There’s a lot of noise about layoffs in the Swedish news right now. Maybe it has already happened to you. If so, try not to worry too much… there’s life after a layoff and in this article, you can find some help.
A layoff happens when an employer needs to discharge one or more employees due to economic problems or a shortage of work. This solution can be temporary or permanent. There’s a difference between being laid off and getting fired. The later usually occurs due to the employee’s fault. The last couple of years have been economically challenging for many businesses and many people were laid-off.
In Sweden employers must warn the employees, and the public employment service, that there may be layoffs. That means the employee usually hears about the possibility of a layoff even before the company makes an actual decision. That gives you some time to prepare for it. Here is a list of useful things to consider if you think that you might be laid off.
1. Breathe. It’s not the end of the world
Getting to know that you are being laid off is not easy news to accept. That being said, you can rest assured that there is life after a layoff.
The good news is that if you are in a work permit kind of situation, you won’t be kicked out of Sweden the minute you lose your job. There is a three-month grace period. That means you have 3 months to find a new job and apply for a new work permit (visit Migrationsverket for more information). You might not even need a new work permit if the new job you get happens to be within the same branch.
2. Double check your rights after layoffs in Sweden
Read the contract you signed when you started working at the company that’s laying you off and go through all documents you received then.
If the details of your layoff are not clear, make sure you and your employer are on the same page. Here are a few valuable questions you should ask:
- Will my layoff be temporary or permanent?
- If my layoff is temporary, will I be laid off 100% or only part-time?
- What is the time frame or when will my last day of work be?
- Am I supposed to use my vacation days until then or will they be paid?
- Will I be paid a compensation package?
3. Ask for a letter of recommendation
This is a key point! Ask your manager to provide a recommendation letter explaining why they hired you in the first place and why should other employers do the same. The letter should describe your professional character, work ethic, and skills. Including such a letter in your coming job applications will make it clear that you were discharged from work due to the circumstances and not due to a lack of abilities.
4. Check your unemployment insurance
Having unemployment insurance, or so-called A-kassa, is highly recommended. In Sweden about 80% of the working population has A-kassa. Hopefully, you are one of them, as receiving some unemployment money will help you economically until you find a new job.
Apply for unemployment payments as soon as you know your employer is laying you off. Register for the unemployment agency Arbetsförmedlingen as well. You can read more about this and find a full list of providers here.
5. Contact your union
Unions are also an important clog in the Swedish labour system (read more about unions here). Therefore, unions are a great source of information on labour-related matters and a place of support if needed. If you are unsure about your layoff or if you think you are not being handled fairly you can always get in touch with your union to get some advice. Unions can even provide juridical guidance and help in case the employee needs to negotiate with the employers.
6. See over any extra benefits you may lose
Sweden is a great country that provides healthcare for everyone, but some employers do provide extra benefits. If so, be aware that these will most likely cease with the termination of your employment.
7. Update your CV
When your layoff is confirmed, it is time to start working on your next steps and prepare for a job search. The first step is to update your CV and adapt it to the current market (when was the last time that you update CV? Maybe years for some). It is not uncommon that other companies in the same branch to hear about the layoffs and go hunting for new talent among the newly laid-off workers. Make sure then to keep your CV at hand and ready to go.
Get some tips and CV templates here.
8. Re-evaluate your skills after layoffs
Take a moment to reflect on your skills and write them down on a piece of paper or journal. What made you good at your job? What was most appreciated by your managers and colleagues? Make sure you include all kinds of skills, from accomplishments to job-related, communication, adaptive, and basic skills. Don’t be modest here, the list should contain everything you are good at. This will give you a bigger perspective on your skill package and as a bonus, it will also boost your self-confidence.
9. Get new skills
Look at the list you made in point 8. Is there anything you would like to include in the list that you can’t right now? What could you add that would make you even more attractive to new employers? Perhaps there’s something you can work on now that you will have more time available. Improve a language (hello Swedish!), learn new software, get to know the Swedish job market better (check our online courses) or simply work on your inner strengths.
10. Start a job search
If you followed the previous list until now, you should have a recommendation letter, an updated CV, and good knowledge of your own skills – the essential tools for a successful job search.
Searching for a job can be overwhelming but take one step at a time and you will be fine. A good starting point is the Newbie’s chapter on how to find work and where to start.
Don’t be afraid of stating your layoff in your job application. New employers will eventually ask you why you left your previous job anyway, so it is good to make it clear from the start. Honesty is usually appreciated.
11. Get interview ready
A job interview is a nerve-wracking moment. Preparing for it will help you keep your nerves in check and focus on the most important: getting yourself a job.
If you think your interview skills are a bit rusty, ask a friend to do a mock-up interview with you. Or practice in front of a mirror. You should also do some research on the company where you are doing the interview and prepare to explain the cause that made you leave your last job: your layoff.
Read this article to learn more about interviews in Sweden and don’t forget to avoid the 3 most common mistakes done by internationals when interviewing in Sweden.
12. Turn your hobby into a business
Another option if you are hit by layoffs in Sweden is to see that as an opportunity to start something new. Perhaps you have always dreamed of doing your hobby professionally and this might just as well be the right time to pursue that. Do you have a special talent? Or a brilliant business idea? Explore that! You can open your own small business or become a freelancer. Sweden is a country with many international entrepreneurs and even more one-member companies.
Having a regular job and then a side activity for a bit of extra income is very common in Sweden. My bank teller is a coffee importer, the PT in my gym is also a psychologist and one of my colleagues is an economist that sells seedlings.
If would like to explore this theme go to the Newbie Startup Guide here.
13. Assess your finances
Perhaps the most important point of all. Write down all your expenses, estimate how far you can come with your new income (unemployment benefits and possible side activities), and make the necessary adjustments. Having a sudden income drop is not easy to handle, but it is ok to dig a little in our savings sometimes. You can also find ways to save a few crowns here and there, which altogether might make a difference.
Food is one of the largest expenses in Swedish households, so here and here are a few tips to reduce your expenses in the supermarket.
14. Stay positive!
No matter what, stay positive and keep in mind that your situation is temporary. The situation might feel unique to you, but you are not the first person to suffer a layoff and you won’t be the last. Face this phase as an opportunity to experience something new and grow with it.
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