Finding a job in Stockholm isn’t easy. One needs perseverance and dedication… and connections. So how does a new girl tap into the system? YLC’s arbetslös Solveig Rundquist bugs out and tries to figure out how to fly into the Swedish web.
Photo: Dave Sutherland/Flickr (file)
Over the past few weeks I’ve read a lot of job announcements. My most-visited pages are Arbetsförmedlingen’s Platsbanken and Facebook, which should tell you a lot about where I am in my life right now.
You see, when you read some 100 announcements each day, you start to familiarize yourself with a lot of the terminology and cliché characteristics employers are looking for. One of the most common qualifications I see listed in job announcements is “a spider in the web.” In other words, employers want a team player; one part of a larger functioning whole. Ironically, the metaphor could also be used to describe the importance of networking in Sweden…and just how hard it is.
The problem with the Swedish spiderweb of networking is that its strands are woven of Swedish culture and experience, not to mention language.
For those who don’t already know where to find this web, it’s practically invisible. You’ve got to look at exactly the right angle and even then the lighting has to be spot-on.
So how do you network in Sweden then? Apparently you just start by talking to every other bug you know, big and small, and hope that they know other insects.
Luckily, since I’ve lived in Sweden previously, I know a lot of busy bugs. I’m finally working to put money in my own pocket. But it’s not thanks to any of the countless CVs I sent out or personal letters over which I sweated and slaved. I didn’t even get an interview. Not one. Instead I had a third-degree connection; a friend’s sister’s boyfriend managed to get me in as an ice cream seller at a kiosk near a museum.
I wouldn’t exactly call myself employed. When you have an expensive foreign education behind you, selling overpriced sweets to gullible tourists doesn’t exactly seem like a career.
But when you choose to move to a country where you lack citizenship, experience, and professional references, you’re also choosing to move down the food chain. At least temporarily.
I thought I was a suave spider, but it turns out I’m just a fruit fly.
And as hard as I try to throw myself into the web, I somehow keep slipping through the cracks. It took me six weeks and an arbitrary connection to land a week’s worth of employment selling ice cream.
Moving abroad is humbling in many ways, and with a native population that seems so hard to get to know, it’s easy to act stereotypically Swedish and keep to yourself. But it’s a lot harder to find opportunities all alone.
So be friendly. Talk to people. Be awkwardly oversocial, even. Ask that Swedish acquaintance out for fika and work up a conversation about job-hunting. I’m learning that, as reserved and impersonal as many Swedes may seem, they can be surprisingly receptive to random connections. A venerable viking who bought me a drink gave me some tips about getting in at various hotels in town. A friend with whom I was out walking shamelessly stopped a neighbor to ask if she knew of any open positions. Even the librarian at my local library insisted on adding me on Facebook so she could introduce me to a contact in the journalism trade.
So I guess I’m in, if only barely. I got into the Swedish web by being stereotypically American and asking around. It’s true that perhaps ”selling yourself” doesn’t rub Swedes the right way; lack of humility is as distasteful to them as a can of rotten fish is to the rest of the world (barring Norway). However, simply saying, ”this is who I am and this is what I’m seeking” tends to work wonders.
Well, maybe not wonders. But if you’re lucky, a social Swedish spider will show you the way to the edge of the networking web and you can start scuttling along on your own from there.
And that’s better than nothing.
Solveig is a recently-graduated American cactus who plucked up her ancient Scandinavian roots and transplanted them back to snowy Stockholm soil. When not writing for YLC she can be found cantering about town in search of culture, cheer and a career.
Follow Solveig and YourLivingCity on Twitter!
Anyone for shrimp sandwiches? American-born but of Scandinavian descent, twenty-something Solveig Rundquist returns to the shores of her ancestors to join the work force of the Swedish capital.
On May 2nd, 2013, I donned a tent-like gown and a hat reminiscent of a squished pizza box attached to a suction cup. I dutifully listened to the inspirational speeches about my future and I sauntered across the stage when my name was read. The coffee and stress of three years led up to the moment of my graduation.
On May 30th I moved to Sweden.
Being a (remarkably lucky) 20-year-old with two Bachelor degrees and no student debt gave me the freedom to toss common sense to the wind. Like every other humanities major with an obtuse sense of optimism, I was going to change the world and nothing could stop me. So with my university diploma and my pastel pink piggy-bank in hand – could the picture be any more poignant? – I boarded the plane to my future.
