How to find a job in Sweden from abroad

If you want to live in Sweden and you’re not an EU or Swiss citizen, you’ve got basically three options: one, study; two, have a lasting and genuine relationship with someone else who has permission to live in Sweden; or three, find a job.

Choosing to study in Sweden is probably the one you have the most control over; the second is a little more up to fate. And then there’s the third option.

Finding a job in Sweden is tough, especially since the EU has certain protectionist laws that make it difficult for European countries to hire non-Europeans. (This does not necessarily apply to international companies, which are free to transfer employees throughout the organization.)

I get questions about searching for a job in Sweden all the time, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences as well as a letter from a blog reader.

Here’s the letter I got from Gaby (abridged and published with her permission, of course):

Dear Kate,

I have been trying to find a job in Sweden since November (sending CVs or applying at companies’ web pages). Almost nobody has answered me, and the one person who did asked how they can hire me if I am not available for an interview. It’s a little frustrating.

I am Mexican (live in Mexico), 35 years old, and at the moment I work at the US Embassy in Mexico City as a visa clerk. I have family in Denmark, so it would be good option to work in Sweden and visit my family on weekends (that’s why I am trying to find a job close to Helsingborg, Malmö or Lund). I started taking a Swedish course three weeks ago, but it would be better and easier if I were living there.


A: Do you know if I am doing something wrong?

B: What happened if I go as a tourist to find a job and be available for interviews

C: Or maybe I am too old to move there??

You’re never too old

First things first. I don’t think you’re too old for anything at age 35. If you need a little inspiration, check out the Work Blog here at Kristin’s story is a clear example that it’s never too late to make big changes and do the things you want to do. If you want to live in Sweden, don’t let your age hold you back!

Before I found out about the sambo visa, I tried to get a job in Sweden from the United States, and I also had a really hard time. At that time, I was a qualified ESL teacher with work experience within that field, plus a degree in English from a top college in the US. Even so, I didn’t hear back from a single job that I applied for.

Not being able to find a job in Sweden was one of the reasons why I ended up taking a six month detour in Vienna: a great place to be, but not my final destination. Photo: Elaine Hargrove

It’s all about networking—no matter how tenuous the connection

The way I eventually got a job was through very, very random networking. I was taking Swedish classes (SFI) and went to buy a snack during the break. (Surprise, surprise, right?) I started talking to the woman next to me about which candy bar I should get, and it turned out that she was Swedish and studying to be an accredited ESL teacher. She said she would refer any new clients to me because she was too busy with her coursework to take new students.

I never heard from her again, but she passed on my name to another ESL teacher, who I still have never met, who passed on my name to a private language school that was in desperate need of an English teacher at the last minute. The job interview (conducted over the phone) went like this: “Do you have any experience? Ok, that’s good. Do you have any sort of degree or accreditation? Ok, great. Could you possibly start tomorrow? Ok, you’re hired.” I’ve been there ever since.

All of this is a very long way of saying that I think networking is everything in this country. I have a friend who was really successful finding a job here (also as a teacher) by setting up informational sessions and interviews with a bunch of principals while she was still in the United States. She came during her spring break and traveled all over the place to meet with them. At the end of 10 days or so, all of them had offered her a job. Providing you’re qualified for the job, the biggest challenge is getting your foot in the door.

Just a few of the international networking options in Sweden. Photos: each group’s website.


Connect with people through social media or international groups

If you have friends or family in the area—or any contacts at all—the first thing you should do is ask them to network like crazy for you. This is not the time to be shy!

If you don’t have any personal contacts in Sweden, then you should try to network over Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. Start conversations with people in the fields you want to work in. Demonstrate how committed you are to finding a job in Sweden. Ask for advice. You never know who might refer you to a friend who might connect you with an opportunity that just so happens to work out!

Another way to network is to get in touch with people through expat or international groups, both in your home country and abroad. I’m a member of the American Women’s Club (you don’t have to be American or a woman to join) and a nominal member of Internations, which is a very vibrant group throughout the world. Put it out there that you’re trying to make connections with Sweden when you’re in your own country, or schedule a trip to Sweden and try to meet as many people in person as you can while you’re there.

