"Your willingness to participate is key, whether be it at networking events, job fairs, hobbies – be available to explore, build contacts and keep on trying. Networking in Sweden is highly valued, it may not necessarily help you land a job immediately, but one way or other, it opens many doors for you, and you never know, soon it might be your day! "
This summer, I completed six years of living in Sweden. Now when I look back, I think Sweden has taught me a lot – the key factor – Lagom way of living! To all those who are new to this term, Lagom translates as *Not too much and not too little – just the right amount* this often reminds me of three goldilocks and the bear story where Goldilocks went for ‘just right.’ I am the goldilocks in my own story where I learnt to slow down in Sweden and get acquainted with the culture, people and most importantly the weather! I guess 6 years of living in Helsingborg, Sweden - my family and I have begun to enjoy the lifestyle here, where one gets to spend quality time with both family and friends.
Now to the focus – the harsh reality of finding a job in Sweden. If anyone is wondering about the title by now, then here goes—
I moved to Sweden in 2016 with my daughter to support my husband in his career as he got a job here in Sweden (primarily family reasons). Back in India, I did my master’s degree in Communications and worked as a Communications professional for over 10 years and presently working as Global Learning and Development Officer in Heimstaden at Malmö, Sweden. While my priority was settling into Sweden with my 2-year-old then, I enrolled courses with SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) and later to SVA Grund (Swedish as a second language) while in the parallel looking out for jobs. I was under the assumption that it would work as it does in India, where things can happen fast and where networking came a lot easier. Where you can find a suitable job role by registering with job sites and you would surely land an interview the more you apply. However, it was a complete contrast to what I had in my mind.
Finding a job in Sweden has been extremely challenging and emotionally draining, I guess most of the expats would relate to this statement. There are many reasons, one of the main being the demand for non-IT jobs are lesser and well, that is what my background is into. And yes, the language barrier too, it is always good if you know basics of Swedish. Butttt, despite the challenges of finding work in Sweden, it is possible (I am proof!) with the following Ps.
As I dedicated time to sending in applications, is when the true story began to unfold in every step. For starters, just by sending in your job applications with your experience and work certifications will not alone help especially for people coming from non-IT background. In Sweden, it is all about networking, building contacts and then building the trust. Coming from a non-IT background also meant the language played a barrier in my job search and that is when I decided to notch it a bit and did up to SVA Grund to start taking the steps to familiarize with the language. I also came to find out about Arbetsförmedlingen and registered myself, this is where, I came to understand that in a total there were only close to one hundred jobs in my field and in Sweden as a whole - which meant, further narrowing down my chance of finding a job. So, I decided to take one step at a time and be patient!
Have you heard the saying, "Keep on keeping on"? Norman Vincent Peale said it slightly differently, "It's always too early to quit." It means the same thing. If you seek success in anything, the road there is continued effort.
When the challenges began to take a toll. “I started questioning myself on the confidence level,” Emotionally, I was getting a bit drained. But I kept trying and never gave up and like they say, one step leads to another, I registered myself with different opportunities and that is when through Arbetsförmedlingen, I got a 6-month job coaching programme with Jobbklar (wherein you get support from a job coach) where you can get tips, suggestions on your resume but yet again, it’s also your willingness to try. Through them, I found the contact to Jobbsprånget which has been the game changer.
I am sure most would be familiar with Jobbsprånget, a programme run in English for internationals, they provide a 4-month internship where you get the experience to work in Sweden and an opportunity to get to know the Swedish working culture up close. But that is the beauty of Sweden, internships/maternity cover, 4 months or 6 months of internship or any short stints counts as a valid experience, so do not go about limiting to applying for these positions as well. Going back to the J in my success factor – Jobbsprånget, the purpose of the program is to utilise the competence and accelerate the introduction to the Swedish labor market.
Of course, the next best place you could gain some connections is LinkedIn, make sure you update your job profile here as LinkedIn is one of the highest rated networking tools in Sweden.
While many companies use English as their business language, knowing Swedish will be a competitive advantage and increase your chances of landing a job in Sweden, as for me, am still Work in Progress.
Your willingness to participate is key, whether be it at networking events, job fairs, hobbies – be available to explore, build contacts and keep on trying. Networking in Sweden is highly valued, it may not necessarily help you land a job immediately, but one way or other, it opens many doors for you, and you never know, soon it might be your day! Build your contacts and networking circle, LinkedIn, Facebook groups where you can find likeminded people and lot of mingling opportunities, there is one in the city I live in Helsingborg – Helsingborg International Connections (HIC) and so on.
Glimpse into the struggles and disappointments along the way - Before Jobbsprånget, I have managed to send in more than 500 job applications, attended close to twenty interviews and have not been given the opportunity to prove myself. Sometimes, I did not even hear back on my job applications. While the journey has not been an easy one to embark, the internship opportunity was a real eye opener and gave me a huge leap of faith and reassurance - I of course had my initial inhibitions about Swedish work culture and how I would fit in but few months through my internship and being under a great mentor at work, I got comfortable not only with the working pattern but also the culture, after my 6 months of internship, I got a permanent full-time role as Learning and Development Officer at Heimstaden. Today I am happy and proud to be a part of Heimstaden especially because it provides an incredibly open and friendly work culture and is a diverse workplace.
Prove yourself and always work with vigour. Being in Non-IT field and not knowing the language meant twice the hardship and there were many instances, where I would have been close to giving up as there were lot of struggles and I went through an emotional rollercoaster ride as you would always have rejected emails landing up one after other when you apply for jobs, I used to really not look forward to checking my emails or attend networking with the dialogues going on in my mind ‘it is anyway not going to benefit me’, but it was these rejections that challenged me and taught me to become more stronger, that no matter the hardship, I was always trying to seek new avenues. Even if you land an internship or a job, it is also a lot on you to prove yourself, try to initiate, ask questions, and take in responsibilities. If you get an internship, take this time to get acquainted with the job, work culture and learn some Swedish and enjoy yourself in the process! It will happen! It took me 5 years to get my dream job, and soon it would be your day to find your dream job too. Concluding with yet another favorite quote of mine:
‘’To succeed you must believe in something with such passion that it becomes a reality.” Anita Roddick
Lycka till (how we wish good luck in Swedish!)
/ Annapoorna Kailasam