum) for at least 12 months. If you did not make contributions for this period, you are nevertheless insured if you were unemployed for a total of more than 12 months because you were in full-time education or if you were unemployed because of illness, an accident or motherhood.
University graduates who have not paid sufficient ALV contributions (unemployment insurance) in the last two years must wait for 120 days until they are entitled to a daily allowance for 90 days. The amount of the daily allowance depends on the graduate’s age; if you are over 25, you will normally receive CHF 3,220.00 per month. If you are younger, the amount you will receive from the insurance is half this sum.
However, if you have worked for at least 12 months during your time at the university, you can expect the waiting time to be much shorter. In addition, the insurance also takes account of your average monthly salary. You will receive 70% of the total of these two amounts. There are also some deductions, for example earnings from (temporary) jobs if, for instance, you are working for the equivalent of one day per week but are looking for full-time employment. You must report all earnings during your period of unemployment so that these can be deducted.
Looking for work at the RAV
You must bring various documents and forms with you to your first meeting with the RAV.
An identity document (identity card / passport)
- AHV card
- If you are not a Swiss: Settlement permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung) or Foreign National’s ID card (Ausländerausweis)
- Residence certificate (Wohnsitzbescheinigung) or residence confirmation (Schriftenempfangsschein) from the municipality
- Up-to-date and complete application documents
- You may also need a completed application form for unemployment benefit (Antrag auf Arbeitslosenentschädigung)
- plus possibly a completed “Evidence of personal efforts to find work form (Nachweis persönlicher Arbeitsbemühungen)
These forms can be found at the link in the right-hand column
You agree with the personal consultant assigned to you the number of applications which you need to write every month and also define which jobs are reasonable from the point of view of work load, commuting and requirements. Reasonable work is defined as follows:
- The salary is at least 70% of your insured income
- The salary is normal for the location and industry
- The job meets the customary working conditions as defined in the Swiss Code of Obligations
- The work matches your abilities and previous work
- Travelling time to and from work does not exceed 4 hours per day
While you are looking for work, you will have to meet your RAV consultant once per month to discuss your job search and other actions you may need to take. During the meeting you have to prove that you are actively looking for a job and are making the agreed number of applications.
You will find additional information on unemployment after graduation at the Universities of Bern Counselling Centre, in the arbeit.swiss portal and at the Regional Job Centre (RAV) in your municipality.
Continuing education after university
After a couple of years at work, the question often arises about whether and how you want to undertake continuing education. The range of continuing education opportunities is almost limitless, and finding the right continuing education course is often difficult. Various companies and organisations, as well as schools and universities, offer continuing educational courses. These courses can lead to a variety of qualifications. You will find more information on Switzerland’s (continuing) education system here.
The Bern University of Applied Sciences offers practical continuing education courses for an exceedingly wide spectrum of needs.
What is your objective?
Give some thought to the goal you want to achieve and in which direction you want continuing education to take you. Take a hard look at yourself and formulate a clear picture of your personal potential, capabilities and wishes. Do you want to obtain a specific qualification, or will you be satisfied with a few days of continuing education on a certain topic? What professional opportunities do you think will be opened up with continuing education and how realistic are these?
How can you reach your goal?
Explore which type of continuing education is best for you and interests you. How long and how intensive will the continuing education be? What is the best way for you to learn, and which institution (or on-line platform) offers the right course for you? Also decide whether you want to acquire specialist knowledge (in order to be an expert in a certain field) or general knowledge (in order to obtain a well-founded understanding of interrelationships). Compare the continuing education courses of a range of providers and critically examine whether the courses match your needs and objectives. You can obtain independent information and advice at berufsberatung.ch. Also talk directly to providers of continuing education, your work colleagues, superiors, friends or graduates about your ideas and obtain their assessment and advice.
What lies within the bounds of possibility for you?
Depending on its extent, the provider and the format, continuing education represents a major investment in time and money. Make sure you know just how long and intensive the continuing education can be and is intended to be. Some advanced studies programmes can provide valuable ideas for your everyday working life and ideally can be put into practice immediately.
If you are aspiring to a more extensive continuing education, you need to determine at an early stage how this can be reconciled with family and leisure-time obligations as well as with your work. You should also not neglect the financial aspect. Will your employer perhaps pay part of the fees for your continuing education (in the form of money or release from work)? How much can you pay and do you want to pay for a continuing education course without having to neglect other financial obligations? Professional educational and career advisory services organised by the canton can normally help you if you are looking for financial assistance for your continuing education. Also compare what each provider includes in the price and what causes price differences between similar offerings.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that normally a lot of time must be invested in personal study in addition to the time spent in the classroom.
Contact in your department
Your department can provide you with industry- and subject-specific information on starting out on a career. If you have any questions, get in touch with the contact person in your department.
Um Sie beim Übergang vom Studium in den Beruf zu unterstützen, bietet das Departement Soziale Arbeit in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Verein Alumni BFH Soziale Arbeit ein Mentoring-Programm an. Sie profitieren dabei von den Berufserfahrungen und den Netzwerken von unseren Absolventinnen und Absolventen.
Das Mentoring-Programm dauert ein Jahr. Vorgesehen sind mindestens sechs persönliche Treffen mit Ihrem Mentor oder Ihrer Mentorin. Gerahmt wird das Mentoring-Programm von einer Kick-Off-Veranstaltung, einem Halbzeittreffen und einer gemeinsamen Abschlussveranstaltung. Die Themen (z.B. Erfahrungsaustausch, Laufbahnplanung, Kennenlernen eines Berufsfeldes) können Sie selbst festlegen. Ihre Mentorin oder Ihr Mentor wird entsprechend ausgewählt.
Counselling Centre Universities of Bern
The Counselling Centre offers students and staff of the Bernese institutions of higher education professional, independent and client-oriented study and career advice.
The services are free of charge and confidential and cover the following topics:
- Career entry, CV check, job interview
- Assessment of the current situation and competence profile
- Study and career planning
- Change of subject and combination of subjects
- Coordination of studies and paid employment
- Study and family and study financing.
Each semester, the Counselling Centre also offers workshops (in German) on careers, the key competences of studying and personal development, including topics such as "Career Entry - Assessment" or "Career Entry - Application File and Job Interview".
You can find further information on the other counselling and coaching services offered by the Counselling Centre and numerous tips and assistance on how you can help yourself efficiently on the website of the Counselling Centre (mainly in German).
BFH Alumni is the umbrella organisation for Bern University of Applied Sciences alumni. It brings together former students (alumni) and BFH’s nine alumni organisations.
Former students are important ambassadors for Bern University of Applied Sciences. After completing their studies, they are admitted to the interdisciplinary alumni network of the umbrella organisation BFH Alumni.
myAbility – career entry for graduates with a disability
The myAbility talent programme supports graduates who have a disability or chronic illness with starting a career and planning their career path. Participation is free of charge for students at Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences. The programme offers supports in the following areas:
- Communication training
- Application coaching
- Career workshops
- Job shadowing