Tobias Egli is a salary expert, online marketing specialist, and founder of the Lohncheck online salary-comparison portal.
moneyland.ch: Mr. Egli, what are the key factors in determining Swiss salaries?
Tobias Egli: Productivity, generally meaning the actual profits delivered by an employee, is the most important factor in determining salaries. Profits, for their part, are determined by the industry in question and the employee’s specific responsibilities.
Salaries are also heavily dependent on demand in the labor market. The more difficult it is for an employer to find people which match a job profile, the more they will be prepared to pay in salaries.
What type of education provides the highest earning potential?
As a Swiss employee, you earn the most if you have an education from a university or a technical college – often referred to as tertiary education. But that is only true if your education enables you to land better paid jobs.
If two job applicants have different levels of education – but otherwise meet all requirements – for the same job, the difference in the salaries they can expect to receive will often be marginal.
It is interesting to note that salaries of Swiss university graduates do not differ significantly from salaries of technical college graduates.
How important is specializing?
On average, specialists earn up to 1500 francs more per month than non-specialized employees. However, specializing often requires additional education, which means that specializing is closely linked to education.
How do different Swiss industries compare with regards to salaries?
Industry sectors play a significant role in determining salaries. If you work in a high-profit industry – like banking – you will likely earn more than you would if you worked at an equivalent job in a lower-profit industry like hospitality.
At the same time, entry requirements are usually significantly higher in high-profit industries than they are in sectors with lower economic productivity. If you currently work as the head of marketing at a hotel, you couldn’t necessarily expect to be accepted for a similar position at a bank.
Does the number of employees working for a company affect salaries?
Yes. Larger businesses generate more economic output because they have more market share. Because of that, big companies are able to pay higher salaries.
Salary negotiations tend to be a tedious affair. Why is that?
It is important to come prepared. You need to bring good arguments to the table and market yourself properly.
Your performance is your key selling point. You must be able to tell prospective employers why you are important to their business, in no uncertain terms.
It is also important to arm yourself with a knowledge of mean salaries earned by employees in your prospective position. Salary referral tools provide an unbiased reference point in this regard.
What is your definition of self-promotion?
Self-promotion is nothing more or less than marketing yourself. It is all about knowing your worth and marketing that value in a self-assured way. The salary discussion is primarily about showing your employer how you will raise their profits or cut their costs.
When is the best time to negotiate your salary?
There is no across-the-board answer to that question. What is important is that salary negotiations occur ahead of the budgeting phase, so that employers can account for your salary when formulating their budget. Generally speaking, negotiating your salary is best done when you are able to provide clear, founded reasons as to why you are due for a raise. Reasons may include the completion of further education or the successful implementation of an important project.
What should you avoid when negotiating your salary?
Do not base your argument for a raise on changes in your private life. While an increase in the rent you pay on your home might seem a logical reason to apply for a raise, most employers will not see that change as a relevant argument. Instead, try to put yourself in your employer’s shoes. It is their job to ensure that none of their employees receive preferential treatment based on personal reasons.
How should I reply if a prospective employer asks about my anticipated salary during a job interview?
Before each job interview, run a salary check to get an idea of what your skills are worth on the market. Think of several good arguments justifying the salary you want. The salary you received from your last employer can provide a good reference point.
Another useful tip: Settle on a salary range rather than a fixed amount. In doing so, you provide a measure of flexibility to human resources departments rather than a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
Salary check: Swiss salaries compared
moneyland.ch report, October, 24, 2016