• Sweden's news in English

'I decided I had to chase down a job myself'

The Local · 28 Jan 2013, 16:32

Published: 28 Jan 2013 16:32 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Like many of his fellow countrymen, Todaro left the shores of Australia to seek opportunity and challenges abroad.

A chance meeting with a Swedish woman in Scotland ended up with him moving to Stockholm on the tail end of a fine summer in 2001. He soon faced the task of surviving the upcoming winter without an income.

Now, 10 years later and employed by Universal Pictures as a financial controller for the Nordic region, Todaro reflects how a bit of networking, a dose of the Swedish language, and a lucky break landed him with his own Swedish career.

So you came to Sweden for love, but what did you actually know about the country before the move?

I didn’t know much at all, I’d been travelling a lot but it wasn’t on my hit list. But I thought: I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ll give it a go. It was another opportunity, something different.

I arrived during the summer and it was fantastic - the people seemed so relaxed. But as great as it was, Stockholm has a way of draining your cash if you're not careful and I quickly realized that I needed to find a job.

So what did you do?

Well, I had a strong CV but it wasn’t cutting the mustard. I was ringing a lot of agencies and chasing them down. It wasn’t at all like back in the UK where they chase you. It ended up with the agency telling me to work in a pub and come back after I’d picked up the language.

But after months of the same old thing, I thought: “Stuff this, I’m gonna do some chasing myself”. By chance, I found that Universal Pictures had a connection to the company where I worked in Glasgow.

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

I found a name and cold called them. As it happened, their finance director was an Englishman who was keen to see my CV. He appreciated it for what it was, and an interview was set up for soon after. Things just moved forward from there.

Ten years on at the same company, what can you say about working in Sweden?

Sweden has its own idiosyncrasies. The whole country shuts down in July. People simply take four weeks off. In Australia, you'd have to re-train people if they were gone for four weeks.

You have "vabbing" (where workers are paid to stay at home and look after their sick kids) and people are very flexible about working from home. It's definitely a good thing. The UK and Oz have a harder work environment, and are more work focused, but Sweden has a better balance with more holidays and a fantastic paternity leave system.

How about the actual differences at the workplace?

When I came here, one advantage for me was there was a lot of business English. The head office was in London, so my background was a bonus. But the language was a challenge. You don’t know all the tax laws and employment laws and statutory requirements, but you have to learn and sometimes it’s gotta be the hard way.

For example, in the UK, payments are based on reminders, but here, if you don't pay something in time you get blacklisted.

In the UK, you pay when someone screams the loudest. It's times like this when you need to get Swedified as quickly as possible.

Speaking of Swedification, how did you go about learning Swedish?

I did a Swedish for Foreigners course (SFI) and watched a lot of TV. I tried to speak with the family and my friends as often as I could. In the first year though, I was bloody hopeless.

I later learned that the best teachers are your own kids. You can bastardize Swedish as much as you want and they'll be forgiving. They'll always forgive you if you mix up your tenses and they don’t tend to switch to English.

And finally, what advice would you give someone who is about to embark on a Swedish career?

Try and get the language under your belt. Speak to people as much as you can and network. Get insider tips from other expats or the locals and bridge the gap as quickly as you can. Also, it's important to embrace the Swedish culture, it's a fun culture to be involved in.

From a non-business perspective, you need to work on a way to survive winter. Pick up skiing or ice-skating, or join the gym. Winters can be long and dark and it can drive you mental.

Socially, you've gotta keep your networking up. A lot of your friends who are also foreigners might not necessarily stay, they often go back to Australia or wherever they've come from.

Story continues below…

You really need a group of Swedish people to knock around with, too. They'll usually stick around.

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.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:53 January 28, 2013 by jvtx3232
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:53 January 28, 2013 by spongepaddy
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:03 January 28, 2013 by icedearth
While it is hard to find a job in Sweden, it is easy to contact the hiring managers and the hr rep. I do not live in Sweden, but I have talked to many hiring managers asking them about the positions they are hiring for.
10:33 January 29, 2013 by rise
"Stuff this, I'm gonna do some chasing myself".

Is there any other way of getting a job? No. Forget about agencies - Swede or no Swede. They're a waste of precious time and energy. If using an agency you're just showing you cannot get a job on yourself and therefore isn't even worth employing. Cynical? Yes but that's how it works.
22:42 February 1, 2013 by johan rebel
'I decided I had to chase down a job myself'

What an amaziing insight! If you want a job, make an effort and start looking! I should that's what most people d. Or do they just sti on their behinds and wait for somebody to offer them a nice job and a fantastic salary?
Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available