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How to get a PR or marketing job in Sweden

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How to get a PR or marketing job in Sweden
Seven steps to your dream job in marketing, plus tips from two experts. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
06:59 CEST+02:00
Looking for a marketing or PR job in Sweden? The Local has spoken to people who've been through both sides of the process to share their experiences of hiring and applying, and learn how you can find your dream role in the Swedish marketing industry.

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Whether you're an experienced marketer or searching for your first job in the industry, there are plenty of opportunities across the country. Finding and successfully applying for them however can feel like a job in itself, particularly if you aren't yet fluent in Swedish or used to the working culture.

The types of roles you'll find can be broadly divided into three categories. The first option is to work in in-house marketing PR for a company -- perhaps one of Sweden's tech or engineering giants, a small startup, or another industry you're interested in.

Alternatively, you might work for a marketing or PR agency, meaning you'll likely be working with a range of clients, and may have a more specific focus such as digital marketing, events, or branding, whereas in-house marketers will usually wear several of these hats.

A third option, and one which might work especially well if you're starting out, is to freelance, giving you more choice over the number, length, and type of projects you take on.

Here are seven steps to finding the right role for you, plus some top tips from marketing agency bosses.

1. Research the industry

Marketing and PR encompass communications, events, social media, copywriting and more, and the same job title might mean wildly different responsibilities at two different workplaces. The first step is to do some research into the different employers in Sweden and figure out what kind of company and role best suit your profile.

It's crucial to show an understanding of how the industry works in Sweden as well as globally, and that means staying up date on trends, and what your potential employer and their competitors have been doing. Useful resources include Resumé and Dagens Media, and of course keep an eye out for any impressive marketing campaigns you spot out in the wild, to give you something to talk about at events and job interviews.

Photo: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

2. Boost your CV

Rewrite your CV and cover letter for the Swedish market, American marketing professional Lindsey LaMont advises.

"The biggest difference is in the US we are taught to boast about yourself to prove why you're the best. In Sweden, that is looked on as a bad thing for some reason -- but it really depends on the job and person hiring," she says.

Another tip is to highlight past experience and achievements above education, which is particularly true as a foreigner since a marketing qualification from your home country may not carry the same weight in Sweden. Concrete achievements translate much more easily.

READ ALSO: How to write the perfect Swedish CV and cover letter

"In Sweden, your education is generally of less importance for creative, fast-paced roles like marketing and sales. It's more about attitude, willingness to learn and past work experience," says Peter Helin, who works at jobs site CareerBuilder as well as running his own digital marketing consultancy. "Having a degree in Marketing is of course valuable, but it's not necessarily the deciding factor in getting the job."

"If I were an expat marketer, I would not focus so much on academic merits on my CV and instead highlight past work experience and portfolio examples. Marketing achievements and KPIs are universal, so even if a Swedish marketing manager won't understand the meaning of, for example, a Spanish campaign, they will understand the results of the project."

And while you're searching, it's worth taking on other projects, even if they aren't directly related to the field you want to end up in. LaMont worked as a bartender during her ten-month search before landing a marketing role. This allows you to use and develop transferable skills, as well as meeting more people in Sweden, getting a Swedish reference and hopefully learning a bit of the local language. 

3. Where to look

If you have an idea of the sort of agency or company you'd like to work for, check their website and social media for any job openings. You can also check general jobs boards such as The Local Jobs, specifically aimed at English-speakers, Monster, and Indeed. Or look for specialized groups and job boards within your industry: so if you're interested in startup life, try Swedish Startup Space, Startup Jobs, and Young Entrepreneurs of Sweden.

But don't forget the traditional methods: LaMont found her current job through the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) after moving to Sweden in 2012, and the agency posts thousands of vacancies each month.


Lindsey LaMont. Photo: Private

It helps to take the search offline too, which brings us to...

3. The power of networking

If you've only recently moved to Sweden, make sure to update your professional social media profiles with your new location and let your network know you're looking for opportunities. Join relevant Facebook groups such as Jobbtipps inom kommunikationJobb i Stockholm, and Mediejobb Sverige where job adverts are regularly posted, and to be proactive, you could introduce yourself on these pages.

Voluntary opportunities with the marketing sector can be a handy stepping stone to work, Australian-Dane Sophia Skinbjerg suggests. "You get to know both the organizers (who are well connected) and the attendees," she explains. "Be both online and offline. I would tweet and connect with people who were either at the event (good ice-breaker) or who were in the tech scene but not present (new network lead)."

Skinbjerg, who is now marketing manager at tech startup Springworks, threw herself into the task of building up a network, joining a co-working space as well as relevant online groups both within the marketing sector and more generally aimed at internationals. She also set herself the challenge of meeting one woman in a senior position each week for lunch, documenting the lunches on her blog Eat 52 Lunches.

