The basics
Sweden: Career Prospects

Finding a graduate career in Sweden

Learn about post-study options for international students in Sweden

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With an impressive history of technological, creative dexterity and strong global industries, the choice to kick-start your graduate career in Sweden is almost a no-brainer. However, there is a protocol you’ll need to follow if you’d like to stay on after you’ve completed your studies that may differ depending on whether you’re an EU student or not. Let our breakdown of your post-study options as an international student in Sweden help illuminate your possibilities and get you on the way to starting your career.

What’s the graduate market like?

Ranked as the world’s sixth most competitive economy, Sweden has one of the lowest levels of national debt within the EU. With a cool 8.6% unemployment rate, graduates in Sweden face one of the world’s lowest poverty rates, and highest GDP per capita.

With a strong export-based economy that favours industries such as technology, timber, hydropower and iron ore, the nation’s strong culture of innovation and technological prowess is also responsible for developments such as Skype, Soundcloud, GPS, H&M and IKEA. Transferrable skills then of Engineering graduates are particularly sought after, with demand for specialist knowledge in technical and developmental areas such as Design, Computer Science and Business an additional stand-out.  In itself, Sweden’s engineering sector accounts for 50% of total output and exports.

Sweden’s telecommunications, automotive, ICT and pharmaceutical industries are also particularly strong, with large companies and organisations dominating the scene: good news for Information Science, Pharmacology and Chemical and Materials Engineering students.

Whilst on a global scale the nation’s market is relatively small, the forward-thinking, creative culture has named Sweden as a worldwide ‘talent magnet’. So whilst a profession directly related to your field might not seem as readily available as others, there’s always room in Sweden to champion your transferrable skills to get creative and pursue a new idea.

Can I stay?

EU students do NOT need a visa to study or work in the EU, but will need to register with Swedish authorities after they’ve started work.

If you’re a non-EU student, you’ll need a work permit to stay on in Sweden to work after you’ve completed your studies. To do so, you’ll need to have received a job offer from a Swedish employer BEFORE you graduate. They will need to fill out an ‘Offer of Employment’ form that details insurance information and the particulars of your employment, including your salary.  You can apply for a work permit after you’ve been sent the completed offer.

You will need to apply for a work permit online. Before you start, you will need to make sure you have a valid e-mail address, a VISA or MasterCard handy to pay the application fee and all of the required documents in electronic format: a copy of your passport photo page, your offer of employment and opinion from the relevant union (you will also receive this from your employer). You’ll also need to make sure that your computer can open and read documents in PDF format. You will receive the decision on your work permit via e-mail.

The Swedish Ministry of Education website offers a comprehensive, step-by-step breakdown of the online application process to help walk you through it.

If you are unable to apply online and are not in Sweden at the time of application, you can download the application form and send it, once it’s completed, to the Swedish embassy or consulate in your home country. You will need to contact this same embassy before you hand in your form and let them know you have been offered employment in Sweden, and that you intend to apply for a work permit. They will be able to help you lodge your application. 

Check if you are an EU student

Find my nearest Swedish embassy or consulate

How can I find a job?

Whilst many Swedes speak excellent English, picking up some Swedish will work to your distinct advantage when searching for a job in Sweden. There are plenty of English-speaking jobs available in Sweden, but you will increase your options if you’re able to understand, read or speak basic conversational Swedish, as well as show employers that you’ve serious about staying on and so have taken the initiative to learn. The ways you’ll be able to find a job differ depending if you’re an EU student or not.

I am an EU student...

EU students may search for a job in any way that a local Swedish student might, but may be restricted to English-only sites and forums. You can start your search using online job portals such as Jobbsafari or Stepstone. Many job sites are likely to be in Swedish only, so you should be sure to have a translating tool on hand to pick out key words and contact information for positions you’d like to chase up.

There are certain professions in Sweden that are in particular demand. If your profession is on the list, then it’s more likely that your search for a job and quest to pin it down will be easier. You can find the updated labour shortage list on the Work in Sweden website. There is also an English job section in both the Göteborg Daily and the Local.

You can also directly search for a particular company or profession and follow on from there. Many companies advertise their positions privately on their website and in some cases may even accept speculative applications. 

I am NOT an EU student...

Non-EU students may only apply for jobs that have been advertised through the EURES portal: an EU public employment service where all job listings from the Swedish Employment Agency (SEA) will appear.  In some cases however, you will be able to apply for a job listed by a private company or organisation if they agree to post the vacancy through the SEA. If you see a position of this sort that you’d like to apply for, you can contact the company directly and ask them to list the position through SEA. If they agree, then you will be able to apply and be considered for the position. You will also need to make sure that the position has been advertised for at least 10 days before you apply for a work permit.

Can my university help?

Swedish universities are aware how difficult it can feel for international students-particularly those not from the EU-to search for and secure a job in Sweden, and so will try to help you where they can. Whilst different universities offer different types of help and support to its students, you will always least be able to get a prod in the right direction in where to start looking and how best to market yourself to Swedish employers.

For example, Lund University runs a number of career guidance and support services that range from CV tips to faculty-specific advice. Students may book an appointment with a careers counsellor with whom they can discuss their options, and decide on the best course of action in finding a job and applying for a work permit. You’ll also have the chance to register with the Careers Services’ website, which lists positions from over 1,000 companies and organisations nation-wide.

 

Now that you’re ready to tackle the Swedish job market, why not browse courses in Sweden now and get your plans to study abroad going?

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About Author

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Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.