5 tips to help you with your job hunt in Sweden | Undutchables

5 tips to help you with your job hunt in Sweden

Categorie: Guest article

Our candidate Matt shared his thoughts and experience on moving to Sweden and what to expect when looking for a job in Sweden. Read his 5 best tips on what to do on your job search journey in Sweden.

1. Be a pseudo Swede

Look like a local on your CV, starting with showing off your personnummer. That way your employer knows you are already registered in the Swedish system (and that they don’t have the legwork of sponsoring a visa application). Include that magic number, plus other “look-how-Swedish-I-am” details:

  • A Swedish postal address (and your personal statement should emphasise that you’re here for the long term).
  • A Swedish telephone number (I bought a Skype Number, for use until I had a Swedish mobile).
  • A firstnamelastname@gmail.com email address, like every good Swede has.

You only have 4% of the job market

2. Know the odds

You might be familiar with the stat that 80% of jobs aren’t advertised. Well, it gets worse: 80% of those jobs want Swedish speakers. That means you only have 4% of the market to work with. Improve your odds:

  • Get networking. People refer to Stockholm as ‘the village’ because it seems like everyone knows everyone else. It helps if you can get a personal recommendation.
  • Learn Swedish. I haven’t done this yet, but interviewers expect you to be planning to learn conversational Swedish and, importantly, understand the sensibilities of being a foreigner in a Swedish workplace.
  • Embrace the recruiters. Agencies like Undutchables specialise in foreigners and agents can help open doors that say ‘Swedish Only’, an agency for internationals.


Some companies actively encourage new ideas from abroad

3. Flip the odds

Swedbank, Handelsbanken, ICA, Ericsson and a whole host of Swedish companies are often dead ends for Brits. But that means you can focus where it’s actually advantageous to be a native English speaker:

  • International organisations have English as their working language (especially where there’s an American or British parent company, obviously).
  • Companies looking for Nordic expansion welcome foreigners. Sending a Swede to Denmark would be like sending an English person to open the Welsh office!
  • Technology companies actively encourage new ideas from abroad.


Heavily tailor your CV for each role

4. Be a specialist (ideally with the badges to prove it)

One organisation I applied to had stats on their homepage: % of employees with an undergraduate degree; % with a masters; % with a PhD. The surest way to take the risk out of hiring you is to have 10 years experience in one particular discipline plus 10 years studying that thing at university. Not so great for a generalist like me!

  • Relevant education is expected, otherwise you’ll need certifications like ScrumMaster or Product Owner.
  • You will need to heavily tailor your CV and cover letter for each role. (For example, I know Business Analyst as the go-between for business and IT - in Sweden it often means “analyser of the business” i.e. the person who produces board packs on competitor analysis.)
  • Attend industry events and job fairs - and then talk about it on LinkedIn ;-)


Plan on not working for up to a year

5. Get comfy, it’s going to be a long journey

If you’re moving with your partner’s job, you’d best plan on not working for a year. My job hunt was “quick”: it took nine months, with six of those living in Stockholm. The silver lining is that you’re going to need that time to get your Swedish life set up - especially if you have children.

  • Maybe it’s because everyone is already in a job or maybe it's because everyone has great unemployment benefits, but the application processes are in months, not weeks.
  • Even agents say, “perfect, you’re exactly what we need right now… perhaps we could meet up at the end of next week?”
  • Get used to the pace. One of my interviewers was late because his ice hockey practice overran.

Thank you to Matt Newton-Lewis for sharing his hard-won tips on his job hunt when he moved to Stockholm in the Summer of 2019 with his wife and two daughters.

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