I had previously spent a year in Stockholm as an exchange student and I wasn’t afraid to return to my old job as a baby-sitter. The nanny agency liked me and I had no doubt they would want me back. It wasn’t the most glamorous job for a graduate, but it would start the flow of cash I would so desperately need. I sent out a few emails and soon I was meeting potential families. Familes who lived in luxury at Östermalmstorg or Karlaplan. Families who were accustomed to summer vacations in Turkey and Thailand. Families who needed babysitters when they returned…in August.
I hadn’t thought the whole thing through very well. It was the beginning of June, and I had all but secured a basic part-time job that wouldn’t even start for another ten weeks or so. It wasn’t enough to live on, and even if it were…I had to feed myself in the meantime. And put a roof on my head. And go out now and then. (Hey, I’m 20!)
So that’s when the rose-colored film on my oversized glasses started to peel. I had joined the A-list – that is, the arbetslösa. Sweden’s unemployed.
There was only one thing to do. I went to Arbetsförmedlingen, the cold conrete block near Hötorget where the ranks of the unemployed stand in line to receive assistance on their hunt for a paycheck. Even getting a meeting with a case worker at Arbetsförmedlingen can be a challenge. The first time around I had neglected to register all my information online and was sent away shamefaced. The second time I stood in line for an hour and was granted a five-minute meeting in which another meeting was scheduled. And three weeks later I finallly went for my kartläggningsmöte, a sort of ”mapping meeting” where an advisor looks at all of your information and helps you plan your next step.
The advisor informed me that, as a recent immigrant to Sweden, two of my options would be a nystartsjobb (New Start job) or an instegsjobb (Step-in job). Since I am under 25 I also fall into the category of youth, which means I am also impacted by the jobbgaranti (job guarantee) for youth.
Oh, the glory of options! It sounded promising. Until he mentioned that I had to be registered at Arbetsförmedlingen – and jobless – for at least three months before I could take advantage of the youth job guaranty, and an entire six months for New Start.
So that left me with the sole option of a Step-in job. Newcomers to Sweden get their wages subsidized, making it easier to find work, while they attend SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) language classes. It’s a brilliant system, really. The classes are free and you can get a stipend for finishing the course. As an immigrant you are basically handed an opportunity to learn Swedish and simultaneously dip your toes into the workforce.
As the Swedes would say, you can glide in on a shrimp sandwich (glida in på en räkmacka)!
But I had one question. What if I had already eaten my shrimp sandwich? Enough with the metaphors – what if you already speak Swedish? The amiable advisor gave me a big sunny smile as he said the words that dashed my hopes of an easy way out.
”SFI would turn you away, there’s no doubt about that.”
It was meant as a compliment. Despite my occasional Swenglish stammers my speech is smooth, unmarred by the yankee slang and valley-girl twang of my Southern Utah upbringing. Still, as I sat on the blue-and-yellow subway headed home, part of me couldn’t help but think that I should have spoken English.
The resource I did still have was Arbetsförmedlingen’s website. Hundreds of companies and agencies advertise their openings on Platsbanken. I would have to sort through them myself and compete with Swedish applicants, convincing some company to pay little ol’ inexperienced me full wages.
I logged on to Platsbanken. Open positions: 36,568.
I never liked shrimp anyway.
Solveig is a recently-graduated American cactus who plucked up her ancient Scandinavian roots and transplanted them back to snowy Stockholm soil. When not writing for YLC she can be found cantering about town in search of culture, cheer and a career.
Follow Solveig and YourLivingCity on Twitter!
Creating a solid professional network is a tricky task in any language and in any culture. It is especially tough as an expat in a country where English is not the national official language. Check out the YLC guide to professional networking in Sweden!
You might also like:
Networking in Stockholm
Foreign Nationality Clubs
Transition as Opportunity: Your Dream Job Abroad
Hiring is often contingent on personal connections. The same applies for new client acquisition – most new customers and clients come from word-of-mouth referrals and personal connection. So how does one create a solid professional network as a foreigner in Sweden? Here are some tips from Your Living City:
1) Learn Swedish.
