29 tips for engineers newly arrived in Sweden

Ingenjören asked four engineers from abroad for their best tips for foreign engineers who are newly arrived in Sweden. Foto: Getty Images och Mostphotos.

How do I increase my chances of getting a job? How can I learn Swedish quicker? What topics should you not talk about at work? Ingenjören asked four engineers from abroad for their best tips for foreign engineers who are newly arrived in Sweden.

You can read this article in Swedish here.

 Do I have to learn Swedish?

  1. It is a great advantage to learn Swedish, it opens doors to jobs and makes it easier to make new friends.
  2. The greatest chances of getting a job as an engineer when you don’t know Swedish are within international companies.
  3. It is necessary to know Swedish if you are looking for a job in the public sector and especially if you have contact with customers in your position.

 This is how you can learn Swedish quicker

4. Several libraries organize language cafés where you can have coffee and practice speaking Swedish.

5. If you don’t get a job, an internship is a good alternative. There you get the chance to hear and speak Swedish every day.

6. Join lunches and coffee breaks with Swedes if you get the chance, even if you don’t understand what everyone is saying. Soon you will understand more and more and almost everyone speaks good English.

7. The Swedish you learn at SFI and SAS (Swedish as a second language) may differ from how people speak, for example at work. In everyday life, many people use slang words. Ask when you don’t understand and make a slang list.

8. Listen to Swedish audiobooks, it’s good practice. I chose books that I had read in my language. Then it became easier to understand and I learned a lot.

Good to know when looking for an engineering job

9. Do not hesitate to apply for a job from day one in Sweden.

10. Getting a job as an engineer can take time and require many applications, especially in big cities. You need to be prepared for it and not give up.

Increase your chances of getting a job

11. Spend time working on your CV and cover letter. Don’t make the mistake of sending the same CV and letter to all companies and recruiters. You need to read the job advertisement and match what is looked for in your letter and CV.

12. Linkedin is a very good platform for finding jobs.

13. Try to get a mentor. I got a mentor through a program organized by Engineers of Sweden. My mentor helped me a lot in understanding how the labor market works in Sweden.

14. Networking is very important here. I missed informal meetings or mingling between established and newly arrived engineers. If you have the chance to participate in one, do it.

15. Don’t be afraid to take a job that you are overqualified for with the ”right” company, as an entry-level job. In Sweden, it is very easy to move between different roles in a company.

16. Use free time to learn new computer programs that you can use at work. You can find a lot on the internet.

17. When you have applied for a job, always contact the hiring manager after a week or so. If you don´t get the job, try to get feedback on how to improve your CV and cover letter.

18. By making personal contact with companies and recruiters, the chance of being contacted in the future increases when a suitable position becomes available.

How to get up to speed quickly and continue your development

19. Dare to ask your boss and your colleagues when you are unsure. Don’t be shy and try to solve the problems yourself. It is better to ask than to do it the wrong way.

20. Ask if you can follow a colleague during their work day. It is an excellent way to learn how other departments in the company work. But be sure to respect the workload of your colleagues.

21. Stay up to date with your area of expertise. I have learned a lot by reading trade magazines.

22. Continue to improve your Swedish even if you have a job that does not require Swedish. Without the language, you miss out on a lot.

23. It´s a challenge to move to another country, but you can go far by being determined.

This is how you learn the social codes

24. Read at least one short book about Sweden’s history. It can make it easier to understand things that are happening now.

25. All cultures are different and sometimes you can use google to understand certain cultural differences between the home country and Sweden.

26. It may be wise to avoid talking about religion, politics or other issues at your first job. When you have been in Sweden for a while, you become more confident about what is a suitable topic.

27. There are certain unwritten rules in Sweden. One of them is called the Jantelagen and it says that you mustn’t think that you are better than others in any way. When I once said that I was satisfied with my job and had delivered the best, my colleagues thought I was joking.

28. You must be able to be yourself. If you don’t feel you can, for example in a workplace, try to change workplace.

How you can get help with contracts and salary negotiations

29. If you become a member of the trade union Engineers of Sweden, you get access to salary statistics, advice and other member benefits.

Thanks to Talat Gundogan, Merna Abdo, Feras Fadel and Balázs Szabó who contributed with their best tips.

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