Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Job Search - Part IV

The next day – “decision day” – came and went with no word from the HR guy. Christelle was worried that they had found something in the integrity test that showed me in a bad light, meaning the company did not want to employ me anymore.

I tried to calm her fears (and my own) by saying that the guy is probably just busy, or maybe hasn’t had a chance to review the test results yet. I busied myself with research on the Geneva bank, with whom I had the second interview planned for the Thursday afternoon.

We decided to wait until 11am the next morning before I would then call the Prilly HR guy to ask for an update, and spent the evening trying not to think negative thoughts.

When Thursday morning arrived, I awoke early and turned my laptop on. I spent the next couple of hours with my phone at my side (with the ringer set to the highest possible volume), checking my inbox every 5 minutes or so, waiting desperately for some news. By 11am, I had not heard a peep.

Doubts crept into my mind, and that familiar sinking feeling of rejection surfaced on the horizon. I couldn’t believe after all the positive feedback that this could turn out to be another dead end, resulting in nothing but disappointment. It also meant I would have to make another trip to Geneva, and go through the motions of another interview, something that I was hoping to avoid as the Prilly job was far more appealing to me.

Then, at 11:05, the Super Mario Bros theme tune blasted out on my iPhone, as the HR guy rang me. With my heart thumping loudly in my chest, I answered the call.

The twenty minute conversation that followed provided me with the happiest feeling I had had since moving to Switzerland, and the greatest sense of achievement I have ever felt in my life. It was good news – as if you couldn’t guess – as they offered me the job. We discussed contracts, salaries, start dates, training arrangements, and so on, before wishing each other a pleasant afternoon and going back to our respective lives; his of everyday work punctuated by short breaks for a cup of Nespresso, and mine of absolute jubilation and triumphant celebration.

And celebrate we did – after calling Christelle, my parents, and then Chris’ parents, followed by a Facebook status update to share the good news (and a quick email to the Geneva bank to say I had found a job and therefore would not be coming to the afternoon interview), I headed out to the nearby shop to buy a few bottles of Clairette de Die, a delicious alternative to champagne, plus a few assorted snacks and nibbles.

That evening members of Chris’ family popped over to offer their congratulations, and I lost count of how many times we raise our glasses in celebration. I was elated, barely able to stop smiling for the entire evening. Sharing this celebration with my Swiss family, who had all offered their support during my search for a job, was a very fitting way to say goodbye to unemployment and welcome in the start of my working life in Switzerland.

The next day, I slept until I felt I couldn’t sleep any more. For the first time since my arrival in Switzerland, I had no worries in my mind. The pressure and stress of the job search had been lifted from my shoulders, and I was free to enjoy a day of pure freedom. No course to study, no job sites to scour, no interviews to prepare for.

That day, I sat back and reveled in my achievement, and had a pizza for lunch. It didn’t even matter when Adecco contacted me the same day to tell me that the Montreux job had been given to someone else. I almost laughed when I heard that, as I would have turned them down anyway now that I had found a job.

My long search had come to an end. I was no longer unemployed, uncertain of what the future might hold. Now, I could hold my head up high and look back on the last few months of hard work and all the ups and downs I had experienced.

The more I thought about it, the more remarkable my achievement seemed: Switzerland is a country where employers prefer to take on Swiss nationals to foreigners, so that was one potential hurdle that I had already overcome; secondly, when I arrived I did not speak French fluently, yet had been able to conduct interviews in French to the point where companies remained interested in me; and finally, I had carried out the majority of my job search at the end of the year, where vacancies and opportunities are harder to come by, and had successfully found a job in a time of global recession. Not bad for a guy who only a few years ago was living at home with his parents, could speak no more French than a simple “bonjour”, was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life and had no real dreams or goals.

My "normal" Swiss life for me began after that moment. The start date of the job was perfectly timed as it fell one week before we would move into our new apartment. February 2010 had proved to be a month of huge changes for Christelle and I, as we would now have the freedom of our new apartment and the security of us both having jobs.

We could really start to plan our future, such as buying furniture, hosting dinner parties, buying a new car, inviting my family and friends to stay over, and (eventually) entertain the idea of starting a family of our own.

As I said to Christelle after Christmas, 2010 will be our year. Vive les Reed-Pecks!


Justin VanNest said...

Hey there! Thanks for posting this story up here! My wife and I are headed to the area in September and we're scrambling to try and find her some employment (she's a nurse that doesn't speak French!). Knowing how tough it is to find something has inspired us to start looking early and often. We will attempt to utilize some of the staffing agencies that you mentioned. Hopefully something will work! We'll be living in the Morges/St Prex area... it's beautiful, eh?

Justin (and Katie)

Paul Reed-Peck said...

Hi Justin,

Nice to hear from you and I can assure you that you have made a great decision to move to Switzerland - the Morges area is indeed, beautiful; I live roughly 15 minutes from Morges and the whole area here is one of natural beauty that has managed to retain it's Swiss charm in the face of the ever-expanding urban landscape.

One of my wife's best friends worked at the CHUV hospital in Lausanne until a couple of years ago - she is Canadian and speaks fluent English and French, but she might be able to send some information on how someone without the French language can find a job here. Let me know if you want me to ask her.

Can I ask you where you are moving here from? The local communes in Switzerland can provide French courses to help residents learn the language, although they usually state that the resident in question has to have a valid work permit for working in Switzerland before they can enrol on the course. I was told I had to wait until I had received my "Permis B" before they could help me, at which point I decided to concentrate on searching for work.

Let me know if you need any further info about Switzerland or adapting to life here, I think I qualify as the voice of experience by now! :)