#MySweden: How I carved out my Swedish career in five steps

Every week one of The Local's readers takes over our Instagram. Today, Shaena Harrison from Canada shows us her Sweden.

#MySweden: How I carved out my Swedish career in five steps
Shaena Harrison. Photo: Private
How old are you and what do you normally spend your days doing?
I am 37 and I spend my days producing events.
Don't miss Shaena Harrison's guide to networking your way to a Swedish career:





I get contacted a lot about finding a #job in Sweden so I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you all know what worked for me. 1. Networking. This can be a dreadful task if you’re not feeling up to it or not sure where to start. Depending on the line of work you are looking for, I would look for events in your field and rock up. If you have a friend that will go with you, take them as your “wing person” and each of you can introduce each other to the person you might want to say hi to. 2. Be present and leave your digital breadcrumbs. For example, posting relevant content on LinkedIn or writing articles. 3. Volunteer. As I mentioned in a previous post, volunteering is a great way to make friends but also showing your talent to potential others that might be hiring at their companies. I know quite a few people in my TEDx network that have gotten their jobs through volunteering. 4. Sign up to a mentor ship program like @oppnadorren where you will be paired with a native from the country that could help you break into a new network. 5. Start your own company! That’s what I did and launched a very popular running event which gave me my launchpad to other opportunities. With a bit of luck and hard work, there are opportunities out there. If you have any questions or need some advice, I’m happy to lend some if I can. Ps. LinkedIn is my jam so feel free to connect with me there and send a personalized message so I know why you’re reaching out. (Also – personalizes messages are good for anyone you’re reaching out to) #jobsearch #career #jobsinsweden

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 26 Jun 2019 kl. 6:20 PDT


When and why did you move to your neighbourhood?

Well, we have two neighbourhoods. Our “city” home is in Kallhäll, Järfälla, which we moved to in 2011. When we moved to Sweden my husband had never stood in the queue for housing so we lucked out and got our first-hand contract through Bostadssnabben which placed us in Kallhäll. 

Our “country” home, which we bought in 2017, is about 15 minutes from Sandviken in a cute little village called Gästrike-Hammarby. We ended up buying our home here as we wanted something that was max two hours away from the city, had city water and wasn’t a “fixer-upper”. You’re welcome to rent it.





Hey ? everyone! I’m Shaena “Tjena” and I’ll be your host for the next week. One of my favourite things about the Swedish language is when you pronounce my name it actually sounds like “Tjena” – the way you say “Hej” so it’s easy to remember my usually hard name. ?? I’m originally from #winnipeg #canada ?? and have been living in #Sweden ?? Since 2011 and abroad since 2006. How did I end up in Sweden? Well I bought a one way ticket, moved to Ireland ?? (didn’t know a soul) and a few months in I met my Swede…we’ve been together ever since. Now we have 2 kids and careers. And guess what! It’s midsummer today so I’ll be giving you a taste of #mysweden and how we #celebrate #midsummer / #midsommar @tourismireland @sweaireland @canada @daftdive

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Jun 21, 2019 at 12:27am PDT

What do you love most about life in your neighbourhood?
What I love most about our Kallhäll neighbourhood is that it’s so convenient to get to for our kids going to school and commuting to Stockholm. What I love most about our country home is that it’s so quiet and peaceful and gives us a good place to decompress from our busy weeks. 





A #snapsvisa is a traditional Scandinavian drinking song which is often sung before a small shot of spirit that is called a snaps. A typical snapsvisa is a short, vigorous song; its lyrics usually tell of the delicacy and glory of the drink, or of the singer’s craving for snaps. Snapsvisor are short, bright, and easy to learn. The most well known snapsvisa in Sweden is #helangår Snapsvisor are an important part of traditional and family festivities on Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and among Swedish-speaking Finns. The singing of these songs is also a lively part of Scandinavian student culture. My family is visiting so we are giving them the full Swedish/Scandinavian experience.

