My husband and I originally came from the Philippines and when he was given a wonderful opportunity by his company to choose into which country he could migrate to, I actually influenced him to choose Sweden because of our mutual love affair with IKEA. I thought that once settled and since we have all the complete paper works for our relocation, everything will just fall into place for me as well. Unfortunately, I was ultimately wrong and there were a few (actually several) hiccups along the way…
I initially thought that it would be easy for me to apply for a job here in Sweden. With my updated resume and cover letter in place, I started sending my job applications. LinkedIn and Arbetsformedlingen became my 2 best friends for the past year. In between doing household chores, I have spent majority of my time every single day customizing my cover letters highlighting my skills needed by the company. It’s like looking for a job has been my “full-time” day job. Although I’m an undergraduate, I do have more than 10 years experience under my belt in the Customer Service industry and thought this would be my main selling point for myself.
Although this was the case, it was such a precarious situation since I would be expected to talk to Swedish customers and not being able to speak or understand Swedish was a big dilemma for me. It’s true what they say that being knowledgeable in the Swedish language will give you an upper hand over the other applicants. I did try to inquire about SFI however I didn’t get the chance to attend it. I tried to inquire but was told due to a lot of applicants, to just wait for someone to contact me. As a workaround, what I did was to buy myself a book and started studying the language at my own pace. I’m still currently a work in progress and I allot at least an hour or two a day to slowly familiarize myself with it as this is one of my main goals to help me integrate in the society. In Sweden, I have learned the significance of expanding my network. This is really an integral part of opening a wider avenue in landing that job since character references is a big part of the Swedish job culture. Being an introvert myself, this was really a big challenge for me as well so I continued to find additional ways as this is clearly not my strong suit.
I registered to Arbetsformedlingen and fortunately, I was accepted to their Support and Matching program. This has been a big help for me as I began to attend virtual meetings to learn more about the Swedish job market. This also enabled me to apply for activity support and receive a small monthly allowance thru Forsakringskassan. I have attended all of the scheduled online training and the meetings were actually held in Swedish. Good thing about the supplier I chose, they send me the English translation and then I always submit in return a brief summary report on its content. Based on my assessment, I was required to at least make 8-22 job applications in a month. And when I submit my Activity Report for each month, it would end up being 50 – 80 job applications per month. That’s how focused I am in my goal of getting a job. I’ve had a mentor that once told me – “Reach for the ceiling, you’ll fall on the ground. But when you reach for the sky, you fall on the roof” which meant that the more job applications I send, the greater the chance to be invited for interviews, thus increasing my chance of getting a job, similar to the point of more raffle entries you send, the more chances of winning.
Months went by and I saw myself eating a lot of humble pie. Although I started to receive invitations for interviews, it seems that being accepted for a job has become elusive for me and I started doubting myself. I was thinking that because of the pandemic, a lot of the companies were on freeze hiring however I always see a lot of advertisements on different job platforms. And then I can’t help to think that maybe, my lack of knowledge for the Swedish language is playing such a big factor on me. I have received a ton of rejection emails and worse, other companies were not just replying at all. Being human, honestly, it gets to a point that it becomes really demotivating. What I did was to read up on ways how to motivate one’s self with all the continuous rejections. I came upon a quote that says “Rejection is merely a redirection; a course correction to your destiny.” I learned that there are so many things that are out of my hands and there’s also a lot of things that I can control. I can control the amount of time I spend worrying, I can control the amount of effort I put forth and I can also control whether or not to try again after a setback. But most importantly, my faith and the support of my husband and family has been my greatest strength the entire time.
One of the great things I came upon also was the International Citizen Hub Lund. They have a wonderful support for spouses and partners of international recruits so I immediately applied for their KickStart Program. While waiting for the result of my application, my dream company invited me for an interview. Unfortunately at that time, I was informed that they have chosen to go with another candidate. However, the hiring manager said that he would refer me to their hiring agency because maybe he saw something in me. I thanked him graciously for this promise but honestly, I thought this was just a consolation thing that he said to me so that I won’t feel bad. I took it with a grain of salt and just didn’t expect anything at all.
Another company based in Denmark also invited me for an interview. I did 3 rounds of interview with them including a case scenario wherein they provided me a virtual sandbox to at least familiarize myself somehow with their product. And then I received the great news, I passed the case scenario and they were giving me a job offer. Living in Malmo which is only about 40 minutes train ride going to Denmark, I would have to apply for a commuter status. However, since I’m a non-EU citizen, I do not have the freedom of movement and I have to apply for a Danish work permit since what I have is only a Swedish residence and work permit. This would take about a month to process but with the current pandemic, it was uncertain how long it would take. The problem was, they needed me to start immediately as this was an urgent position that needed to be filled. Although I received the great news of being offered a job, sadly after a couple of days, they contacted me again to inform me of their decision. They’re not prepared to wait for me to process my papers and that they have no choice but to move on with another candidate. Imagine my heartbreak. I had been waiting for almost a year hoping to get a job, one company decided to hire me and then this happened.
Still, I did not lose hope because I received another great news that I got selected to be one of the participants of the KickStart Program. While waiting for this to start, imagine my surprise when the hiring agency I was referred to contacted me to let me know that they got my information as a direct referral from the previous hiring manager that I had an interview with. So happy to know that he did fulfill his promise! So I had an interview with them and gratefully, I have received the long-awaited news, this time it’s for real and not a false alarm. Indeed, all the rejections I’ve received has led me full circle to my destiny to work for my dream company.
After 268 rejection emails, 14 interviews, finally, I got that 1 “YES”. All I needed was just 1% of their trust and I’m fully prepared to earn the remaining 99% to show my dedication towards my work. I know there’s a lot of expats like me who felt this constant struggle of yearning to have that job and I definitely understand how it exactly feels because I was in the same shoes as them. For 1 year, I had to experience a lot of lows and maintaining a positive mental health is truly so important in training myself and coping with my thoughts. I hope in sharing my story, for all the people who’s still doing their best to land their dream job, hang in there and keep pushing! Have the GRIT to continuously focus on your goal, overcome all hurdles that may come in between, and definitely have the GRACE to accept the blessings I know that would surely come your way. If you’re currently down, there’s no way to go but up! And don’t forget to keep the faith! 💟
PS. You might want to also check the 32 Steps I Took to Land my First Job in Sweden
Be grateful and kind,