A voice for newcomers in Sweden

How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV

Published: 20.Sep.2016 11:46 hrs

Hossein Kazemi, a 30-year-old Iranian mechanic engineer who has lived in Sweden for six years, believes the Swedish job market is unjust, and that recruiters can be biased.

Ever since he started applying for jobs in 2013, Kazemi has sent more than 350 applications. But the only time he got a speedy reply from an employer was when he replaced his name on his CV with a Swedish-sounding alternative. 

Kazemi moved to Sweden in 2010 to start a masters programme in computational mechanics at Blekinge Institute of Technology. He intended to push on with his studies to PhD level but his money ran dry and he started looking for work.

“My parents were paying for my living expenses here for around three years, until they couldn’t transfer me money anymore,” he tells The Local Voices.
He moved to Lund and started applying for jobs but found his bachelor’s degree didn’t get him far. He knew it would be hard to crack the job market but didn’t expect it to be impossible.

“I’ve found no more than internships, as well as part-time and temporary posts that have helped me survive, but not actually build a life.”

Love amid the disappointment

“In Lund I found my Swedish girlfriend. This helped me carry on despite my futile pursuit for a job, and has revitalized my stay in Sweden.”

Kazemi says he had considered moving back to Iran, “but couldn’t do that with empty hands after investing my family’s money, and my life for around four years. I had to achieve something, I couldn’t let myself and my parents down.”  

And so his job hunt continued. He sent his CV to recruiters in Swedish and English, added everything he thought could boost his chances. He didn’t want to believe his name was hampering his chances but just as a test he decided to try applying with a Swedish name.

“An employer contacted me with lightning speed, an hour after I had sent my application with the fake name. I had sent two replicas with only one difference: the name and email address. The fake Swedish version got the attention, while the genuine one went on the scrapheap.” 

This understandably left him worrying that Swedish employers were too bound by personal preferences and failed to really look at all applicants’ skill sets.

‘Employers should treat newcomers objectively’

In spite of his vain search for a job, Kazemi continued his studies and finally got a masters degree from Malmö University in 2015 after he became entitled to apply for Swedish student grants.

Armed with this fresh qualification, he hopes his years-long search for full-time work will soon bear fruit.

“I would just like employers to just be honest, and treat newcomers objectively. Most newcomers don’t have so much time and money to invest.”  

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