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Three tips for getting your dream Swedish job (even during the pandemic)

Anyone who is currently job-searching will find themself facing not only higher competition for many available roles but also a very different networking and recruitment process. Here are three expert tips on how to adapt to make the 'new normal' work for you in your job search.

Three tips for getting your dream Swedish job (even during the pandemic)
Photo: Jessica Gow / TT

Adapt your application

Even while writing your CV and application materials, you should have the changed situation in mind.

That might mean including your Skype contact details ready for a video interview, highlighting relevant experiences, and even adapting your CV format.

“Your application will probably be read by a manager or recruiter who is working from home and sitting in front of a small laptop. That means reading directly on the screen and rarerly printing out [the application],” says Markus Wiberg, a regional head at Unionen, Sweden's biggest trade union.

Because of this, it's more important to avoid too small a font or too much text. But you can take advantage of using hyperlinks to your LinkedIn profile, an online portfolio, or other useful websites.

Prepare for remote interviews

“During the pandemic, interviews have become very different from what we are used to. It is more the rule than the exception that it happens over the phone or through a video conversation, which puts high demands on both the person interviewing and the one job-hunting,” says Wiberg.

This means adapting to video call etiquette. Try to look at the camera rather than at the screen — it might help to put a PostIt note next to it to remind you, or hide your own video from your screen (without turning off your video) so you don't get distracted by how you look. Make sure you have a spot where you can focus on the call, with a neat and tidy background and no sound distractions, whether that means asking the children to be quiet for an hour or remembering not to turn on your dishwasher or tumble dryer.


Photo: Jessica Gow / TT

It may be harder to build up personal rapport over a remote interview, and it's also important to use the opportunity to stand out in what may well be a more crowded field than usual. 

Johan Mauritzson, an advisor at TRR, which offers support to workers who have been made redundant, advises using a headset if possible for clearer sound, and placing the laptop or camera at your eye level or slightly higher.

And be aware of your tone of voice and body language, which play an important role over the phone or in videos. 

“Express yourself clearly and talk at a steady pace, using words you feel comfortable with,” says Mauritzson.

Be aware of extra competition

Johan Mauritzson, an advisor at TRR, which offers support to workers who have been made redundant, notes that in a competitive field it's extra important to highlight your relevant skills.

“The increased competition puts higher demands on job-seekers generally. There is an extra requirement for being clear about what your skills are and what you can offer the employer. Many get uncomfortable when they have to highlight their own strengths so they are too cautious about it, but in these times there's no room for that,” says Mauritzson. “You have to believe in yourself.”

He advises speaking to previous colleagues and managers to get an idea of where your strengths lie. When other people have told you that you have valuable skills, it can help you feel more confident presenting this to a potential new employer.

And don't give up hope if the first few applications don't lead anywhere. Mauritzson advises that the autumn can be a good time for job-hunters.

“People have often had time to think over summer, companies bring in new strength ahead of the coming year, a lot tends to happen during autumn. Perhaps especially this year, since we had a spring where everything was on pause,” he says.

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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