This blog and video were made by Nicole Wu, you can watch more content on her channel here: Nicole W. She was curious to know why I have chosen to work as a recruiter and how it is to do recruitment in Sweden.
Why I do what I do
I have been working with recruitment for 25 years, I have specialized in recruitment for internationals and it is because I bring my own experience within the field. I have lived in Switzerland and in The Netherlands, I worked in Germany and I know how it feels to come to a new country. I know what it's like to learn a new language and how to adapt and adjust in order to be able to contribute. That has been a personal passion of mine and it is the greatest feeling to be able to help someone who comes new into a country. If they find their way and succeed in receiving employment, then I have done my job and I am very happy to assist where I can.
Where can you find job information?
A lot of jobs are posted on LinkedIn so that is a very good source to look for job opportunities. There are also a lot of job boards that you can look out for, for example, The Local or Indeed. You could also, if you are already registered in Sweden, apply to “Arbetsförmedlingen” which is the national job agency. They are very active in helping with job searches as well. However, it might be a bit tricky if you do not speak Swedish, especially if you seek opportunities where Swedish is not needed. I would say that LinkedIn might be the best source for non-Swedish jobs.
The process of acquiring a work permit in Sweden
As an EU member or a member of an EEA country, you are free to live and work in Sweden. You can stay in Sweden for three months before registering here. however, in order to register to get access to the social security system you need to prove that you have an income. So even if you're an EU or EEA member you will need to have a job in order to stay here long-term, unless you are registered with a partner here.
A non-EU or non-EEA member will need work and a residence permit in order to stay in Sweden. A work permit can only be applied for by an employer, which means you will need to secure a position and a job before applying for a job permit. It is a bit of a Catch-22 because you need a job to get the permit, but you need a permit in order to get the job, also you cannot be in the country while the work permit is being processed. It is very important to know that it is only the company that can apply for a work permit. If you come here as a spouse for someone who has secured a work permit already then you have free access to the system and will also be able to work during the period that the spouse's permit is valid.
To get a work permit to work in Sweden a company needs to be certified by the Migration Agency. Without that certification, they cannot apply for a visa (the certification applies to the fast-track permit. If no certification, a company can still apply for a permit, but it will take much longer). You need to have an employer that is able and willing to do that process. Some of the bigger companies like Ikea Spotify etc. are usually certified for the permit process. They have that all in place, but it could be smaller startups or smaller companies that still need an international talent or a specific talent that needs to apply for a visa. Then that company needs to register themselves with the Migration Agency first, unfortunately.
To go through all that is a long process so if they are not certified, they need to get the certification first. Once they are certified they can apply for a working permit by fast-track, which means that it might only take two or three weeks. Whereas applying for a permit without the fast-track certification will take a few months.
The personal number is your DNA and is essential for registering for work in Sweden
We have now covered a little bit about the work permits. When and if you are allowed to live and work in Sweden and you have moved to Sweden and are staying here, you need to register in order to be a part of the system. By registering we mean registering at the tax office where you get a personal number which is called “Personnummer”. Without that number, you are sort of lost in Sweden because it gives you access to everything such as healthcare and the school system. You need a personal number in order to get a bank ID, you need it in order to get a house, renting or to buy. So the personal number is your DNA in Sweden! I also get a lot of questions about how quickly you can access this number and if you need to have a job in order to register for the personal number.
Because the personal number is your ticket into the system in Sweden you get a lot from it, but you are also obliged to contribute by paying taxes and that is also all connected to your personal number. Sometimes it takes only a week to get the number and sometimes it could take months. I remember when I re-registered after having lived abroad for many years, I said “Hello, I'm back” and it took me two months in order to get my personal number reactivated. If it takes time, it is because they are busy, so do not take it personally. But you need a personal number in order to get access to the system in Sweden.
Jobs in demand and opportunities for non-Swedish speakers
The jobs that are in demand at the moment are everything within IT engineering, Development Operations, front-end and back-end programming, and everything that has to do with building tech organizations. Those companies are also more attractive to internationals as there is only English spoken in general. Also, marketing automation, for example, is in demand and usually, only English is spoken. For jobs related to anything with digitalization, I would say there are chances but also within engineering in general. I know, for example, Ericsson does employ non-Swedish speakers for these roles. Another sector that is attractive to international employees is life science tech. This sector gets more and more important so there you can also have chances if you do not speak Swedish. Anything in innovation and tech I would say is the most demanding area at the moment. It is a fact, that Sweden needs doctors, nurses and teachers. Maybe within those sectors, Swedish is more required however, we need skilled people so you also have chances.
Investigate what skillsets are needed
First of all, I think you need to investigate if your skillsets are wanted in the Swedish market. We do have a lot of shortage of skills and talents. Of course, Swedish is the language in Sweden that is being spoken and everyone speaks very good English. However, not in every workplace, so you might need to consider and ask yourself “am I able to learn Swedish”? "Is Swedish needed in the workplace or in the area where I am going to work and live?". I would investigate first if you can get around with only your English skills or maybe your other language skills. But always be aware that you might need to learn Swedish to some extent.
It is very important to build a network in Sweden. If you are working for an international company abroad and they have a presence in Sweden, I would recommend always checking the opportunity to have an internal transfer. This would make it easier for you.