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Wanted: Job seeking stories Posted by on Feb 28, 2010 in Culture

Before we move into March (finally!) and add a new month to the blog roll, let’s tie up some loose ends. The last post on how to find an English speaking job in Sweden has triggered some questions. First of all, is it even possible to get an English speaking job in Sweden without speaking or understanding Swedish completely? One reader saw the following typical patterns in Sweden:

a) If you speak English (but no Swedish), it does not help you to get a job – any job! –  because every Swede speak English. And a native Swedish, too, so you are considered as handicapped, not desired.

b) Seeing the English language job ads in the newspapers/on the websites you have the illusion that for these jobs you only need English. The truth is that for the 99% of the jobs native or very good Swedish is required. Why is it not mentioned and why is the ad in English? Well, they just take it for granted and don’t even think that anybody else would apply. However they won’t mention this little fact: you just get a very polite letter/mail saying that “somebody else was chosen, because he/she had related experience, blablabla”.

c) Even if there is a job, where only English is needed (however this is a really rare case!!), you get a a lot of competitors: all the foreign job seekers who don’t talk Swedish. You all are fight to get this one job…plus there are some Swedes, too. So it doesn’t help you either and most probably a Swede will get the job…

d) Let’s imagine, that you get the job, any job…even if you have basic Swedish skills, you will use the English, as you are not able to speak at this level, at least not fluently (and it takes ages to say the easiest sentence, I know – been there, done that). So basically you don’t learn anything during the job PLUS you will cause extra problem as you miss a lot of Swedish info and need extra translations PLUS you will feel very frustrated because you don’t have any progress in the Swedish language as you only use English.

Another reader was more positive and gave some more advice to job seekers:

– Jobsinstockholm is a website dedicated to English speaking professionals who are looking for jobs in other countries. The best feature about this website is that you can sign up for email updates when new jobs matching your criteria come in.

– Also I was able to search and find an agency specifically tailored to my professional field, which would be ‘fashion’, Modeverket. Not only do they have job postings but you can contact them with any questions regarding the industry. They were also able to direct me to another fashion industry job site where I could look for jobs.

– Discovering the Google “translate web page” feature has made my life so much easier….it will translate any webpage into whatever language you desire!

-Sign up on websites like Academic Work and Manpower.

Another reader was convinced that an English speaking job is not a great idea  if you want to learn Swedish, which also touches on another important soon-to-come-post; Ways to practise, mantain and improve your Swedish.

The best way to learn a language is to let go of English. English is a crutch. You need to practice Swedish all day, every day. By deliberately choosing an English-speaking position, you’re missing out on the best opportunity to really accelerate your Swedish. If you take an English-speaking job, you’re not going to get to use your Swedish. If you take a Swedish-language job, you can still fall back on English if you don’t know exactly what word it is you’re looking for, but your primary language will still be Swedish. If you’re thinking of moving to Sweden, learning Swedish should start before you arrive, not after.

Is getting an English speaking job in Sweden more or less impossible? Did you get a job – any job, not an English speaking position – without knowing much Swedish? Or, is the answer quite simple; you need to know Swedish to get a job in Sweden? Please share your story (success, hopefully!) if you have one.

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