I want to move to Sweden: will I find a job?

I get this question every week, sometimes 2-3 times a week. And I thought it would be a whole lot easier to write in a post here than copy/pasting my answers.

Let’s say you visit Sweden on a vacation. You fall in love with the country. You decide you want to move to Sweden.

You google a bunch of stuff on making a Swedish friendly CV, wondering about the hiring process, and planning your move across the world to the north pole.

And then you email me a bunch of questions (great questions) about finding jobs, interviewing, and moving to Sweden.

This is when life becomes difficult. I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm, but there are few MAJOR things you need to consider before derailing your life for Scandinavia.

1. You don’t need to worry about the CV structure as much as you need to worry about *what* you will put in the CV. How will you stand out from the rest of the pack?

2. As a foreigner to Sweden (especially non-EU), a Swedish company will wonder the following when they read your CV:
– Why is this person better than a Swede with the same qualifications?
– What is this person bringing to the table that we must go through the long and expensive process of visas?
– How many languages does this person speak? Are they already speaking Swedish?

3. Do you have the chops to survive a long, cold winter. It is fucking cold and if you have lived in a snowy environment, then ignore this question. If all you have done in life is experience a cold front of 50F (10C), then you are in for a ride my friend.

4. Are you in a unique industry? Computer science, engineering, mobile, and high-end banking will put you to the front of the pack. Sweden is desperate to fill these positions and you have a *slightly* better chance than someone looking for a construction job.

Honestly, forget how different the hiring process will be from your native country. You need to show that you’re actually *worth* hiring over a Swede. You need to have job skills that are so unique that a Swede cannot possibly fill this role (and this is the law – companies cannot hire foreigners unless that job cannot be completed by a Swede. plus, the company must make every effort to hire a Swede first).

This may sound and mean, but you need to position yourself that you are so amazing that a regular Sweden can’t compete with you.

For example, do you have any of the following skills:
1. Speak more than 3 languages including English?
2. Have masters degree or higher?
3. Experience in management for several years?
4. Experience in the most common programming languages AND some unusual ones?
5. Have the ability to work in the fields as a fruit or vegetable picker on a temporary basis only?

If you cannot say yes to at least one of the above, then you need to reconsider spending time applying for jobs in Sweden.

Good luck!

Average Salaries in Sweden by Occupation

Swedish salaries on the whole, are lower than other countries. In Sweden, salaries are more evenly spread between professions compared to the other countries, especially the US & UK, when there is a wide range in earnings between blue-collar to CEO/doctor levels.

Here’s a quick look at monthly salaries for most major professions. In Sweden, employees sign up for a monthly salary rather than yearly salary.  These are based upon several years experience.  Discount heavily if you are a new graduate in the field.

Occupation          Monthly Salary in SEK (2010)
Veterinarian                               50,600
Dentists                                       50,600
Doctors                                        50,600
Pilot                                             48,200
Lawyer                                        40,700
Civil economist                          38,600
Computer Programmer           38,400
Master                                         38,000
Researcher                                 35,600
Brokers                                         34,700
Journalist                                    32,100
Author                                          32,100
IT professionals                         30,400
Psychologist                                28,000
Nurse                                             27,800
Secondary school teachers      27,300
Opticians                                     26,200
Primary school teachers          25,700
HVAC technician                      24,700
Painter                                          23,600
Tailors                                          21,600
Stockman                                    20,200

You can see that doctors and lawyers are not that much better off than an experienced programmer or pilot. There are no $200,000 incomes for doctors or lawyers in Sweden so if you expect that kind of money, don’t move here.

Despite average wages, cost of living is relatively high, especially in Stockholm. You can still achieve a high rate of savings by avoiding car ownership and living with a partner.

In addition, high unemployment amongst the youth population is persistent despite lower restrictions on hiring and terminations. Youth are those between 18-25 years of age. If you are college educated or have previous work experience, your chance of finding a job is far easier.

LO, Landsorganisationen i Sverige, the Swedish trade union confederation, ran a study regarding expectations of salaries and reality. The findings were markedly Swedish in that, respondents expected evenly distributed salaries amongst occupations.
Occupation              Expected Monthly Income           Real Monthly Income
Cashier                      22,800                                                20,400
Assistant                   25,200                                                21,600
Industry worker      25,700                                                24,100
Electrician               26,800                                                26,600
Teacher                     27,700                                                26,000
Nurse                         29,000                                               25,600
Engineer                   32,600                                               39,100
Sales Boss                35,700                                               54,600
Doctor                      39,000                                                52,800
Director of a large company 97,000                             969,800
Numbers are in 2010 SEK (kronor) via DN and LO.

Of course, not everything is equal in Sweden, especially when you reach the director/executive level positions. There, you can expect American salaries and perks with your position.

The resources below should help you if you are negotiating salaries. Be aware of salary differences between cities, gender, and experience.
SCB – http://www.scb.se/Pages/ProductTables____7538.aspx
LO – http://www.lo.se/home/lo/home.nsf/unidView/98550AB94B710AD4C12574E80042F3F0
Lönestatistik – based on user submission; hit or miss for many occupations – http://www.lonestatistik.se/loner.asp

Get a Job in Sweden: Professional Beacher

Last week I wrote about payday and youth unemployment in Sweden. This week I’m offering a solution, get a job as a professional beacher. Yes, you heard right, be a professional beach bum traveling the world to test beaches, drink wine, and occasionally get a massage under the girly/brainless magazine Amelia.

swedish babes
Here’s the posting from Arbetsförmedlingen.
In English, the job post says:

Mission: For four weeks to test beaches on four continents on behalf of the magazine Amelia.