Attend a conference or enroll in a program

This is in the same vein as before: connect, connect, connect. I have a friend who came to Sweden to teach a summer course at a university here as a fun way to take a trip to a new part of the world. They liked him so much they offered him a job—two years later, and he’s still here. Once again, as long as you’re qualified for the job, just getting your foot in the door is the biggest challenge, regardless of whether you’re planning on falling in love with Sweden or not!

Another strategy might be to do a 1 year Master’s course in the field you want to work in. Although this is more expensive and time-consuming, you’ll have a full year of networking and connection-building built in, and you’ll have a structure and contacts at your school to get you started.


So, readers. What do you think?

Expats—how did you get your job in Sweden?
Swedish people—am I missing something?

  • Claire Duffy

    Totally agree – mirrors my experience (in the film industry) almost exactly. I did make my first two contacts in Stockholm through a blind query, but since then every job or project has come through a friend of a friend… of a friend of a friend, in some cases!

    • Alice In Actionland

      Hi Claire –
      I’m an American writer/filmmaker and I’m curious how you got your start in the film industry in Sweden. I tried querying companies there with one of my scripts, and got some reads… and then the silent treatment (so typical of this industry). I would love a bit of your insight, if you feel like sharing. :-)

  • Lizardek

    That was really great; very succint!

  • Michelle

    Number one thing that got me contacted by employers? Making sure that my CV was written according to the local standards. I did a lot of research, found a good CV, and then copied the style and format. While I, too, have connections through the American Women’s Club (and how I eventually found my current job), I had been interviewing at 2 other different companies, independent of anyone at the AWC. The only thing I changed in my approach was to create a Swedish CV!

    I think we often forget that different cultures will have different requirements in mind when hiring someone. Here, it’s important that you not ‘improve’ your qualifications in any way, or to make yourself sound more important than you are. Which is perfectly normal and accepted in the US for your CV.

    The other thing I would suggest is looking at only international companies in the area. There are tons, especially in Copenhagen, and it would be a lot easier to get in with them than it would be with a smaller company.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Reformatting your CV is great advice, and something I would have never thought of. Now I’m very curious to see before and after shots of your CV!

      Your point about how you frame your accomplishments is also interesting. I see this a lot with my Business English students. It seems like in the US, we’d rather have someone promise us the moon and then come close to delivering it. In Sweden, it’s better to say you might not be able to deliver something and then come through in the end.

      Thanks for the tips, Michelle! I hope people find them helpful!

  • Kristin Lund

    Thanks for the link to my Work blog, Kate. Great tips. I, too, had zero response to my inquiries from the States. I got my current (and first) job in Sweden through networking. I do not think you can enter as a visitor and stay to work. You could come as a visitor, find a job, but then you would have to leave and stay out for many months (could be up to 7) until the visa was approved…I echo Michelle’s comment below about making the CV be in the Swedish style. Swedes, for example, would not say “I am very good at meeting my deadlines” the way you might on an American CV. As Michelle said, the way you say something is very important.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Have you done a post on Swedish CVs? A straight up “how to”? I’m passing the ball on to you :)

    • Gaby

      Hello!! Do you have an example of a CV???? or the important information (Structure??) thank you!

  • ToMyHome

    Its really so helpful and mostly inspiring for many people who are in sweden to make a career. like you told, networking has been always a fantastic way to communicate people. or you can look for work in Arbetsförmedlingen. if it is time consuming to get a job from there. you can search for job from their website and can try to contact each companies yourself. keep trying, keep trying….if you dont get any job from there, at least someone will suggest you, if he knows any possibility. and of course, twitter, linked in always works…

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Great advice! And like you said, the most important: keep trying, keep trying!

