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How you can use the summer to break into the Swedish job market

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How you can use the summer to break into the Swedish job market
There's a summer jobs boom in Sweden, so here's what you need to know about the industries and regions with most opportunities, plus some expert tips for job seekers. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
08:15 CEST+02:00
Sweden's quiet summer period can actually be the perfect time to make progress in your job hunt – if you know the right steps to take. The Local spoke to experts to find out the best ways job seekers can make the most of the coming months to find new opportunities.

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Whether you're new to Sweden and looking for work, or hoping to take your career in a different direction, foreigners in Sweden face unique challenges on the job market from a potential language barrier to a lack of professional contacts.

But the summer lull – which sees many locals, including hiring managers, take lengthy holidays – can actually be good news for job seekers.

As The Local reported last week, national job agency Arbetsförmedlingen is advertising a record number of summer vacancies, with 16,485 openings published on its site in April alone.

Lovisa Fältskog Johansson, who works with ÖppnaDörren, an initiative which aims to connect newcomers with professional opportunities, told The Local it was not too late for job hunters to apply for summer work, but said they should try to do so as soon as possible.

"For seasonal jobs it is high time to apply. Check out all kinds of staffing agencies and what they are advertising for," she recommended, as well as advising that newcomers contact local businesses including supermarkets and in areas such as healthcare, delivery and warehouses, and submit a CV.

She also suggested using the summer to get to know established Swedes who could help them in their job hunt. "In Sweden seven out of ten jobs are obtained through personal connections, so it's all about networking!"

READ ALSO: Networking in Sweden: The steps to making valuable professional connections

Ellinor Wassberg, a job-hunting expert at Arbetsförmedlingen, told The Local that temporary or seasonal roles can be particularly useful for foreigners who may need to catch up with locals in terms of industry knowledge or network-building.

"Even if you're looking for a full-time job, a summer job is a very helpful first step," Wassberg said. "It's a great way to get experience to add on your CV, get a reference from a Swedish company, get to know people so you can make connections and figure out how things work. All this should help get you another job."

Swedish offices typically empty out during the summer. Photo: Vidar Ruud/NTB scanpix/TT

She adds that it's a good chance for newcomers to Sweden who are looking for a career change, or who need to try out different positions – for example if it's not possible for them to work in the same field as in their home country – as they can try something new for a fixed period.

Looking at the jobs advertised by Arbetsförmedlingen (or The Local Jobs) is also a useful way of assessing which industries or locations seem to be hiring. Many of the vacancies posted to the site between December 2017 and April this year were for positions in the healthcare and social services sectors, with thousands of vacancies for assistant and trained nurses and elderly carers.

In other sectors, the top jobs by number of positions advertised were: warehouse staff, cleaners, restaurant and kitchen assistants, waiters and maître d's, shop assistants and sales people, prison officers, truck drivers, and cooks.

READ ALSO: These are the most future-proof jobs in Sweden

Perhaps surprisingly, the highest number of jobs were not advertised in the Stockholm area but in the regions containing the country's other major cities, with 23,077 roles on offer in the Västra Götaland region between December and April, 10,124 in Skåne, and 9,115 in Stockholm.

These were followed by Östergötland with 7,977 jobs advertised, Jönköping (6,954) and Kalmar (5,702), while at the other end of the scale the regions with the fewest vacancies on offer were Jämtland (747), Västmanland (1,485) and Västernorrland (1,875). 

All regions saw a significant increase in the number of jobs postings from February onwards compared to the two previous months, in part due to the high number of seasonal vacancies this year.

This boom is down to a few different factors. For one thing, there is a skills shortage in Sweden, so many of the jobs up for grabs might be hard to fill due to requiring specific in-demand skills. But the rise is also due to high employment levels in Sweden, meaning that fewer people are job-searching or taking temporary roles and more are in permanent staff jobs – and therefore taking advantage of Sweden's Annual Leave Law, which entitles all employees to four weeks' consecutive summer holiday. The popularity of taking a long summer break could also mean less competition for the roles you apply to.

Ellinor Wassberg from Arbetsförmedlingen recommended downloading its 'Sommarjobb' app to easily see and apply all the vacancies, but noted that the positions advertised aren't the only ones out there. 

"You can contact employers you would like to work for directly and send a spontaneous email or call," Wassberg suggested. "It takes a while to go through the process of putting together an ad, recruiting and going through applications, so for a temporary role some places might not do this, but if you put yourself forward you might be the only candidate."

Ellinor Wassberg shares her tips for finding work in Sweden. Photo: Jonas Kowalski

"Some Swedish employers put their businesses on pause and shut down their offices over summer, but others can't do this and try to manage with the staff they have. So you can help by offering to fill in, explaining what you can contribute – make it easy for them."

She added however that this approach is best suited to private companies, as government and municipality jobs in Sweden must be advertised beforehand.

Whether applying spontaneously or responding to an advert, Wassberg emphasized the need to personalize each application to the employer and the position: "Don't send out the same CV and cover letter; say why you want to work for them, it's important to be specific or you won't get many responses."

Finally, if you're planning to work in Sweden over the summer, make sure that you know your rights regarding salary and time off. Some information on minimum salary requirements can be found here, and remember never to accept a job offer with no contract or paid in cash, as this likely means you won't be protected by Sweden's generous employment legislation. 

Looking for an English-speaking role in Sweden? Check out The Local Jobs

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