Looking for a job can be a long and stressful process, especially for foreigners in Norway.
Christopher Bach, NIN's September speaker, has been living and working in Norway for more than 10 years. Originally from Germany, he shares his thoughts and experience as a foreigner in Norway.
Based on your experience and observations, what is most challenging for foreigners during a job search in Norway?
I have experienced that Norway has its own, unique culture. That is also true for the job market. If you are from abroad and looking for a job in Norway, it is important that you know this culture. There are many do’s and don’ts. For example, when you apply for jobs in other European countries, it is a must to have professional looking photos of yourself in formal attire. In Norway, the working culture is much more informal. Applying with photos is not needed at all. Not knowing these “rules” and the culture can make your job search as a non-Norwegian very challenging.
How is the Norwegian job market different than others?
Compared to other countries, the Norwegian job market is rather small and concentrated. Most of the jobs can be found in the Oslo area. Therefore, during economic downturns, it can be very hard to find a job even if you have an exceptionally good education and track record.
Which industries in Norway are toughest/easiest for foreigners to find jobs in?
I think you can find a job in any industry as long as you fulfill the requirements.
Myth or truth: Norwegian employers prefer candidates with local education/experience.
That is definitely a truth. For the hiring companies, it is all about managing risk. If they have a candidate that has already worked at another Norwegian company or did her education in Norway, this risk is much lower compared to other candidates who have no relation to Norway.
Someone you know with a good education and a relevant work experience considers moving to Norway. What would you advise them?
There are three things: 1. Learn Norwegian. 2. Expect that it will take some time to get to know Norwegians. 3. Bring a good jacket with a “refleks” because the winter is cold and dark.
How can a foreign job seeker ‘’enchant’’ Norwegian hiring managers? What are the culture-related specifics?
I think you shouldn’t try to “enchant” the hiring managers. In my experience being open, honest and direct is the best way to make a good impression. Boasting about your achievements or how “great” you are can be counterproductive. Being modest and focusing on the facts is better.
In your opinion, is there any difference whether foreign job seekers are recent graduates or seasoned professionals? Please elaborate.
I think Norway is a very “fair” country to work in. No matter whether you are a recent graduate or experienced professional, everyone is treated with respect. Naturally, there is a difference in the jobs you can apply for. Some jobs require more experience than others.
If you personally could choose again, would you consider Norway as a place to work? Why yes/no?
For me personally, Norway is the best country to work in. I like the more informal working environment. You can work on interesting and meaningful tasks. Many things are also easier in Norway than in other countries. For example, the tax system works so efficiently that you don’t need to hire a tax advisor.
What would you tell foreign job seekers in Norway?
Be prepared to learn the Norwegian language. Even when you can work in English, getting acquainted with the Norwegian culture and speaking the language is important for being successful here.
Check out Christoper's blog UpliftingForest.
Interview conducted by Vyara Løvig, Marketing Coordinator