Erika Hirata

"As the interview was being done online, why not use this technology in my favor? So, I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation about myself, telling a little story about my background, my experiences, which projects I worked on and my qualifications for the position. The recruiters were impressed about it, they never had this experience before. From this moment, I knew that I was on the right path because I could demonstrate to them that I was really interested in the position, I could innovate and I had another good way of communication. Fortunately with all my effort and support received, I was hired!"

Hi! Hej! I am Erika and I moved from Brazil almost 3 years ago due to my partner’s hiring to work in software development in Lund. Since then, I've had new experiences regarding the culture, climate, school for my daughter, finding a new job and being a volunteer. Moving with my husband and daughter, it provided us a new opportunity for a new beginning, we were totally out of our comfort zone.

Multi culture

Being multicultural, as I was born in Brazil, from a Japanese family and living in Sweden, for me it was easier to adapt to Swedish culture. Of course that I’m still learning, but it was not a shock for me.

Climate

I thought it could be worse during the Winter, but being in the South of Sweden, this season is enjoyable. What's still strange for me is the darkness during this period, at 3.30 or 4.00 it’s already dark and we have to use some reflectors/lanterns. But during the Summer, having the sun at 21.00 is amazing, you have the feeling that you can enjoy your day more.

School for my daughter

My daughter was 5 when we moved to Sweden. We applied to the International School but she was not approved as my husband’s contract was permanent, so the search for a Swedish school began. We had to choose three Swedish schools that we were interested in. In the end she got a place at Tunaskolan.

She did not have any Swedish language, but English, which helped her a lot in the beginning. But with the teachers’ support and her new friends, my daughter received all the assistance that she needed. Today, she speaks Swedish (not fluent yet) but she can communicate and she is our translator now.

When I asked her how her experience at school was, she said: “In the beginning it was difficult, but I had help from my teachers and I learned Swedish. My friends also helped me to understand some words and now I can speak and understand what they are saying”.

Job seeking process

After a year in Sweden, as my daughter was already in school, I started seeking a job. Prepared my CV, cover letter and sent to the open positions that I found on LinkedIn. But no answer was received, just the automatic message saying “thank you for your application, but unfortunately we won’t proceed with your application”. I felt that I was not qualified enough even if I had more than 15 years of experience in an international environment.

Then I decided to look for some support and fortunately I found International Citizen Hub Lund. They have a wonderful program called Kick-Start Program that I was able to participate in. During all the sessions I learned how to write a CV, cover letter and how to mold the LinkedIn profile based on the Swedish mode. I also understood that it’s not easy for a foreigner to find a job because of the language and it could be more difficult and it takes many years. My options became more restricted, as I was just applying for multinational companies where English was the primary language.

Then the pandemic came and companies stopped hiring. Some of the positions applied were canceled or put on hold. But I never gave up and I learned to be more resilient.

After a while I participated in the Support and Matching program by Arbetsförmedlingen. It’s a one-on-one coaching, with a professional supporting you during the job seeking process. I was glad because I received nice feedback regarding my CV, cover letter and my behavior in the interviews that we practiced. My coach said that I was ready, and my chances to be hired increased. I just needed to be patient and persistent.

I won’t lie that sometimes I felt sad, depressed and impotent. But it's ok! Sometimes you will lose and you have to learn with it. It’s a lesson learned. But having the support from my family, International Citizen Hub Lund and Arbetsförmedlingen kept me motivated.

And after a year, companies started hiring again, and I was able to do some online interviews, but it was not working. I was wondering, what to do differently in order to get their attention?

As the interview was being done online, why not use this technology in my favor? So, I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation about myself, telling a little story about my background, my experiences, which projects I worked on and my qualifications for the position. The recruiters were impressed about it, they never had this experience before. From this moment, I knew that I was on the right path because I could demonstrate to them that I was really interested in the position, I could innovate and I had another good way of communication. Fortunately with all my effort and support received, I was hired! 

It was an exhausting process, but it’s worth every single step that I had to do, because I met wonderful people who helped a lot.

How I was hired

In November 2020, I participated in an event called “Swedish Innovation Day” which I was invited to join in the International Talent Matching. I did a 20 minutes of interview. I was not hired at that moment but I made a connection through LinkedIn with the recruiter.

A new position opened in this same company in February 2021, I applied for it and I also contacted the recruiter. I showed her that I was still interested to work there. Unfortunately, I was not hired.
But after a month, the recruiter reached me with a new position. And after all the interviews and tests, I was hired.

This process showed me the power of networking in Sweden. So do it as much as you can!

Plan B

The famous plan B! I think everybody had already thought about it. If things are not happening as expected, why not change?

I had this plan when I was not being successful in getting a job. I decided to study programming language as the job offers in Sweden were high and the demand was low.

Taking this action proved to me that I could transition my profession and I was able to learn new skills.

Even if your intention it’s not to change your profession, I recommend you to learn new skills. It's good to have another perspective and you will be surprised at how you can do it!

Being a volunteer

A good way to meet people is to be a volunteer. I was one as a mentor in the Mentorship Program from Project Management Institute (Chapter Sweden), and I was able to meet, even online, such great people.

Trying to be a volunteer where you can feel that you are contributing and growing with this action will bring you only vantages.

/ Erika Hirata

>> To the Linkedin profile of Erika Hirata