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Finding EmploymentBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Norway - Finding Employment
The Norwegian economy was not impacted by the global financial crisis in 2008 in the way most European countries were, and it has continued to perform strongly. Unemployment levels are low. There are skills shortages in a number of sectors, especially for graduate level or highly skilled work.
The retail industry needs a constant supply of workers who are prepared to work long hours and at weekends. As with working in the hospitality industry, you will need to communicate well with customers. In city centres such as Oslo and in tourist areas many of the customers will speak English fluently, but you should be able to help locals in their own language.
The construction industry is always on the look-out for experienced and skilled workers. You should have qualifications to confirm you have received relevant training.
Engineers are needed for a number of different areas of the Norwegian economy. The country has a thriving petroleum and gas industry, the standards of building and road construction is high, and significant upgrade is always underway in areas such as electricity provision. Vacancies can occur at all levels and across the country, but those with higher skills and qualifications will be most in demand. Being able to speak Norwegian to colleagues and clients will sometimes be very important depending on the circumstances of the company and the project crews involved.
Information technology and communications are becoming important sectors in all countries, and Norway is no exception. Skills and aptitude will be as important as professional qualifications if you are self employed in this industry, but you will need solid evidence to demonstrate your skills. Networking will be an important source of work.
Norway has an ageing population and a well funded health service. There is an increasing need for nurses and other professionals involved in the health and support services.
There are a number of industries looking for seasonal work and you may find this a useful way to get a foothold on the Norwegian employment ladder. They include forestry, agriculture and hospitality. It improves your chances of learning basic Norwegian and gaining local contacts before looking to move into a more permanent situation.
When preparing for a job search, you will need a well presented CV. It should contain your basic information including the correct contact details, your education and training history, and your work experience.
Norwegians are generally well educated, and have free access to University tuition. If you are applying for a well paid job, you can expect a lot of strong competition.
It is often useful to prepare a covering letter if you are looking to work in a particular company, explaining why you have approached them and why they should meet with you.
Smaller companies without established human resource departments may be more willing to respond to personal approaches, whilst larger companies will normally advertise all their vacancies via recruitment agencies or relevant print and online media.
Networking and personal recommendations can form an important element of obtaining work in Norway. It isn’t essential and isn’t the typical route, but is increasingly a way to gain employment. For self employed people in particular it can offer the chance for a stream of new work. The ability to socialise with Norwegians will be important, as will the ability to speak Norwegian.
The average full time worker will be employed for a maximum of 40 hours a week under their standard contract. By law, all additional hours are deemed as overtime.
Employees usually receive 21-25 days of holiday each year. These are in addition to the public holidays, which are set out by a 1995 law. There are 10 national holidays. Residents who do not practice the Lutheran faith may legally have two days holiday based on their own religion’s important dates. Legislation sets out when celebrations can take place, the times they must end, and the maximum amount of noise permitted for celebratory events.
When taking up employment in Norway, you must tell the local tax office. They will advise you of the taxes you must pay. It will depend on the amount you earn, but you will normally be expected to pay personal income tax and a national insurance tax which will both be set at percentages of your taxable pay.
The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service (NAV) runs a recruitment website, which advertises vacancies across the whole country and for all types of work. It includes permanent full time positions as well as part time jobs and seasonal work. The site is searched in Norwegian and the vast majority of vacancies are only listed in Norwegian, giving you an indication of the importance of learning Norwegian if you want to settle here.
A number of other recruitment websites are run by private companies. Finn Jobb, JobbDirekte and Stepstone Norway will advertise vacancies in Norwegian. Local recuitment agencies can be found in the Norwegian Yellow Pages under “vikarbyrå” and “vikarutleie”.
Unless you are being recruited for highly technical or specialised work, you are normally advised to start seeking employment once you have arrived in Norway. It means you are available for face to face interviews, and you can check if living in the country lives up to your expectations. It also means the employer is not given the extra costs and work of supporting your move from another country.
Be aware of Norwegian values in the workplace, and the country’s socialist leanings. Women’s rights are embedded in the culture, along with a regard for the inclusion of disabled citizens. Racism, homophobia and religious intolerance are deeply offensive to most citizens. Perhaps contradictory to this, immigrants can be a source of unease for the Norwegian general public, who are concerned about the welfare system being used by large numbers who haven’t contributed to it. That means you have to get your ambition and enthusiasm for hard work across to employers and colleagues.
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