You might hear that there is a huge lack of IT professionals in Sweden and think it's easy to find IT-related jobs here, I regret to tell you, you are somehow wrong. This market is not really friendly for junior developers, especially those without computer science degree, Swedish speaking ability or native network. The market demands senior developers with minimum three years of experiences (after school!), and if you speak Swedish fluently, that'll be a huge bonus. I would like to write some plain process of job seeking for junior developers so you know what's lying ahead. This might be similar in other countries, even if it's not I still believe it can benefit junior developers from all over the world, especially those that are self-taught.
Types of companies
1. Tech companies
Usually tech companies tend to have a strong engineering culture where you can learn a lot from seniors, and they also tend to be international and English is used as a common language as communication. However, they do have a strict demand about your education, so students with STEM backgrounds in colleges (particularly computer science, data science, machine learning etc) will for sure have an advantage. Examples: Spotify, Klarna.
2. Non-tech companies that require IT professionals
Usually those companies look more into your working experiences, they're also more likely to outsource IT services to other consultant companies or hire consultants to work with their own team. The more "out-sourced" they are, the more likely English will be used as communicating language. Some companies like H&M or Ericsson adopted English as the official communicating language so whether you can speak Swedish fluently is not a big deal. Example: Nordea, Ericsson.
Sweden is a good place for startups. Startups usually like either very experienced senior developers or inexperienced interns or juniors (but usually unpaid). Startups are generally a bit lively, messy and might face issues like funding to continue. Example: InstaBox.
4. Consultant companies and agencies
Since the developers are actually the "products" that consultant companies are selling to their clients, they really really like your fancy education or industrial experiences. You have to have either or both. For self-taught developers without CS degree, it's extremely difficult to get those. Those companies also prefer you to speak and write BOTH fluent English and Swedish, as they cited that their clients demand that. They're less likely to check your portfolio or code, but look at your resume first and reject you directly based on that, because the shiny CVs are their selling points to their clients. Example: Knowit, CGI.
Some agencies might take some juniors to do in-house projects, but it's becoming very rare these days. For agencies, you might stand out with a well-done portfolio with medium-sized projects. Nowadays agencies tend to hire seniors as they need to meet deadline on time when working on projects for their clients.
Where to find them?
The best place is Linkedin in my opinion, but if you know the company by name, you can also check their sites' career page. There are also places such as Stackoverflow job boards, or work agencies such as AcademicWork or governmen-run Arbetsförmedlingen. The latter two would require you to know at least basic Swedish to navigate, some jobs might be alright with English speaking. For startups I found TheHub is a good place to check.
1. Initial phone/google hangout screening (10-60 mins)
Usually phone screening is handled by HR or recruiters. They talk to you about the company, the job position, ask you to introduce yourself, and will ask you questions regarding your CV, starting time, expected payment etc. Of course they might also check if you're able to communicate yourself clearly in the language required. At this stage, it's very unlikely you will be asked technical questions.
2. Logical and personality tests (20-60 mins)
Both are done online, usually take 15 to 30 minutes respectively. The HR will send you this as next step after the first phone screening if you pass that. Sometimes, initial phone screening isn't even carried out, you will be directly sent those tests to begin with. Of course, it's graded by machine so it's cheaper and time-saving for the company!
Logical tests will involve verbal logic, simple and quick math questions and image patterns. Since it's timed and goes very fast, you should really do this when you're not tired, sleepy or nervous. You should also do this in a quiet environment where you aren't disturbed. If you're worried about comprehension, choose the language that you're most familiar with. It can get a bit intense, especially in some tests that learn your level and progress to give you harder questions.
Personality is usually the five-personality traits. I think you can just be honest. If you're an introvert, don't pretend to be extrovert on paper. Some questions will be repeated in different forms to test whether you're given true answers, so better not try to cheat on this as you don't know what exactly they're looking for.
Personally my favorite testing product is from Alva Labs. It allows you to test once and save the result in your account. You can later share the result with other companies that use this service, so you save valuable time to take those tests repeatably. Of course if you're not satisfied with your result with previous company, you can always do it again when a new company requests this from you.
3. Coding tests or challenges ( 1.5-10 hours)
There are several types of coding tests, depending on the jobs and the companies.
Some might send you a hackerrack test, some might use qualified. Those are timed, usually lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. Without vigorous practice it can be very challenging to pass those tests. To prepare for those I suggest you check my resource page and click Computer Science. One thing I didn't list is the famous book Cracking the Coding Interview as it's a book not online resources. I recommend the book too as it is the Bible for everyone who wants to pass FANG style white board coding interview.
Some companies might ask you to use their own products, such as do a simple page with their API, or write some algorithm that's related with their API. Some might require you to work on an existing full-stack app, add some new features or fix some problems. Some will request you build a small-sized full-stack app from scratch, using some public APIs.
The deadline is usually at most two weeks, again it depends on the company. Always ask that to see if you can make it on time, or if you can delay a bit.
4. On-site interview (1-8 hours)
After you submit your coding tests, some company might give you some feedback and why they choose not proceed with you, some might not even give you feedback, but just tell you that they choose to proceed with others. Some company will still meet you in person, no matter how you did the test or challenge. In this case, you will probably need to explain what you did and why you did it. During the interview, the interviewers might also ask you tech-related questions and ask you to code some lines or add some features on the fly (might involve installing new library you've never heard of and read documentation and figure out a problem). They will want to see how good and fast you are at solving problems yourself.
If you're not given coding tests prior to on-site interview, then on-site interviews are more likely to be introduction of yourself, the company and the role, you will be asked general technical questions related to your role, or what you have done and have learnt from previous projects. To prepare for this step there are two resources I can recommend:
I personally prefer companies that give me detailed feedback and suggestion to improve, I really appreciate those tips from seniors. This also shows the company cares about their future employees and is willing to spend equally some time with you, as you have spent some time for them. Companies that requires a lot of time and effort from you but gives you a cold shoulder... maybe you should think again about applying a job there in the future.
After on-site interview, sometimes perhaps 2-3 rounds of on-site interviews, you will get an offer. Congrats! The next step will be to consider which offer suits you the best. This is another topic so I will not go further here.
Alright, this is basically my own experience of seeking a web developer job as a self-taught developer in Stockholm, Sweden. I'm 200% sure there are many job opportunities that are open only to native Swedes internally or via their connection, but I unfortunately have no access to this privilege. Not being able to talk fluently as locals also hindered me from applying for certain positions that require it. If you're like me, then what's left is definitely not easy, but with some hard work, you can still land something that suits you! Keep it going!
photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash
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