A Swedish professional network pairing newcomers with Swedes recently celebrated its first anniversary. The Local Voices met some of Yrkesdörren’s members to find out how it all works.
A not-for-profit venture funded by the Axfoundation, Yrkesdörren brings participants together for an hour at a time to discuss their lines of work and any social codes job seekers need to be aware of.
Established a year ago as Sweden grappled with how best to integrate unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers, the group - whose name translates as “professional doorway” - has helped bring together more than 1,300 new arrivals and established Swedes. The Local Voices met some of them.
Ameer Abdulal, Syria, sales and marketing expert, holds a masters degree in business administration
Tobias Mossop, Sweden, head of internal communication at Martin & Servera AB
Martin & Servera, the Swedish catering company where Tobias Mossom works, “wants to take the lead in terms of diversity,” according to its head of internal communications.
Mossop said the company was convinced of the importance of bringing newcomers into the job market and that his employer “challenges us to reach out to foreign talents.”
It was with this in mind Mossop that signed up to Yrkesdörren, where he was paired with Amir Abdulal, a Syrian newcomer with marketing experience from Syria, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
“We need to be more open to the forgotten 20 percent of our community, to those like Amir. Diversity is fundamental for integration and innovation – for the country,” said Mossop.
Ameer Adbulal has lived in Sweden since 2013 and currently works as a marketing analyst for steelmaker SSAB. He signed up to Yrkesdörren to broaden his professional network. He admitted he sometimes found it difficult to socialise with Swedes.
“Swedes are really nice people, but newcomers needs to find the proper way to approach them, because they have their own mannerisms.”
“I believe that Swedes can sometimes be very cautious, and less flexible. Swedish companies demonstrate this idiosyncrasy too, which I think makes them miss opportunities. Sometimes you need to act quickly, be audacious and try new things, such as being more open to including newcomers,” Abdulal said.
Yrkesdörren, he said, offered a gateway for newcomers to penetrate a difficult job market.
“Swedes want us to work, we want to work, so let’s work!” he said with a grin.
Tine Walter, Germany, architect
Charlotta Rosén, Sweden, urban development project manager
Tine Walter moved to Sweden with her husband in 2015. She started taking SFI languages classes and felt she was slotting in nicely in a country that was similar to her homeland.
But she soon realised there were also some small but critical differences.
“For example, when I first came here I didn’t really take the ‘fika’ tradition seriously, but after interacting with Swedes I found it really important. You can’t tell them that you don’t drink coffee, or that you don’t ‘fika’!”
The 38-year-old architect also advises against falling into the trap of trying to get by with just English in Sweden. Unless newcomers learn the language they run the risk of being left on the margins of the labour market, she said.
It was this realisation, allied with a need to build her network, that prompted her to get in touch with Yrkesdörren.
“I think networking is very important. If you send your application to a company that has never heard of you, then it’s likely that you’ll never be invited for an interview, even if you have the requisite skills for the position,” said Walter.
Her professional match, Charlotta Rosén, a CEO and urban development professional, was quick to extol the virtues of Yrkesdörren.
“It’s a place where I and other established participants can provide a contact list of our expert acquaintances. This makes it a focused niche of like-minded people where everyone exchanges their contacts.”
“If you’re a newcomer to Sweden and have no contacts at all, you sign up, join the club, and will find it easier to get a job.”
Mansoor Bibak, Baluchistan (Iran), software developer
Donna Hanafi, Sweden, project manager (Tictail.com)
Mansoor Bibak, a software developer from Baluchistan who studied computer science in India, joined Yrkesdörren to learn more about Swedish cultural and professional codes.
“I moved to Sweden in March 2014, and have been working ever since. However, I’m aiming at finding a new job, and that requires me to meet new people and network.”
“That’s why I turned to Yrkesdörren, to crack both the professional and social codes and to know how best to communicate with people. I am hoping this will help me present my skills and convince employers,” said Bibak.
The developer’s Swedish match, Donna Hanafi, is a second-generation immigrant whose parents are originally from Egypt.
She said she signed up to the programme because she knew how hard it can be to get to know people in Sweden and wanted to help out.
“The process is super easy and smooth, and I think established professionals have no excuse not to sign up and reach out to new talents,” said Hanafi.
“I am a developer myself and I like to meet people with the same interests.
Are you a highly-skilled newcomer in Sweden wishing to network with professional Swedes, seek advice and find your place in the job market? Check out Yrkesdörren’s website, register, and start building your local network.
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