Working in Sweden, even for only for a few months, will be a culturally rewarding, eye-opening experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It may only be a couple of hours’ flight from the UK, but the cultural differences can be quite a shock when you first arrive. Sweden is a country of “lagom”, roughly translated as “just enough” – it is a country of moderation, tolerance, equality, impeccable time-keeping, and relaxed dress codes in the office. To help you start your journey to contracting in Sweden, we have put together this nut-shell guide. If you have any questions at the end, please contact the Liberty Bishop international team for further information.
Finding a job
Finding a contract position in Sweden couldn’t be easier! The usual UK-based job boards may not be your best starting point as few UK recruitment agencies advertise or recruit on sites such as reed.co.uk, Total Jobs, and the other usual sites when searching for a new contract. Instead, turn to websites such as Jobs in Stockholm, TechnoJobs, The Nordic Job Board, or The Local – a job board specifically for English-speaking vacancies.
Applying for a job
Applying for a contract in Sweden is no different from applying for a post in the UK. However, if the company you apply to doesn’t have an office in the UK, expect all your interviews to take place virtually – which means brushing up on your video interview skills. It also means you need to become more familiar with Swedish culture (see below for more details). Swedes are less direct than the British, so bragging about your achievements may not be the best approach during an interview. Practice the art of being subtle – if asked what your strengths are, reply with “My colleagues would probable say…” Further, Swedes are team players, stressing that you an individual that works well without the help of your team will count against you.
Work permits & taxation
As an EU or EEA citizen, you will not require a work permit to take up a contract post in Sweden. If your contract is for longer than three months, you will be required to apply for a residence permit. If you are a passport holder from outside the EU or EEA, it is necessary to have a valid work permit in place before taking up a contract in Sweden.
If you reside in Sweden for less than 183 days, you are not considered a tax resident and would be subject to the usual tax regime of your country of residence. Staying in Sweden for longer than 183 days requires you to register with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket). The registration process is called folkbokföring and you will be issued with a personal identification number (personnummer) similar to a National Insurance number.
The British can be very direct in conversation and through their use of body language – this is more often not the case in Sweden. Don’t expect to hear raised voices and the use of direct language, instead Swedes use more subtle indicators in conversation to express how they feel. Swedes love their personal space and would prefer that you don’t encroach upon it. Standing too close to someone in a queue, or sitting next to someone on a bus when there is an empty seat elsewhere will not be welcomed.
It is usual between 09.00 – 10.00 for office workers to take part in fika (the direct translation is “coffee”). Coffee is a big part of this morning ritual and expect to eat your share pastries and sweets, too. However, fika is more than just a coffee break, it’s part of a bonding process that allows you time to get to know your colleagues. To refuse fika is to demonstrate that you are not willing to be part of the team and you could quickly be branded as an outsider. If you don’t drink coffee, learn to, it will be a big part of your working day!
For first-timers contracting in Sweden (and even for the experienced) not knowing the what, where, why and when can result in expensive mistakes. It’s best to partner with an organisation with the experience to guide you through the length of your contract and there is no better, more experienced, and fully compliant partner than Liberty Bishop. For further details on how we can assist you in Sweden, contact our international team here.