      • Lodzisko

        Hi Kate,

        I am planning to move to Malmo with my husband and my little daughter. I was wondering if you know any architects? I would like to ask them about work opportunities Sweden, it looks like i can get a work only through networking. I would appreciate your help.
        Many thanks

  • Pol – Croatia

    Interesting tips, but if you need so much connection to get a job it sounds to me as an approach very prone to corruption. Since you build informal network, which decides on very formal or life relevant things. For instance, all those people not very good in communication could fail to get a job, even if the job itself does not need special communication skills. So how can you be sure you are not violating “good principles” and building a corrupt network by this method of job searching.?

    In Croatia, which is in the final process of EU accession, there have been opened recently some new offices in “big cities” as a part of State employment Büro, whith the purpose to ease to search the job abroad, but according to what i found on their web pages, i would say their main purpose could be in fact to prevent people going abroad as refugees. I really don’t see what they offer there, with exception of limited agricultural season work in Germany for which you must pass different exams, know the language well and get permits. So it seems you don’t really have the legal option then to go abroad for work almost as refugee and not think about anything in advance, consequently exporting problems. …

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I haven’t found the system to be corrupt at all. Getting a foot in the door is one thing, but then you also have to be qualified for the job you’re being hired to do. Sweden has a really wonderful work environment (especially its work-life balance), but it depends on everyone being totally professional and “up to snuff” the second they walk in the door. There’s not a lot of patience for people who waste time or are not able to perform their work tasks.

      Your second part there is interesting–I don’t know anything about that, but it seems as though the EU should be doing more to promote movement throughout the different member countries, not inhibit it!

      • Pol – Croatia

        I hope the system works better there, although i think most of the jobs are for “ordinary” people, so it is often hard to say why one normal person would have the job and the other not. And having the job means having the right to live, indeed.

        I see the pages of our version of Arbetsförmedlingen full of some EU projects, but little of that could be felt among its final users so far. It seems as the institutions are there mostly there to serve themselves.

        What is needed are institutions that will take much more of the work on finding jobs, getting permits, organising transport, accomodation, etc. on their shoulders, at least for those who don’t have previous experience and (fair) contacts. In fact, all that things that companies normaly do for some worker they find important, and everyone is important, i think.

  • Alice In Actionland

    Do you have any sense for what types of industries/jobs would be most accessible for someone coming into Sweden from another country? Just curious.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      I’m actually not sure off the top of my head, but I’m sure there’s a report around here somewhere that I can dig up. I’ll let you know when / if I find anything!

  • Gaby

    Thank You Kate! and everybody !!!
    I think that the CV issue is a good idea… I´m not from USA but in Mexico we do the CV´s as them, so I will try to correct and do it to the Swedish Way!
    And I thought that If you applied for a job (and have luck) to be hired you can go to Immigration Service to tramit the visa while you are permitted to stay as a tourist (3 months), of course be very optimistic and get one… I have been sending CV´s since October until now but is really hard.
    :( I hope that something good happen, I am going on April…
    but as Alice in Actionland mentioned… is there an industry or jobs more accesible for people came for a NON EU country???
    what happen if I get a job of something that is not necessary specialized … can someone hired me as Au Pair, taking care of an adult or something … and can I ask for a work Visa??? (please say yes!!!! )

  • euxtra

    Hello! We’ve loved your article and think that your tips are very useful! I lived myself in Sweden during 2 years and I am so looking forward to come back!!! We are really interested by your blog and are looking for people like you in order to publish its own experience on our website:, would you be interested? :-) if so do not hesitate to contact us @ :-) Hope to hear from you! Take care and keep your awesome spirit up! :) The euxtra team

  • Bilal Madi

    i am trying my best since 2 years to go work in sweden but i am lebanese citizen educated with university degree and perfect english .. can u help ?

  • Andrea Martins

    Hi Kate, I gave this a shout-out for you on Expat Women and already 77 people clicked on the link, so they must be keen to hear what you have to say! Great work in putting together these tips! Andrea

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for linking to this post! I really do hope people find it helpful. Expat Women is such an incredible resource–I found a lot of help there when I first moved abroad–that I feel honored to have some presence on the page! Thank you!


