• Sweden's news in English

'Swedes don't want to see gaps in your CV'

12 Feb 2013, 16:49

Published: 12 Feb 2013 16:49 GMT+01:00

How did you end up in Sweden?

I initially came here as a love refugee seven years ago when I was 20. At first my parents were worried about me moving so far away from home, but after my Swedish boyfriend passed muster with my father, a member of the Mexican military, he gave me his full support.

What did you do to get started on your Swedish career?

I enrolled at Stockholm University where I studied political science. Overall it was a positive and very rewarding experience.

I also really liked the university's diversity as well. It is completely normal for a person of any age to be enrolled, whereas in Mexico and the US you mostly see people who are in their early 20s.

Have you kept in touch with people from university? Have they also helped you with advice in Swedish society, finding jobs?

Many went on to study abroad, and sometimes the classes run for such a short period you don’t always have time to make friends. However the few that I’m still in contact with have become really good friends. I wouldn't say they helped me get jobs, but they have been kind of the family that I don’t have here.

SEE ALSO: Click here for the latest listings for jobs in Sweden

I guess my best advice is to really go hang out after classes, that’s when friends are made.

And get involved in stuff on the side. I was always interested in development issues so took part in activities organized by the Swedish development forum, the Stockholm Association of International Affairs and other similar organizations.

So how did a young woman from Mexico end up working at the embassy of Tanzania in Stockholm?

I just applied for the job. I had always wanted to work in an embassy after I graduated, so I had my eyes open for those types of openings. Knowing what you really want makes it easier to put all your energy into making it happen.

Sweden and Tanzania has a decade-long developmental aid relationship. How does your political science degree help you in your current job?

My university studies gave me the analytic and theoretical skills necessary to better understand foreign relations and diplomacy. It has been really interesting to witness the economic and social shifts in Tanzania at it transitions from having foreign aid as its main source of economic support to relying more on trade and investment.

What does a typical workday look like?

I am the personal assistant to the ambassador, which makes my job pretty diverse. I take care of his schedule and assist him in anything he may need, from organizing logistics to serving as a gatekeeper for external contacts.

I also take care of the drafting diplomatic correspondence and reports on Swedish politics and how the local media covers Tanzania.

What are some key differences between Sweden and your home country when it comes to finding a job?

It’s been said many times about Sweden, and I completely agree, that you find jobs through your contacts. But it is the same in Mexico. It’s all about who you know.

However, one difference might be that in Mexico, if you speak English, it's a bit easier to get a job at a big, international company even if you don't speak Spanish, whereas in Sweden, you really need Swedish to improve your chances of getting a job.

Apart from "never give up", do you have any other tips for people looking for work in Sweden?

I’d like to emphasize the importance of a good CV. Before I got this job, I dedicated a lot of time really looking at Swedish websites giving tips on how to write a winning CV and examining different templates. I think it's important to keep your CV up to date and make a whole new one that follows a Swedish standard.

I may sound too philosophical but the whole "God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself" or for the more rationally-minded: "Good things come to those who wait" applies to me in this case.

SEE ALSO: Quick tips for writing the perfect Swedish CV

What other advice might help foreigners make themselves more attractive to Swedish employers?

It's also a good idea to do something while looking for a job, whether it’s volunteer work or an internship, preferably related to your area of expertise.

Swedes value experience a lot, so it's not only is good to acquire as much as you can, but it looks much better to have an activity during the time that you were unemployed than to have a "gap" in your CV.

I even worked as a volunteer at the Swedish Open tennis tournament. I’ve always had the conviction that you never know where one thing may lead, and in this instance, a fellow volunteer became one of my best friends.

Story continues below…

Plus, you may never know if that "temporary" activity can lead to a job or if you might meet someone that could have something for you.

You need to explore it all.

Interested in sharing the story of your Swedish career with The Local?

