Citizens of non-EU countries can apply to stay in Sweden for up to six months after their studies to look for a job, and if you find one, you can apply for a work permit to stay here and launch your career. Here are 10 tips to help you get your foot in the door.
1. Register at your university’s career centre
The first stop in your career search should be a visit to your university’s career centre. University career centres offer a range of services to support you in your job search: career counselling (often in English), help with your CV and cover letter, seminars and workshops, interview technique training and study visits to potential employers. Career centres also typically provide listings for available jobs, internships and thesis projects.
2. Visit employment fairs
Swedish multinationals like Volvo, IKEA and Skanska, large national banks, public sector employers and other companies regularly tour employment fairs to meet potential new employees. Employment fairs offer a chance to browse and network amongst employers in your field and participate in one-on-one interviews and useful seminars. Major fairs include CHARM at Chalmers in Gothenburg, Handelsdagarna at the Stockholm School of Economics, eee-days at Lund University and Uniaden at Umeå University. There are also fairs not linked to universities, like Career Days in Stockholm.
It’s important that you come prepared; bring a stack of CVs and cover letters, and think of which companies you want to talk to and how to impress them. Send follow-up emails to the company representatives you spoke to – they could be a useful future contact.
3. Learn Swedish
It’s true that nearly everyone in Sweden speaks English, and you can easily get through your studies here without knowing a word of Swedish. Some large companies – even Swedish ones – have English as their corporate language. But being proficient at Swedish will open up lots of doors when it comes to finding work and building a social life after graduation.
Even if you apply for a job that specifically demands fluent English or where a native English speaker is preferred, your ability to speak even conversational Swedish will make you better qualified. You’ll also impress your new colleagues and bond with them more easily.
Most universities offer Swedish courses for international students. Take advantage of the opportunity – you won’t regret it!
See Learn Swedish for more information on learning Swedish.
4. Take an internship
Internships can be a great way to gain relevant experience and build your professional network. Even if they don’t lead directly to a job offer, you’ll have a reference from a Swedish company and a notable update for your CV. Try investigating options through international student organisations such as AIESEC and IAESTE. Or why not try your luck and contact a company you’d like to do an internship at directly?
5. Work part-time during your studies
Working part-time during your studies can serve as a springboard for your career. Competition for part-time jobs can be fierce, but the proactive approach of knocking on doors armed with a stack of CVs – preferably in Swedish – can get you a long way.
A useful resource is Academicwork.se, which serves to introduce work-hungry students with companies looking for part-time staff.
6. Get involved in your student union
Your personal network can be important to your success on the Swedish job market, so it pays to get involved in activities and organisations at your university. An obvious place to start is your student union. Involvement in a student union and the wide range of activities they organise can itself lead to work opportunities – and your participation will be a strong merit on your CV.
7. Write your final thesis at a Swedish company
Writing your final thesis at a Swedish company can be the perfect entrance to the job market. You get valuable experience, insights and contacts, and a foot in the door at a Swedish employer. Many university programmes and departments have strong links with companies, and thesis project proposals from companies are often published on university websites.
8. Join a union
Unions have a strong position in Sweden. Joining one as a student can be a great way to get your foot in the door in your industry. Many have special offers for students, including services like career guidance or CV assistance. They can also offer advice on salary negotiations, and once you’ve found a job, they can support you in workplace matters.
The three main trade union confederations are SACO, TCO and LO, each made up of a larger number of individual unions, representing most professions in Sweden. Visit their websites to find the right union for your field.
9. Contact employers directly
When you look at Swedish job ads you may notice they include contact details for an employee who can answer questions about the post. That person is often involved in deciding who gets the position, so it can be worth your while to call them up, ask a few relevant questions and engage them in conversion. Hopefully you’ll impress them enough to remember your name when your application lands on their desk.
10. Start early!
Your fellow new graduates are just as eager as you are to start working after university, so start your job hunt early on. And don’t forget to apply for your work permit in good time. You can read more about working or starting to run a business in Sweden at the Working in Sweden website.