  • Youness Z M

    hello ! it’s Youness from Lebanon , i have 24 years old , i finished my second years of civil engineering but i didn’t continue because of bad financial situation , i start to work with ZARA since 2009 as a floor manager and later on i get my promotion to be the visual merchandiser manager for the country . you can contact me on my Facebook!/Yo0oUnEsS or add me on youness.z.m@ .

    the problem is :

    i like to move to Sweden and be a part of Sweden social , and maybe i will continue my studies there and work there , but the problem is that i don’t know anyone there and i don’t know how can apply for a visa to get the permission to live there , but i think that the easy way is to know some one so i will be so glad if some one give me a link to connect with people there or help me to know the right way , thanks for you anyway with all my respect and i will hope to see someone interest to advise me shortly.

    B.R youness Mahmoud.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Hi Youness,

      Thanks for getting in touch! The best place to start might be, especially if you’re interested in working or if you’re interested in studying. I found a lot of helpful information on the webpage of the Swedish Embassy in the United States, so maybe the Swedish Embassy in Lebanon would also have a lot of information in your language.

      Good luck!

  • Linus Engback

    Doing qualified work in Sweden you will need to speak fluent English, or quite decent Swedish. For many jobs English would not suffice either, which is limiting.

    Hiring people in Sweden is hard, and firing them is even harder which is why Swedish companies are very reluctant to hire anyone. To be able to get a job in Sweden you must convince whomever is going to hire you that your talents are hard to find, or that you not being Swedish is not a limitation, or have qualifications which are high in demand. No one will ever hire you just to be nice to you, as previously stated, it being very hard to fire someone.

    And finally, as has been said by a number of people in this thread, contacts. Talk to people, meet people, in the flesh. Getting a job without meeting the person hiring you would I would say be very nearly impossible (unless your qualifications are very hard to find in Sweden).

    About what jobs to apply for, go for the big ones such as Ericsson, or companies in the larger cities such as Stockholm. Companies like Ericsson mostly work in English from the start and has cultural diversity as a natural part, and cities such as Stockholm will have more people from abroad from the start.

    And then, when you have landed your job, which will happen eventually if you are a qualified and nice person, I can assure you Sweden is a very nice country to work in and not speaking Swedish too well will not be much of a burden!

  • Adeel Qamar

    In my experience i found Arbetsförmedling very helpful and friendly (maybe only my local office). I found a job in which the company was asking if the government can help paying part of my pay. I started SFI be then. I went to arbetsförmedling asked then if they can help. They put me on a programme where i have to study SFI for 2 days and work three days. I only worked and study SFI 2 months then i got this great job from England. I would definitely recommend speaking to arbetsförmedling regarding job search option.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      That’s really great to hear. The SFI/job combination sounds like it works really well for a lot of people, and it’s a great option once you’re already here. Thanks a lot for the comment!

  • Besnik

    Hi Im Besnik Haxha from Kosovo and Im trying to come in sweden for study if is possible.
    Im 22 years old it will be better if have any possibility to study in sweden.
    Im looking forward to cantact with you.
    Best wishes

  • B_nigro

    Hi Kate,
    This is a great post… My sambo Jonas is originally from Värnamo, but we are living in Canada right now. We’re looking at moving to Sweden but we know it will be pretty hard living if I can’t find a job. I have my B.Ed in Adult Ed and will be getting my CELTA this summer. SO, this is my first attempt at networking.. I’m definitely going to be looking at those sites that you provided and cross my fingers that something will turn up.
    Thanks again.. and if you hear of any job openings please let me know!
    Brianne Thydell

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Hi Brianne!

      Thanks so much for getting in touch and way to go with your networking! Where in Sweden are you planning on moving? I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open.


