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
- Tailor your CV for each position/company to show that you meet as many of the requirements in the job advert as possible.
- Make the content and focus suitable for the Norwegian job market by including the information Norwegian employers expect to find.
- 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.
- Focus on work experience rather than achievements to give the recruiters a clear picture of what you have done in your past.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.