Job hunting in Sweden
It can’t have escaped your notice that Scandinavian culture is having a bit of a moment. And Sweden is leading the pack. From its uber-cool furniture to its trendy life philosophy of ‘lagom’ (move aside ‘hygge’), Sweden is one of the most popular countries in the world right now. Throw in great standards of living, strong employment rights and a thriving jobs market and it’s no wonder record numbers of Brits are a choosing to work in the land of the midnight sun.
Jobs in Sweden
There is always demand for skilled workers in Sweden, especially in industries like engineering, healthcare, IT, education, manufacturing, services, science, and business. The country’s commitment to environmental policies means green exports, biotechnology and clean energy are areas where job opportunities are increasing. And in the wake of Sweden’s increased global profile, their tourist industry is also booming.
You don’t necessarily need to speak Swedish to find work in Sweden. English is taught in schools from a young age, and you’ll find many large multinational companies here. Think IKEA, H&M, Ericsson, Spotify, Volvo and Microsoft to name but a few!
Sweden is famous for its excellent work-life balance. Employees enjoy generous holiday and parental leave, long coffee breaks (known as fika), and short working days. Many Swedish companies close down for a long, six-week summer holiday and are moving towards six-hour working days in the belief that happy, relaxed employees are more productive. Workplaces tends to be calm, efficient and democratic, although some new expats can find the Swedish culture of consensus-forming long-winded and their new colleagues reserved.
Getting a work visa for Sweden
Under the current laws, most UK workers do not need to apply for a work visa to work in Sweden. With both countries part of the EU (for now), workers have the right to move and work freely without being subject to immigration restrictions.
In the wake of Brexit however, finding work in Sweden may become a contingent on successfully applying for a Swedish work permit. The extent to which Brits will have to comply with Sweden’s immigration policies remains to be seen as negotiations progress.
To apply for a Swedish work permit, you must have an official job offer from a Swedish company that meets certain set conditions, such as paying a minimum salary of SEK 156,000 (that’s roughly £15,200).
When it comes to job hunting in Sweden during the summer months, many people focus on the southern cities, such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. With a healthy summer tourist industry, you should find plenty of casual vacancies working in hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. Sweden’s seaside resorts they also offer up some great summer job opportunities, although you shouldn’t expect a fantastic wage.
Summer agricultural jobs are also an option, especially during the harvesting months on the farms in the south of the country. The Young Farmers' Clubs International Farm Experience Programme is a great place to start your search if you are between the ages of 18 and 28 with agricultural experience. They can find you paid placements on Swedish farms for up to a year.
Teaching English as a foreign language is always a good route to working abroad, and doesn’t require you to speak a foreign language yourself. If you have a TEFL qualification, you can look for teaching abroad roles on the British Council website.
The best cities for finding a job
Generally, the cosmopolitan southern cities are the best locations for job hunting in Sweden. Unless you’re keen to experience the remote landscapes and chilly weather of the north of the country, where you’ll find some opportunities in forestry, tourism and agriculture.
Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, has a healthy job market with plenty of opportunities in a range of professions. Academics are drawn to the top universities, while workers in the service industries will find hundreds of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Stockholm is also a hub for tech start-ups, providing lots of opportunities for professionals in the digital industries. Solna, just north of Stockholm, also offers great opportunities for expats looking for is slightly quieter city.
Malmø and Gothenburg both attract a youthful, international crowd. The creative and cultural events industries are in full swing here, along with higher education, plenty more tech start-ups, and lots of jobs in the service and tourism industries.
Tips for job hunting
Most expats in Sweden will have applied for jobs from their home country. To do this you have a few options: search online jobs portals like Stepstone, contact a recruitment agency, or apply speculatively to Sweden’s multinational companies - you can find some great contacts on theBusiness Sweden site.
The application process in Sweden is fairly similar to that in the UK. You’ll often need to provide a CV and covering letter or fill out an online application form. If you can, use the Swedish language when applying for jobs. Keep your applications concise and clear, addressing each point of the job requirements. Remember that democratic working and collaboration are highly valued in Sweden, along with understated confidence.
When it comes to the interview stage, you may be invited to interview via phone, Skype or even in person, depending on the role. A trade union representative is likely to be present if you’re interviewing for a public sector job. UK qualifications are generally fully recognised by employers, although if you work in regulated profession> you may need to have yours evaluated and approved.