“How can I find a job in Norway as a foreigner, without a network, without speaking Norwegian and without knowing any companies here?” is the million dollar question foreigners ask when dreaming of moving to Norway, or integrate here after having found a partner and wanting to settle down. Sometimes they are a bit luckier and have one of those elements: maybe a small network through their partner, or they speak Norwegian or a Scandinavian language. But all in all finding a job is a major challenge for foreigners in Norway, and for many good reasons. Norway isn’t exactly a cheap country one can live in using one’s savings for months. Living in Norway requires money to sustain a regular standard of living. A job here also means you have access to an identity in the Norwegian system: personal number, tax card, social security system, assigned doctor etc. For people from the European Union it means you can stay here more than 3 months and for many others it means you can stay here full stop. So yes, work is important. And if you have a career of your own from before you moved here, finding a job which matches your experience and qualification can be extra hard. But do not despair, it is not impossible!
David Nikel is British and writes the very popular website Life in Norway which gathers an impressive amount of information on just about everything you need to know about life in Norway. He is also the author of several travel guide books on Norway and leads the podcast Life in Norway where I was actually interviewed for the first episode as a foreigner in Norway. Ingrid Romundset Fabrello is Norwegian and has a long work experience in human resources and in helping people find a job in Norway. Together they wrote a book entitled “How to find a job in Norway”. On my blog I receive many questions about how to find a job in Norway, and I believe there is a real interest from readers and immigrants in general on this topic. I have also been working in Norway for 9 years and have my own personal experience on the topic, so I have decided to review this book.
The book is extremely useful, and if this book had existed earlier it would have saved me a few years trying to figure out how the job market works in Norway. The most useful elements in the book are:
- a list of the biggest employers in Norway in a wide range of fields. Very handy to have when you don’t even know where to start.
- a short but effective introduction to Norway’s work culture.
- explaining the crucial importance of having a network to get a job in Norway. Note that stating that “you need a network to get a job here” is easier than actually building a network in an unknown country. The book explains how to get there and how to create a network when starting from scratch. So definitely a useful element which I have not seen anywhere else.
- The fact that David and Ingrid have different profiles and experience regarding the labour market in Norway is very positive for the reader, as it gives different angles on approaching the task of finding a job here. The fact that one of the authors has experience in looking for a job with little or no Norwegian skills also gives credibility to the advice given.
- The book gives advice on how to use finn.no, the huge website where everything is sold and offered in Norway, including jobs.
- 7 top tips on how to find a job in practice, among others building an online presence and getting Norwegian references. In my field of work that means starting with volunteering at the Red Cross or Save the Children to get some references here. But for other sectors that may mean something else.
- Some info on starting a business yourself and being self-employed.
The parts I am more critical about in the book:
- About volunteer work, I would have added more information about that kind of experience in the book, where these “jobs” are available also for non-Norwegian speakers. The platform with all those offers is called frivillig.no. Global.no also has offers, some of them in English.
- The authors advise job seekers to meet people in person, whether it is people from your field whom you want in your network, or future employers. I do agree with this general principle brought by the authors, as meeting someone in person has always more impact than writing emails. However they also advise job seekers to show up uninvited at the office of the company one has applied a job to. I would personally never do that, and if someone who had applied for a job my employer had advertised showed up uninvited and asked to meet me, I would be mortified. I would find that very brave but also inappropriate. If you don’t get an answer about a job, ask to meet the person afterwards for advice to advance in the field. But you need an appointment.
- The book focuses mainly on finding a job in the private sector, with some info about employers in the academic world, and very little on the public sector. Since I work in another sector altogether (aid and development), I would have liked to see some major employers from that sector there. Since we’re at it, most job offers in the aid and development sector are on this website. Some job offers are in English, which means Norwegian is not required.
- Although there is a part in the book on Norwegian working culture, and one could argue that Norwegian working culture is something one needs once one has a job (and not to find one), I would insist a bit more on the working culture in order to make sure applicants succeed in your work interviews. Especially if you are applying for manager positions there are attitudes you need to avoid, Labour Laws you need to know etc. Another cultural element in Norway is the fear of nepotism. I have understood in my work life in Norway that people here are very sensitive to not giving a preference to someone they know (although it does happens obviously). So asking for advice is fine, asking for help to get a position might be being too direct. Just know the lines not to cross.
Very useful: The authors break also a few myths about finding a job in Norway
- Many foreigners make the mistake of only applying to job offers online. That is sadly not enough and unless you are lucky you are likely to apply for a long time without any positive response from employers. You need to get out there, show your face, mingle, get out of your comfort zone and make sure people in your line of work remember you.
- The importance of learning Norwegian although “everybody speaks English”. Many foreigners assume that learning the language is not that important since Norwegians are so good at speaking English. It turns out Norwegians like to speak Norwegian at work. Sometimes even when the company has English as a working language showing your interest in learning can make the difference at an interview. It shows your employer that you will be able to chat with your colleagues at lunch time, socialise and basically integrate in the company.
- Positive attitude is key. As a foreigner trying to look for a job it is easy after a while (and many refusals) to feel like the reason one does not find a job is because one is a foreigner. It is key to hold a positive attitude and keep moving. Eventually someone is going to trust you and give you a chance.
All in all I would definitely recommend buying this book. It is not very thick, and not even that expensive, but it will give you the tips you need and the information is condensed and basically there. It won’t land you a job as you need to get out there in the world to do that, and get a thick skin as it can be a long and tedious process. The book has virtually no competition on the market, and David knows the Norwegian laws and processes well. So I would say go for it.
I wish you the best of luck in finding a job in Norway!