The dos and don’ts of writing a killer CV to impress Norwegian recruiters

Composing a great CV is a crucial part of securing a job in Norway, and there are some essential things you absolutely need to do to grab employers' attention as well as a few habits you should avoid, working life expert Karin Ellis writes for The Local.

Somebody in a work meeting.
These are the essential things you need to know about writing a CV in Norway. Pictured are people in a work meeting. Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Karin Ellis is the founder of Ellis Culture, a company delivering intercultural training. Her courses explain the cultural traits, expectations, social norms and hidden codes of Norwegian workplaces and the labour market. She also conducts free seminars for immigrants in Norway. In addition, she has written several books, among them are ‘Working with Norwegians’ and ‘Applying for jobs in Norway’. In this article, she shares her tips for writing your CV with The Local.

Make sure your CV is properly adapted for Norwegian recruiters

The most important thing you need to know when writing a CV in Norway is to include the information that Norwegian employers expect to find. 

You need to adapt your CV to have the proper focus and content that Norwegian recruiters look for. Therefore, I would suggest that you search the internet for Norwegian templates. 

Templates developed in other countries tend to compress a lot of information very densely onto one page. As a result, there is usually not enough space for all the info a Norwegian employer would expect to find in the CV.

In Norway, the most important part of the CV is usually called ‘key qualifications’, which is like a management summary of your education, skills, experience and interpersonal (soft) skills. As a minimum, you should tailor your key qualifications and work experience to showcase that you are the right candidate for the job.

Research shows that recruiters spend only a few seconds reading a CV before deciding whether it is worth their time reading the rest. So, your ‘key qualifications’ at the start of your CV really needs to be targeted towards the requirements in the job advert to retain their interest and make them want to read the rest of the CV.

Other examples of information frequently missing in foreign templates is personal information such as birth date, home address, marital status, interests/hobbies, and references. Norwegian employers also want to get an impression of the human being behind the professional skills.

It is crucial you tailor your CV for each job you apply for so that it resonates as much as possible with the requirements in the job advert. 

Layout and design

In Norway, we typically prefer CVs with a clear timeline, and they should be a bit “airy” with some white space. In many cases, a two-page CV will be an appropriate length. 

Some people believe they will stand out from the crowd by having a very colourful or glossy CV. But unless you are applying for a job as a designer or similar, it is more important to have the right content and focus, rather than a glossy design. 

The employer might otherwise think that you are a person who will prioritise superficial things over what really matters to them.

Photo or no photo? 

Whether you include a photo in your CV or not is up to you. It is less common to have a photo in a CV for academia and public sector jobs, such as with municipalities and public services. In the private industry, it is more common to have a picture, especially if the job is customer facing. 

If you decide to include a photo, make sure it is neutral and preferably with a white background. A bit like a passport photo, but with a friendly smile. A picture of you skiing may make you look unprofessional and probably won’t endear you to recruiters, even if you think it makes you look more Norwegian.

There’s no “I” in team

If you focus on your achievements and results rather than your work experience, it could be perceived as bragging, which should be avoided – unless you are applying for a job in a very competitive environment. 

If you want to list your achievements in your CV, make sure that you write about them in a matter-of-fact manner, after first describing what responsibilities you had and what you actually did. The negative effect of focusing on your achievements could be even stronger if it is done in a way that gives the impression that you are taking credit for the work of others. 

You could therefore consider replacing “I” with “we” to show that the achievements were a team effort, as doing this would also portray you as a good team player.

Norsk eller engelsk ?

I suggest that you write your CV in English. even if the job advert is in Norwegian, until your Norwegian skills are at an intermediate level (B1/B2). 

If you submit a CV that somebody else has translated for you before you have reached this level, the employer may feel that you are trying to deceive them by pretending that your Norwegian skills are better than they really are.

