Part 2 of the interview series about working in Sweden, where Karin Björkman is interviewed by Nicole Wyx,
Creating a CV and/or a personal letter when applying for a job in Sweden
In Sweden, in general, they ask for a CV and a cover letter however it is moving more over to only a CV. Personally, as a recruiter, I do not read the personal letter. You must imagine that a recruiter only has a couple of seconds to screen your resume. You will have to make sure it is “clean and uncluttered” and very static in with the skills that you have. Of course, you need to show some personality in it. So having a pitch on “why you”: what is the best about you, without “boasting”. It should only be like a short pitch. Also, it must not take too much attention from the recruiter because they might not have that much time when screening the details.
Photo or no photo on your CV?
I would personally say leave out the photo on your resume. This is because it could be used against you, a recruiter can be biased. They can look at your photo and (unconsciously) think “I do not like that person's photo" and then you are excluded from the process. I would recommend you to have a structured, factual and clean resume.
Get familiar with the company culture before an interview
Being invited for an interview in Sweden, I would recommend to always first check what the company culture is like. The culture in Sweden is very egalitarian and flat, so you can expect the hiring manager to be "you" with you. It is not like you have to say, sir or madam, see it as a friendly person meeting up with you. However, do not forget that it is an interview. It does not have to be very formal, be yourself and listen carefully to what the questions are. I tend to think that they focus very much on your skillsets, what you have been doing and why you have changed jobs. Try to give a good impression of what your skills are but also who you are as a person.
Learning Swedish is not a must but beneficial in many ways
I would always advise you to learn some Swedish to some extent, even if it is not needed for the job. No matter where you work, you will have a lot of benefits in understanding some Swedish, especially for the social parts. If you have skills in an area where Swedish is not needed, then it is perfect. I think it depends on the sector and the need for talent in that sector now, if Swedish is required or not. If Swedish is required for a job and you do not speak it, you can always apply anyway. But unfortunately, Swedish is still very important in Sweden. I would personally hope that we would look into the skills that someone brings in, of course language is also a skill, but it is the whole package that we should look at.
If there is a dentist for example and they have the skills that we need but they do not speak Swedish, is it really necessary to exclude that candidate, just because they do not speak Swedish? If you do not speak Swedish and you do want a job, I would recommend you to still apply, however, do not take it personally or do not get disappointed if you do not get invited for an interview.
Be proactive and network when looking for a job
Don't bet on one horse. You should be proactive in your job search. LinkedIn is a good source for finding jobs, but it is not the only source. You must try to socialize with people. They say that Swedes are not very social, but go out and interact with your local network. Get a membership in a gym club or a club and meet and greet with people because they can also help you out. I do not know the percentage, but I know that there are a lot of jobs not even visible on job boards. They are being given through networks. You can subscribe to many job hunters and send your resume to me. You can also reach out to the many talent houses that are working for talents like you and they have a huge network in where they can help. So look around, reach out to sources where you feel comfortable and be proactive.
Q&A on working in Sweden
1. “Hi, I have 6 years of experience in the IT industry as a software engineer. Can I find a job in Sweden that offers migration options?”
Answer by Karin Björkman: Software engineers in general are needed and wanted in the Swedish markets at the moment. There are a lot of companies that do reach out to international talents in that sector. However software engineering is very broad so depending on what software engineering skills you have, what computer languages you can handle and what skills you bring, they will determine if you can secure a job or not.
I would advise reaching out to the bigger companies with the bigger names because they have the certification with the Migration Agency to apply for the work permit if you are a non-EU member. They usually also work with relocation companies so they will be able to also help with the relocation package. There are companies out there that do provide you with the whole package.
2. “I want to study in Sweden, do I as an African have the chance to get a job after my studies?”
Answer by Karin Björkman: For studying in Sweden it does not matter what country you are coming from, you are allowed to stay here after your graduation, having reached a certain credential, for one year to search for a job. If you secure a job (as a non-EU member) when your search visa is expired, the hiring company needs to apply for a work visa for you. However, your study here might be the way for you to get a job in Sweden.
I would always advise you to check the website of the Swedish Migration Agency, as they will always have updated information on the permits. There have been major changes lately, so the best thing is to check the information on the website of the Swedish Migration Agency directly.
3. “Company needs a worker, they know a guy who has worked there before, knows all the equipment and had good recommendations from many workers. The company still must go through to hire the very same person, why?”
Answer by Karin Björkman: I think in this case the company has chosen Clockwork to do all the administration regarding the employment. The employee is not hired by the construction company, but they are hired by an agency, in this case, Clockwork. The job agency takes full responsibility for the employment of a candidate. A lot of companies can choose this way in hiring staff. They either hire directly from their own company or via an agency. A lot of companies, for example within the construction area, might not have the capacity to do all the administration and the payroll so they choose to work via an agency. Or, even the certification for a work permit for a candidate. So, the agency (bemanning) takes full responsibility, and you are hired by the job agency. You get paid by them and you have a contract with them. They then source you out to a company for a specific assignment. There are a lot of job agencies that do this.
Also, the fact that they need to go through the same agency, is because there are rules and regulations on what contracts can be offered. You can read about the changes in the Sweden Employment Protection act here.
4. "Is it different being hired by a company or by an agency?"
Karin: It is not a difference for you as an employee to be hired by a job agency or by a company. Because the company you are assigned to is where you “belong”. The administration and payroll are being taken care of by the job agency. It is called “Bemanning” in Swedish and it is a usual structure to hire staff.
5. “What are they looking for? Many times, I was 100 match, but did not even make it to an interview”
Karin: Okay, so the question is: you have a hundred per cent match for a job you applied for, but you do not get selected or even invited for an interview?
I hear this very often, unfortunately. There are a lot of applicants for each job and there are a lot of 100% matches for the jobs. So, it is a bit of a lottery to be one of the ones to be selected. It depends on how you apply for the job, do you apply directly or are you maybe going through a talent source like me? For example, I would be able then to know and see your added value, see your skills and promote that with a company. I could be the source of the job.
That is one option, another option would be to make sure you have a clear, structured and uncluttered resume. Remove obstacles that might be in the way of being selected for the job, even if you have the right skills. For example, remove your photo, where you are located, date of birth and nationality because these are usually not applicable to the job that you are going to do. But if you have it on your resume, there might be a biased recruiter that does think “hm oh no, someone from abroad”, “perhaps they do not know what to do”, “we do not know what skills they bring” etc., to then think “no, not going to select this CV”.
So never take anything personally, the screening is a process that the recruiter needs to go through. Recruiters also do mistakes and maybe miss out on a good profile. But if you make sure to have a structured resume and remove the obstacles which could take away the attention from your skillset, then you have done your best to try. And remember that if, unfortunately, you are not selected, there is competition out there and never take a no personally.
If you are interested in a job in Sweden, you are welcome to register your details via our Talent Pool.