No really. You need to, sorry. OK, maybe not if you’re only staying here to work on a contract for a year or two. But if you are here for the long-haul and intend on working here, it’s really good to speak the language. Even if you live in awesome-at-English-Stockholm. The absolute truth is that most Swedes are better at their native tongue and will cover heavier hitting and deeper topics more comfortably in Swedish. If it comes to hiring, I’d estimate that 9 out of 10 hiring managers would prefer to have a bilingual Swedish and English speaker than an English-only speaker. Even if you work at one of the international English-as-company-language, many of your co-workers will be Swedes and speak Swedish amongst themselves. If you’re alright with not knowing the murmurings and social happenings of your environment, well OK, that is a bold choice. I’m not that brave myself. I need to know what is happening and to stay current. I also believe that you forge deeper connections with people and show something about your character to give it a go in Swedish. You might surprise yourself!
2) Write fan-mail.
I feel fairly dorky when it comes to this but I’ve found it incredibly effective as a person who is shy with approaching strangers cold. I read a LOT and do a lot of research (hell, I’m still a librarian at heart, y’know?) and I enjoy reading the Facebook statuses websites and blogs of people working with things I admire. This is also a great way to practice your reading Swedish too! When I find a concept or person or business I admire, I send them a brief email telling them that I like what they do, and I tell them what I am doing (er, well, hoping to do – I’m just at lift-off phase now). Sometimes I hear nothing, but more often than not, I get a kind reply. Sometimes I even get invited for a fika to meet in person. Even if nothing professional comes of this contact, it’s great to get your name out there and become part of a network amongst people who work with things you would like to. Which leads to:
3) Meet people face to face if you can.
That’s the tricky part. Especially here in Sweden where people are generally much shyer and more reserved than Americans and other cultures. You might feel silly or awkward trying to meet face to face, since it can spark fears of rejection (or just weird behavior). The best way to buffer this is to send an email or call beforehand and set up a time. Or create a natural situation to meet up in. Like, if you know that the owner/creator will be present at a convention or professional show, be there and introduce yourself. They are there to present and to sell their products/ideas AND to make new contacts. Be one of them!
4) Become a fan on Facebook or Instagram.
That is a really easy passive way to quietly let a business contact know that you think they are cool. It’s not as awkward as “friending’ them as a stranger personally on a network. But yes, liking or commenting on posts is always appreciated. It’s nice to know that people admire what you are doing!
4) Be open about what you are looking for, even in your social circles!
I am a member of a few Facebook groups for English-speaking expats in Sweden and these are a great source for creating a social and personal network. That said, one often sees posts for job openings or houses for sale/apartments for rent or other opportunities that you might not have otherwise heard of. When you are looking for customers or for a job, just put it out there. You don’t know who your online friends might know. Although I live quite far away from many of my FB group friends, I love to meet them for a fika if I am visiting. Some of the most wonderful people I know have become in-real-life friends this way.
6) Know and accept that stuff works differently here.
Try not to live in a bubble. This creates resentment and negativity. Swedes do behave differently socially and professionally than the people from where you come from. Celebrate these differences. Vent about them (privately) if you need to. But it is more constructive to learn about these differences in practice and expectation so that you are prepared. In New York, for example, phone calls and emails were responded to immediately. Here, the person you contact might be on mammaledighet or away with her family. She might be waiting for the right moment to craft a thoughtful response. It’s not rudeness. It’s just different. Different, not wrong should be your motto.
Good luck with your search, YLC readers!
Amy moved to Sweden in July 2011 with 1 child, 1 Swedish husband, 2 large suitcases and no idea what she was going to do with her new life in Swedish subtitles. Two years and two more children later, she is starting up a retro-modern vintage children’s store.
You can find out more about her experiences at www.expatmompreneur.com.
The Swedish Public Employment Service, or Arbetsförmedlingen, is Sweden’s largest employment agency and the first port of call if you want to find a job – or find yourself without a job – in Sweden.
The duty of the employment agency is to get people who are looking for work together with the employers who need them. Though their mission is to do this in the most efficient way, it can still be complicated to locate all the resources Arbetsförmedlingen has to offer. YLC has put together a simple guide outlining the programs available through the Swedish Public Employment Service to help both job seekers and employers.
Arbetsförmedlingen’s General Role and Information:
Arbetsförmedlingen provide services to help job seekers find employment. The first step to gaining access to these services is to register yourself online on their website. This can take some time and it is useful to have someone who speaks Swedish to help you. Head to ‘Skriv in Dig’ to begin filling out your details on the website (skapa konto). Once you have done this, you have 2 weeks in which to attend your nearest Arbetsförmedlingen branch to register yourself in person. Make sure you bring all your important documents. You will then be paired with a service representative who specializes in your particular needs. An appointment will be made for you and the employment journey begins from here.