 
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

5. Understand the application process

Job applicants should expect a longer hiring process than they may be used to. The Swedish employment system is generally considered to work in the employee's favour, meaning companies will want to be extra sure that all new hires are the right fit. Notice periods are typically fixed at three months, so if the company is hiring a replacement for an existing role, they have at least three months to sort through applications and carry out interviews before they lose the departing employee.

A consequence of this is that you might go through more interviews than you're used to, and possible extra steps such as a personality test. But this can be an advantage for job-seekers too, since you have a chance to ask questions and make sure the company is truly the right fit for you too, for example by finding out about the working culture and future plans.

6. Freelancing

Working freelance jobs could be either a way to tide you over while you search, or a long-term career option. One advantage is the opportunity to work with clients from your home country or who work in your native language -- but be aware that Sweden's high taxes can be tough on freelancers and business owners.

Jobs can be found through online platforms such as Upwork or Brainville (for the latter you'll need some Swedish skills), but again, your personal network is also likely to be a good source of recommendations.

Peter Helin does freelance marketing alongside a full-time job, but recommends it as a route into the industry and a way to build up connections. "Even if the tasks are slightly outside the scope of what the marketer's primary interest or expertise is, like content translation services, it's a good way of forming relationships with marketing managers."

"When you do get a gig, however small, deliver like your life depended on it," he adds. "Fast and with top quality, because repeat business with consistent quality is the key to referrals and great references."

Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

7. Swedish working culture

Once you've landed your dream marketing job, you'll often have a six-month probation period before the contract becomes permanent, so it helps to be aware of some unique aspects of Swedish working life to avoid any shocks and ensure a smooth transition.

Solvita Akmene moved to Sweden to work at the Stockholm headquarters of a beauty brand she had been working for overseas -- but even without the task of finding a job, there were still new aspects of the working culture to adjust to. 

"Swedish organizations are flat – there are few or almost no levels of middle management between employees and executives, so during working process fewer levels of approval are needed and communication is easier. But this means also fewer promotion opportunities," she explains.

"Trying to find consensus through discussions is another element that is very typical of Swedish working culture. It affects the amount of time that is spent on making a decision and it can take longer than expected sometimes.”

What the recruiters say

The Local quizzed two marketing agency CEOs about their own hiring practices and company culture.

Ann Ystén, CEO at Perfect Fools

What do you look for in prospective employees? 

Perfect Fools is an agency driven by innovation and tech. Digital understanding and expertise is something we are looking for in every recruitment regardless of position.

If someone wants to work for you, what should they do?

Follow us in social media where we post all open positions.

Do employees need to speak Swedish to work at Perfect Fools?

No. But English is mandatory.

What makes Perfect Fools a great place to work?

Our culture. We want people to grow and be the best they can be. We provide a working environment free from fear and that encourages mistakes. This is business critical for us since we are innovation driven. If it hasn't been done before people need courage and creative thinking to be able to achieve the targets.

What should international workers know about the Swedish marketing culture?

It is important to know that Sweden is one of the most digitalized countries in the world. Stockholm had the largest number of unicorns after Silicon Valley and developer is the most common occupation in Stockholm. If you want to work in marketing in Sweden you need to have strong understanding of the changing media climate as well as data driven marketing as that is top of mind both in agencies and on the client side as well.

How many people work in your Swedish office, and what proportion of those are foreign-born?

38 and three are from countries outside Scandinavia.

Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Fredrik Öst, Founder & Creative Director at Snask

What do you look for in prospective employees? 

We firstly look at the portfolio. We operate at the top level of the world within design, branding and film so we need everyone we work with to operate at that level. Secondly we look at personality, we can't work with assholes and surprisingly there are a lot of them out there, talented too. I guess for non-Swedes it's harder since some of our projects demand Swedish in written form.

If someone wants to work for you, what should they do?

Email their portfolio to carelesswhisper@snask.com.

Do employees need to speak Swedish to work at Snask?

Sometimes, but not necessarily for every position. Our language in the studio is English first and Swedish second.

What makes Snask a great place to work?

Family feeling. Very high quality and ambition level but also not overtime work since we want and need everyone to be able to have a functional and social life on the side of their work.

Is there anything applicants should be aware of about the Swedish working culture?

Sweden and Scandinavia has a cold mentality, not at all like other countries. So it's not that easy to find friends initially. However in our industry most people are very friendly and sociable. Also Swedes love to speak English but it's also very good to learn Swedish, which can be a problem since learning Swedish demands you to use it and that can be hard since most people will want to speak English.

How many people work in your Swedish office, and what proportion of those are foreign-born?

We are different numbers everyday since we work in teams with a lot of freelancers and consultants. Today, for example, we're six people in the office and four are born outside of Sweden.

Browse the latest English-language job postings in Sweden at The Local's jobs site here. Looking for a role where you can apply your digital marketing skills? 

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