Unemployment does not have to be hard, but it is not easy. It messes with your mind and self-confidence and makes you doubt yourself. I was unemployed for the first 1,5 year after my move to Sweden, until recently when I finally found a job.
My experience hardly makes me an expert in unemployment, but looking back I think I dealt with the situation pretty well, and I would, therefore, like to share my experience with the Newbie community.
At the beginning, I had to not only get adjusted to being unemployed but also to Sweden itself. My life completely changed and so did my routines. And although coming to Sweden was a long awaited move, I still had to accommodate all those feelings that such a big move implies. Suddenly changing your entire life is overwhelming and it will probably even make it hard for you to look for jobs, when there are just so many other things to do!
Solution: Take it easy and take care of your paperwork first. Having a personal number, for instance, will make it easier with everything else. That in turn will help you feel like you belong here and to create new routines. Once you feel more settled it will all feel better.
Job hunting is much more than to just apply for jobs. It is important to have a defined plan and to know which kind of jobs you want and can apply for. I think it is also important to be realistic, as applying for jobs out of your reach will just make you waste your time. However, every situation is unique and it may seem difficult to define a plan.
Solution: Be as active as you can! If you don’t know which jobs are adequate to your experience, ask for help. Register at Arbetsförmedlingen and talk about your situation. If you do know what you want then go and search, try and apply for as many jobs as possible. Create contacts through websites like Yrkesdörren and Sveriges Internationella Talanger. Sign up for Facebook or Linkedin groups of people who share your profession. Send spontaneous applications.
The Newbie Guide is also a great source of information about job hunting and you can read more about it here.
Being lost was for me the hardest feeling to beat. Not knowing what the future brings. Not knowing what I wanted exactly. And not knowing when.
Solution: keep yourself busy (see the point below). Those feelings went up and down, but it was always better when I was busy, as I didn’t have time to think about it.
Looking for jobs, writing personal letters and filling in applications will take a lot of your time. However, if you just do that you will probably drive yourself crazy. It is important to keep your spirits up and to not let your energy down, which might be difficult if you just lay in the sofa the whole day.
Solution: Find activities and keep yourself busy.
- Temporary job – even if it’s not in your area, a temporary job will give you an insight into the Swedish job market and community. It will also help you improve your Swedish skills.
- Arbetspraktik or instegsjobb – These are like internships and great options for those with little experience or willing to try something new. From experience, I know that a lot of employers are willing to take interns. As an intern you won’t only learn the job but create a lot of contacts in the area, that might become useful later. Read more about it here and here.
- Learn Swedish: There’s no better time to learn a new language than when you can put a lot of your time to it. Whether you register for SFI classes or simply study on your own, use your time to learn Swedish. Then take advantage of it and impress the employers in your interviews. Even if you can only say a few words, do it. Your effort will certainly be appreciated.
- Do that thing you always wanted to do: for me that was writing and making digital photo albums. I became a more active blogger in my own blog, I became a guest writer here at the Newbie Guide and I even wrote a book with my quirky love story, something I have been wanting to do for a long time.
Doing things I enjoyed during my unemployment makes it feel like that time was not wasted at all, as I experienced and learned new things with it.
The occasional meltdown
Meltdowns will happen, there’s no way around it. Mine were about once a month and implied a lot of “I’m so useless”, “I will never find a job again”, “what the hell should I do with my life”, among others.
Solution: Accept them as part of the process. They reminded me that although occupying my time with fun activities, I was not completely happy. They pushed me to keep looking for a job.
It will come for you
I heard this and other similar expressions a lot of times. Don’t worry, your turn will come. I did not always believe in it, but I understood that believing that I would find a job, made me stronger and kept me motivated to keep looking. And it did come. And so it will for you too. Believe in it. Believe in yourself. Always.