So, last month I took a Swedish exam so that I would have some sort of physical proof of my Swedish language capability level. Just in case it could help me in my job search. Not that anyone has ever asked me for proof–but I’ve heard it COULD be possible for someone to ask.
But, I’ve noticed recently that around the middle of October I finally started to feel comfortable attempting to speak Swedish when meeting potential employers. I used Swedish when I was at a job fair at the end of October. I still had my issues, of course, and I wasn’t speaking perfectly. Ad I did switch to English occasionally. But, I noticed that they reacted to me differently (I could even see it in their faces) when I approached them in Swedish rather than English–they were finally taking me seriously as a possible candidate because I was trying to speak in Swedish and it showed I was serious about living and working and integrating here. And as a result, I managed to finally get my first two job interviews! One of which I also attempted to do mostly in Swedish (the other was a group interview in English). And again, I could tell that they finally took me seriously as a result of my attempts at doing it in Swedish.
Yes, Sweden is one of the top countries in the world for English language skills, so it is extremely easy to do things here on English. However, unless you have a career in something technology-based like IT, engineering, etc where the company is international and works only in English, you NEED Swedish. Even if it is something that uses a ton of English like my field of aviation. And I’ve learned this is NOT because they worry about your ability to do your job–it’s because they worry about your ability to integrate properly with your coworkers. When you are at lunch or fika, they want to be able to relax in their own language, and how can you integrate and participate if you don’t know Swedish?
But most of all, companies here believe your learning of the Swedish language shows them so much more about you and your work ethics–how dedicated and hard working you will be. A good example of this is someone (I am thinking of multiple examples of people, right now!) who has lived here more than 4+ years, and can still barely speak conversational Swedish (maybe an A2 level at best). This person makes excuses for not having learned more–from having been busy with a baby, to crappy SFI teachers. Now they are applying to jobs and the companies are looking at them like they won’t be good workers because they couldn’t even take learning the local language seriously over such a long period of time (Why couldn’t you study when the baby slept? Why couldn’t you utilize online resources if your SFI teacher was crap?).
When we move here, we are all stressed and busy trying to find a job. But, we need to make sure to keep in mind what is important and prioritize, and learning Swedish is one of those important things that can help you greatly in not only integrating into society, but also in getting a job here!