We'd be happy to hear from you. Send an email with "My Swedish Career" in the subject line to news@thelocal.se and we'll get in touch.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

To read more interviews from our My Swedish Career series, please visit our archive.

Your comments about this article

17:04 February 12, 2013 by johan rebel
Dar es Salaam used to be such a nice, relaxed and laid-back city, without a single highrise building . . . .
17:54 February 12, 2013 by Twiceshy
I thought in Sweden it was not so rare to take a year off in order to go travelling or something like that. You can always use that as an explanation (although if it's a lie you may get caught at it, and that's never good).
17:59 February 12, 2013 by Rishonim
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:52 February 12, 2013 by polartwist
Swedes do want to see your CV, comma, if you have something interesting to show. For Swedish employers is important to see that you really love what you do and a big plus are projects that you were able to do and complete by your own. Full stop. Swedes, as I already told, have the freedom to hire whatever they want (also a dog if they think is appropriate). It's easy to bring racism as an excuse for YOUR failure. I have never seen so much racism against Sweden (the country where we are the guest, actually) like in this website!
23:21 February 12, 2013 by oddsock
They don't like gaps in CVs. But a Swede taking 8 years to finish a 5 year degree doesn't seem to constitute a "gap" for the HR people.
00:07 February 13, 2013 by Beavis
the problem is many that are in the hiring position in companies are quite clueless hr graduates who havent worked in anything else and dont have the ability to think outside the box that was drawn for them in uni. So you have to manipulate your cv and interview to suit them, unless you are lucky enough to be intervied by someone who is doing relevent work to what your being hired for. No offence to the Mexican lady, but your basically an overpaid secretary right?
09:15 February 13, 2013 by muscle
@Beavis: You are right atleast about one thing, the recruiters, the basic screening of the cv is being done by inexperienced HR graduates. And I must add, the consulting organizations have the worst HR people for screening the cvs!!
09:38 February 13, 2013 by salalah
I was unemployed for 5 years and I would never get a job with a Swedish company, but I got a job at an embassy and worked there for 5 years. Foreign people are not morons who think your brain is outdated just because your CV is!!
10:36 February 13, 2013 by PageyGB
Beavis, I am not sure what prompted your last comment? Couldn't resisit a jibe?

While a PA is different to a secretary... what is wrong with being a secretary anyway? And there is no pay mentioned here! I am sure she would LOVE to be overpaid. Something makes me think that working for Tanzania, in Sweden, as a foreigner means the pay won't be that great.

It is a good point about the gaps in th CV. I know when I was hiring in Stockholm I dismissed people with huge gaps without a valid reason. Travelling or studying IS a valid reason to me though. Live and let live.

Well done Miss Mexican Lady for getting a job in the field you wanted. Not an easy thing in Sweden. I am sure your experiences will be useful to some people out there.
06:25 February 15, 2013 by Jense
Yes, well done on studying and getting a rewarding job that you clearly suit! As someone responsible for recruitment and interviewing, I always look out for gaps in CVs. There can often be a valid reason for these gaps in a person's CV, caring for a sick relative, travel or other personal projects. I wish you every success in your Swedish career!
Today's headlines
Stockholm ranked top Nordic student city
A student at Stockholm University Library. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Stockholm ranked top Nordic student city

3 hours ago

Sweden's capital is the best city in the Nordics for students, according to a major global ranking that also placed it sixth overall in Europe.

Swedish nationalists cheer record poll support
Sweden Democrat leader, Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish nationalists cheer record poll support

3 hours ago

UPDATED: The anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party has polled 19.9 percent, the group's highest-ever projected share of the electoral vote in a survey by Statistics Sweden.

Should female tech students get 'free' loans?
A Swedish woman using a computer. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Should female tech students get 'free' loans?

3 hours ago

A suggestion that female IT students should have their debts written off to encourage more young women to enter Sweden's tech sector is causing a storm in the famously 'gender equal' nation.

Lights go out as huge power cut hits capital
Sturegallerian shopping centre in Östermalm, which was affected by the power problems. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Lights go out as huge power cut hits capital

4 hours ago

UPDATED: Around 8000 energy customers in central Stockholm were without power for two hours on Tuesday afternoon following a technical failure.

Swedish clinic gives out penis tape measures
Safe sex products on sale in Stockholm. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Swedish clinic gives out penis tape measures

5 hours ago

UPDATED: Special measuring tapes are being handed out to young men in Stockholm by a clinic trying to get them to practise safer sex.

Refugee crisis
Refugees to be moved from Sweden by EU
Refugees in Malmö, southern Sweden, last month. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Refugees to be moved from Sweden by EU

7 hours ago

Sweden will soon benefit from a "relocation" programme for some of its asylum seekers, the European Commissioner of Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has said.

Presented by American Express
Top seven US cities for a Swedish getaway
Photo: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr

Top seven US cities for a Swedish getaway

8 hours ago

Sometimes you’ve just got to get away – like over-the-Atlantic-Ocean-away. Luckily, this spring SAS is kicking off new direct lines to the US. Here are the top destinations – straight from Stockholm.

Swede awaits gnome theft spree ruling
Some garden gnomes unassociated with the thefts. Photo: Pixabay

Swede awaits gnome theft spree ruling

9 hours ago

A woman in her 50s is awaiting sentencing after she was accused of stealing garden gnomes, pot plants, and a computer on a five day thieving binge.

Presented by Saco
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'

10 hours ago

Countless degree holders who move to Sweden struggle to get their credentials recognized and find work. The Local speaks to a Swedish union group trying to change that.

Nearly half of Swedes 'worried' about terror
Emergency services in Paris following the attacks last month. Photo: Jerome Delay/TT/AP

Nearly half of Swedes 'worried' about terror

11 hours ago

Fear of a terror attack taking place in Sweden has risen sharply, with 46 per cent of people polled saying they are concerned, up from 34 percent in January.

IN PICTURES: Storm Gorm rips through southern Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm's secret ski resort: Kungsberget
Could this Nordic Noir writer pen Sweden's next Eurovision win?
Sponsored Article
Luleå: 8 winter must-dos in Sweden's far north
Property of the week: Nyköping
Blog updates

27 November

Editor’s blog, November 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, A decision by Sweden this week to impose new – much stricter than before –..." READ »


25 November

So What Does An Ambassador Do? (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I know that my mum is super proud that I’m an Ambassador. But if you asked..." READ »

Sponsored Article
The quickest route to UK Eurobonus destinations
People-watching: November 28th-29th
Sponsored Article
11 reasons students pick Stockholm University
Sponsored Article
After Paris: 'The war is not only against Isis'
POLL: Swedes back new asylum rules
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm solved a startup’s housing crisis
Five weirdest Christmas attacks on Sweden's famous straw goat
Sponsored Article
Swedish researchers find Ice Age 'missing link'
Five myths about Sweden's refugees
Sponsored Article
Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness
How did this missing Swedish cat turn up in southern France?
Sponsored Article
Beaches, bikes, and buds: studying in Malmö
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
Sponsored Article
Sweden must combat extremist 'mirage'
People-watching: November 25th
Sponsored Article
How to figure out healthcare abroad
What do Swedes want for Christmas?
Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: the new epicentre of global leadership
GUIDE: How to help refugees if you live in Sweden
Mystery ice circle in Swedish river
IN PICTURES: New royal winter snaps of Sweden's Princess Estelle
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Stockholm film festival's top movies
Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
‘Food choices in Sweden destroy forests in Asia’
People-watching: November 20th-22nd
Swedish King calls for bathtub ban
Analysis & Opinion
Why you should care about Sweden raising its terror threat level
Sponsored Article
The cheapest and fastest way to transfer money
Stockholm's best international bars
Is this the best warning sign ever?
Why are more Swedes getting fat?
Sweden's tribute to Paris victims
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: