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Working in Norway - Advice & Tips

Norway

Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in one of Europe’s best organised markets with the best working conditions, a pollution-free environment, a beautiful landscape and an extensive social welfare system. The highly educated labour force makes it an interesting market to move into.

Job hunting in Norway

Norway is not an EU member, but the country has opted to sign the European Economic Area agreement (1 January 1994), which allows freedom of movement for labour. During the last century Norway has evolved from being a mainly agrarian society to a high-tech country that belongs to the premier league of the world economy. There is a great lack of skilled workers in Norway, and unemployment has fallen to less then two percent. Especially healthcare and shipping are trying to attract foreign workers.

A good way of gaining access to the Norwegian labour market is through the Thursday edition of the daily paper Aftenposten. Another option is using the network of public employment services. These arbeidskontorer can be of great help when trying too find a job in Norway.

Speculative applications are a good way of finding work in Norway. For details on prospective employers you can use ''Kompass Norge''. Due to the fact that officially all vacancies need to be reported to the Norwegian employment service, they can be of great help. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation is another good source when trying to find vacancies, for information on the educational system and information about working and living in Norway, and more see: www.nav.no.

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.

Norwegian application letters tend to be short, factual and direct, using words to describe yourself like easygoing, calm, honest or other personal characteristics. Irrespective of whether you know the name, the beginning of the letter is always anonymous ("Dear sir/madam"). In the application letter you write why you are applying, always mention your address, name and telephone number. If you know to whom you have to direct the letter, you mention his or her name in the address of the company, if you do not have this information you mention the department (in the address section) to which you are applying. References can be mentioned both in the letter and in the CV. It is advised to send copies of diplomas, translated in Norwegian or at least in English.

The Curriculum Vitae

The CV is usually in reversed chronological order (most recent activities first). At the maximum it is two pages long. The CV starts with your personal details, including name, address, date of birth (note that the day, the month and the year are written densely together, without blank spaces or dots in between), your telephone number (with international access code) and your civil status. In this section you can also include your hobbies/special interests, or you mention your hobbies at the end of your CV. You continue with your education, including the results, your practical experience, your language skills and the references (if you have not yet given your references in the covering letter). Under ‘work experience’ you mention the companies for which you have worked. Make sure that the people you mention as references are aware of it and that they have agreed to say something positive about you (if a reference is checked it looks rather silly if the person can not remember you!).

It’'s becoming more popular to apply for a job via the internet. Be aware of the fact that an electronic CV does not always look the same as the standard one.

The Application Procedure

Application interviews are a standard element of the selection procedure for jobs at all skill levels in Norway. Assessment centres are becoming more common. A recruiter wants to have a full picture of the person he or she is going to select. Be prepared for questions about yourself and on your strong points and your weaknesses. But also on your mid- and long-term aims ("what do you want to have achieved in five years time?"). Questions on religion, politics or cultural aspects are not allowed. Make sure you are on time (meaning arrive in the building at least 10 minutes before the interview commences). Pay a lot of attention to your appearance, which should be rather formal; women are advised to wear skirts (not too short) and men need to wear a suit for their application interview. Bring copies of diplomas and testimonials to the interview.

During public sector interviews a trade union representative, working within that particular organisation, will be present to ensure that everything goes according to the rules.

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 Norway – order the guide ''Looking for work in Norway'' for further info.

About the author

Looking for work in NorwayNannette 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 Norway", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-078-8) 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.