Friday, August 28, 2009

Moving to Sweden – Finding a Job

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: – They have a Swedish division. – One of Sweden’s larger employment websites with about 9000 jobs available as I write this. – Just a glorious site for so many different reasons. But check out the jobs section for a wonderful listing of English speaking jobs. – A job aggregator that pulls job vacancies from all over the Swedish internet. – A site that focuses more on work for students. Often times a lot of part-time or contract work. – 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 ( or Svenska Dagbladet ( 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

Cold Applications:
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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  1. Thanks! I've been mulling over emigration possibilities because I would love to challenge myself to live in a different country. But I'm not brave/stupid (depending on who you ask) enough to risk emigrating without a job in place. Maybe I won't end up in Sweden, then! :D

    By the by, I find that the hair removal ad on your blog is the utmost height of irony!


  2. Hey very interesting. Thanks for the links. I'm interested in moving over to Sweden in a few years with my gf and well I'll need to find something to do. By than I should be fluent in Swedish and have a degree from school, so hope it won't be too much of a stretch on my legs to look for.

  3. Well aren't you timely. My (Swedish) husband is just about to start seriously looking for work in Sweden as we're moving from the US to there in just a few months. As for me, apparently I have to jump through some hoops to get credentials in my field again there and that will keep me busy for a few years.

  4. I had the opposite problem :) I had an offer for a large database company that has a branch in Stockholm. They flew me out and offered me a job before I even left to fly back. It was for decent money by Stockholm standards (55.000/month) but low by US standards. Although with the way the US is going, I probably should have taken the job ;)

  5. @Pearl - well its not always the easiest to get a job in Sweden if youre coming from a different country. As I mentioned in the post, they are making changes to loosen up restrictionsa bit but we'll see how big of a difference that actually makes.

    And you've just gotta love google, popping out hair removal for the hairy swede.

    @Kevin - yeah definitely heck them out. Obviously there are a lot more links but these were the ones that I found the most useful.

    @Eva - its all about timing. Hope the links help a little bit at least.

    @Azeem - thats whatI like to hear. and as I said, if you have something you can offer that not a lot of other people can (the kind of skills that a large international database company might like for example) then it is definitely possible to get that job offer.

  6. thx alot for reminding me aggressiveness, i almost forgot the key of sucess.

  7. Don't forget and

    Your job interview sounded like it was with marcus evans. hahaha.

    btw, i do have a friend hiring freelance at their company, i will send you the details to maybe post up.

  8. Thanks for that post, I'm having a hard time finding a job in the US in a city I just moved to. Thats always the hardest.

  9. Tack som fan! jag hittade det perfekta jobbet för mig! Ansökte direkt!

  10. may i ask what you work as?

  11. @Michael - nothing wrong with a lot of aggressiveness when searching for a job.

    @Sapphire - oooh good call. and yes. marcus evans. just awful.

    @anonymous - the job part often is the hardest part.

    @anonymous - sometimes it is just that easy.

    @anonymous - I work in marketing.

  12. yup, i agree, being aggressive is a necessity. Michael

  13. it sure doesnt hurt when youre looking for work. especially in a foreign country.

  14. Just to get this straight, do you need a visa to work in Sweden BEFORE you try to obtain work?

  15. no you can start applying for jobs whenever you want. but it eases the mind of your potential employer if you already have a permit.

  16. Interview is just a process to select the right person, so have a complete study about the company as well as the job position. Internet provides an easy way to search jobs openings related for your needs.

  17. this is good advice. despite being kind of spammish.

  18. Hi , I am hardeepsingh from india. I wish to apply for a job in sweden can any one help me with a job site pls

  19. try these sites: – They have a Swedish division. – One of Sweden’s larger employment websites with about 9000 jobs available as I write this. – Just a glorious site for so many different reasons. But check out the jobs section for a wonderful listing of English speaking jobs. – A job aggregator that pulls job vacancies from all over the Swedish internet. – A site that focuses more on work for students. Often times a lot of part-time or contract work. – The Swedish employment agency. They list a lot of jobs. Everything from full-time positions to au pair positions.

    they are probably your best bet.

  20. I have been living in Italy for 5 years and now its time to change.Next Destination is Stockholm.
    Im like u Hairy Swede ,when is time to search i send loads and loads of CV s.And after that the call to the human resource office to know if they have received an archivied in the right place not in the bin,most of the italian secretarys do like this.
    See u in Stockholm mate.
    Tack for the information

  21. I am an American expat in Stockholm. Haha, unfortunately I accepted the job with Marcus Evans (SMG - the corporate sports hospitality division) as it was the first (and only so far) job offer I received, and have regretted it ever since...I thought to myself at first, at least it's a job...but I definitely feel slimy and need a shower before and after work. I can't wait to find something else.

