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9 questions for a recruiter at IKEA

In this blog post, you will meet with recruiter Julia Schnittger and learn more about the recruitment process at her employer, IKEA. IKEA is a global furnishing company and a brand close to the hearts of many people. It is also a popular employer around the world and many students and alumni are curious about its recruitment process.

Julia SchnittgerJulia Schnittger graduated from the master’s degree programme in Managing People, Knowledge and Change in 2020. She has been a great resource for us by answering lots of student questions about finding work in Sweden. Hence, by popular demand, we will publish some of Julia’s responses to questions posed during our student webinars about the Swedish labour market.

Let’s explore nine questions and answers about job search in Sweden!

1. When is it time to get LinkedIn? Is it useful if you’re a recent graduate with an empty CV?

Your CV is never empty 😉 You should create your LinkedIn profile as soon as possible. Your education (study program, part-time jobs) is an essential part of your profile. Make sure you write a bit about your study program and state your skills. The only thing is: You should make sure that your profile looks professional (descriptions, skills, pictures, etc.) before you actively reach out to others and network.

2. Recruiters often recommend having a one-page CV. How are you supposed to show relevant experience on just one page?

It is better for us recruiters to have short CV’s, on point. However, if you have many relevant roles, just use two pages. You will not be declined because of the length of your CV – but focus on the essential roles related to the position you are applying for. From a recruiter’s perspective, I can say that I am a bit bored by reading a four page long CV. Always remember that this is the first impression – only mention the positions and roles you had before that are relevant for the job you are applying for.

3. Is the cover letter typically screened only by Human Resources, or is it passed to staff involved in technical interviews? I am a bit concerned if it is ok to use terminology in the cover letter that might be too technical. Should I keep the language as simple as possible?

When discussing the cover letter, you should keep it as simple as possible. Usually, the recruiter is the first to read the CV and the cover letter. Make sure that this person can understand what you are talking about, even though this person has no experience in this field. Therefore, it should not be “too technical.” A tip from my side: give your cover letter to a friend who is not working in this field and ask your friend what they understand. It can be very helpful!

You should definitely mention why you want the particular position and what you can contribute with, according to your experiences and education. And also, give some examples as well instead of just listing things. Furthermore, you can also bring up why you see this step as beneficial for your career; this gives us a better understanding of where you want to go in the long term – but make sure that it does not sound like you would like to do this job “just” as a starting role and then move on quickly to something else. That gives the wrong signals.

4. Would it be a good tactic to contact the recruiter to extract more information about the position?

Yes, but make sure that you are asking questions that are not already answered in the job ad. 😉

5. You mentioned that the first interview is more of a personality exploration of the candidate. What key attributes of one’s personality are you usually seeking? And how to reflect generally?

This is totally dependent on the hiring manager and what they are looking for in their employees. It is connected to the specific role and the team setup as well. If we have, for example, all introverted characters in the team, it might be good to have someone a bit more extroverted and vice versa. In general, when it comes to IKEA, you should look at our values and make sure that you can align with them, and also give some examples and reasons why specific values are vital for you.

6. Can you tell us more about how to go about a ”fika”-interview like the one you had at IKEA when you were looking for a job?

It was a talk for around an hour at the IKEA office. I prepared myself before and wrote down some specific questions I wanted to ask. I also brought my application (CV and CL) to this fika. My questions were related to working at IKEA in general and in Sweden when coming from Germany. We talked a lot about entry-level positions at IKEA and what the structure of IKEA looks like since it is a massive and complex organisation. I also told my IKEA-contact about positions I had applied for already, and she gave me some tips on which kind of positions I should concentrate on in the future.

I prepared a pitch and presented myself shortly when we met. I told her what I am looking for in the future in general, and we also talked about other organisations in Sweden that might be interested in hiring someone with a German background. She recommended me to some of her LinkedIn contacts, and I contacted them. In the end, I asked her if I could mention our “fika-meeting” in my future applications to IKEA, and she was fine with that. So, in my next application, I mentioned the fika, which was a big plus because my current manager knows my contact quite well. I think the best advice I can give is: to be prepared (pitch and questions), bring your application, and just be yourself!

7. Do you prefer having references already in the initial application?

It is not necessary. The reference check is the last step in our process after we have done all the interviews. And even though you have references in your CV, we will ask officially for your references so that you are also aware that we will reach out to them.

8. A challenge for international students is obtaining a work visa as not many companies would grant sponsorship for that visa regardless of the experience one might have; therefore, what is the realistic outlook for alumni under this condition? Is there any chance of securing a job?

In general, and here I am speaking for IKEA, we support our co-workers regarding VISAs, documents needed for employment, etc. For us, this is not a barrier to hiring someone. We are happy to support this!

9. As an international student and alum now living in Sweden it can be challenging to create a new social network, especially if you are a bit introverted. What is your advice on creating a social network with contacts relevant for my career?

It would be best if you went outside of your comfort zone. Use LinkedIn as a first platform and try to attend seminars and get-together events. I would recommend looking for someone on LinkedIn who studied the same as you, maybe someone who is coming from the same country and is now living in Sweden. Try to find connections and a base to connect around. Then you start the conversation and tell them that you want to hear their stories. This is often the first step to getting in contact and is way better than the “I would like to have a job”-message.

Everyone of us went through similar experiences, and for all of us, it was pretty hard to find a job in Sweden. So, I think that almost everyone who had this experience is happy to support you. Try to keep this in mind when reaching out to people on LinkedIn.

January 26, 2023

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Career advice Q&A with alumni