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A Guide on Finding Work in Sweden

Sweden is renowned for its staunch gender and class equality, which extends to its workforce with an emphasis on first names and lack of formal titles. It’s also having a reputation for collective work environment, generous parental leave, and high salaries, working in Sweden is ideal for many expatriates looking to relocate. Recently, Sweden has seen such a high demand for work permits, that they can afford to be selective. In 2018, nearly 20% of applicants were denied.

Like many European countries with contented salaries and high qualities of life, the Swedish job market is competitive. Although, many jobs require eloquence in Swedish. Jobs that do not have this requirement are typically corporations based in Stockholm. However, even positions advertised as “English only” may give preference to those with at least a working knowledge of Swedish.

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In addition, Sweden places great emphasis on a healthy work-life balance with flexible work days and hours. Normal work hours are from 8:30 to 17:00, and you will notice most Swedes leaving the office right at 17:00. Working overtime is not commonplace in Swedish culture, nor is it looked upon favorably.

The average salary in Sweden is fairly high: 26,000 SEK per month (2,600 USD). However, keep in mind that this takes into account Sweden’s high cost of living. Expats can expect to spend nearly 30% of their income on rent alone.

Working as a self-employed worker is easy to do in Sweden, but foreigners will need to have already established their business and provide proof of viable income. Likewise, it is possible for all non-residents to register to obtain a Swedish social security number, but non-EU/EEA citizens will first need a Swedish residency card.

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How to Get a Job in Sweden as a Foreigner

Much like their housing, learning how to get a job in Sweden as an immigrant is tough, but ultimately rewarding. Standards are high and competition is stiff, but the work culture is extremely collaborative, hospitable, and salaries are high.

How to Apply for a Job in Sweden

When applying for a job in Sweden, it is imperative to standout. One of the best ways to do this is by studying Swedish. Many positions in the country require fluency in Swedish or at least basic skills. The exception to this is large multinational corporations, most of which are located in the capital Stockholm. If you are planning to move to one of the other Swedish cities, contact InterNations GO! to help set you up with Swedish classes. In as much as it is possible to find English-speaking jobs in Sweden employers still prefer candidates who have some knowledge of Swedish or are willing to learn because Swedish culture believes strongly in communal efforts, and employers will favor applicants who can easily converse and socialize with their colleagues.

Tips for Getting a Job in Sweden

With a University degree that has been verified by your country’s consulate, you qualify for the work visa. A few years’ work experience is also helpful to have, but not a requirement.

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In looking for a job, below is a couple of tips that can be applied to help aid your search.

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Look Online

There are many online sites that can be used to find job opportunities for foreigners in Sweden. If a job posting is in Swedish, consider submitting your resume and cover letter in Swedish as well.

Top job search websites for positions in Sweden:

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  • Indeed.com
  • Metro Job
  • Facebook groups

Resume (CV)

Even if you are only applying to English-speaking jobs, it is a good idea to have a Swedish version of your resume as some companies have been known to ask for this even if Swedish is not required for the position. It is also a good idea to have a short, well-written introduction about yourself and your qualifications in Swedish.

Swedish CVs follow the traditional format common among most western countries:

  • brief descriptions listing your educational and professional background, as well as any relevant honors,
  • volunteer, or extracurricular activities.
  • a passport-sized photo added to the top right corner of your resume.

CVs should be no more than two pages long, or one-page front and back.

Cover Letter

Swedish informal has an informal culture. Rarely do people use Mr./Miss or honorary titles when addressing one another. Because of this, your cover letter should be polite, but informal. Use the recipient’s first name and say “hello” rather than “dear.” The rest of the cover letter will follow the usual format of outlining why you are the best fit for the job to which you are applying. If you are new to Sweden and or do not yet know Swedish, be sure to address this in the letter and communicate a willingness to learn as well as excitement for adapting Swedish lifestyle.

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Interview Tips

Although Sweden promotes an informal culture, interviews should be treated with utmost formality. Emigrants arriving for an interview should dress in business attire: a dress shirt and pants for men, and a skirt-suit, nice dress, or pant suit for women. Being both too late or too early in Sweden is considered rude, so aim to arrive only five to ten minutes early.

Networking Tips

In Sweden, networking is often a more guaranteed way to land an interview (or a job) than the traditional route of submitting your CV and cover letter. According to a survey by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, informal networking is typically responsible for six out of ten Swedish job positions. Joining the expat networking group InterNations is one of the best ways to meet other foreigners working in Sweden.

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