The essential do’s and don’ts of putting together a CV


  1. Tailor your CV for each position/company to show that you meet as many of the requirements in the job advert as possible.
  2. Make the content and focus suitable for the Norwegian job market by including the information Norwegian employers expect to find.
  3. Include transferable competence and interpersonal (soft) skills in the ‘key qualifications’ section of your CV. The employer wants to get a multidimensional impression of you to find out how you will collaborate with others.
  4. Focus on work experience rather than achievements to give the recruiters a clear picture of what you have done in your past.


  1. Mass-produce a “one size fits all” CV. The recruiter will realise that you have not made an effort and put this down to a lack of motivation of working for them.
  2. Submit a CV without also including a tailored application letter where you explain your motivation for the job and how you would transfer your skills, experience and interpersonal qualities to this particular position.
  3. Exaggerate, oversell, or tell lies. This may create suspicion and distrust among Norwegian recruiters. If the employer suspects or finds that you have been insincere, they will not trust anything else coming from you. Therefore, even if you get away with it and land the job, it will not lead to an ideal start in your new job. 

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Why your Norwegian work permit application might be rejected and how to avoid it

Norway is an attractive proposition for workers from all over the globe. However, some job hunters will need a residence permit for employees to move to the country. The UDI has revealed to The Local the most common reasons applications are rejected. 

Why your Norwegian work permit application might be rejected and how to avoid it

Whether it’s the high salaries, work-life balance, or generous benefits, people from all over the world are lured to Norway for work. 

Last year, more than 21,000 people moved to Norway for work, according to statistics from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). 

Of these, 7,348 were granted residence permits for work, while the rest were EEA nationals, which meant they didn’t need a work permit. 

To be granted a residence permit for work, you’ll most likely need to have been offered a job first, and the type of permit you apply for will depend on your line of work. You must meet several other requirements to be given a residence permit, such as a minimum salary or a set number of contracted hours. 

Unfortunately, not everyone who applies for a work permit is successful. And as an application fee is involved, it would be handy to know the most common reasons for applications being turned down so you can take steps to avoid them. 

Luckily, the UDI has provided The Local with the most common reasons for applications being denied. 

READ ALSO: How many people move to Norway for work, and where do they come from?

Skilled workers

The skilled worker permit was the type of residence card that was most commonly granted in 2021. Over half of the permits issued to those wanting to live and work in Norway were for skilled employees. 

According to the UDI, one of the most common reasons why applications for skilled workers are rejected is because they do not have the relevant qualifications. 

Typically, the qualifications required for a skilled worker visa are a degree or vocational training of at least three years at the upper secondary level for example, if you have trained or undergone an apprenticeship as a carpenter. For those with vocational qualifications, there must be a corresponding course in Norway. 

Your application may be rebuffed if you have a vocational qualification that isn’t offered at upper secondary school level in Norway. Additionally, if you are applying for a skilled worker permit, the job must be relevant to your skills.

Workers can also prove they are skilled through work experience and have obtained special qualifications gained through employment. However, the criteria for this are much stricter, and the UDI warns that many of these applications are rejected.

In Norway, there are many professions which are regulated. This means special qualifications and training are required to work in these fields. In some cases, you will need to have your qualifications approved to be eligible to work in them.

For example, electricians must get approval from the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection to work in the country. If you have a degree you can also have it verified too.  

Therefore it is imperative to ensure that you meet the qualification requirements. One way of doing this is to liaise with the employer that has offered you a job. You can also contact the UDI before applying to clear up the requirements and see if you meet them, or work with an immigration lawyer. 

You can read about the other requirements for applying for a skilled worker visa here

Seasonal workers 

There is also a permit available for seasonal workers, which is awarded to those performing a job that can only be done at certain times of the year. 

Applications for these permits are most commonly turned down because the UDI feels that the requirements for the job contract are not met. 

To be granted a seasonal worker permit, the job must be for seasonal work or as a holiday stand-in, and the pay and working conditions must not be poorer than what is considered normal in Norway. 

Furthermore, the offer must be for full-time work. A full-time job in Norway is one which has 37.5 hours in a standard working week. 

You can read more specifically about seasonal worker residence cards here