In April 2020, the world went into ‘pause’ mode while COVID-19 spread. Most of us have put projects, travel plans or even expatriation on hold. Job search and career change were halted. But what can we expect from the Swedish job market in the near future? As one of the only European countries to not confine its citizens, can we hope for a faster economic recovery? Should you pursue your dream of expatriation, of finding a fulfilling job in Sweden? Or should you review your plans?
The Swedish economy will suffer as much as its European neighbours
Sweden didn’t impose a full lock-down on its citizens and businesses, but it will be as badly hit as its neighbours. The Swedish central bank (Riksbank) released two possible scenarios* for 2020. Both are bleak. Which one will become reality will depend on the length of the pandemic and on the continuous restrictions.
In the best scenario, Sweden’s GDP will shrink by 6,9%; 9,7% in the worse case. By comparison, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) predicts, for 2020, a contraction of the French economy by 7,2%, 6,5% in Germany and 8% in Spain.
Unemployment rate expected to rise
By March 1st, 60 000** people were warned of potential layoffs in Sweden. These won’t automatically follow with actual redundancies. But it is the first step in the dismissal process.
Since this date, an additional 95 455 individuals registered with Arbetförmedlingen, the Swedish unemployment agency. In April, the unemployment rate reached 8%. In January 2020 the figure was 7.4%. It could reach 8.8% in scenario A or 10.1% in scenario B* by the end of the year.
Sources: *CNBC, **The Local
Larger cities are mostly affected by job losses. Industries such as tourism, communications, media, entertainment, and transport, have suffered most from the restrictions and social distancing recommendations. The world economy has been more affected than expected leaving Swedish exports in dire straits.
The government introduced support packages and measures to help businesses and start-ups, as well as job seekers, but the economic impact of COVID-19 will still be enormous.
#jobbjustnu, positions available now
Facing an increased number of registered unemployed, Arbetförmedlingen, took a series of measures to ease the strain on their system and facilitate a speedy return to work for citizens.
The hashtag #jobbjustnu (a job right now) was added to the job placement platform Platsbanken. Its aim is to fill available positions as fast as possible and make job searching more efficient.
The categories recruiting the most right now are nursing and teaching.
Be prepared and be patient
Let’s stay optimistic. The economy will eventually return to growth, even if no one knows when and how. There are still open positions, but fewer of them and the competition is fierce. So, to find your dream job, be patient, and use this free time wisely to improve your chances.
- Sharpen your tools: update your CV and LinkedIn profile – ensuring your career choice is clear and aligned with the needs of the market. Show your strengths and relevant competencies.
- If you are looking to make a career change, find ways to gain some experience without relying on employment (think internship, volunteering, personal projects).
- Learn Swedish. It’s a time-consuming activity, so now is the right time! You will greatly increase your job opportunities.
- Build your network. If there are few job ads, you can still connect with companies through direct communication. Wherever you are, you can start casting your net. More details here.
- Of course, you need to continue to apply to relevant positions. Spend time crafting a personal and interesting cover letter. Adapt your CV. Quality and quantity matter.
Unfortunately, it seems that Sweden’s strategy to handle COVID-19 won’t lead to a faster return to economic growth. Patience, energy and a good plan are what you need to succeed. It is possible, but be prepared for a marathon rather than a sprint!
I am a professional career coach based in Stockholm. I help French and English-speaking professionals build a career they love in Sweden. Find out more about my job search and career transition packages.
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