Sweden - why work abroad?

Country: Sweden
Official languages: Swedish
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 9.5 million
Capital: Stockholm
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +46
Internet code: .se

Why this country?

Sweden routinely comes top worldwide for health, literacy and human development, and its economy ranks in the top 10 most competitive globally. The Swedish people are known for neutrality and consensus building. Also known for its high taxes and generous welfare, income inequality is low and trade unions are powerful.

The largest industries are engineering, telecoms, the automotive industry and pharmaceuticals. Forecasts predict job losses in manufacturing, agriculture and forestry, but job creation in public and private service industries and construction. For graduate jobs in journalism, competition is fierce. There has been less competition recently for qualified civil engineers, specialist IT and construction industry specialists, and medical professionals including doctors, midwives and nurses.

Looking for work?

Qualified candidates - especially in the IT and financial sectors - typically look for vacan¬cies on company websites. It is also becoming common to apply for jobs spontaneously. The public employment service recruits mainly for unskilled work and works closely with recruit¬ment agencies. Its website (see the EURES por¬tal’s Links page) is the largest for advertising vacancies in Sweden.

Tips for job applications?

Candidates usually get in touch with the con­tact person for more information about a job before they apply. It is also common to contact the trade union representative for information about salaries.

Always follow the instructions in the job adver­tisement. Electronic application forms are very common. If sending a covering letter and CV by e-mail, do not attach any other documents unless the advert requests this. Computers are available in all public employment services and libraries.

For all written applications, be sure to relate the information to the job you are applying for. The application should be brief, neat and inform­ative. Write dynamic applications tailored to the requirements in the advertisement. Keep it short and relevant: a one-page covering letter and a CV of one to two pages.

Applicants are advised to call the employer to check if they have received the application.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

It is not standard, but sometimes the employer may ask for one.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

No, handwritten applications are not used in Sweden.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

It is not used often, but employers accept it.

Making contact by phone

While it is essential to be polite during telephone contacts, attitudes generally are fairly informal. Sweden is not a country where you use titles in conversation.

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

It is not common to attach documents to the application. If the employer requests a copy of your diploma, bring it along to the interview.

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

If you have up-to-date referees, give their details on your CV. Otherwise, write: 'Refer­ences will be provided on request'. A former employer is most often used as a reference. The reference supports your application and describes you and your ability to work.

Letters of recommendation are needed and can help you. Bring them when you attend the inter­view. They should be written by a former boss, team leader or HR officer. If you don't have work experience, you can provide a letter of rec­ommendation from a teacher or a sports leader.

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

From 1 week to several weeks, although in some sectors, such as the service and the hotel/ restaurant sector, the procedure can be much shorter.

Preparing for the interview

An interview normally takes about 90 minutes. You may be invited back for a second round. If you are prevented from attending the inter¬view, you must inform the employer as soon as you can and ask if it is possible to make a new appointment.

Dress-code tips

There is no need to dress too formally for most jobs, but be sure you are clean and tidy. It is no longer usual to wear a tie. Good trousers and a jacket are always acceptable - for both men and women.

Who will be there?

One or two people, and often a representative from the trade union.

Do we shake hands?

Yes, definitely. This is usual practice.

Is there a typical interview structure?

Usually you are asked to start the interview by introducing yourself (be brief); next you tell the employer why you have applied for the job and what you know about the company. Be relaxed but attentive.

Common questions include: Do you find it easy to learn new things? How do you react to crit­icism? Are you a problem-solver? How do you tackle a problem? What are you proud of? Can you tell me something really good that you have done? What do you expect to be doing in 5 years' time? What do you think a good colleague should be like? Describe a situa­tion where you made a mistake and what you learnt from it. How would your friends describe you? How would your manager describe you? How do you function in a group? What are your strong and weak points? How do you handle stressful situations? Why should we employ you?

During the first interview you can ask what an ordinary working day is like, when you will hear the result of the interview, when the job starts, if there is an introductory programme, etc. Do not talk about pay at the beginning of the application procedure. Wait until the employer raises the subject.

When is a question out of bounds?

There are anti-discrimination laws (on gender, religion, ethnicity, disability). You can decide if you want to answer these types of questions during an interview. Questions that are not relevant for the job (your age, whether you have any children, your origin) are private.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

The more qualified the role, the more leeway there is to negotiate the salary. Most employ­ment conditions in Sweden are regulated by collective agreements, with the result that there is little room for individual negotiations, at least for lower skilled jobs.

Pay on a monthly basis is the most common. For management positions there may be scope to negotiate non-statutory benefits; these would be discussed with the HR department.

For jobs in government and with children, proof of good conduct is required. This will be stated in the ad or the employer will inform you.

Is a trial period likely?

You may be asked to do a 1-day work trial, but you have the right to be paid for this.

How long is the standard probationary period?

The standard probationary period is 6 months.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

No, this is not usual, but if you are highly specialised it might be possible.

When will I hear the result?

If you haven’t heard anything within 2 weeks, you should contact the recruiter and ask when you can expect feedback.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

It is always possible to contact the employer after the interview and ask about the next step in the application process. If you did not get the job, you can ask for the reason.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Be on time. Five minutes early is always OK. You should never be late for an interview in Sweden.

last modification: 2014-09-04
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