However, Sweden has almost the lowest number of unskilled jobs in the EU, with only Switzerland and Norway having less.
What does all this mean? It isn’t easy for Swedes or expats to get jobs, the job market isn’t as open as in other countries, the population (and therefore available jobs) is much smaller and the whole system works in a different way. Understanding how the job market and recruitment processes work will make a huge difference in the success of any job hunt and here are some tips from us:
- Visit employment fairs
Big Swedish companies, such as IKEA, Volvo and Skanska regularly tour employment fairs to meet potential new employees. Employment fairs are great places to network with potential employers in your field, to take part in interviews and go to useful seminars. Make sure you go to the fairs prepared with a stack of CVs and cover letters. Decide which companies you want to talk to and what they might be impressed by before you go. After the fair, send follow-up emails to the people you spoke to – this is often the crucial step.
- Make sure that your employer is the real deal
This might not seem like a big deal. As long as someone says you've a job waiting, you're in the clear... right? Well, the situation is unfortunately a bit more complicated. Before jumping to the next step of actually obtaining a work permit, you should make sure that your employer is registered as such. If this is not the case, your supposed employer doesn't even have ability to pay you a formal salary. This could jeopardise your ability to receive a permit and also cause you to put a lot of energy into something that will turn out to be fruitless.
- Learn Swedish
While it’s true that nearly everyone in Sweden speaks English and many large companies – even Swedish ones – have English as their corporate language, being proficient at Swedish will open up lots of doors when it comes to finding work and building work relationships. Even if you apply for a job that specifically demands fluent English or where a native English speaker is preferred, your ability to speak even conversational Swedish will make you better qualified.
- Apply for a work permit
If you will need a permit to work in Sweden, collect together all the relevant information before you start the process, such as your correspondence with your employer, a copy of the job advertisement and your passport. Take everything to the immigration office, Migrationsverket.
- Take an internship
Internships can be a great way to gain relevant experience and build your professional network. Even if they don’t lead directly to a job offer, you’ll have a reference from a Swedish company and a notable update for your CV. Look out for advertisements – there are often plenty around - or contact a company you’d like to do an internship at directly.
- Register yourself at Skatteverket
Once you have a valid work permit, you will also receive a residence permit card. This enables you to obtain a personal identity number. This number is your key to being a part of the formal society. It enables you to open a bank account, pay taxes and deal with all administrative issues. Read more about personal numbers in our post here.
Register yourself at the tax office (which also handles anything to do with the population of Sweden, including personal numbers) – Skatteverket – as soon as possible. Pretty much everything in Sweden revolves around a personal identity number and not having one will act as a barrier between you and an easy life!
- Contact employers directly and network to build connections
When you look at Swedish job ads you may notice they include contact details for an employee who can answer questions about the post. That person is often involved in deciding who gets the position, so it can be worth your while to call them up, ask a few relevant questions and engage them in conversion. Hopefully you’ll impress them enough to remember your name when your application lands on their desk. If that isn’t possible, try to go to events in your field to make connections that can help you get in touch with the people that are hiring.
Job hunting in Sweden isn’t always easy so to help in making the process a bit simpler, use these tips. They might not all work for you but they should give you a head-start at least.
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About the blog
Interesting bits and pieces about life in Sweden, including all-important song words.