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Working in Sweden

If you are aiming to work in Europe, Sweden can be a good choice. Many areas have a demand for workers. Choosing to work in Sweden also often comes with a number of work-related benefits, ranging from paid parental leave and paid vacation to sickness compensation. But there can be challenges for international students to find employment, especially in certain fields. Learning basic Swedish and decoding the Swedish work culture are examples on how you can get ahead.

The Swedish labour market

What is the situation on the Swedish labour market? What is the outlook within your profession or field? It is good to acquire knowledge about these things while studying. You can search the listings on the Swedish Public Employment Service’s website and create a profile for yourself that allows employers looking for new employees to find you.

Every year The Labour Market Tendency Survey is published, which describes the labour market and outlook for the coming 1–3 years for about 70 educational groups, most of which are university programmes. The survey has been conducted by Statistics Sweden (SCB) each autumn since 1959. It’s also a good idea to use services like LinkedIn to be able to research what alumni from your programme or field work with now.

An innovative and creative country

Sweden is ranked second in the Global Innovation Index 2019 and is the birthplace of inventions like the three-point seatbelt, the pacemaker, the zipper, the adjustable wrench, Bluetooth, and safety matches. World leading companies, such as Spotify, Skype, IKEA, Ericsson, Volvo, Skanska, and H&M, began in Sweden. Sweden is also the world’s number one exporter of chart music in terms of GDP.

Starting your own company?

Gothenburg has a dynamic collaboration among universities, the private sector, and the public sector. This helps pave the way to success for both start-ups and established companies.

Work benefits in Sweden

Workers’ rights are one of the cornerstones of the modern Swedish labour market, and there are many laws and agreements regulating working life. There are rules on how many hours a person may work per day, week, and year. If you work overtime, you have the right to be compensated. The standard work day in Sweden is eight hours. All employees also have the right to annual leave, up to five weeks a year. Some employment contracts give the right to additional days of annual leave or other benefits.

Parents have the right to paid parental leave to take care of a new baby, until the child is one and a half years old. You also have the right to stay home from work to take care of your child when sick. If you are unable to work due to illness, you have the right to sick pay and sickness benefit.

Sweden’s anti-discrimination legislation also ensures that everyone has the right to be treated equally regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, or functional impairments. This applies at the workplace as well as anywhere else.

Applying for jobs in Sweden

How you apply for a job in Sweden varies between industries. There are many job listing sites, and, usually, you submit your CV and a cover letter electronically. The company will then contact selected applicants. But many potential jobs and opportunities aren’t posted as vacancies. In some fields, it is very important to network to get a foot in the door.

Getting a work permit in Sweden

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you don’t need a permit to live, work, or start or run a business in Sweden.

If you are a citizen from a country outside the EU/EEA, you are allowed to work during your studies. After graduating, you can apply to extend your residence permit for an extra 12 months. During this time, you can search for jobs or start a company. And when you have found employment, you can apply for a work permit.
 

Career guidance at the University

If you have questions on where your studies are leading and what opportunities there will be after graduation, you can turn to one of our study counsellors. There are about 60 counsellors at the University. All counsellors can be reached by e-mail or phone. Phone hours, visiting hours, and drop-in times differ. Everything you say and communicate to study counsellors is treated with complete confidentiality.

Students at the School of Business, Economics and Law can consult the staff at Career Services. Career Services offers professional coaches, arranges seminars and meet-ups with interesting employers, and more. 

Photo: Natalie Greppi

Support and guidance outside the University

The Swedish Public Employment Service 

The Swedish Public Employment Service, or Arbetsförmedlingen in Swedish, offers support to people looking for work in Sweden. You can find information, advice, and support on its website.

Unions

Labour unions have a strong position in Sweden, and many students join them even before graduating. Many unions have a reduced fee for students and many offer career guidance, assistance writing a CV, advice on salary negotiations, and support in workplace matters.

Working in Europe

The EURES portal provides help and advice for searching for employment within the EU/EEA/Switzerland. The EURES portal is available in all European languages.