  • Remi ‘sugar Ant’ Avan-Nomayo

    Hi Kate I’m 25 from Nigeria and my family live in the UK i should join them but i’m more interested and excite about living alone preferably in little reason being that i love dance/techno and that kind of music is quite popular there.But the main reason i’d love to work there is I’ve heard how accomodating they can be.I have a B.Sc IN Physics but i hated physics so i went into I.T and am currently a CCNP (Cisco certified networking professional).I’m hoping i can get a job with a telecommunication company or a computer networking you think i can pull it off? i’m already in love with sweden :(

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Good luck with your job search!! My best advice is to start networking now – on LinkedIn or through professional networking groups. Keep mentioning that you’re interested in moving to Sweden and be the first to take the initiative to follow up on leads. Best of luck!

  • Study Chinese

    I think studying in Sweden is the suitable option for me because I can study more to improve myself and can enjoy the college life with my friends.

  • Bradley Benson

    Thanks for your insights. I am interested in working in Sweden. My family emigrated to the States a century ago. I have recently been in contact with my relatives near Malmo. I am 41 and would be looking for management level work. Do you know how difficult it is for mid-tier professionals to find work? And though my Swedish relatives speak Swedish I am an English speaker only.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      I can’t say that I have specific knowledge about the job market at your level. In general, both the economy and the hiring situation are good. My advice would be to start creating a list of international companies in Copenhagen, Malmo, Lund, Helsingborg, Trelleborg, and even Ystad and see what options there are in your field. There’s a surprising number of companies that work in English – everything from phones (Ericsson) to pharmaceuticals (Nycomed/Takeda, Astra Zeneca) to shipping (Maersk) and retail (Puma-owned Tretorn, Carlsberg). Good luck!

  • Translation Companies

    I like to study and at the same time I love to prefer a part time job as well. Because from the income of my job I can pay my college fees and can get a good experience in both the life.

  • Bill Martin

    Getting a job in Sweden is one of the dreams of many who are trying to lead a better life in a safe country. Being able to apply for a job there while abroad gives you a great advantage, and certainly helps with you trying to apply for a Visa. Personally, I would suggest you knowing someone there so you have local help if you need it.

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Great advice, Bill.

  • Debarati Sadhukhan Jati

    Really a nice informative blog. I have 6 years of experience having worked in Oracle platform based Business Intelligence/Data warehousing domain in IT companies in India. I came to Lund,Sweden in last April end as my husband is working here. I am desperately trying to get a job but have failed so far. You said about writing the CV in Swedish. I have started learning Swedish but definitely nowhere near the expected fluency level both in speech and writing. I have networked through LinkedIn as well. Can you help me please?

    • Kate Reuterswärd

      Have you tried going to Arbetsförmedligen and requesting help from a job coach? That would be my suggestion. They can give you an insider’s perspective into how to navigate the system, help you write your personal letter and CV in Swedish, and even point you in the right direction with networking.

      Otherwise, have you tried joining any international clubs in Lund or Malmö? As always, in-person networking is better than online marketing. Try groups like the American Women’s Club (you don’t have to be American), the International Club of Skåne, and Internations.

      Good luck! I know it’s tough out there, but remember that you can only keep trying and keep changing strategies!

  • S E Martin

    E. Martin – did anyone come up with resources for sample Swedish CV’s? Thanks for your time in responding.

  • bellreavue

    I’m 18 and just starting college in the USA. I want to live in Sweden so my plan is to get a masters or doctorate there (after I get my bachelor’s here) but I’m having trouble getting a handle on what kind of jobs exist in Sweden, especially for foreigners. Do you have any advice? My major is currently undecided and I could see myself in a number of professions…I’m just not sure what kind of job I could get in Sweden.

    • Kate Reuterswärd


      All sorts of jobs exist in Sweden – the problem for foreigners is usually first, networking and getting a foot in the door and second, getting your qualifications recognized. If you get a masters or a doctorate there and do your best to network while you’re in school and learn Swedish, you should be able to transition well into a job.

      I wouldn’t view being a foreigner as a setback to any particular kind of job. You should have to be cognizant of the obstacles you have to overcome.

      Good luck with college and I hope you make it to Sweden! :)

  • billa Rajinikar


    Getting job in Sweden is not so easy task. First we should know the Swedish language. But some of Software and IT jobs no need Swedish. But if you have plan to settle in Sweden, we must learn Swedish.

