Looking for work

Last updated: 7 10 2021

About Sweden – an orientation about Swedish society.

This text is about looking for a job. Finding a job can be difficult and can take a long time. You know that you want a job, but you may not know what work you want or are able to do. Where do you find a vacant job, and how do you apply? Do you have experience in a profession that you would like to continue working in? Or do you want to do something you have not done before? 

This text describes how you look for a job and what help you can get to find a job.

  • The right to work

    Everyone is entitled to a job. This amounts to a right not to be excluded from the labour market. Where you are from, what gender you are or how old you are should not affect your chances of getting a job.

    There are several rights that are linked to work. You are entitled, for example, to fair working conditions, to equal pay for equal work and to join a trade union. You are also entitled to rest and time off work.

    It is also a right for parents to be able to combine family life with work. Children are entitled to protection from work that is harmful or hinders a child’s development and schooling.

Arbetsförmedlingen

Arbetsförmedlingen is a government agency whose task is to contribute to a well-functioning labour market. Arbetsförmedlingen helps jobseekers find jobs and employers find new employees.

The Arbetsförmedlingen logo.
  • Questions to think about

    Where do people turn to get help in finding a job in the country or countries where you lived previously?

    Do you have any experience of anything that is similar to Arbetsförmedlingen?

There are many ways that you can look for a job:

  • You can visit Platsbanken, the Jobs Bank, on Arbetsförmedlingen’s website and look for jobs among the advertisements for vacant positions there.
  • You can contact a temporary work agency, which is a company that leases staff to various employers. 
  • You can contact a recruitment agency, which is a company that finds potential employees for companies that want to employ new staff.
  • You can reply to advertisements for work published in daily newspapers or on the internet.
  • You can contact an employer directly.
  • You can ask around among people you know.

Professions in Sweden

You can use the Hitta yrken (Find professions) help service if you are unsure about what profession suits you, or about what jobs there are for your profession in Sweden. Hitta yrken is a digital tool developed by Arbetsförmedlingen.

The Hitta yrken service has information about:

  • What different professions involve.
  • What the chances are of getting a job in a certain profession.
  • What training and experience you should have in order to get a job in various professions. 

There are also films that describe several of the professions.

Hitta yrken can automatically translate its content into several different languages.

Education and training can lead to work

Getting an education can be one way of increasing your chances of finding a job. There are different types of education programmes. You can train for many different jobs at university colleges and universities, such as teacher, doctor or nurse.

If you already have work experience or training in a profession, you may need to complement with a brief training programme in order to be able to work with the same thing in Sweden.

In professions where the demand for staff is very high, you can take what is known as a Fast Track (Snabbspår). This is a fast way to a job for people with previous experience of or training in a particular profession.

There are also labour market training programmes. These are short occupational training programmes for professions in which there is a shortage of trained staff.

Get certificates and proof of your skills

If you have training or work experience, but lack the papers or certificates to prove it, you can validate your skills. If you validate your skills you’ll be able to finish your studies and find work faster.

Validating your skills means that you describe and assess your experience and what your skills are. You are given the opportunity to demonstrate this both practically and theoretically in interviews, tests and work samples.

Arbetsförmedlingen can help you with the validation. You’ll be helped in assessing on what level your skills are and whether you need further training in order to work in a specific profession.

Arbetsförmedlingen will document your validation in a skills certificate or a skills diploma.

Assessment of foreign qualifications

If you have completed a foreign education programme at the upper secondary level, post-upper secondary level or the higher education level, or if you have occupational training, you can get your education assessed by the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet, UHR). Assessments are free of charge.

Some professions are regulated in that there are rules in Swedish law stating what is required in order to be permitted to work within these, e.g. a certain degree or registration. In order to be permitted to work in such a profession, you must apply for a permit with the authority responsible for that profession. For caring professions such a doctors or nurses, it is the National Board of Health and Welfare and for professions in the school system it is the National Agency for Education.

Example: Alireza has to get his qualification assessed

Alireza is a trained nurse and worked as a nurse in Iran for ten years. He came to Sweden a year ago, and now he wants to work in the same profession here. In order to be allowed to do that, he has to be licensed as a nurse in Sweden.

Alireza contacts the National Board of Health and Welfare to have his qualification from Iran recognised. The National Board of Health and Welfare compares Alireza’s Iranian training programme with the Swedish training programme for nurses to see if they match. If his qualification is recognised, he becomes licensed and can apply for work as a nurse in Sweden. If it is not recognised, he will need to complement his education. 

