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Gizem Ece Tiglioglu Gumus

“Reflecting on this experience, I'd like to share some lessons learned and tips for fellow expats navigating the Swedish job market: 1) Prioritize Mental Health: Moving to a new country comes with its emotional challenges. Don't hesitate to seek support from professionals or from your social circle. 2) Avoid Comparisons: Each person's journey is unique....”

Navigating Challenges as an Expat in Sweden: Lessons Learned from Job Seeking

Moving to Sweden was initially an exciting decision, but the reality of adjusting to a new country came with its own set of uncertainties and challenges. Despite having previous experience as an exchange student, I quickly realized that each journey is unique, and even with preparation, adapting to life in Sweden wasn't without its difficulties. Of course, the weather was one of the initial adjustments, but as they say, you eventually get used to it, I guess!

Gizem Ece Tiglioglu Gumus with red jacket

My partner and I chose Sweden for various reasons, with my pursuit of a master's degree in the Social Studies of Gender being a significant factor. Attending a master's program in Sweden was quite a positive experience, the real challenges arose when I entered the job market as a jobseeker.

We were familiar with the challenges of the Swedish job market from discussions within our circle and sessions organized by the International Citizen Hub Lund (ICHL). However, experiencing it firsthand was an entirely different journey. Despite diligently monitoring job openings on LinkedIn, my job-seeking journey faced an unexpected hurdle. Migrationsverket did not grant me a "job-seeking" residence permit, which is typically granted after completing studies after making an application. Their rationale was my switch from a 2-year to a 1-year track. The university offered this option to its students and I’ve also consulted and double check with the university beforehand the track change. However, it appears that either the university misguided me (because there was actually no separate code for the 1-year master’s programme in the general system LADOK which Migrationsverket sees), or a shift in Migrationsverket's policy on this issue. This setback necessitated a stressful process of reapplying for residency through my partner, adding further strain to an already challenging situation.

Suddenly, I found myself job hunting in a country where my residency status was uncertain, leading to heightened stress and feelings of unwelcome. It was a challenging time as we tried to establish roots in our new home while grappling with bureaucratic obstacles.

Reflecting on this experience, I'd like to share some lessons learned and tips for fellow expats navigating the Swedish job market:

  1. Prioritize Mental Health: Moving to a new country comes with its emotional challenges. Don't hesitate to seek support from professionals or from your social circle.
  2. Avoid Comparisons: Each person's journey is unique. Avoid comparing yourself to others, especially when facing residency permit issues or job seeking. Listening and taking notes is always good but do not blame and/or underestimate yourself if you are experiencing something different than the others.
  3. Network Authentically: Networking is essential but don't expect instant results. Authentic connections often yield better outcomes in the long run.
  4. Apply Widely: Don't limit yourself by being too selective in job applications. Apply to positions that align with your skills and interests. Then you’ll decide later whether you really want it or not. Also, if you are shortlisted, it is always good to have options + make some interview practices + seeing the final offer which will tell a lot about the market.
  5. Adapt your CV: While there are common CV practices, don't box yourself in it too much. Adapt your CV to each job application (I know it is very hard especially if you are applying a lot of jobs), focusing on core competencies. I believe the biggest factor that I get hired was my core competencies revised accordingly to the job that I apply.
  6. Stay Organized + Keep a Tracker: Utilize tools like Notion or Excel to keep track of job applications and follow-ups. Stay organized to maintain clarity and focus during the job hunt.
  7. Document Your Efforts: Keep a detailed log of job applications, interviews, and follow-ups. This not only helps with organization but also provides a sense of progress.
    A) I have actively used Notion (or Excel would do!) during the job-hunting. First, I prepared a list with the organizations, companies, think thanks, universities, etc. wherever I want to see myself working. Then, after I check the relevant organization’s website, I would update the column “last time checked”- so I would know when I check which company, organization.
    B) I also created a “Job Application Log” which includes Job Title, Company Name, Date Applied, Application Status, Interview Date, Current Status, Note and a Contact Detail. If you are also perhaps registered with Arbetsförmedlingen (yes you can register as a jobseeker, ICHL sessions will tell the details!) and reporting them each month about your job application, this would definitely be helpful for that, too! Also staying organized feels just nice.
  8. Maintain Balance: Job hunting can be consuming but remember to take breaks and live in the moment. Create a schedule to manage your time effectively. So, do not apply for jobs “every day” from morning to evening.
  9. Believe in luck!: My job hunting journey was definetly a challenging one. In my heart, I knew I was a good and qualified candidate; however, unemployment was deeply affecting me, and at some point, I began to question myself and my career. Then, one day, I received an interview invitation from a company in a completely different sector compared to my prior experiences. Nevertheless, my core skill set aligned perfectly with the job requirements. Interestingly, the application process took place before I attended the ICHL sessions, so I hadn't even revised my CV at that time! Sometimes, you never know where opportunities will arise. That's why it's important to keep applying to jobs that align with your core skill set and values, even if they are in different contexts or

As a final note, always remember the confirmation bias! Your brain is wired to seek evidence that confirms your beliefs. If you're inclined to think negatively or expect the worst, your brain will selectively pick up on cues that support those thoughts. Conversely, if you maintain a positive outlook, your brain will focus on the positive aspects of your life. Adjusting to life in a new country away from home is undeniably challenging. Therefore, nurturing mental resilience is crucial. Take care of yourself and prioritize your mental well-being. Remember, things will eventually improve!

/ Gizem Ece Tiglioglu Gumus

To the LinkedIn profile of Gizem Ece Tiglioglu Gumus