    May be some of other blogs also useful to find English speaking jobs in Sweden. So may be this blog will help you.

  • djurdjicah

    Dear everybody,

    I am master of architecture and soon I will have specialization in buildings energy efficient. I am 25 years old, and next year my plan is to find job in Sweden. I have Hungarian passport, but I am finishing my university in Serbia. I am so exited to go to Sweden and start my life there.

    Could you tell me something about architects jobs in your country and where I can search? How much do architects earn and how is difficult to find a job as a graduate architect with two years of volunteer experience?

    Also something about language. Is it enough some basic knowledge for the start? I know English and German till now, and my plan is to study Swedish very hard till April, May when I plan to come.
    Thank you very much for any information that you could provide me.

    Best regards,

  • Dendulurichaitanya

    hie Kate…am pursuing Batchelor of Business Management final year.. n am from India…i want to study MBA in BTH university in Sweden r otherwise i want to get a job after my batchelor degree…so am reqesting u suggest me something am telling u d reason is actually my gal will cum there to BTH university.n finish her i want go before her n want to guide her …so can u tell me any job oppurtunities are there for BBM students????? r can u mail me about this???? my email id : eagerly waiting for ur reply….

    thank you

    yours sincerely

  • Fhgf

    amazed that too many people are eager to work in sweden. First thing first: no swedish no job.

  • dave

    Hi, i am 21 years old and in the process of getting a masters degree in marketing. I am from the united states and have wanted to move to europe since i was 12. i have visited stockholm the past three summers and i absolutely love it. I am a bit confused because from what i have read, you will not get a job if your not a eu citizen because they would first give a eu citizen the job even if your both equally qualified. So my question is if this is true or not because you can apply for a work visa and fill out a residency form and you need to live there for x amount of years before you can get citizenship. I dont know if this is true or not because some countries such as germany require you to live there for 8 years before you can get citizenship and who could possibly live in a country for 8 years before they get a job. I have taken many classes for swedish and have used rosetta stone which has helped a lot so i can speak swedish very well so idk how much that helps. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • md nurul islam

    realy i belife that every man should good experience for job

  • dhafir

    hi everybody :D first happy new year

    then iam dhafir amrani i live in morroco and i intend going to sweden for live there i have my bachlors and diplomat in mechanical manufacturing and i want ask everyone can help me or just give me advice about if i can find anyjob there is not matter if in companies or security or dishwasher anything just i want to start and contunie my studies so plz dont tell me at first contry in the world u cannot live hhhh :D and i appreciate it .

  • Enigmatic_soul93

    Hi. I’m a 19-year-old American girl and I’m currently studying Electrical Engineering in college. I am planning on getting my Master’s Degree in one year because my college has an accelerated Master’s program. I will finish my Master’s degree when I turn 23.
    I love Sweden. It’s my favorite country in Europe. I also have a lot of Swedish songs on my iPod: Lars Winnerback, Melissa Horn, Timoteij, Erik Linder, Kent, Ulf Lundell…etc. I am trying to learn Swedish on my own and for me, it’s not too difficult because I’ve been through the process of learning other languages before. I even know some Swedish slang.
    Not only that, I have also met a young man online and we’ve been talking to each other for 7 months already, and despite the cultural differences between Sweden and America, we share the same life philosophy and I have never met a young man who does. Likewise, he told me that he’s never met a girl before who understands him and likes him for being himself.
    I also love writing songs and books during my free time, and I’m thinking of making a song album and writing an apocalyptic novel.
    Although I am not 100% sure what I want to do in life, but I am sure that I want to work in the technology industry, write meaningful music, and write a novel with ideas that no one’s ever written about before.

    Basically, everything boils down to one question: what are my chances of becoming a citizen in Sweden?
    Also I have several other questions:
    How is the job market for electrical engineers? Are they in high demand?
    How do Swedes generally view Americans?
    How difficult is it to get published in Sweden?
    How does the music industry work there?