To get you started on your job hunt they will offer tips for writing your Swedish CV and lessons on interview techniques. Through their website you are able to post your CV, search the Platsbanken job postings and access search engines and links to other job sites.
They also hold recruitment meetings and information meetings with employers where you can apply for a job on the spot. You can also attend seminars about choosing the right profession for you. If you need more assistance, a job coach is available and can aid you with setting goals, preparing for interviews and a good deal more. We will expand further on these services in the coming weeks.
Most of the offices are open between Monday and Friday from 10 am until 4 pm (some larger branches until 6pm). On their website, you can chat with an employment officer Monday to Friday 8am to 10pm and weekends at 10am to 4pm.. You may also call 0771-416 416 , to get support from an employment officer seven days a week, lines are open on weekdays from 8 am to 10 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm.
Even more conveniently, there is now also an app for iPhone and Android, which can be downloaded free of charge. Through the app it is possible to access much of the information provided by the agency in either Arabic, English, Russian, French and Spanish.
Introduction activities for refugees:
The Swedish Employment Service provides assistance to asylum seekers who have received a residence permit. They have introduction activities to help you learn Swedish, find employment and begin to support yourself as soon as possible.
To be able to help you find employment they have to know what you are able to do and what you would like to do. This will be done by collecting information from you in a mapping session where you discuss your education, prior employment, goals, interests and abilities. It is important to bring any documentation from previous employment or education certificates you may have. Based on this mapping session, a plan will be made for you to find work or enroll in school.
An introduction plan contains; Swedish for Immigrants (SFI), employment training such as an internship, or validation of work experience, and a social orientation which will give you a basic understanding of Swedish society. To begin with, these activities will occupy 40 hours of your week. You will be assigned an introduction guide who will be responsible for helping you look for work, advising you on social issues, or with choosing your studies or occupation. It is also possible to receive housing help and compensation benefits.
Instegsjobb (Step-in Job):
Instegsjobb is a program offered to immigrants who have been granted a residence permit no more than two years ago. To be eligible you must be taking a course at SFI. Having Instegsjobb means your employer will receive a government grant to offset your earnings. This can be as much as 80% of your wage, but it can not exceed more then 800 Sek per day.
Instegsjobb subsidizes 75-80% of your full-time wage for six months. If you work part-time, you might be eligible for subsidization for up to 2 years.
It is a fantastic opportunity for newcomers to get into the Swedish employment system, and it is a great incentive for employers. Instegsjobb can be a part-time, full-time, until further notice, employment on trial, or for a time based contract position. Your employer has to confirm your wage and work conditions meet the terms of the collective agreements or they are equal to collectively agreed benefits within the industry.
To find out if you can apply for Instegsjobb, ask your Arbetsförmedlingen service representative when you go for your interview.
Nystartsjobb (New Start Job):
The New Start program is similar to Instegsjobb and is aimed at helping employers find new employees promptly while keeping payroll costs low at the same time. If you hire a person who has been unemployed for more than one year, or six months for young people, you can be given financial support of an amount of twice your payroll tax. This scheme helps employees get back into the workforce.
This subsidy is intended for all employers and is valid for permanent positions, temporary and part-time positions. The job does not necessarily need to be advertised in the Public Employment Service, but as an employer you are required to apply to the Public Employment Service for a New Start job for the person you wish to hire. The Public Employment Service then has to make a decision before employment begins.
Start-up Grants for new businesses:
The Swedish Employment Service offers support to job seekers with a business concept who would like to start-up their own business. To meet the criteria, you must be unemployed and registered with the Public Employment Service. They will then be able to assist you with a range of services, such as evaluating your business idea or providing direction in how to start up a new business.
The Public Employment Service in some cases is able to provide financial assistance for new businesses through the “Start-up Grants” program. Under this program you can get financial assistance for up to six months while working on getting your business off the ground.
The Start-up Grant would be equal to your unemployment insurance and you could still be qualified for it even if you are not eligible for unemployment benefits, but the grant would provide less money.
Swedish Construction Sector:
The construction industry in Sweden is divided into many different fields and a lot of the occupations require several years of education at secondary school and / or university. Through the Swedish Public Employment Service it is possible to attend supplementary courses or instruction if you already have experience from your native country.
