How to get your Swedish career back on track after the pandemic

If you've lost your job due to the coronavirus crisis, you're certainly not the only one. Unemployment figures in Sweden — and elsewhere, for that matter — have increased dramatically the last couple of months. But here's a look at the steps you can take to boost your career in Sweden even now.

Understandably, your first priority may be to secure your finances during unemployment. The government has pledged to support companies and individuals who are struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus and its consequences, with a series of support packages and tax exemptions. If you recently lost your job, the chances are that you are entitled to unemployment benefits.

But you may also be hoping to get on the labour market again as soon as possible. So we spoke to experts to find out what your options are under current circumstances, and where to start.

Register at the Public Employment Service

First thing's first: if you lose your (Swedish) job, it's imperative to register at the Swedish Public Employment Service, Arbetsförmedlingen. Do this on the very first day of your unemployment, so that your unemployment insurance fund (arbetslöshetskassan or a-kassa) can establish your right to receive benefits from that first day onwards, if you've been a member of one of these funds long enough.

Find out more about the funds here – Sweden's government has changed the rules during coronavirus so that more people are eligible for this insurance.

A second step is planning a meet-up with Arbetsförmedlingen. To get the most out of your meeting it's advisable to come prepared: update your CV, get hold of proof of grades or other qualifications, request letters of recommendation from former employers or others who can attest to your abilities, and think about what you'd be hoping or willing to work with.

Search at Platsbanken, in particular under the hashtag #jobbjustnu

Arbetsförmedlingen has the largest job database in Sweden with about 35-40 percent of all available jobs showing up in their system, their adviser for European recruitment Thomas Engel told The Local Sweden. The database is called Platsbanken.

And despite the fact that the coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the Swedish economy, there are also employers with an urgent need for staff. These employers are encouraged to publish job openings under the new entry #jobbjustnu, ‘jobs right now', so be sure to be on the lookout for this section.

File photo: Maskot/Folio/

Unsurprisingly, many of these jobs are in the healthcare sector; there's an exceptionally high demand for doctors, nurses and other healthcare or elderly care staff.

What if you'd be willing to lend a helping hand in the public health sector, but you have little or no experience? “Some employers”, Engel said, “offer short training programs after which you can start working as, for example, an assistant nurse”. It's just a matter of reaching out and asking what options are available.

Other sectors are in need of personnel, too; about one fifth of the job openings on Platsbanken are in marketing. And then there's also seasonal work, for example in the forest or berry-picking industries.

Keep in mind that Platsbanken features many but not all available jobs, so make sure to also look through postings at, for example, Linkedin, other job databases, or simply visit the webpages and job listings of companies or organizations you could imagine yourself working for.

Approach potential employers

What Engel advises more than anything else is to get in touch with people working in the sector(s) you hope to work in and establish some degree of relationship.

“In Sweden the job market is not as formal as in many other countries. Here, it puts you in great advantage if you approach possible employers as a professional, not just as a job seeker,” he explains. This means that alongside formally applying for jobs, it will increase your chances of finding work if you actually get in touch with relevant people in the field and describe your situation.

Photo: Martina Holmberg/TT

An organisation that could assist you with this is Yrkesdörren, an organisation that connects foreign born workers with someone who works in your industry, or the industry you're interested in, and is well-established in Sweden. They can help with questions like CV and interview tips, information on the industry within Sweden, and giving advice on how best to get a job in your sector.

After your meeting you'll get connected with two more people working in your field, the aim being that with a larger relevant network, the bigger the chance that you'll find a suitable job at some point. 

The organizations claims that about one in four find a job or internship thanks to the connections they make through Yrkesdörren. The services Yrkesdörren provide are free.

Study yourself out of the crisis

Have you been living in Sweden for a while but never got around to actually learning Swedish? This might be the time, said Engel.

“We highly recommend expats and other non-Swedes in the country to learn the language – whatever sector your expertise is in. It's one of the best investments you can make and it broadens the scope of job opportunities drastically,” he advises.

Another popular option is to start studying (again). For nationals of EEA countries, there are no higher education fees. Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a loan or funding at CSN

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


READER QUESTION: How can I move to Sweden as a self-employed person?

Are you self-employed and thinking about moving to Sweden? Not sure what to do, or what rules apply to you? Here's our guide.

READER QUESTION: How can I move to Sweden as a self-employed person?

The process for moving to Sweden as a self-employed person varies depending on where you come from. Your citizenship will determine whether you apply to the Tax Agency or the Migration Agency, as well as whether you need to apply for a permit (uppehållstillstånd) or whether you have the right of residence under EU law.

Here’s a rundown of the rules for each different group.

Nordic citizens (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland)

As a Nordic citizen, you don’t need a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) or right of residence (uppehållsrätt) to live in Sweden. All you need to do is go to the Tax Agency upon arrival in Sweden and register yourself and any family members as resident in Sweden.

You may need to prove that you are planning on living in Sweden for at least a year in order to be registered in the population register and given a personnummer.

EU/EEA citizens

As an EU/EEA citizen, you have the right to work, study or live in Sweden without a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd), and that this includes starting and running your own company.

You do, however, still need to meet certain criteria in order to fulfil the requirements for right of residence under EU rules (uppehållsrätt).

There are different options for fulfilling the right of residence requirement as a self-employed EU/EEA citizen, and both require registering at the Tax Agency rather than the Migration Agency.

The first is as a self-employed person, which means you’ll have to prove that you have a business which either is currently running in Sweden, or is in the planning stages.

You’ll need to provide documents to back this up, which could include things like proof that you have F-tax (the tax status for self-employed people and freelancers), a marketing plan, a registration certificate for your company, and a copy of the lease for any premises you will be using.

You may also need to prove that you have previous experience and skills relevant to your company or the work you’re planning on doing in Sweden, receipts and invoices for any material you’ve purchased, as well as accounting documents showing how much VAT you have paid or are expecting to pay.

You’ll need to take these to the Tax Agency along with your passport and any documents proving your relationship to any family members you’ll be registering at the same time, such as your marriage certificate or registered partnership certificate for your spouse or partner, and a birth certificate for any children.

The second route is as someone “providing or performing services“, which is the route you should use if you’re self-employed abroad but will be providing a service to a recipient in Sweden, such as as a consultant or freelancer, for a limited time.

Under this route, you’ll need to take your passport and any family documents along to the Tax Agency, as well as a certificate describing the service you’ll be providing in Sweden, where you will be working or carrying out the service, and how long for. This needs to be signed by whoever you’ll be carrying out the service for in Sweden.

Note that you can only be registered in the Swedish population register and given a personal number if you can prove that you’ll be in Sweden for more than a year, but you still need to register your stay in Sweden as an EU citizen if you’re planning on being in Sweden for more than three months.

Non-EU or ‘third country’ citizens

If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen and you want to be self-employed in Sweden you need to apply for a residence permit at the Migration Agency before you come to Sweden, with a few exceptions.

“You can ‘swap’ from studying to work permit and self-employed under certain conditions. And you can swap between work permit to self-employed and self-employed to work permit,” Robert Haecks, press spokesperson at the Migration Agency, told The Local.

So if you’re already in Sweden as an employee or student you don’t need to leave Sweden to apply for a permit to become self-employed.

For students, your permit to be in Sweden as a student must still be valid, and you must have completed at least 30 credits of your studies or a whole term as a research student.

If you’re planning on working in Sweden for less than three months, you do not need a residence permit, but you may need to apply for a visa depending on your citizenship.

Non-EU citizen working in Sweden longer than three months

If you’re planning on working in Sweden for longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a “residence permit for people who have their own business”, as there is no specific residence permit for self-employed non-EU citizens.

There are quite a few conditions that need to be met in order for the Migration Agency to be satisfied that you can really run a business in Sweden.

First off, you need a valid passport, and it’s a good idea to make sure this has at least a few years of validity left as you can’t get a permit for longer than your passport is valid.

Applicants will need to prove that they have experience in the industry and previous experience of running their own business, as well as relevant knowledge of Swedish or English (if most of their suppliers or customers will be Swedish, the Migration Agency will expect applicants to speak good Swedish).

You’ll need to prove you run the company and have responsibility for it, provide a budget with plausible supporting documentation and show that you have customer contacts or a network which you can use in your business via contracts or similar.

You will also need to provide a slew of financial and legal documents, such as a registration certificate for your company in Sweden, copies of contracts with customers, suppliers and premises, your two most recent financial statements if your company has already been in operation, and a balance sheet for the current financial year up until the month you apply. See a full list of the required documents here.

Finally, you’ll need to prove that you have enough money to provide for yourself and any family members who will be joining you. The Migration Agency states that this corresponds to “the equivalent of SEK 200,000 for you, SEK 100,000 for your accompanying wife/husband and SEK 50,000 for each accompanying child for a permit period of two years”. So, an applicant moving to Sweden with their spouse and two children will need at least 400,000 kronor in savings in order to qualify.

You will also have to pay a fee of 2,000 kronor in most cases.

The Migration Agency will then carry out an analysis of your plans for a business and decide whether it is good enough to grant you a residence permit.

If you get a permit to stay for six months or longer then your spouse and children may also live in Sweden. They can apply for a residence permit at the same time as you, or afterwards.

If you have a permit to be in Sweden as a self-employed person, your family members moving with you also have the right to work (as long as they are aged 16 or older). However you still must show that you can support them.

If you get a residence permit for Sweden as self-employed you will only be allowed to work in your own business.

Talent visa for non-EU citizens

There is another option for highly-qualified applicants who want to move to Sweden to research setting up a new business, which you may also qualify for if you’re interested in moving to Sweden as a self-employed person.

This is the “talent visa”, more specifically referred to as a “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness”.

This permit allows non-EU citizens with a higher-level degree to apply for a visa of between three to nine months, which they can then use to stay in Sweden while they look for work or research setting up a new business.  

You can read more on how to apply for the talent visa here.

By Loukas Christodoulou and Becky Waterton