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PRESENTED BY INVEST STOCKHOLM

How to find work when you’re new to a city

Some people move abroad for an irresistible job offer. But if you decide to settle in a new country for love or adventure, finding work can all too quickly become your biggest source of stress.

How to find work when you’re new to a city
Photo: Getty Images

Many people who move don’t know anybody in their new city and can say nothing more than ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language. It’s easy to become disheartened – and even more so when Covid-19 restrictions make face-to-face networking impossible.

The Local, in partnership with Invest Stockholm, offers a simple guide to some of the key steps you can take to boost your job prospects in your adopted home, wherever you are. 

Curious about Stockholm? Find out more about career opportunities in the Swedish capital

Digital networking: be confident in what you can offer

You’re in an exciting new European city. But you’ve barely left home for weeks due to the pandemic and you don’t know how or where to begin your job search. 

All is not lost. The opportunities for digital networking are greater than ever. Now is the ideal time to make new connections online – and the contacts, skills and confidence you develop could prove vital long after the pandemic is over.

Networking – in person or online – can be a “scary” process, says Shaena Harrison, Executive Assistant to the Director at LinkedIn Nordics. But you should take confidence from your willingness to switch country in the first place, Harrison advises. Finding a supportive ‘team-mate’ can also be vital to keeping you going.

“We’re ready for adventure when we move abroad, so we shouldn’t be afraid to tap someone on the shoulder – or to do the digital equivalent,” Harrison says. “With physical events, you can take a ‘wing person’. Even if you’re networking digitally, you could find someone to work with as a team.

“The most important thing is to ask yourself ‘why do I want to reach out to these people?’ Frame the answer in terms of what you can offer, rather than what you’re looking for.” To learn more about the Stockholm approach to networking, click here.

Photo: Shaena Harrison

The tools to open up opportunities

So, what tools can you use to build your digital connections? Social media is likely to be key, of course, whether your preference is Facebook, Twitter, a younger rival or a dedicated professional network like LinkedIn.

Last year LinkedIn introduced an “Open to Work” setting. This means you can easily show on your profile page that you’re job-hunting – sharing this either with recruiters only or with all members. Those able and willing to pay a monthly subscription for LinkedIn Premium can also gain access to LinkedIn Learning, which offers a vast range of courses to help users upskill or reskill. 

If you’re not sure what you want to do next, many websites and apps offer personality tests that will offer quick advice on your aptitude for different careers. And don’t forget to Google yourself and look at the results with the critical eye of an employer!

What if you’re moving because your spouse or partner has landed a new job? Many major cities offer support networks for people in this situation, so it’s worth doing a search. If this applies to you and you’re new in Stockholm, click here to find out how the non-profit Stockholm Dual Career Network could help you.

Find out the tips and tricks that could help you land a top job in Stockholm

Employment sites 

Major international sites with listings across industries include Monster, Indeed and Glassdoor (where you’ll also find reviews of companies by current or previous employees). Want to focus on jobs where you can work in English? The Local’s job site is Europe’s foremost hub for English-language jobs, reaching 50,000 jobseekers across Europe every week.

Keen to impress with your language skills and international experience? You could try Europe Language Jobs, which specialises in matching multilingual candidates with multinational companies and has job offers in more than 40 languages.

You may also want to look at job listings and support from public employment agencies. EURES is an EU agency set up specifically to help jobseekers find work and employers to recruit across Europe. It aims to ensure career opportunities for European citizens aren’t held back by issues such as language barriers, bureaucratic challenges, and local employment laws.

On the site, you’ll find jobs from public employment agencies in EU and EEA countries, as well as Switzerland, and as of January 2021, more than 2.3 million jobs are listed. Companies in Germany place the most adverts, followed by the Netherlands and France.

You’ll find a wide range of job sites to search wherever you are. But sometimes the choice can prove confusing. Narrowing the search by focusing on specialist sites related to your industry may work for some. Stack Overflow, for example, is one of the world’s largest communities for programmers.

Finding work in Stockholm

Stockholm has an exciting start-up scene and is recognised as one of the most innovative cities in the world. Finding a job can be tricky, however, if you move to the city without an offer.

You’ll need to speak Swedish for most jobs advertised in Stockholm. Swedish isn’t required in many start-ups and large international companies where English is preferred, however. One site specifically for English-speaking jobseekers is www.jobsinstockholm.com, which also includes professional jobs in other parts of Sweden and useful tips for English-speaking job-hunters. Many jobs with start-ups appear in forums and networks, including Startupjobs.se and The Hub.

If you’re on Twitter, follow @movetostockholm and the activity on the hashtag #movetostockholm to hear about the latest opportunities. You could also join Invest Stockholm’s Move to Stockholm group on LinkedIn for work opportunities, practical advice on settling in, and to make new connections.

The Swedish Migration Agency and the Public Employment Agency regularly put together a labour shortage list (in Swedish) of occupations in high demand. If you’re offered a job on the list, you can then apply for a work permit from Sweden without following the usual requirement to apply from your home country.

Finally, what if you’re ready to start your own business? It’s straightforward in Stockholm, especially if you choose to register as a “sole trader”. Could this be the time to challenge yourself by going it alone as a freelancer?

Get the official advice on how to go about finding a job in Stockholm – or alternatively read more about your options for starting your own company in the city.

 
For members

WORKING IN GERMANY

7 tips for how to survive as a freelancer in Germany

Taking the decision to go it alone and freelance in Germany can be a daunting prospect. But, if you do it right, it can be an exciting and liberating path. Here are some of our top tips on how to survive.