It is important to register with the Swedish Public Employment Service if you are a job seeker in the construction sector. There you can meet with a consultant who is specialised in this sector and they will be able to assess what knowledge you have, and then they can provide you with the appropriate guidance.
What to bring to an Arbetsförmedlingen interview?
- ID card and personal number
- certificates and references from previous employments and/or trainee jobs
- certificates from studies
- occupational certificates and/or a training books
- licenses and other documents that the job seeker can to refer to
- *Any foreign academic education should be evaluated by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education.
As a free service to all residents, Arbetsformedlingen do provide many services that may be able to help you on your way. More information regarding the Swedish Public Employment Agency can be found here.
Finding work in Sweden isn’t always easy and one tip from established expats is to really put efforts in to learn the language. Also, keep an eye on the YLC job pages for English-speaking jobs in Stockholm.
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Job searching is hard and can be demoralising. The longer people search, the more their self-confidence is dented. Add to that a foreign language and a foreign culture and the challenge is complete. YLC’s mental health expert Lysanne Sizoo suggests that you can use this time of transition wisely and meet the challenge creatively by finding out what you would love doing first.
Shifting the focus
When we move to a new country, we are all, regardless of nationality or background, keen to slot in and find our place in our new environment. For many people, a way of doing this is through a job. Employment, on one level, is about paying the mortgage and putting bread on the table, but hot on the heels of a financial imperative is a self-esteem-related one. It can feel hard for some to know who they are without a professional identity; but why just do what you’ve always done, unless it is what makes you feel happy? Transitions offer the unique opportunity of reinventing yourself; however, shedding your skin, snake-like, doesn’t come without effort and sometimes a little pain. And successful internationals often reflect positively that being in a foreign land sometimes makes them far more courageous and enterprising than they would have been at home. There’s nothing to lose but a bit of pride.
Self-esteem built on ‘knowing thyself’
Having a career, for both men and women, is highly regarded in Sweden and is often used as a way to ‘know’ who you are. This adds pressure to incomers to quickly find a job and therefore, a label, just to answer the question “och vad gör du?” … Don’t be afraid to take your time and sort out what needs to be sorted out internally. Jumping back into the rat race… just to feel you have bought yourself an identity would be a sad loss of the opportunity that change and transition can bring.
Having a career, for both men and women, is highly regarded in Sweden and is often used as a way to ‘know’ who you are. This adds pressure to incomers to quickly find a job and therefore, a label, just to answer the question “och vad gör du?” I remember how the other dagis-mums would ask me this question on a regular basis for the first six months after we arrived. My vague “bit of translation, writing, finishing my counselling studies…” didn’t really satisfy their need to ‘know’ me through my work-label, nor my need to be accepted for the rather lost bunny that I was. Being supported by my husband didn’t always sit comfortably with either of us, but I used that time to come to terms with multiple experiences of pregnancy loss and doing some essential emotional spring cleaning. While my husband ‘had a life’ and worked hard to support us all, I felt both privileged in not being forced to put my son’s needs before those of an employer and yet also full of professional envy. Turning Point is now thriving, but it was built upon spending a good couple of creative years in the professional wilderness and being bravely vague in response to “och vad gör du?” So don’t be afraid to take your time and sort out what needs to be sorted out internally. Jumping back into the rat race, be it in a foreign culture and a foreign tongue, just to feel you have bought yourself an identity would be a sad loss of the opportunity that change and transition can bring.
Not being valued as you would be back home
For those who feel confident that they love what they do and want to continue, there is a different hurdle. The diplomas and the accreditations that they bring from other countries are not always recognised here. Despite being, for example, licensed physiotherapists or architects in their home country, they might now need to jump through a great many hoops, or even start from scratch, just to be allowed to use their job title. In addition, most Swedish employers, from pubs and restaurants to big commercial enterprises, will expect you to speak ‘good enough’, if not fluent, Swedish before they consider employing you. For some people learning a second, third or even fourth language is as easy as getting up and walking the dog in the morning, but for others it can be real challenge.
This situation requires both physical and mental perseverance that goes hand in hand with the right to have moments of despair and anger. Expressing your frustration can clear the mind and give you the impetus for another round with the appropriate authorities in your best broken Swedish, fighting for your professional right. Most people eventually get there, driven by the love of their chosen profession.
Meaningful (unpaid) work is work too!
