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Working in Iceland - Advice & Tips

Iceland

Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in the country well-known for its modern capital city and spiritual and mythical landscape. The labour market in Iceland is varying, but there are a number of ways to start your job search.

Job hunting in Iceland

In Iceland there are no traditional rules on how an application should be written. The main guidelines are to try and write a CV and covering letter in Icelandic, or otherwise in either English or a Scandinavian language (Danish, Norwegian or Swedish). A basic knowledge of Icelandic is, however, much appreciated, although not an absolute prerequisite. Speculative applications are in the small society of Iceland a good way of finding a job. Other ways of finding a job are through employment services, through the local branches of your professional or trade union (stéttarfélag, verkalýðsfélag) and by reading classified advertisement in local newspapers (the largest are ‘Morgunblaðið’ and ‘DV’) especially on Sundays. Furthermore, you are well advised to contact employers directly and by networking (tell the world!). A good source of information in this respect is the Directorate of Labour (www.vinnumalastofnun.is), this is well connected with EURES, the European Employment Services at which you will find most vacancies advertised.

The Application Letter

In general a letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application in more detail and hopefully invite you for an interview. Your application letter, however, should not provide too much information about experience and qualifications; this will be provided in your CV.

Usually, both the CV and the letter are typed. Emphasise in the letter your motivation and your qualification for the job. Start with a reference to the advertisement (how did you find out about the vacancy?). In the second paragraph you describe your personal details and give your motivation for the job. In the next paragraph you mention (in short) your education and qualifications. In the subsequent paragraph you characterise your skills and other interests relevant for the job. Finalise your letter with a polite request for a reply and/or where you can be reached. Application forms are becoming more popular.

The Curriculum Vitae

There are no strict rules for CVs in Iceland. But a CV is best received when it is short, functional and concise. You can choose between a functional CV (items thematically grouped) or a CV in chronological order. The last occurs relatively more often in Iceland. Start the CV with your personal details, your education, your work experience and finish with two references, a professional and an academic reference. Although not essential, you can extend your CV with information on diplomas obtained, your linguistic abilities (always recommended if you are job hunting in a foreign country!), your hobbies and your skills. Attach a photo in case this is asked.

The Application Procedure

One or two interviews is most common. Bring copies of testimonials and diplomas. Psychological tests and assessment centres are sometimes used. Remember that a job interview is a good setting to ask questions concerning all aspects of the job, questions about the length of the working day and what the salary entails. Do not be shy, ask.

On-line applications are nowadays common. In fact, a lot of job agencies, but also employers who publish their vacancies on-line provide the opportunity to complete the job application form on-line.

If we got you started on Iceland – think about ordering the guide "Looking for work in Iceland".

About the author

Looking for work in IcelandNannette Ripmeester is the expatriate affairs consultant to several multinational companies, which she advises regarding the strategy of international assignments and the practical implementation around expat issues.  Ripmeester started her international career at the European Commission, has worked on a project basis in 17 countries and is founder and Managing Director of Expertise in Labour Mobility (www.labourmobility.com).
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in Iceland", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-085-6) is part of that series of guides. To order this guide or other guides that will help you to secure the international job you want, visit our website: www.labourmobility.com.  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.