Translation of foreign grades

If your foreign education diplomas are going to be assessed, they first have to be translated into Swedish. The translation must be carried out by an authorised translator. Arbetsförmedlingen can help you get education diplomas translated. If the diplomas are in English, French, German, Spanish or any of the Nordic languages, they do not need to be translated.

If you have a functional impairment, are ill or injured

If you have an impaired functional ability that affects you physically or mentally, this is known as having a functional impairment. You may need to use an aid or have support in order to manage your everyday life or work. 

Here are examples of different situations that may affect your ability to work or study:

  • If you have problems with your vision, for example difficulty recognizing people from a distance or reading small print.
  • If you have problems with your hearing, for example difficulty hearing conversations or hear disturbing noises and sounds in your ears.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, for example experience stress, depression or sleeping problems, or have difficulty concentrating, remembering or learning.
  • If you have pain in your body that makes it difficult for you to sit, stand, walk or use your arms and hands.
  • If you have difficulties in the family, for example addiction, sick relatives or experience domestic violence.

Support to be able to participate in Arbetsförmedlingen’s activities

If you are looking for work it is important that you take part in the activities that can lead to getting a job. If you have a disability and you tell Arbetsförmedlingen, these activities can be adapted to your needs. Arbetsförmedlingen can also provide possibilities for special support in the labour market.

Together with you, Arbetsförmedlingen can look into what support or adaptation you need. At Arbetsförmedlingen there are people with specialist knowledge about different functional impairments and the various forms of support available. Together with you they will plan how you’ll be able to participate in activities in a way adapted to your abilities.

Application documents

When you apply for a job, you have to send in the documents that the employer has requested. Often the employer will ask you to send both a personal letter and a curriculum vitae (CV).

Application letter/personal letter

In an application letter or personal letter, you set out why you are interested in this specific job or company. You also explain why you are suitable for the job and provide details about your past experience. It is important that the personal letter is adapted to the specific job you are applying for.

The letter should be short, about one A4 page is appropriate.

CV

Curriculum vitae (CV) is Latin and means the story of your life. In your CV, you have to describe your career goals, your work experience, your education and other knowledge and skills. You can also describe yourself and what you are like as a person.

The CV can also contain brief information about what you have done in your previous jobs and the content of the study programmes you have taken. Grades and certificates can be provided at an interview or if the employer requests them.

Notification of interest

If you are interested in working in a certain workplace, but there are no jobs currently being advertised, you can send in a notification of interest. You send your CV and a letter in which you describe why you want to work at that specific workplace what you are good at.

Job interviews

A job interview is a conversation in which an employer interviews a person who is applying for work. There are some important things to think about when you are to attend an interview. It is a good idea to read about the business and to carefully think about what experience you have that makes you right for the job. For example, you can look for information on the internet. This demonstrates your interest in the job you are applying for.

Discrimination when applying for a job

When you apply for a job, you have to be treated fairly. You must not be discriminated against when you apply for a job. This is what the law says, but even so, people are sometimes discriminated against when they apply for a job.

What is considered discrimination can vary from case to case. Sometimes a court has to determine if a specific case was discrimination or not. Here are two cases of discrimination that were adjudicated in a court of law:

Example: Eva did not get a job because she is a woman

Eva had applied for a job in a supermarket and was invited for a job interview. During the interview the manager said that she could not have the job because she was a woman. The manager’s view was that there would be too much talking if there were too many women in the workplace, so the job went to a man instead. A court ruled that the supermarket had discriminated against Eva.

Example: Nadira did not want to shake hands – was turned down for a job

Nadira applied for a job as an interpreter and was invited for a job interview. When Nadira arrived for the job interview, she greeted the male manager by putting a hand on her chest. She did not want to shake the man’s hand because he was a man. The manager ended the interview and said that a greeting which differentiated between men and women was insulting and could lead to conflicts in the workplace. A court ruled that the manager had discriminated against Nadira. The court’s view was that the manager could not demand that Nadira greet people in a particular way.

If you have been subjected to discrimination

If you feel that you have been subjected to discrimination, you can contact an anti-discrimination bureau for advice and support. You can also submit tip-offs and complaints to the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen). 

If you are a member of a trade union, you can turn to it for advice and help.