Go on excursions, rest on deck chairs, drink wine at local taverns, and perform other common tasks of the commercial beach-and tourist environment.
In some places it is maybe required to receive full body massage, drink test, snorkel and read books.

The current beaches include in Corsica (tested summer 2011), the area around Cape Town, South Africa (tested in autumn 2011) and Asia (tested winter 2011).

– You should be accustomed to move among many people.
– You must have the capacity to rest / do nothing for long periods.
– You should be able to swim.
– You will be responsible for yourself, others and your well being.

We also encourage that you:
– Can work late nights (cocktail test, circumstances may require overtime work).
– Have previous experience of independent work.

Your duties:
– Blog continuously for amelia.se during times when the beaches are tested.
– Write four separate stories about your experiences during these trips.
– Take photos.

About Amelia:
Amelia is the leading magazine for women and has 355 000 readers. 90 percent of our readers spend on average 54 minutes to read each issue. Amelia also provides eleven “special interest magazines” throughout the year.

Other conditions: If you get this job you must be able to release four working weeks during the coming year with no other claim than the offered salary.

Tell a maximum of ten sentences why you are perfect for the job of Amelia’s beach testers. Include name, age, hometown, mailing address and phone number.

Email: Desirée Wahren, Editor in Chef Amelia, 08-7365200 at ansokan1189@amelia.se

Don’t be lagom and sit on Stockholm’s beaches for the summer, get out and drink wine in Asia!

Lönedag- Payday in Sweden!

Today is the 25th. Before Sunday, the day of rest, and Saturday, the day of Sabbath, the 25th in Sweden is the most important day. It is payday for the month for everyone across Sweden. You get paid on the 25th or no day.

Because this payday occurs on a Friday, you can be sure across Sweden that people will be partying and bar hopping a little extra harder. And shopping more this weekend. Lots of spending.

The splurging over the payday weekend, lönehelg, always made me wonder about the household savings rate in Sweden. Turns out it isn’t so bad, around 12% household net savings in Sweden. In comparison, savings in Japan dropped from double digits in the 1980s-2000 (not shown) to just 3.78% the past year. Surprisingly, American households hold a positive net savings, even if just barely. And well, the Brits really need a class or two on savings and income.

What does this mean for us in Sweden? Not much except that in the cities people do like to spend money, some are so poor at financing they barely make it month to month. And with the Swedish government enjoying our hard earned tax salary, save an extra krona or two. Besides, we can make fun of the Norwegians with their negative savings.

Household savings from the major OCED countries (United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden)

But for all of you who don’t have a job and a lovely paycheck to look forward to, don’t fret. The unemployment rate for young people (under 25) is 25% in Sweden, one of the highest of the developed world. The only countries with higher unemployment are Arab nations, (p)IGS, and extreme poverty nations.

Guesses to why Sweden has such high unemployment stems from: 1) lack of interest by young people to find jobs; 2) inability to find jobs because employers do not want inexperienced people; 3) the skills possessed by new generation is not enough to be competitive in the work force.

As a +25 oldie, I’ll be doing the right thing in Sweden by celebrating my lönehelg at the Stureplan bars.

Job Opening in Sweden: Social Media Butterfly

I don’t post much if anything about my day job online. But I do want offer a great gem that we are interested in a freelance writer. Specifically a freelance writer that rocks at writing (common sense I know), social media, and is located anywhere on planet Earth.

That’s right, you do not need to be in Sweden for this job. Or you can be, doesn’t matter. You need to be a native English writer but with American writing style. Sorry colour is not going to work for us. You should be a Twitter bird (see that, my great use of pun) and well versed in digg, reddit, slashdot, delicious or one of the major bookmarking sites. Well versed meaning you are addicted to contributing to one of these networks, not lurking.

Please email me via the contact form with why you’re just an awesome person. From there, you’ll be requested to submit a CV and links to your publications and proof of reddit obsessing.

Soo…How Did You End Up in Sweden?

I’ve done my fair share of interviews in Stockholm. It is especially fun because as a foreigner, you are usually the “interesting” one. And being the interesting one, means being asked lots of questions.

As Americans, we’re prepared for zillions of interview questions and situations. Swedish interviews are much more relaxed and more about personality than Mensa brain game questions. Here is small cheat sheet on job interview tips in Sweden if you are new to the game.

There is also that list of questions that are illegal (or highly inappropriate) to ask in an American job interview. Never fear, being Sweden, no one cares, interviewers ask them anyway. As of yet, I have not figured if these interview questions are illegal in Sweden as well, but since most interviewers asked me, they must be at least appropriate.

  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your mother tongue?
  • How did you acquire the ability to speak, read or write a foreign language? Hahaha, I think everyone here asks “how did you learn Swedish?”
  • How did you acquire familiarity with a foreign country?
  • What language is spoken in your home?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you live in town?
  • With whom do you live?
  • Are you a citizen of Sweden?

In Sweden, as a foreigner in an interview, these questions seem innocuous. In the United States they would be illegal to ask. Even on the Swedish CV, you provide information that you normally would not in the United States (e.g. photo, gender, citizenship status, birthday).

If you are asked any of these questions in Sweden, smile, you are in sweden!