Non-linear career paths

Non-linear career paths are usually not highly regarded by the institution.

A characteristic of the academic career in Switzerland is the relatively late granting of tenure of professors. However, changes have become apparent over the past few years and the Swiss academic career tends to be moving away from the German model and coming closer to the American model. The pressures and measures aimed at shortening theses and the introduction of conditional tenure track, for example, indicate that in Switzerland, academic careers are to some extent progressing at a faster rate.

Age is an important factor at the time of recruitment and some universities have set an age limit for recruitment to certain posts.
However, SNSF directives stipulating age limits for the awarding of various grants were abolished for everyone in 2008.

Currently, it is the academic age that is taken into account, i.e. :

  • young researcher grants : not later than 3 years after the doctorate ;
  • advanced researcher grants : not later than 5 years after the doctorate ;
  • Ambizione : not later than 5 years after the doctorate ;
  • SNSF professorships : 9 years maximum of postdoctoral research.

Age limits, both biological and academic, act as a brake on discontinuous academic careers. For this reason it is very difficult to return to an academic career once it has been interrupted.

Nevertheless in certain disciplines signs of acceptance of non-linear career paths are discernable. Therefore, if your dossier is solid and you consider that your professional experience is sufficiently appropriate for the targeted post, it is worth applying.

It is nonetheless necessary to prepare justifications for career interruptions thoroughly and highlight experience gained outside the alma mater.

SNSF Marie Heim-Vögtlin programme

Each year, the SNSF offers on a competitive basis a limited number of   Marie Heim-Vögtlin grants  (MHV grants) to promote women in research.

MHV grants are intended for doctoral or postdoctoral candidates who have had to interrupt or reduce their research activity as a result of family commitments (children) or changes in place of residence caused by changes in the working life of the partner.

Their duration is two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension in justified cases.

To allow the candidate’s long-term reinsertion, the host institute must not only provide a written attestation of acceptance of the candidate and offer them guaranteed employment, but also maintain its financial commitment after the MHV grant expires.