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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.

 
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The words and phrases you need to navigate the German job market

Embarking on a job search can be a daunting prospect even in your homeland, and even more difficult in Germany. Here are some words, phrases and tips to help you along the way.

The words and phrases you need to navigate the German job market

The search

Luckily, there are various ways to look for a job in Germany.

The easiest starting point is looking at online portals, where employers advertise their current openings. These go by several names – including Stellenbörse or Jobbörse (job exchange), or Stellenmarkt (job market).

The best one, of course, is The Local’s very own, which gives you a great overview of the best English language jobs going in Germany, but there are also many others such as indeed.de, and the jobs page of the federal employment agency website.

While searching for a job, you’ll need to filter your options according to which type of position you’re looking for.

If you want a full-time position, you should check the box for Vollzeit and Teilzeit for part-time work.

READ ALSO: Working in Germany: Which sectors currently have the most job openings?

If you’re looking for a freelance gig, then you should look for positions advertising for a freier Mitarbeiter, while if you’re seeking a salaried position – where your healthcare and tax contributions are taken care of by the employer – then you should look for jobs as a Festangestellter (permanent employee).

If the job advert you come across specifies Fachkräfte or Facharbeiter, this means that they are seeking a specialist, so if you are looking to learn on the job, these positions are probably not for you.

But if you do want to learn on the job, then you might want to consider positions for a Praktikant (intern) or if you’re doing a formal training course with a view to entering a specific occupation – you could look for positions as an Azubi (Auszubildende/r) – a trainee or an apprentice.

If you find an organisation that you would like to work for, but which doesn’t currently have any advertised vacancies, you can try sending them eine Initiativbewerbung – literally an “initiative application” – as an e-mail or even by post.

A handy opening phrase to keep in mind for such applications is:

Ich bin auf der Suche nach einer Stelle in…

“I am looking for a job in…”

If you’re not getting anywhere online, you can also try looking out our for a Jobmesse (job fair) in your local area.

A job fair for Ukrainian refugees organised by the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Federal Employment Agency in June, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Another option is to get a professional to help you with your job search. A recruitment agency – or eine Personalvermittlung, can put you in touch with a job agent – ein Personalvermittler – who can look for jobs and interviews on your behalf and who will usually be paid by commission from your eventual employer.

The application

A standard job application in Germany consists of der Lebenslauf (CV), das Anschreiben or der Bewerbungsbrief (cover letter) and important Unterlagen (documents) featuring the two Z’s: Zeugnisse and Zertifikate (both meaning “certificates”).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

As in most other countries, your German Lebenslauf should include a summary of your beruflicher Werdegang (professional background), Qualifakationen (qualifications), as well as Sprachen (language skills), Kenntnisse (relevant knowledge) and even Hobbys (hobbies).

An employer reviews a CV. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

Under German anti-discrimination law (AGG), you are allowed, but not obliged, to include such things as your religion, gender, date of birth, nationality and photo.

READ ALSO: Six things you should know about creating a cover letter and résumé

The second standard document to send along with your CV is the cover letter. As in the English-speaking world, this should be no more than a page of writing, describing your motivation and suitability for the job and telling the employer why you want to work for their organisation specifically. 

It’s best to try to find out the name of the person in HR or the head of the department who will be reviewing your application and address it directly to them. While a general Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is a safe backup, it can sound a little old-fashioned and general. 

Most employers will want a reference or two along with your CV and cover letter, so make sure you include an Arbeitszeugnis and other relevant Zeugnisse and Zertifikate, such as Ausbildungszeugnisse (training certificates), Studienzeugnisse (study certificates) and Zertifikate über Fort- und Weiterbildungen (certificates of further education and training).

The Interview

If your written application is enough to impress your potential employer, you will be invited to a Vorstellungsgespräch which literally means “introductory conversation” – but is definitely an interview. 

READ ALSO: How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

This can be a nerve-wracking experience to have in German, but if you keep a few of these handy phrases in your pocket, you’ll sail through. 

Ich bin sehr zuverlässig

I am very reliable

Ich möchten mich beruflich weiterentwickeln
I would like to develop professionally

Ich habe schon viele Erfahrung in diesem Bereich gesammelt

I already have a lot of experience in this field

Ich lege viel Wert auf Kreativität in meiner Arbeit

I place great value on creativity in my work

Auch unter Druck kann ich gut arbeiten und ruhig bleiben

Even under pressure I can perform well and stay calm

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