28 april 2020, kl. 15:45

Coaching storie; Julie, a young French woman seeks job in Stockholm

By Christelle Pottinger

A few weeks ago, I received a short email.

“I think I could use your services. I have been in Sweden for nearly a year, and despite applying for many jobs, I am still unemployed. I need a fresh perspective on my job search. Can you help me?”

I met Julie for a free preliminary chat in a quiet coffee shop. Julie is tall, with dark curly hair and a broad smile. She chose to move from Paris to Stockholm for the better work-life balance. She is happy but frustrated by her job search. Her unemployment benefits are soon to run out and her job search has yet to be successful.

However, she remains positive and has reflected on past applications. “When I get an interview, I usually get through to the final stage. But here it rarely happens. I need to review my CV and cover letter to increase my chances.”

I reassured Julie that It isn’t unusual for job searchers to need a year or more to land their first position in Stockholm. It can be tiresome and demotivating, so I am glad she reached out to me. Here is how we worked together.

Session 1: How to read and understand a job ad

Armed with steaming cups of tea, we pondered specific jobs for which Julie wanted to apply. She had sent dozens of applications during the past few months. She had become skilled at scanning the ads to identify if she was a good fit. But she missed important elements to tailor her CV and cover letter.

  • Identify key words: what is the vocabulary used? Are certain words repeated?
  • What is the tone of voice: is it serious, light-heart or even funny? What does it say about the company, the recruiter or the desired applicant?
  • Get the full picture: what kind of person is the advertiser looking for? What can you read between the lines?

Once Julie could picture the perfect candidate, we set out to craft her CV to be the best match.

Session 2: Clarifying and adapting CV to ads

Recruiters spend on average 6 seconds per CV. So, the goal is to make sure the relevant information stands out. Julie knew she needed to simplify it but couldn’t figure out what to prioritise.

  • Experiences: It can be tempting to write them all. For each role you had, ask the question: what does it say about me that the others don’t? One line is enough to describe positions that are there to show there is no gap in your career. Others are worth developing (using those key words).
  • Job title: a little flexibility goes a long way…adapt your previous job titles so they better fit the application. But don’t lie, you will be found out.
  • About me: 1 or 2 sentences that summarize who you are and what you want today

Going back and forth between her CV and the ad, Julie made her CV lean and clean. When satisfied, she realised that little changes were needed for her job applications.

Session 3: Write a motivation letter that stands out

I loved Julie’s creativity and openness throughout the process of creating the best framework for her cover letters. She tried many formats and different tones of voice (from formal to personal, and even bullet points adjusted to the company’s colours!).

What she learnt along the way:

  • Cover letters should tell the recruiter who you are as a person. They are the link between your CV and the interview. Bring out your personality.
  • When possible, be personal. Certain roles are advertised by the team leader – find information about him/her. Start the conversation.
  • Tell them something they might find useful. Do your research and share your understanding of their business. It is better to be specific and wrong than stating the obvious.

Session 4: Preparing for an interview

That was one of the most fun sessions we had! Julie was invited to an exciting interview. She was enthusiastic and nervous.

  • Tip 1 – Know how to introduce yourself with clarity and confidence, in 1 minute. Blend your key competences, with your personality and personal life. I spend a lot of time on this with Julie, as finding the right mix and amount of information can be tricky. Then we rehearsed!
  • Tip 2 – Beyond researching the company and knowing facts, bring opinions and questions about the area for which you’d be responsible. For example, If the role is ‘content manager’, review their social media platform and bring some analysis and suggestions.

Julie passed the first interview and was invited to the second, thanks to my coaching or her great personality? Impossible to know but feeling prepared certainly made her calmer and more confident.

Session 5: Approaching companies directly

During our last session, Julie wanted to focus on ‘open applications’. She realised that they are alternatives to answering job ads. As usual, she arrived well prepared and had listed interesting companies. Soon, she concluded that the process is like applying for a role: understanding the organisation and their activity well-enough to state why and how her competences would be relevant.

We faced two tricky questions:

  1. To whom do you send your application? Julie finally decided that it should be the team manager.
  2. What should be the email subject title? We wrote a few suggestions, all short (6 words or more, to be easily read on a mobile) and specific (her name and her ideal role/position)

The 5 sessions took place over two months. Even though she’s yet to be offered a position, she has all the qualities, and knowledge, to succeed. She is reflective, hard-working and has a wonderful positive attitude and drive. She now has a strong CV and a method to write outstanding cover letters. It was a real pleasure to guide Julie in her job search. I wish her the best on the continuation of her journey.


I am a professional career coach based in Stockholm. I help French and English-speaking professionals build a career they love in Sweden. Find out more about my job search and career transition packages. 


Coaching story

*The name and specific details of the coachee have been changed to respect the confidentiality of coaching.

Image credit: Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

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