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Here’s the secret to landing your first Swedish job

If you moved to Sweden without a job, the hunt for work can be exhausting. Annapoorna Kailasam, from India, became “emotionally drained” – no surprise given that she made 500 unsuccessful applications.

Here's the secret to landing your first Swedish job
Photo: Ahmad Saadeha

For Ahmad Saadeha, a Syrian-born Palestinian, the process left him feeling “a little bit desperate”. But today both have full-time work and are happily planning their future careers in Sweden.

They tell The Local how signing up to Sweden’s nationwide internship programme, Jobbsprånget, can totally transform your career prospects. Internships with Jobbsprånget, a government-backed programme, last four months – and 60 percent of people who complete one find employment (the figure was 70 percent before the pandemic).

Find your dream Swedish job: applications to join Jobbsprånget are open from July 16th to August 16th

500 job applications but no offers

Annapoorna moved to Sweden five years ago with her husband after he was offered a job in Helsingborg. She had worked in communications for a decade in India and had studied and worked in English all her life.

While her first priority was settling into Sweden with her young daughter, she had no idea what she’d face when she did begin hunting for jobs after six months.

I was under the assumption that it would work as it does in India, where things can happen pretty fast,” she says. But soon automated rejection messages were filling her inbox. She was also told that her basic Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) certification might not be sufficient for finding work.

As she dedicated her time to applications, networking and learning Swedish, the challenges began to take a toll. “I started questioning myself on the confidence level,” she says. “Emotionally, I was getting a bit drained. It’s not easy to become fluent in Swedish when you’ve been so comfortable speaking English. Even now I can manage very well but fluency will come over the years.” 

Across several years of job hunting, Annapoorna made 500 applications, from which she gained 20 interviews but no offers.

Wanted: English-speaking university graduates 

Fortunately, you don’t need to speak Swedish to apply to Jobbsprånget as the programme is run in English. You do, however, need to be registered at Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden’s Public Employment Service.

You must also have a degree in engineering, architecture, science or business/finance. English-speaking graduates who were born outside Europe and are looking for work in Sweden are a priority group

After learning about and registering with Arbetsförmedlingen, Annapoorna was told by a job coach that Jobbsprånget was “the best option for people with a strong background in English”.

Didn’t know about Jobbsprånget? Find out more about how to apply before the next deadline on August 16th 

This proved wise advice. In October 2020, she began an internship in a communications role at Heimstaden, a property management company. She admits she had some initial inhibitions about Swedish work culture, but says they soon melted away. She has since secured a full-time role at Heimstaden as a Talent Development Officer. 

It was a very open and friendly work culture,” she says. “From the beginning, I was given lots of responsibilities and lots of support, even when I was working from home.”

Annapoorna advises job hunters to remember 3Ps: patience, perseverance and participation in networking. Perhaps, even more important is one J: “Everybody should definitely apply for Jobbsprånget.”

Photo: Annapoorna Kailasam

From desperation to a dream job

Ahmad lives in Gothenburg and has now been working in the city for four years as an IT business analyst at Volvo Group. Such a life seemed a distant prospect when he arrived in Sweden in 2016, knowing nothing about the job market.

“I was looking at international companies that didn’t require Swedish skills and I was a little bit desperate due to not getting any responses,” he recalls.

His life changed in 2017 when he was surprised to be contacted by a Jobbsprånget employee who had seen his LinkedIn profile and felt he had the skills to make a good candidate.

He began applying for English-speaking internships through the programme and was soon offered an interview and then an internship at Volvo.

There was just one significant problem: he was living in a village almost 200km from Gothenburg. “I had to ask myself ‘Are you willing to travel almost five hours per day to take this chance?’” The answer was yes. From February to June 2017, he left home in the early morning on his bike, arriving at Volvo’s offices two-and-a-half hours later after two bus rides and a train journey. “It was really difficult for me but it was a big opportunity,” says Ahmad. “Looking back, I didn’t imagine I would be so well-established in this period of time. I’ve now got everything I dreamed about from my employer.”

Ahmad, who has previously lived in Damascus, Bangkok, Dubai and Doha, has no intention of leaving the job or Gothenburg and says he has even turned down offers from abroad. 

Applications are now open

Now that they know Swedish working culture from the inside, both Annapoorna and Ahmad find much to admire about it. “There’s a lot of emphasis on trust and how a person fits into an organisation,” says Annapoorna. “I feel very confident about continuing my career path in Sweden.”

Ahmad says he has been given opportunities to stretch himself since talking openly with managers about his role. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! And as these two international workers can testify, where better to start than by asking to join Jobbsprånget?

Jobbsprånget has just two application periods per year: apply by August 16th to make sure you don’t miss out on this round

Member comments

  1. Unfortunately, this very promoted program Jobbsprånget is only made available for people who have degrees in the science and business.

    1. The anti-virus running on my notebook does not like the links to clickmetertracking dot com this article uses throughout. Why not simply link directly to jobbspranget dot se ?

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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