Realistic job offer, or scam?

Dear community
Batman here, long-time reader of the forum and now posting for the first time :slight_smile:

I am 33, PhD in mechanical Engineering, Consultant at some IT-Integrator in Zurich, and I make slightly above 100k per year. As this is not a nice salary in my regard, i am currently trying to improve it.

By random chance I got an offer from a headhunter, for some BigData contracting job netting CHF 850 per day for 6 months, with potential extensions. Details have to be discussed, but he did lay out the numbers plainly in the initial email, and i would match the required skills.

If I assume 200 chargeable days per year this equates to a yearly salary of 170k :dizzy_face: which would totally kick ass!

Now I do not have experience with this. but oviously this is extremely tempting. Do you guys have a clue whether this is realistic or a scam? what caveats should i think of?

Thanks for your opinions!

Would you be self employed? AFAIK that changes the equation quite a lot.




Are we talking gross or net for the numbers? If gross (all-in), it’s on the lower end (from my humble point of view). BigData is a big topic, and from what I know there’s high demand and not that many people. But maybe someone who’s working in that field can provide you a more detailed feedback.
CHF 850 per day = CHF 106.25 per hour is not that much

Also, most probably you’ll be self-employed. Which means that if we are talking about gross pay, you have to calculate that you’ll have to pay UHV, BVG, KTG plus all social securities.

There are payroll companies who are providing such services (check for other threads).

The contracting job will only give you job security for 6 months, and then what? Also consider that you’ll not have 25 or 30 days vacation anymore. If you are not working (vacation, sick leave), you won’t get paid.

Is it really a headhunter btw? Sounds more like recruiter for me. If they are paying you roughly 100 CHF per hour, I’m pretty sure they are selling your services for at least double that amount.

Hi there

I have been self-employed in the past (a few years back though) and the rates I used to charge were between CHF 120-160 (Programming & Project management activities) all-in.

Be careful you are only really/fully “independant” once you prove to the AHV that you are :slight_smile: Meaning send them a few bills from different customers. But several serious companies do not do business anymore with sole proprietorships (need to be at least a Ltd.).


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Hourly rate 150-200 chf is typical in my business. In Liechtenstein it’s even possible to get a daily rate of over 2000.

But this rate has to then cover your social contributions and income taxes, including 2nd pillar, for both employer and employee.

It also depends on your experience. Is the position aligned with your past experience? Big data and mechanical engineering are a bit different.
You can of course get more, but if it’s your first time as self-employed it’s not bad. The recruiter will get a large portion of it, but he found you the job, I think it’s fair. In the future if you will discuss directly with the client you can get more.
On 225 days (normal working year with ~25 days of vacation) its 190k, if you deduct taxes it will be maybe equivalent to 150-160k salary for a regular job. Still it’s much more than what you are making now.

@all the other, I’m actually interested, since I’m in a similar position. How did you find 120-200CHF jobs? And what is your working experience?

Not super high if self-employed. I make 150K/y in ZH (lead sw developer)

An updated public linkedin profile usually does the trick. Then there’s project platforms like gulp, suisseco, gettemp, calista, iet, etc.
Was also offered a 200 CHF/h gig for 9 months for some network gear migration.

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Linkedin helps, or a good reputation in meetups/twitter.

200/h is a lot. We pay around 150/h for external senior developers.

850 CHF per day is at the very low end I would say. I know people who freelance at around 1100-1600 CHF per day. I’m aware that in some fields in IT like Linux administration etc now have to work for around 900 CHF per day because everyone has that knowledge and they get undercut by cheap EU workers, so rates went down significantly in the last 10 years (maybe it started even a bit before that). But Big Data is more complex than that and considering you even have a PhD, I think 850 CHF is an outright rude offer. If now even PhD’s start to work for 850 CHF per day, then we’re on track to the path of slavery again :wink:

If you freelance you have to cover a lot more costs by yourself, e.g. all social contributions / 2. pillar, vacations, trainings, sick days, acquisition days, unpaid days because you don’t have a customer, etc., and you have basically no job security, they usually can fire you with a few days notice period even during a contract.

So in order to make it worth, the salary for a freelancer needs to be significantly higher than the one of a permanent employee. 170-190K sounds like a lot, but when you remove from that all the above mentioned things such as social security / 2nd / 3rd pillar, sick leaves, training, idle days, acquisition days, reserves for the risk of getting booted, acquisition days, etc. then you end up with maybe 120’000 CHF per year or even less. You could probably get a much better deal through permanent employment in this case.

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I want to point out a similar discussion that happened recently:
Become “for hire”?

There were many more pro’s & con’s discussed there that might be of interest to you.

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I’d like to add, that we’re increasingly in a “gig economy”. Our jobs are standardized, we are replaceable. The companies don’t care about maintaining their workforce for decades. Of course, I still know many people in Switzerland with 20+ years at a single company, but I don’t think this loyalty is really rewarded. My point is, I find it much more convenient to be paid by the hour instead of per month. The most frustrating this is to just sit there and try to get as little work coming your way as possible, but still having to absolve your 8 hours each day. As an external, this mentality flips. I’m actively looking for something to do, in order to keep myself interested, so that I’m motivated to work as many hours, not just by the money. On the flip side, I don’t really feel ownership of my work, I’m not responsible end-to-end for some process or a product, there always needs to be someone intern for this, in case I leave.

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thank you guys very much. that is alot of helpful thoughts.
I never thought about freelancing - maybe i should spend abit time on thinking about it.

does that mean you typically create a AG or GmbH for freelancing?

Indeed. I started as sole proprietorship but at one point I was asked to switch to an GmbH/AG. I must say that my customers where at that time big multi-nationals and (probably) had some clear standards.

Well we can discuss if a freelancer (in the way it is used here) is really “independant” as many times a freelancer is represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells its labor. In my case I never had any intermediaries making easy money on my back.


Speaking about IT jobs salaries there is sometimes additional salary due to on-call duty work such as for a site reliability engineer (SRE) position and I was wondering if there are any data about what to expect in terms of extra-salary for being on-call? Let’s say you are an SRE for a big company in Switzerland and you are 1 week per month on-call (including week-end). How much more can you expect on your salary?

I know that some companies I worked for paid between 500-740 CHF per week for on-call duty.

I did some on-call when I was much younger at the beginning of my career and I hated it. Even though there were only around 0-2 calls per year, you were basically blocked 1 week completely, no hobbies, sports, fitness, restaurant, cinema, dinner with friends, concerts, trips, etc. and always the possibility that someone calls you up at night.

Even 740 CHF per week is not enough compensation for that torture, so at this time, I swore that I would never again sign a contract that includes an on-call clause. One time, they wanted to convince a full team to do on-call and then I just changed into another team.

So for many years, my phone is in DND mode at night automatically, and no job is ever going to change that :wink:


Thanks Patron for your feedback. It is interesting to read about your own experience as I really see this is a trade-off between quality of life and some extra cash at the end of the month. In my opinion is that something between 500-740 CHF for one week per month of on-call duty is not worth it. Or at least not in the IT industry where the salaries are usually quite high anyway.

Is anyone else on-call in IT and have higher benefits maybe?

Yes, I agree. The problem is that those compensations are fixed for all employees and not depending on salary so they have to find something that is reasonable for everyone. But this results in those compensation being attractive for younger folks or career starters with lower salaries, but you’ll find much less volunteers with higher salaries or older people :wink:

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