7 tips for how to survive as a freelancer in Germany

1. Get a tax advisor

The German tax system is complicated, even for Germans. All the associated paperwork uses the Amtsprache (authority language) which is more like legalese than ‘normal’ German, and mistakes when filling out tax forms can cause you, at best, a massive headache and, at worst, a costly fine. So it’s best that you employ someone who knows what they’re doing to help you out.

That person is called a Steuerberater (tax advisor) in Germany. They will help you register with the tax office, correspond with them and submit your tax declarations.

Be aware that, in Germany, different deadlines apply for tax returns depending on whether you employ an official tax advisor or not. If you are doing the tax return on your own, the deadline for submitting your annual tax return is earlier than if you use a tax advisor’s services. 

READ ALSO: What NOT to do when you’re freelancing in Germany

When looking for a tax advisor, a top tip is to use your network to get recommendations. Ideally, you want someone who will do more than just fill in the forms for you, but who will actually advise you on how best to manage your business finances so that you can make tax savings.

2. Keep your accounting in order

The better you keep your own accounts in order, the easier it will be for your tax advisor to compile your tax declarations and therefore the cheaper their services will be.

As a freelancer, there are a lot of costs you can deduct from your taxes – from train tickets, working materials, to meals out – so it’s best to keep hold of all your receipts and to keep them in good order.

2 euros and 50 cents lie on a receipt in a beer garden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

In Germany, you’re obliged to keep hold of receipts for two years, in case of a tax inspection, so it’s a good idea to photocopy the type of machine-printed receipts you get from restaurants so that they stay legible for a long time.

There are also a few things to be aware of when writing your own invoices. Firstly, make sure that you include your tax number. This isn’t the 11-digit Steueridentifikationsnummer that everyone gets when registering in Germany, but the 10-digit Steuernummer you get from the Finanzamt after registering yourself as a freelancer. 

Most companies won’t pay you if you don’t have this on your invoices so make sure you include it.

You should also make sure that you number your invoices properly – ideally in ascending order so that you can easily keep track of them. You are not allowed to issue two invoices with the same number and if you do so and the finance office notices, you could face an inspection of your whole accounting system.

There are numerous great accounting software programmes you can use to help you, such as Lexoffice and Sevdesk and, even if you have to pay for them, the costs will be tax deductible!

3. Find out if you’re eligible for financial support

In Germany, there are several opportunities for freelancers to gain financial support and to cut their outgoings, and its worth finding out if you’re eligible for them.

If you’re claiming unemployment benefits under ALG 1 and are thinking about becoming a freelancer, the employment office offers a special type of financial support to help you to get your freelance business off the ground.

Called the Grundungszuschuss (“foundation grant”) the payment is a six-month grant equalling your monthly entitlement under ALG 1 plus €300 towards your insurance costs can be applied for those in receipt of this unemployment benefit.

READ ALSO: Will freelancers benefit from Germany’s €300 energy allowance?

If you are engaged in some form of artistic profession in Germany – which can include journalism to pottery – you may be entitled to membership to the Kunstlersozialkasse (artists’ social insurance).

Being a member of the KSK means you only have to pay half of your health insurance and pension contributions, and the KSK will pay the rest.

4. Work out how much you think you will earn

As with starting any business, you need to have some idea of your expected earnings from the outset.

If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, or have some freelance gigs on the side of an employment position, then it might be worth considering registering yourself as a Kleinunternehmer (“small business”).

As a Kleinunternehmer, you can currently earn up to €22.000 per year without having to charge VAT and having to submit only yearly tax declarations. 

An income tax declaration form lies on a table. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hans-Jürgen Wiedl

Be aware that if you are registered as this kind of freelancer, you must include the following sentence in your invoices: ‘Gemäß § 19 UStG wird keine Umsatzsteuer berechnet’ which means ‘In accordance with Paragrah19 of the German VAT law, no VAT has been added to this invoice.’

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about your German tax return in 2022

If you think you will earn more than €22.000 per year, you will need to pay Umsatzsteuer (VAT) and will have to submit tax declarations in advance and more often. Depending on how much you earn, this could be every month or every quarter. 

5. Get your insurance in order

In Germany, it’s a legal requirement to have health insurance.

If you’ve just made the move from employment to being a freelancer and want to keep the same health insurer, you should get in contact with your health insurance provider straight away to tell them about your change of circumstances. They will ask you to re-register and to tell them your projected freelance earnings for the year, so they can amend your monthly fees.

If you don’t keep your health insurer provider updated, you could continue to be charged the higher rate that you had from your previous salary.

The insurance cards of the health insurance companies DAK, AOK, Barmer and Techniker-Krankenkasse TK lie with euro notes under a stethoscope. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

It’s not just health insurance you need to think about as a freelancer. It’s also wise to think about protecting yourself from any sort of claims that could arise as a result of any working mishaps. 

If, for example, you lose your laptop which contains confidential client information, you need to be protected against claims.

That’s why it’s good to have both Betriebshaftversicherung (business liability insurance) and Rechtschutzversicherung (legal protection insurance).

6. Plan your time wisely

All of these bureaucratic obligations take time. So it’s really important that you take account of that when planning your time. For example, planning half a day a week to deal with your invoices, filing, emails to clients, and conversations with authorities can be really beneficial when scheduling your working time. 

7. Grow your network

As a freelancer, networking is absolutely crucial to success. 

Keep an up-to-date profile on websites like LinkedIn and German equivalent XING and keep in contact with anyone you’ve ever worked with, no matter how brief the contact was. 

Having a network is not only about getting more clients, but also about building a support network in your field to exchange advice, tips and generally for your own enrichment. 

Participating in workshops related to your field, going to seminars, and meet-ups, can be great ways of broadening your network. 

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