As an innovative global leader with a healthy jobs market, Sweden offers a high standard of living and strong workers' rights
While working for a multinational company or remaining in the country following graduation remain the most common ways to secure a job in Sweden, the language itself shouldn't be a barrier to employment. The nation has also built up a reputation for aiding the growth of start-up businesses.
Those who find work in this popular Scandinavian country not only get to take their career on to the next level; they also enjoy an open and accessible society with subsidised public services, and an impressive amount of holiday entitlement.
Helping to break up the working day for its nation of coffee lovers is fika - a Swedish custom which allows colleagues, friends or family to catch up over a cuppa and a cake. It's been said that this social tradition has led to a more efficient workforce…
Jobs in Sweden
Sweden is recognised for its good working conditions and practices. It combines a capitalist economy with a strong public sector and welfare system. The jobs market is among the strongest in the world.
There is always a demand for skilled workers, especially in the service industry and the following sectors:
- business, consulting and management;
- engineering and manufacturing;
- information technology;
- property and construction;
- science and pharmaceuticals;
- teaching and education.
There are several multinational companies based in Sweden, namely:
- Saab Automobile;
If you're a qualified and highly skilled worker, check out the official Sweden.se page on finding a job in Sweden. This includes a link to the labour shortage list (in Swedish).
The European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) is another place for jobseekers to find work in Sweden.
Aside from contacting companies directly, you can also search the listings on the following job sites:
How to get a job in Sweden
Most workers apply for jobs from their home country - usually through a jobs portal - or find work through a multinational company with a presence in Sweden.
However, if you have ambitions to work for a particular organisation, don't be afraid of sending them a speculative application directly.
The application process will vary between each industry, but a CV (one or two pages long) and cover letter (no more than a page) sent electronically are the standard methods of applying for a specific role. Try to match your skills and experience to the job description, outlining why you're the most suitable candidate for the job.
If you're applying for a job from abroad, you'll likely have a first interview over the phone or via a Skype call. Should you be invited for a face-to-face interview, it's important to check if you'll first need a visa from the Swedish Migration Agency to enter the country.
Large companies may offer summer work schemes. Check sites such as Workaway.info for summer jobs as well as voluntary opportunities.
Voluntary work is a great way to build your skillset and learn a new language. The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for between two weeks and 12 months.
Essential costs such as accommodation, living and transport expenses are covered by the scheme, with placements ranging from those related to sport and culture, to others focused on social care and the environment.
Teaching English as a foreign language is one of the most accessible jobs for native English speakers living abroad. You don't need to be fluent in Swedish to do this, as it is preferable to create a strictly English-speaking classroom environment. To begin searching for teaching roles, go to the British Council.
These opportunities are an excellent means of getting into a Swedish company while gaining valuable work experience. This could give you an advantage when applying for graduate jobs in the country.
As a graduate, you may want to take a look at Korta vägen. This Swedish Public Employment Service initiative aims to offer foreign academics a fast-track to the nation's jobs market.
You can also try the speculative approach and contact individual companies directly to enquire about training opportunities. For contacts and resources, go to Business Sweden.
The Global Talent Programme provides 3 to 12-month graduate internships in marketing, IT and business in various Swedish cities.
If you're a citizen of the European Union (EU) then you can move to Sweden and start looking for work immediately, without requiring a work permit.
EU nationals may also be entitled to have certain types of health and social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work. For country-specific information on social security entitlements, see the European Commission.
Generally speaking, those from outside the EU will need to apply for a permit before they arrive in order to work in Sweden. Those from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea may be eligible for a one-year working holiday visa.
For employment of three months or less, those arriving from certain countries will need both a work permit and a visa - although a number of fields are exempt from work permit regulations.
In order to qualify for a work permit, you'll need an official employment offer from a Swedish company, among other stipulations.
As long as you have a right to reside in Sweden and you plan to work for longer than six months, your family are allowed to join you.
See Sweden.se for more information relating to visas and work permits.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.
You won't need much knowledge of the language, as English is widely spoken. Swedish people are taught English from a very young age so much of the population speak it fluently. However, learning Swedish will improve your chances of finding a job and will also help you to settle in. It is worth learning some before you go.
There are Swedish language courses in the UK and many good websites exist to help you learn a language or improve your skills. To test and then sharpen your skills for free, visit Learning Swedish.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
You should find that, in most instances, your UK qualifications are comparable to their Swedish equivalent, and will therefore be fully recognised by employers.
However, if it's necessary to get your qualifications evaluated - for example, to work in a regulated profession - you'll need to visit the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR). You can also view a full list of professions with specific requirements in Sweden.
What it's like to work in Sweden
- a relaxed dress code in Sweden is exactly that, with jeans considered part of the business casual style - unless you're meeting with foreign clients;
- it's quite common for businesses to close down during July, allowing workers to take a four- to six-week holiday;
- learning a few Swedish terms and phrases before you arrive will be very well received by your new colleagues;
- punctuality is highly valued in Sweden so don't be late for meetings, as they'll start without you;
- Swedish businesses are typically less hierarchical than elsewhere, with directors more openly accessible to employees;
- while there's no legal minimum wage, salaries and working conditions in the country are excellent, as most workers belong to a labour union.