Finding your first job
This page is guidance for finding your first job in Norway based in part on advice from Sammen Career & Counselling.
The first job can be hard to land
It can be a challenge to find your first job in Norway. Cultural and language issues may be an obstacle. Many Norwegian employers require a good command of Norwegian, therefore focusing on positions in the restaurant and tourism industries may be helpful if you need to speak English. Relying only on online classifieds may also be an impediment. Being flexible and seeking a job ‘outside the box’ of traditional channels can help you get a job in Norway.
Lacking Norwegian work experience may be a further challenge. Before finding a job relevant to your interests, it may be helpful to work in any Norwegian position. Having Norwegian work experience of any kind (even volunteer experience at a festival may be beneficial) can reassure Norwegian employers about your work ethic, reliability, and ability to integrate into the Norwegian workforce.
Finally, lacking a network may be a disadvantage. Many jobs in Norway are filled via unofficial channels and you may be more likely to hear about openings when you become integrated in a Norwegian social network or already have one job. Additionally, once you have a position with an employer there is always the possibility of more relevant vacanicies later with that employer.
Guiding principles for creative job-seeking
It is more rewarding to be a more active applicant
It may be outside your comfort zone but the more you get out and start building a network the more opportunities you are likely to reap. Additionally, going in person to potential employers may be helpful. Norway is an egalitarian society and leaders have an open-door policy. This provides a cultural advantage as you are not likely to get turned away before you meet and talk to someone, even at a high level. It is always possible that they won’t have job openings or you may be asked to come back at a more convenient time. However, it is worth that small risk in order to show your face, your interest in a position, and potentially make a new connection.
Networking is one of most important factors in getting a job anywhere, including Norway
Networking can certainly be more challenging for an international student. It is important to seek out ways to meet people who are already a part of the Norwegian workforce, here are some ideas for how to get started:
- Join Internations, a group for networking with other expats in your area. Internations generally has one (free) meeting a month at a local venue – helpful for meeting people and making network connections.
- Utilize INN Bergen, Bergen Chamber of Commerce’s expat network. You can join events frequented by local business leaders and politicians, these generally cost kr 150 for non-members, you can email Bergen Chamber to ask them about the possibility of student discounts.
- Attending the International Career Fair, Student Recruitment Fair or other career fairs may be good opportunities to meet representative from companies. This may also provide an opportunity to ask employers how necessary working in Norwegian is for them.
- If your Norwegian is adequate, looking for events related to career possibilities such as the event Dine Karrieremuligheter hosted by the Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Study Bergen may be helpful too.
An unpaid internship is very unlikely because of Norwegian laws. Most ‘internships’ in Norway are paid positions and therefore are as competitive as other job prospects. The Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) has an internship programme that allows students to incorporate having an internship into their study programme. Some regions in Norway have online advertisements for internship opportunities. Bergen Chamber of commerce is working on developing this type of resource for the region. If you are a current international student in Bergen, remember that you have to abide by the regulations around working as an international student.
Possible places to seek that first job
It may be possible to set up automatic notifications on the websites that post vacancies below. This can be helpful during your job search, but remember that many of the outside of the box options may be more rewarding. Additionally, many of these websites are only available in Norwegian.
Standard places to look for openings
- Finn (expensive for
employers to post vacancies)
- NAV (free for employers
to post vacancies)
- PVS (recruiting agency
for substitute teachers)
- Helse Bergen (may need to prove Norwegian language skills)
- Asking professors/advisors about research/teaching assistantships, etc.
- Visiting companies you are interested in working with in person.
- Identifying employers of interest and following their websites to look for vacanicies.
- Using Facebook to follow companies of interest/local employers (companies in Norway may post vacant positions on Facebook or on their websites rather than third party sites). Following Facebook pages specific to job vacancies may also be helpful.
- Identifying high turn-over positions, for example in psychiatric institutes, drug rehabilitation centers, elderly care, and kindergartens (barnehaugen).
- Identifying places that are more likely to accept English as a working language such as hotels, warehouses, cafés/bars/restaurants, cleaning agencies, paper routes, advertisement distribution, souvenir shops, tour agencies, and international companies with English as a working language.
- Contacting local schools about substitute teaching (English, for example) including the International School.