Norway has been ranked as the most attractive country for migrant workers in Scandinavia. But that doesn't mean it's easy. According to a recent study by the University of Bergen, Norwegian employers favour ethnic Norwegians even when a foreigner is better qualified for the job.
The key message to take on board is that unless you work extremely hard to integrate yourself into Norwegian culture, your job prospects will be limited.
So the very first step to getting a Norwegian career is to make yourself as proficient as possible in the language.
If you come to Norway from a non-EU country to work, you need to complete 300 hours of tuition in Norwegian, unless you are a citizen of one of the Nordic countries.
This is actually very useful. While having English as a first language does provide a definite advantage, a good knowledge of both written and spoken Norwegian provides better access to work opportunities.
There are excellent state-provided Norwegian classes which allow immigrants to learn Norwegian and acquire a good knowledge of how things work in Norway.
A new registration scheme now allows EU nationals to live and work in Norway without applying for a residence permit, as long as they register with the police.
All EU nationals who want to stay in Norway for more than three months must register with the police, showing that they have a basis for residence, presenting a valid identity card or passport, and submitting documents proving that that they will not be a burden on the public welfare services.
For immigrants coming from outside the EU, the process is more complicated.
Up-to date information and applications procedures are available at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirtektoratet). www.udi.no.
Job seeking sources
Writing a good cover letter and CV is the first but most important step in successful job seeking. The application letter should then be adapted towards each individual job application. When applying for jobs advertised in Norwegian, it is best to have your CV translated into Norwegian. The CV should include key information from previous jobs and a short personal description.
The aim is to convince employers of how motivated you are to work for them. It can work well to approach prospective employers even when no job has been advertised, as initiative tends to be viewed favourably in Norway.
It may also be useful to use the Norwegian agency NOKUT, which verifies the educational achievements of foreign citizens. www.nokut.no.
It is also a good idea to have a LinkedIn account where your CV can be viewed online. Recruitment agencies in Norway actively search for candidates on LinkedIn.
Sites such as www.finn.no and www.manpower.no are also popular among job seekers and prospective employers. Experis, www.experis.no is the country’s largest recruitment company, specialising in IT, financial consultancy and engineering. Agencies such as Adecco (www.adecco.no), Capus (www.capus.no) and Orion (www.orion-search.no) are also key players in the Norwegian labour market.
Norway’s stable currency and oil wealth has resulted in low unemployment and steady job creation. The country is now facing a shortage of 16,000 engineers, more than twice as many as last year. In particular, there is a national shortage of civil and petroleum engineers.
Everyone resident in Norway is liable to pay taxes on all their income and wealth. You must also have a tax deduction card, which shows employers how much tax to deduct from your pay cheque, and complete an annual tax return, whether you are fully or partially liable to pay taxes in Norway.
When tax returns have been processed, you will receive a tax settlement notice, which contains information about the income on which the tax assessment is based and how much tax has been deducted.
While Norwegian employers do tend to prefer Norwegians, the political environment is generally positive towards employment policies which embrace immigrants working in Norway.
In general, the dress code for job interviews is quite casual in Norway. While wearing a tie is not always unnecessary, it is advisable to dress neatly.
Norwegians pride themselves on being punctual so being on time is important. It is also good to begin an interview with a firm handshake, and to maintain good eye contact thoughout.
An interview panel can consist of anything from two to five people and interviews can take anything from 45 to 90 minutes.
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