The Scandinavian labour market has quite a few attractions. Most famously it is known for its `flexicurity´ model, referring to a welfare state where all workers are secured social security. Moreover, the work-life balance gives you the opportunity of combining work and family life. These factors combined may be one of the reasons why people from Scandinavia constantly are found to be amongst the happiest people in the world. Here are our tips and tricks on how to land a job in Scandinavia:
The language catch
English is a universally spoken and understood second language in Northern Europe. This makes the region relatively easy to navigate as a foreign student, but it also means that it is more difficult to compete on language skills in the job market. Even though there are quite a few companies that have English as their corporate language such as Novo Nordisk, Maersk and Lundbeck, these are also typically the prestigious workplaces that are highly sought after. Many jobs require knowledge of the local language. Therefore, it is wise to put an effort into learning Danish/Swedish/Norwegian etc. - even if it’s only to be able to meet your new local colleagues halfway when it comes to language. As an employee or student in the Nordic countries, you can take lessons free of charge. If you learn the language while studying in Scandinavia, your chances of landing a job after graduation improve immensely.
Seek out assistance
In finding a job, it can prove extremely beneficial to join the local union that covers employees in your field. They can help you adapt your CV and cover letter so they are better suited for Scandinavian employers. Here you can also take courses so you become more attractive to the labour market.
Making use of your network in Scandinavia is often essential to finding a job. Therefore it is a good idea to go out and actively create a local and international network. Volunteering in different organisations can be a good way of building up a strong network.
Attending job fairs and career events is also an excellent way of meeting potential employers. Here you can get an insight into what the company is looking for by speaking with the recruiters face-to-face.
Many graduates who land jobs have been active in searching for opportunities to cooperate with companies on a project-basis during their studies. This could be through their thesis or a specific course. Be proactive in contacting companies – this can never damage your job prospects! In fact, if you don’t know who to reach out to – Graduateland has an extensive list of companies who are on the lookout for students to cooperate with in concern to specific projects.
Nordic people love LinkedIn; therefore, you should ensure that your profile is completely up-to-date. It is important to have a professional-looking photograph of yourself.
The application can either be solicited or unsolicited. A solicited application is typically sent as a response to a job ad posted by a company. A common method in approaching a Scandinavian employer is to send an unsolicited application. Many employers appreciate the determination and interest you have shown in sending an application, even if the company does not have any official job openings. An unsolicited application also aims to ensure that the company or organisation has you first in mind if any job opportunities arise at a later point.
In many cases, it can be a good idea to give the employer a call prior to applying for the job. You can make a good impression by asking relevant questions where the answer cannot be read from the job posting. Besides having the opportunity to leave a good impression, you also have the opportunity to gain insight into what the company prioritises in the actual role and what you should attach importance to in the CV and cover letter.
As a general rule an application in Scandinavia is made up of a cover letter and a CV, which intend to supplement each other. You should typically only attach the supporting documents the company requests. In Sweden, however, it’s more common to send unsolicited documents along with your application.