Got your first job or are you new to working life in Sweden? We have useful tips and information that will help you in your career.
Here are our best tips for engineers who got their first job or are new to working life in Sweden. From useful guides and advice to interesting webinars to give you a good start and development at your job.
Taking the first step into working life is often both exciting and a little scary. Here we have gathered some tips and advice to help you get off to a good start in your first job.
The first few weeks are very much about getting to know the people you work with. It goes without saying that you should say hello and introduce yourself in the first day or two. Often, the manager makes sure that you get an opportunity to introduce yourself to the colleagues you will be working with most closely. You don’t need to say much more than your name, what role you will have and a little about your background.
We all adapt to new contexts differently. It’s easy to wait to be asked by your new colleagues to join them for lunch or coffee, but people have their habits and may not always think about the fact that you are new. So dare to take the first step – say hello at the coffee machine and ask people if you can join them for lunch. Aim to get to know people, even if you feel a little nervous. It will help you to become part of the group and settle into in your new surroundings faster.
It takes time to get to know things when you’re new, so be kind to yourself and expect it to take a few months before you get up to speed. You don't have to know everything from day one. And it can take time to get to know and understand your colleagues, not least your manager. Don't take it too hard if there are misunderstandings in the beginning. The more you get to know the people you work with, the more you will learn how to communicate effectively with them.
One of the most effective ways to get to know your workplace quickly is to show curiosity and interest in your colleagues' areas of responsibility and ways of working. Read as much as you can about the organisation, ask questions and listen actively. A useful tip is not to start by criticising things. Instead, wait until you have settled into your job a little more and then you can bring up your suggestions for improvements. It's a delicate balance - be careful not to be too anxious and afraid to present new ideas and suggestions.
It’s important to have a good introduction to the workplace to find out about your duties and the rules and routines. That will make it easier for you to learn about your job and to fit in. You should also get information about who your closest managers and colleagues are and about trade union and health and safety representatives. Remind your manager if you have not received a proper workplace introduction or contact the HR department.
Not everything goes right all the time. It’s best to be open and honest if you think you may have done something wrong. And if you find it difficult to deliver what you have promised, it’s good to let your manager know as early as possible. That way, you show that you are a person who takes responsibility and you can find a way forward together with your manager or colleagues and prioritise what is most important.
When you're new and ambitious, it's easy to fall into the trap of doing other people's jobs. Of course you should be helpful and flexible and step in if a colleague needs help, but be careful that it doesn't become a habit and that you end up not having time to do your own work. Arriving on time in the morning and at meetings is a given of course, but don't forget that it’s just as important not to be the one who always goes home last. Having a good balance between work and private life is essential for your health, well-being and resilience.
Having a colleague who is a bit like a guide and mentor is often very helpful. It can make you feel more secure in the group. Try to find someone that you get on with and that you can ask about anything. Or ask your manager to nominate a senior colleague who you can turn to and who will help you during your first few weeks.
Always keep in mind that how you perform affects your salary development. Have you led a major project, delivered above expectations, received other or new tasks or attended training? Keep a continuous record of your accomplishments so that you have a good basis for your annual salary dialogue.
Remember that the unemployment insurance fund and the trade union are not the same thing. The a-kassa unemployment insurance fund provides financial protection if you become unemployed. If you are a member of Engineers of Sweden, you normally pay your unemployment insurance fee together with your union membership fee, but double check that you are a member of the Akademikernas a-kassa unemployment insurance fund. Without membership of the fund, you won’t be covered by Engineers of Sweden's income protection insurance.
Do you feel unsure about what you should do to fit in? Just remember that they hired you for a reason. They chose you! So be confident that you are good enough and be yourself.
Engineers of Sweden’s members’ magazine Ingenjören asked engineers from abroad for their best tips for foreign engineers who are newly arrived in Sweden. Read some of their tips here:
Join lunches and coffee breaks with Swedes if you get the chance, even if you don’t understand what everyone is saying. Soon you will understand more and more and almost everyone speaks good English.
The Swedish you learn at SFI and SAS (Swedish as a second language) may differ from how people speak, for example at work. In everyday life, many people use slang words. Ask when you don’t understand and make a slang list.
I got a mentor through a program organized by Engineers of Sweden. My mentor helped me a lot in understanding how the labor market works in Sweden.
How do you know that you have joined a good workplace? Your gut feeling often speaks for itself, but sometimes it's hard to get a handle on whether you're working in a good place when you don’t have anywhere else to compare with.
Collective agreements ensure that you have many good working conditions and that you and the employer have clarity about what terms of employment apply. If your employer has signed a collective agreement, that can also be seen as a guarantee that it is a responsible and serious employer that provides good conditions and cares about its employees.
A job is more than just the tasks it involves. Is there an open and encouraging climate? Do people take coffee breaks at the same time? Are there social activities? You can get an idea of about what the atmosphere is like and whether colleagues speak positively of the employer from employee surveys.
How were your first few weeks? When you are being introduced to your work tasks, you can build a good foundation by working side by side with a colleague. You should also get to know colleagues so you can build up an internal network. Ideally, you should have a mentor that you can always turn to for information, help and advice.
You and your employer must of course have a written employment contract that confirms what you have agreed. It is usually clear which collective agreement applies at the workplace and where you can read more about your conditions. If your employer does not have a collective agreement, your contract should state clearly what applies regarding matters such as annual holiday leave, pension and insurances.
You have clearly described work tasks. This is essential in order for you to know what you are to do and for others to know what they can expect from you. It is also vital when your performance is to be evaluated in your annual salary dialogue.
Collective agreements give you the right to annual salary dialogues and professional development dialogues, where you discuss your development in relation to the organisation’s goals. Through feedback meetings with your manager, you can also monitor your situation regularly. Then your manager will be familiar with what you are doing, how it is going and whether they need to provide any help or support.
Of course, it is up to you as an employee to grow and develop professionally, but it’s also up to the manager to ensure you have the right competence and to help you develop. The right to professional development dialogues is also normally stipulated in collective agreements or in workplace policies.
Engineers of Sweden’s members’ magazine Ingenjören asked young engineers what they wished they had known when they walked through the door to their first engineering job. Here is some of their advice: