Moving to Sweden – What to Bring
Moving to Sweden – The Swedish Language
Moving to Sweden – Finding a Place to Live
Moving to Sweden – The Metric System and You
Moving to Sweden – Getting a Cell Phone
Moving to Sweden – Getting from the Airport to Stockholm City
Moving to Sweden – The Weather
Moving to Sweden – Swedish Citizenship Test
Moving to Sweden – Public Holidays
Moving to Sweden – Culture Shock: It's the Little Things
Moving to Sweden – Making Friends
Moving to Sweden – Cost of Living
Moving to Sweden – The Laundry Room
Moving to Sweden – Marijuana
Moving to Sweden – Most Common Jobs and Salaries
The unemployment rate in Sweden tends to hover around five or six percent. Similar to the natural rate of unemployment in the US. This year has been a bit rougher. In July of 2009, according to SCB, the government agency that keeps track of absolutely everything in Sweden, the unemployment rate in Sweden was 7.9% for ages 15-74. It’s not the stuff of the Great Depression, but it’s not good.
Of course, for people between the ages of 15-24 which is the age group I recently left half a year ago the unemployment rate was 20.7%. That’s a lot of young people who are out of work and looking for jobs.
It is not easy. It’s never easy to get a job. But now it’s really not easy. And moving from a different country to Sweden just adds to the challenge.
I have been here nearly two years now. I have had three different employers. Two full-time and one part-time. I moved here with no job. I had some possibilities and managed to get myself an interview after just a week or two in the country. It even led to a job offer.
And I shot them down. Because I am picky. Never before had I felt so dirty after walking out of an interview. It was a job with a large telesales company here in Stockholm. The interviewer was your classic slimy salesman. Slicked back hair. Skinny black tie. A slight air of superiority. Strangely enough, I think I just described your average Stureplan guy. Take that for what it’s worth.
Anyway, he described their sales strategy, how they worked, earnings potential, all of that good stuff that makes an unemployed person see the cash flowing in. I walked out needing a shower. And not because I am a nervous sweaty person. I felt dirty.
I got a phone call the next day. They wanted to offer me the job. I told them I would get back to them. And I did get back to them. And said no. I still remember the response: “When I go to an interview, I already know I want the job.” Of course, he failed to remember that the employment process goes both ways. I was interviewing them in my own quiet and observant way. They failed. Just a few weeks later I had found myself a part-time job that was a hell of a lot more fun.
And a couple months after that I was employed full-time. And here’s how I did it.
I applied to every job that was remotely interesting to me and that I was remotely qualified for. I was that guy. It was the shotgun approach. Some people might not suggest this technique. Some people might say it was a waste of time. But I was unemployed. I had nothing but time.
In the end though, I took various approaches. I used the internet. A lot. I used the newspapers. A little bit. I used contacts. With varying success. And I was aggressive. With great success.
In one sense though, I had it easy. I didn’t need to apply for a residence permit. Or work permit. My Swedish passport came in handy. Recent immigration reform has made it a little bit easier to get work in Sweden. Chances are though if you are moving to Sweden from the US or really anywhere that isn’t Europe, you’ll need to apply for permits before entering the country. This is where the immigration office, Migrationsverket, earns its keep. And, despite my dislike for the actual office, Arbetsförmedligen has some good information on their website. But paperwork is overrated. And getting yourself a job offer makes it a bit easier to convince the country to let you in.
Despite the unemployment rate, the language, the moving to a different country, there are jobs out there. You just need to know where to look.
After lots of searching, I managed to put together a list of websites that always displayed a solid number of jobs that interested me. A rotation if you will:
http://www.monster.se/ – They have a Swedish division.
http://www.manpower.se/ – One of Sweden’s larger employment websites with about 9000 jobs available as I write this.
http://www.thelocal.se/ – Just a glorious site for so many different reasons. But check out the jobs section for a wonderful listing of English speaking jobs.
http://www.workey.se/ – A job aggregator that pulls job vacancies from all over the Swedish internet.
http://www.academicwork.se/ – A site that focuses more on work for students. Often times a lot of part-time or contract work.
http://www.arbetsformedlingen.se/ – The Swedish employment agency. They list a lot of jobs. Everything from full-time positions to au pair positions.
Of course, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Some are job agencies that will try to place you. There are the newspapers websites like Dagens Nyheter (http://www.dn.se/) or Svenska Dagbladet (http://www.svd.se/) where you can look for jobs.
If your Swedish struggles but you’re determined to find a job, you’re going to be starting from behind the eight ball. A bad place to start. Especially because some of these sites might not have an English version. So a quick tip. If you don’t speak Swedish you need to play up the languages you do know. Type in “English” into the search bar to get all kinds of jobs that value English skills.
And if you’re really feeling old school you can look in a physical newspaper. Since you’re unemployed, check Metro, the free newspaper on Tuesdays and Thursdays for job listings.
Arbetsförmedligen is essentially the Swedish unemployment agency. You might think it would be a good place to go if you’re unemployed. It’s not something I really like to reminisce over. Mostly because the first, and only, time I went there I was disgusted by the attitude and level of service. My understanding, before moving to Sweden, was that Arbetsförmedligen was there to help people find a job. Turns out I was wrong.
I traipsed on over there just a few days after landing in Sweden. I filled in my contact information, my CV, the usual. Then I had a question. So I went asked the lovely middle aged woman if she could help me. She answered my question with a question of her own. Which Coach Smith always hated. And now I always notice. What made it worse was her question was so disheartening. She asked if I would be applying for unemployment money. No. No, I wanted a job. Her response, just go to the website. Everything is online. Unless you need money, the actual Arbetsförmedligen office won’t be of much use.
All that being said, I have heard a good story. Once.
Their website does have some good information on getting jobs in Sweden and have plenty of jobs offered.
I tried other techniques though.
I talked to everyone I knew. Which, considering I had just moved to the country, didn’t take too long. I was networking if you will. Everyone says networking is the way to go. Contacts are the ones who get you a job. And sometimes this is true. I’ve been on the receiving end of networked jobs. Just not in Sweden.
That’s not to say it won’t work. There’s the classic networking approach. Family. Friends. Ex-co-workers. Current employers that may have an office in Sweden. Ex-pats.
Then there are the social networks. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Facebook has grown exponentially since I moved here just two years ago. Twitter is blowing up. And more and more people are joining the Swedish network on LinkedIn. There’s even a new networking site called SwedenInTouch at www.swedenintouch.se/.
Finally, the most effective technique. I looked for companies and organizations I was interested in. Then I scoured their website for contact information to individuals. Preferably whoever was in charge of hiring or marketing. And I e-mailed them. I went the aggressive route. I sent over my CV and cover letter immediately. The cold call approach to job hunting.
Here’s the deal with this though, you need to be damn specific. You need to have some idea as to what you can offer them. And if it’s something that a lot of people might not be able to offer, even better. Scour their website. Google news alert the company.
This is how I ended up with a part-time job just after having landed in the country. It’s how I ended up with a full-time job just a few months later. It works. But it takes a lot of work. Luckily, you don’t have any other work to do.
In the end, searching for a job is probably one of the worst processes out there. Followed closely by a swift kick to the groin. Usually I didn’t get any response. Not even an automated receipt of application. Nothing. I was angry. Depressed. Bored. It’s not fun. But if you have something to offer, whether it is an advanced degree or the ability to swallow swords in front of a crowd, there is a job out there. Somewhere.
Welcome to Sweden. And the job hunt.
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