Six tips for job-hunting newcomers in Sweden

Two years ago Marianne Nilsson co-founded a recruitment firm to match employers with foreign graduates. Here she shares her tips for finding a job in Sweden.

Six tips for job-hunting newcomers in Sweden

Nilsson and her business partners established Incluso to smooth the transition to the labour market for newcomers. She and her colleagues brought to the project 15 years of experience in counselling and mentoring immigrant job-seekers. 

Here are her top tips for finding a job in Sweden. 

1. Give Swedes time: It’s crucial to network with people in your field, but don’t rush things. Swedes generally don’t like it when people are too pushy. Don’t ask for a job at the first or second meeting. Sell yourself smartly and in different ways. 

2. Don’t rely on governmental agencies, but don’t totally give up on them either: The migration and employment agencies are doing their best to help all newcomers in this country. However, they do sometimes focus more on helping people who are less well-educated, since they assume that highly skilled people need less intervention. But you still shouldn’t underestimate their ability to assist. Job seekers need to have eyes wide open at all times and in all environments, including these.

3. Network and be active: Spending time joining initiatives and meeting people with similar interests is critical, because up to 80 percent of jobs in Sweden are transmitted through informal contacts. Someone who knows you might recommend you to their friend, who’s an employer. This isn’t favouritism, it’s human nature. You still need to meet the job requirements, but it makes it easier for me to employ you if I know you. Let employers know who you are by widening your network.

4. Looking for a job is your full-time job: I sometimes ask job seekers the question: “How many job applications are you sending per month?” Many people answer that they are submitting 10-15 applications. This is wrong: the number should be ten applications per day. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, and applying for jobs is an activity that needs to be structured and organized on a daily basis. An unemployed person’s job-seeking calendar needs to be fully booked for finding work. Consider it a full-time job.

5. Your CV needs to be ‘coded for Sweden’: This point might have been repeated often, but I think it’s critical to pinpoint it here again. The resumé need to show the employer that my qualifications precisely match their demands, and that they need me, they need to employ my skills. This doesn’t mean the CV should exceed three pages, with lengthy elaborations. Swedes prefer short answers – meaningful information with less elaboration. Your CV will be overlooked if it contains too many details. Keep things clear and short: lagom, lagom and lagom.    

6. Don’t let Sweden’s modernity deceive you: Sweden calls itself a modern society but this can be deceptive for newcomers.Our culture is actually still fairly reserved, and to fit in you need to understand its ways. Sweden is not as globalized as it might seem at first glance – at least not culturally speaking – and when it comes to immigration, we’re still ‘inexperienced’ compared to the US or Canada. Job seekers need to be aware that the job market can’t be entirely separated from mentality, behaviours and ways of communicating.


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