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Jun 21, 2019 at 3:22am PDT

And what annoys you the most?
I think the thing that annoys me most about the city home is when there are train repairs. For the last few summers they’ve shut down the pendeltåg which is frustrating when you still need to commute to the city for work. Good thing though is we have a direct bus to the other pendeltåg line.
How should we spend a day in your neighbourhood?
You should spend your day in Kallhäll at the beach! And you should spend your day in Gästrike-Hammarby also at the beach in Årsunda. Or skiing in Kungsberget.
What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your neighbourhood?
A fun fact about our neighbourhood is that actress Geena Davis attended Wareham High School as an exchange student in Sandviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish. 
Follow Shaena Harrison on Instagram here. To find out how you can become The Local's next #MySweden host, click HERE.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


‘Reassess your cultural background’: Key tips for foreign job hunters in Sweden

Many foreigners living in Sweden want to stay in the country but struggle to find a job, despite having relevant qualifications. The Local spoke to three experts for their advice.

'Reassess your cultural background': Key tips for foreign job hunters in Sweden

One international worker who found it hard to land her first job in Sweden is Amanda Herzog, who eventually founded Intertalents in Sweden with the aim of helping other immigrants find work in the country.

Herzog originally came to Sweden to study at Jönköping University and decided to stay after graduating.

“I thought it would take three months, maybe six months to find a job, I was prepared for that,” she told The Local during a live recording of our Sweden in Focus podcast held as part of Talent Talks, an afternoon of discussions at the Stockholm Business Region offices on how to attract and retain foreign workers in Sweden.

“What happened was it took over 13 months and 800 applications to actually get a job in my industry, within marketing.”

During this time, Herzog was getting multiple interviews a month, but was not getting any further in the process, despite showing her CV to Swedish recruiters for feedback.

“They were baffled as well,” she said. “By the time I landed my dream job, I had to go outside of the typical advice and experiment, and figure out how I actually can get hired. By the time I got hired, I realised what actually works isn’t really being taught.”

‘Reassess your cultural background’

Often, those who come to Herzog for help have sent out hundreds of CVs and are unsure what their next steps should be.

“My first piece of advice is to stop for a second,” she said. “Reassess your cultural background and how it fits into Sweden.”

Herzog, for example, discovered she was interviewing in “the American way”.

In the US, when asked to tell an interviewer about yourself, you’d be expected to discuss your career history – how many people have you managed? Did sales improve while you were working there? – while Swedes are more likely to want to know about you as a person and why you want to work in a specific role for their company in particular.

“A lot of people don’t know this, so imagine all of the other cultural things that they’re doing differently that they learned in their country is normal,” Herzog adds.

“Just start with learning, because it could be that you don’t need to change very much, you are qualified, you just need to connect with the Swedish way of doing things.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden)


Networking is important

“Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and guidance,” said Laureline Vallée, an environmental engineer from France who recently found a job in Sweden after moving here nine months ago with her partner, who got a job as a postdoc at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

“You tend to insulate yourself and consider yourself not capable, but you’re not less capable than you were in your home country, you just need to explain it to the employers.”

Another tip is to network as much as you can, Vallée said.

“Networking is really important here in Sweden, so just go for it, connect with people in the same field.”

This could be through networks like Stockholm Akademiska Forum’s Dual Career Network, which helps the accompanying partners or spouses of foreign workers find a job in Sweden, or through other connections, like neighbours, friends, or people you meet through hobbies, for example.

Make a clear profile for yourself

Another common issue is that applicants are not presenting themselves clearly to recruiters, Stockholm Akademiska Forum’s CEO, Maria Fogelström Kylberg, told The Local.

“If you’re sending 600 applications without an answer, something is wrong. We have seen many people looking for jobs working in a supermarket, and the next application is a managing director post,” she said. “You have to decide ‘who am I? What do I want to do?’, you have to profile yourself in a clear way.”

This could be editing down your CV so you’re not rejected for being overqualified, or just thinking more closely about how you present yourself to a prospective employer.

“Which of my skills are transferable? How can I be of use to this company? Not what they can do for me, but what problem can I solve with my competence?”

Job hunters should also not be afraid of applying for a job which lists Swedish as a requirement in the job description, Fogelström Kylberg said.

“Sometimes if I see an ad for a job and I have a perfect candidate in front of me, I call the company and say ‘I have a perfect candidate, but you need them to speak Swedish’, they then say ‘no, that’s not so important’. This is not so unusual at all so don’t be afraid of calling them to say ‘do I really need perfect Swedish?’”

Listen to the full interview with Maria Fogelström Kylberg, Amanda Herzog and Laureline Vallée in The Local’s Sweden in Focus Extra podcast for Membership+ subscribers.

Interview by Paul O’Mahony, article by Becky Waterton