Work visas and wait times: How to get hired in Stockholm (part 1)

The job hunt

Stockholm is an exciting city to work in right now, especially if you’re interested in the tech scene. Some people have even gone as far as calling it the Unicorn Factory — a reference to the number of billion-dollar startups it produces.

With so many startups, there are ample employment opportunities. I had heard from other expats that it was nearly impossible to find a job in Sweden (especially if you don’t speak Swedish), but I think that entirely depends on your skill set and industry because I found quite the opposite to be true. Tech startups in particular are very English-friendly because in order to scale up in size, they likely have to expand internationally.

I had my eye on Stockholm for a while, so when I decided to seriously start job hunting here, I had a few ideas where to start. I hardly used any job sites to find openings, although The Local and Hyper Island job board both have a fair number of opportunities for English-only speakers. For the most part, I constantly checked the career pages of fast-growing companies I admired and did my best to network with people who worked there as well.

I found Twitter incredibly helpful when trying to network remotely. In one instance, I started up a Twitter conversation with a CMO at one of my target companies. (Note: a conversation does NOT mean asking about job opportunities.) A few weeks later, coincidentally or not, I was contacted by the company to interview. When we met on Skype, the interviewer mentioned that she heard I had spoken with the CMO. Ultimately, the job wasn’t a perfect match, but I was super impressed with the internal communication — a testament to the flat organizational structure that makes Swedish companies so appealing.

I had pretty good luck landing interviews, but it took a few months before I found a company and a role that was a fit: A content producer at FinTech growth company.

The original job posting required fluency in both English and Swedish, but a friend of mine (who happened to know a recruiter at the company!) encouraged me to apply anyway. I made it clear in my cover letter that while I don’t yet speak fluently, I thought I had other skills that would be very valuable in the meantime. I was contacted about a week later and began the interview process.

The interview process

The interview process was a bit more intense than I’ve experienced at New York companies. Perhaps that’s because in Sweden it’s much harder to fire someone, so the company needs to make sure you’re the best fit? Anyway, my first round interview consisted of a Skype call with the Head of Marketing, which I honestly thought went pretty poorly because he was calling from a noisy cafe in Barcelona where the wifi kept dropping, making it difficult to have an engaging conversation. But I guess it went well enough because he asked me to send over some writing samples and a week or so later, I was asked to take a few aptitude tests.

The testing — which consisted of a personality test and timed reasoning, creativity, and logical deductive tests — was the strangest part for me because I’ve never been asked to take more than an edit test in the U.S. But again, I made it through. As a next step, the company flew me out to Stockholm for face-to-face meetings. It was a long day of back-to-back interviews but I received a verbal offer before I left the offices. They sent through a formal offer letter the next day, which I was thrilled to accept. All in all, it took about 5 weeks from the day I applied to the day I accepted my offer.

Check back on Friday for more on the application process and the great wait.