You can also use this time of transition to pinpoint for yourself what your need of a job is right now. If social contact and finding a network is more important, for now, than providing for a family or for yourself, then volunteering can be a wonderful way to gain experience and ‘try out’ new directions in life. A friend of mine recently returned from Australia and now volunteers for the Coroner’s office in the UK. She does an amazingly responsible job yet sometimes she feels that by adding ‘volunteer’ to her work description in conversations with others, she is presenting herself as somehow inferior to those who are economically employed. She knows that part of this is about her own individual prejudices and so she reminds herself on a daily basis that her work is meaningful and full of purpose yet leaves her totally free to care for her two pre-teen boys on her own terms. And in the meantime that particular Coroner’s office is getting to benefit from a rare talent to the team.
Dreaming your way to a great job
Finally, I believe any career orientation process should always include some dream work around what you ‘desire’ to do, rather than what you ‘ought’ to do. Remembering what you wanted to be ‘when you grew up’, and noticing what practical and so-called sensible voices got in the way, can be a great eye opener. In client work I sometimes ask people to actively ‘disable’ the practical and/or pragmatic parts of themselves (and sometimes their inner critics too), so that the process of creative day dreaming can actually take place. If you want to write a book but keep asking yourself after every word written whether it will ever be a bestseller will surely inhibit any possible creative flow that might have existed.
Try it for yourself… close your eyes for a moment, ask your pragmatic and critical (or sensible, or practical) self to step back for just one moment. Then ask your creative self; “If YOU could choose, in an ideal world, what YOU wanted to do, … what would you be doing?”
You might surprise yourself. Perhaps your creative self tells you that, for now, studying Swedish and learning about the Swedes is more than enough to be getting on with, or that being a full-time mother is what makes your heart sing. Maybe you want to be in the same profession, but feel more independent, or maybe you are sitting on a huge truckload of knowledge that you never ever dreamed could be marketable. Change can take a lot of planning and time, sometimes years, but it begins with reconnecting to an old dream, and switching off the voices that said you couldn’t or shouldn’t. It’s not even the practical outcome of such a mind experiment that is important, but the process of setting aside a moment or two to listen in, to a non-conditioned, deeper inner voice. Then you can still choose to ignore it or not, but at least you are doing it with awareness.
Once you have created a mind space for dreaming, the next step is to balance it with supportive practicalities and planning. Think of the dreaming phase as the open end of the funnel, as wide as possible to catch all the ideas, and then, as you hone in on making those dreams a reality, the ideas are sharpened and shaped, but not criticized or put down. In the end, it is easier to be rejected for something you really believe in, than to be rejected for something that wasn’t even your idea to begin with. The former is their loss, the latter yours, for trying to be what you’re not… and then being rejected for it.
These articles are a composite of my personal, my colleagues’ and
clients’ experiences in order to protect recognition. All therapeutic
meetings are Turning Point are confidential, and specific content would
never be shared in a public forum.
If you have any specific questions about job counselling, or indeed other issues that you would like Lysanne to consider in her articles, please contact her here (anonymity will always be preserved).
Lysanne Sizoo is the founder and director of Turning Point, the only international counselling centre in Stockholm. In 2008 she obtained her psychotherapy license from the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. She has been practising as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1997, specialising in the field of cross cultural issues, as well as fertility, bereavement, parenting, anxiety and stress management.
Looking for work in Sweden?
Here’s a run-down of what to include in your Swedish CV.
Finding work in Sweden can be intimidating and frustrating for a foreigner. Not all people move to Sweden with work lined up – some are following a partner with mere hopes that they find a job that works for them. This is made even more difficult when you’re still learning the language and adjusting to a new culture. One of the most important aspects to your job hunt is preparing your CV for the Swedish job market. To help you adjust your resume to your new environment we offer you tips on Swedish CV writing.
CV vs. Résumé
A CV, curriculum vitae, is Latin for “biography” and is generally considered a longer form of a résumé, although it serves the same purpose. The average CV is a one page summary of your qualifications, competency and work experience as it relates to the position you are applying for. The layout of your CV should be clear and simple to read and not cluttered with too much information.
What to include on your CV
Stick to what is relevant. It’s not necessary to include all studies and jobs held. Only include what is interesting and applicable to the job you are applying for. Lagom is a Swedish word meaning ‘moderate’ or ‘just right’. The term is also used to sum up the common Swedish tendency to avoid extremes in all aspects of life. Keep this in mind as you construct your CV for a Swedish company.