  22. I was close to doing the same. Good luck with the search!

  23. Synd att du satte dig själv i fjollträsk.

  24. well... maybe. but I did manage to get myself a good job. and who are we kidding, most people when moving to Swede are going to go for Stockholm with the hopes of the big city and more jobs.

  25. A whole lot of people when moving from one swedish place to another are moving to Stockholm. Obviously leaving behind some bitter bitter people.

    I don't get the need to hate on Stockholm, if life is so great in rural Sweden, why not just be happy about that?

    Me, I wouldn't live anywhere else in Sweden. No way.

  26. some people just dont like the big city life. hell, I live here and Im not sure I like the big city life, but Ive still enjoyed the city.

  27. good call, heard of it but never actually used it.

  28. I really like Sweden and would love to move their after university (business Enterprise) in England (in 2 years time).
    Ive worked in management at two small companies and had numerous admin positions.

    I don't have specific skill, so would it be realistic to get a job in Sweden, if only in a shop or something ? Can you live on lowly jobs pay ?

    Hope you can help me.

  29. definitely doable. not easy but doable. check out the links here for possible job options.

    it takes a while and youll probably be ignroed a lot but go into the process knowing that and youll be a lot better off.

    int erms of living expenses, that completely depends on where in sweden you live, but it is possible.

  30. Hairy,
    Great suggestions and love the honesty. I would have to say my past experience as an American seeking a part time job in Sweden, was comparable to single-handedly constructing the Dubai Tower (the largest man-made tower ever constructed).
    Thank you for the great blogs!

  31. Hey all,

    I'm a 26 yr old dutch guy that didn't move to sweden yet, but am stuck here cause I don't want to leave my girlfriend for another 2 months. So I've decided to stay here for the next 3 months (the time i can stay in sweden for being a EU citizen) and search for a job and trying to learn the language in the meantime. The thing I was wondering about: They have this bakery/factory nearby on Gotland, and what would be the best way to send an open job application, mail them or just walk up to their doorstep? I don't know anything of the language to be honest, so I have to run with my english at first.


  32. Can anyone tell me how exactly it's like working in Marcus Evans? Is it really that horrible and bad working in there ? I heard the stockholm office is actually better than the others. How long is the probation period and do they really fire people after 2 weeks ? I have applied for the sales job in ME, it's difficult to find a good job in Sweden for foreigners like me ...

  33. @angela - it is a horribly frustrating process, the recession doesnt help even though sweden hasnt been hit as bad as other countries by the economic mess.

    @Jeff - I had the most success just sending in cvs and cover letters and then following up. I would suggest shoot off an application then follow up by walking in.

    @anonymous - I have never heard a single good thing about that place except from the person who offered me a job there. which I turned down. my refusal of the job was answered with an incredibly snide remark which only reinforced my decision.

  34. Hello,

    We're an EU couple interested in moving to Sweden within one month's time. But while your posts are honest and informative, I can't help myself feeling that something is lacking. Let me put it this way: what is the general feeling in the job market right now? While immigrants usually have it rough, I am fooling myself that having a couple of diplomas and working in IT would save me the trouble of geting a survival job. What do you think?



  35. I think Sweden, just like most places right now, is struggling when it comes to jobs. Its getting better, and there seems to be positive news on a regular basis now, but it is still a couple of ways from where it once was. unemployment is still up and there are a lot of people competing for the same jobs. survival jobs are definitely not out of the question, especially if you don't speak Swedish.

  36. i have gone through your site information and it is the sae oppertunity that i was looking for thr facilities,
    the process that what you are offering , are perfectely matched to my expection, very soon you will get
    responce from my side

    online job

  37. ...and what about finding a doctor?? It seems like no one knows! can this be a new blog entry for Hairy Sweden...tà tà :o)

  38. @ Kampfaren Working in IT willsave you from anything. In the next few months there will be a serious shortage of IT people in Sweden and that will save you even from learning Swedish at the beginning
    If you want I can give you more tips on how to find an IT job in Sweden..

  39. oooh a tough one, now you can actually choose your own doctor actually. Ill be honest though, in the three years Ive been here I havent felt the need at all to go to the doctor so probably cant be of much use.

    but youre right about the IT stuff, they tend to be very heavy on the ex-pats in the office at most IT companies.

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