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Swedish vocabulary: The words and phrases you need to survive the job hunt

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Swedish vocabulary: The words and phrases you need to survive the job hunt
Knowing a few key phrases could speed up your job hunt. File photo: Burst/Pexels
07:59 CET+01:00
In many companies across Sweden, English is the working language, but understanding at least some Swedish will serve you well in the search for a job.

There are several ways to look for a job in Sweden. The first is to register with Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish Public Employment Service), which you'll need to do in order to register for any job-seeker benefits you're eligible for, and they can also help you find a role, which you can look for in the platsbanken (job bank).

Alternatively, you can look at jobbannonser (job ads) online, including on The Local Jobs and other English-language options, but you may want to include Swedish sites to expand your search. There are a few different types of role, so check carefully: vikariat is a short-term job covering absences (this may be for a fixed period or ad hoc, for example as a substitute teacher), sommarjobb is a summer job and säsongsanställning is a seasonal role, while anställning (employment/position) can be either permanent or for a fixed period.

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Job adverts will usually include kravprofil (a profile of the skills or qualifications they're looking for) which may mention qualities such as: fem års erfarenhet (five years' experience), noggrannhet (accuracy/attention to detail), IT-kunskaper (IT skills), analytisk förmåga (analytical capabilities). And of course there will be the more wishy-washy terms, such as: serviceinriktad (service-minded), engagerad (committed), vågar drömma stort (dare to dream big) and so on.

The other main section will contain the arbetsuppgifterna (job details), outlining your potential tasks and responsibilities. And you'll want to check the key information, or anställningsvillkor (employment conditions) such as whether the job is heltid (full time) or deltid (part time) – if it's the latter, there will often be either a percentage such as 50 percent, meaning 20 hours per week, or it might state the expected hours. For example: Tjänsten är deltid på 50 procent med arbetstider måndag-fredag 8.00-17.00 (The position is part time at 50 percent hours, with working hours Monday-Friday between 8-5pm).

Pay close attention to whether it's en tillsvidareanställning (a permanent position) or en tidsbegränsad anställning (a fixed-term position) – if the latter, they should specify the time and might mention whether there is god möjlighet till förlängning (a good chance of extension). And look for the following phrases: tillträde snarast/tillträde enligt överenskommelse/tillträde 1 mars (starting as soon as possible/start date dependent on agreement, ie between you and the employer/starting on March 1st).

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Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

If the job description is written in Swedish, look closely any mention of language abilities. For example, if they say the ideal candidate behärskar svenska i tal och skrift (has an excellent command of written and spoken Swedish) or ask for flytande svenska (fluent Swedish), it's unlikely they will accept an applicant who is in the early stages of learning, whereas a job requiring kunskaper i svenska (knowledge of Swedish) might be more flexible.

Look for the phrase är meriterande (is an advantage) after any skills or qualifications; this means it's not required for the job, while starkt meriterande means it's not essential but highly preferred.

Depending on what kind of job you're searching for, it's also worth keeping an eye out when walking around your town or city. You may well see signs saying personal sökes in cafes, restaurants or shops. And online ads often have the heading är du den vi söker? (are you the person we're looking for).

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Other phrases you might see:

Urval sker löpande – applications accepted on a rolling basis (ie there's no strict deadline but they will fill the role once they find a suitable person)

Vid eventuella frågor kontakta (Anna) – please contact (Anna) with any questions (this should be accompanied by a phone number or email address)

Du rapporterar till (vår VD) – you would report to (our CEO)

En tjänst med utvecklingspotential – a position with the chance to develop

Nära samarbete med (kunder/vår CFO) – working closely with (customers/our CFO)

Lön/anställningstid enligt avtal – salary/working hours according to agreement (this refers to collective bargaining agreements or similar, and means you are unlikely to be able to negotiate)

When it comes to the interview, it will generally be carried out in the language you've been corresponding in, but it's worth double-checking. If, for example, you've been emailing in Swedish but would rather interview in English or at least have time to prepare, make sure to ask.


In many tech companies the working language is English, but a bit of Swedish always helps. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand

You'll also want to find out about the benefits and perks offered by the employer, and to ask about the company culture as well as any other factors that would affect your decision as to whether to take the role.

The questions you ask will depend on how far along in the process you are, but here are some ideas:

Är det okej att jobba hemifrån ibland? – Is it OK to work from home sometimes?

Vad är nästa steg i intervjuprocessen? – What is the next stage in the interview process?

Har ni kollektivavtal? – Do you have a collective bargaining agreement? (This is useful to know because it usually guarantees you perks such as extra pay for overtime and 'uncomfortable hours', but it may mean you're limited when it comes to negotiating salary or holiday)

Finns det en klädkod? – Is there a dress code? (One to ask once you've secured the job and are working out the final details)

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