The following is a run-down of what should be included in your CV. Remember to list this information in chronological order with most recent experience at the top of each title.
Your name, contact details and date of birth
Indicate name of school, which city it is located and what degree you have or plan to receive. List the courses that are relevant to the job, with the most important first.
Any work experience, including internships and volunteer work should be briefly mentioned. Emphasize positions that are relevant to the position you seek and briefly describe what tasks you had, your responsibilities and your results.
Include computer skills, language competencies, travel, special achievements, awards and community organizations you belong to.
Interests and hobbies can be listed here as well as a listing of your experience and skills that are not directly relevant to the job, but that might describe you as a person.
Note: Through our research we found that many people are divided on the issue of including personal interests in a CV. Some sources claim that this information is valuable to companies because it provides a better description of the applicant. While others argue that a CV should only include information that is absolutely relevant for the job concerned and that an applicant should be judged purely on competence and not on the basis of such irrelevant things.
So, it’s up to you to decide if listing your personal interests will be of any help to you getting a job.
1-2 professional references and maybe 1 personal reference that can vouch for your personality, work ethic, and achievements for a long period of time.
Note: Some sources suggest offering these references only if the job ad requests it. Otherwise they recommend writing “References available upon request”.
Swedish Style Cover letter
When applying for a job in Sweden, you will need to send in a cover letter with your CV stating why you want the job. It should be no longer than a couple paragraphs explaining who you are, what experience you have and why you are the right person for the job.
CV and Cover letter in Swedish or English?
Most businesses will accept a CV and cover letter in English, although writing it in Swedish will certainly help, if you have the language skills. It may not hurt to send a Swedish and English version of each, however, you should clearly indicate what your language competencies are to avoid any confusion.
A photo is usually not required. So it is up to you to decide whether you want to include one.
Written by: Kristan Coleman
Research by: Carmel Heiland
Do you have a question or comment about preparing your CV in Sweden? Share it below!
We, at Your Living City, have been working with Vision Takeoff to help form our vision. Their advice, coaching and support has not only inspired us, but also helped us get where we are today – a company on the road to success. We hope they can do the same for you.
Your personal career vision
A new year with new beginnings. We’re often inspired to make changes, find new paths, pursue new options. The beginning of a new year is also a great time for reflection. What would you like 2011 to bring and where are you going in the long-term? Use this time to formulate your personal career vision and let it be the greatest springboard into the new year.
What is a vision?
A vision is a dream that is so strong that it drives you to action. A strong vision works both as fuel and as a map helping you find strength and make decisions.
Why should you have a vision?
In sports it is common practice to have a vision. The soccer player wants to be the star player in Real Madrid, the sprinter wants to win the Olympic Gold Medal and the tennis player envisions a Grand Slam. They visualize themselves standing on the field and hearing the crowd’s cheers or holding the trophy as their national anthem is played in the speakers. And it is the vision that drives them forward. But in other professions, and even more so in our private lives, we’re not used to creating powerful visions. We might know what position we want at our job, which house we want to live in or what clothes we want to wear but we don’t exactly know why or where these goals will lead us. The personal career vision describes who you want to be, what you want your life to look like and it should be as fun and exciting as the Wimbledon trophy raised above your head!
What are the criteria for a vision?
• Fun, exciting and connected to values of what is important in life.
• Able to be visualized as an image in your mind.
• Future oriented, something you’re currently missing and dreaming of.
• Challenging and demanding, think big.
• Clear and easy to explain.
• Not too close in time (3-5 years ahead or more), set goals along the way.
Examples of visions
For the entrepreneur it could be to sell their company, be awarded a business award or opening a European branch. For the career driven person it could be to be a driven leader that people look up to, the most successful businessman at the company or a role model when it comes to balancing career and family life.
It’s also about your personal brand, who you want to be in both your own and others’ eyes.
How would you want to be described in a future newspaper article about yourself?
Examples of what’s not a vision
A common mistake is to confuse visions with goals. To lose 10 kilos, exercise 3 times per week, change positions at work or move to a new home are not visions but goals on the way towards a vision. The vision is the answer to why you want to lose weight, start exercising, getting a new job or moving. “I want to wake up every morning and feel healthy, strong and full of energy” could be a vision that contains all of these goals.
Helena Timander & Marie Alani
“A travel agency in personal development – for great visionaries”