As the following spouse, I am also the job seeker here in Sweden. For a little over a year, I have met many a frustrating roadblock and been through my fair share of confusing moments navigating the job market here in Sweden. While there are some fairly standard and universal parts to job seeking no matter where you are in the world, there have been many, MANY times in the past 11 months of job hunting where I have been completely dumb-founded about my next step and what the cultural practices are.

On Tuesday 12th of November The LBA team invited Marianne Nilsson and Karin Persson from to LBA’s new HQ for an informative and empowering MamaMötet session on myth busting the Swedish job market for foreign born women.

Incluso is a recruitment and staffing services company that specialises in international and diverse talent sourcing. Marianne and Karin have worked with each other for several years creating and developing diverse workforces and matching employees with the best fit Swedish employers.

Top 5 take-aways from Incluso:

Incluso’s top tips on the Swedish job market and recruitment process from our session with Marianne and Karin.

  • LinkedIn is Queen. Create and polish your LinkedIn profile. Be an active user. Use industry specific and career specific keywords/buzzwords. These keywords can also be non-industry specific words but strong skills that make people in your career level/sector desirable. Keywords should be throughout your profile, including adding to your “Skills” section for skills in job postings you find that fit your skill set. Be sure to let people know you are open to opportunities and address any career gaps simply and factually. It doesn’t need to be a long winded, 3 paragraph explanation. A 2-3 sentence explanation of the time and what you have done/are doing. Ex- “Currently on parental leave- helping maintain family schedule and parent volunteer at xyz öppna förskola”. 
  • Unions and Arbetsförmedlingen – Become a member of a union and register with Arbetsförmedlingen. Incluso always recommends this for job seekers. Unions can help you in many ways. Simply registering with Arbetsförmedlingen places you in the social welfare system and can help you seek out further help if you remain unemployed for an extended period of time. *Personal note* I have met with Arbetsformedlingen twice now. Each time I have not received any additional financial support, but I’m in the system and as far as I’ve been able to gather, that should help me get assistance in the future should I remain unemployed in Sweden for longer than 14 months (which is soon). This is where it gets complicated but it’s very individually based so, the moral of the story: Find a union, even if you are unemployed. Register with the job seeking national agency. Keep moving forward.
  • Grow your local network. Use expat groups and LinkedIn to reach out to people. Research, research and more research. Find companies you would like to work with. Find people doing things you would want to do. Or, just find people doing things that are interesting, it doesn’t even have to be something you want to do! Ask them for a fika. Network within your network, ask if people know someone in your field. Marianne recommended trying for 50 new contacts a week, 10 a day. Swedes are very pragmatic. They want someone who is recommended. Sometimes an opening will come available and the team will be asked if they know someone to fill the role before the position is posted. The more people you know the greater your chances are. 
  • Working with a recruiter- Reach out asking for LinkedIn profile and CV reviewing via LinkedIn. Be kind, but be realistic too. There are a lot of people doing the same thing. The more direct and precise you are with your questions, the more help you can expect to receive. Do your research on the recruiter too. Maybe, there are better fits out there, ask someone for a connection. The worst that can happen is they say “sorry, no.”
  • Mentors and sponsors –  Seek out someone local to help mentor you. It can lead to widening your network, to learning skills needed for the Swedish job market, finding a sponsor within a company you desire to work for perhaps! There are places to seek out mentorship programs. A few mentioned by the Incluso team were the unions, JUSEK, SACO or UNIONEN. Chamber of Commerces, other expat and international talent groups (example: American Club of Sweden, Swedish British Society, Universities). Last thought, seek out mentorship connections from your mentor and network from your home country. Leverage all your avenues. 

The Swedish recruitment process:

The typical recruitment process takes 2-3 months on average. Even if you are the perfect candidate, an employer still likes to have something to compare against. This is because in Sweden it is very difficult to fire/let go of an employee once they are hired. Unions wield more legal weight here and the law is on the employees side (this was a shock to me as that is not at all like it is in my home country of the USA).

  • Application – via LinkedIn, career site, or direct email. Be sure to follow instructions when given! Also, some companies or positions will review applications upon receipt until the deadline given. Others will not review any applications until the deadline given. Which ever if it is, be sure to get your resume in as soon as you can if you are interested in the position. Just know you may not here back until a week or 2 after the deadline date. And hopefully you hear back, even if it’s a “no”.
  • Phone screen – many companies or HR recruiters will have a phone screen before moving on with applicants. Incluso recommended having your desired salary range/level predetermined. If you’re having trouble finding the Swedish salaries for job types, start by looking at SACO Or, seek out the best fit union in your industry for help. You are of course free to tell the interviewer you are happy to discuss at a later date, but it’s to your advantage to have a good idea of what you’d consider fair pay at the beginning.

Also, be sure to get expectations for the recruitment process. Clear expectations will help you level-set and plan accordingly.

  • In person interview(s) – all dependent on the company and position. Could happen really quickly or take weeks to see the various people. Usually a teammate, hiring manager and then possibly on to VP or even CEO depending on company size. Be sure to follow up each interview with a thank you. (Flattery will get you almost anywhere!) It is acceptable and appropriate to reach back out to the HR rep or recruiter to check on the status of the process if you haven’t heard back or the company isn’t following the timeline discussed. However, be respectful of all involved, you are not the only person they are working with. Be kind, courteous and respect boundaries.
  • Testing – depending on the industry and level of the position this can be a part of the interview process. It might come before the interviews too! Some larger companies are well known for their post application pre-interviewing testing.
  • Reference check –  are very important in Sweden corporate culture. Again, the idea is that the employer wants to find the absolute best fit for the role, team, and company.This generally occurs at the end of the interviewing process. Provide the hopeful employer with 2-3 people in your professional past that they can contact. Name, position, company, relation and contact details (email and phone number). Be sure to inform those who you have stated as references that they will be contacted by this potential employer. It can take on average 20-30 minutes. Yep, that long. Some may be shorter, depending on the position, maybe even longer! That is why you need to inform your references as it is likely your references are not in Sweden and this is not the norm. It certainly isn’t what I have heard about for job seeking in the USA.
  • Contract negotiations – the last step of the process. Salary negotiation and job specific details. One thing mentioned by Marinanne and Karin is that if you are not 100% satisfied with the terms, ask for a review and renegotiation after the 6 month “trial” or “probation” period of employment, aka “provanställning”. 

This is a LOT of information to take in. It has now been several weeks since our event and I’m still trying to make sure I’ve covered it all. My best advice as a fellow job seeker – take a breath. Know that you are doing what you can, the best you can. It isn’t you. As the saying goes “good things come to those who wait.” and “good things take time”. Trust the process and lean on those around you as you build your network in your new home. 

We cannot thank Marianne and Karin from Incluso enough for their time. We could have gone on with questions and information for hours! Please reach out to Marianne or Karin via LinkedIn or see more about the services provided by Incluso on their site

Best of luck fellow job seekers! We got this!

Steph xx