Finding it hard to land a job as a foreigner in Norway? Follow these expert tips

Job interview employeePhoto: Amy Hirschi / Unsplash
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It might seem tough to get a job as an immigrant in a foreign land, but it’s certainly not impossible – especially with the proper preparations. Here’s what the experts at Skillhus say about landing a job as a foreigner in Norway.

Norway’s labor market has been hit by the pandemic, as is the case in the rest of the world.

Crises in different countries range from economic meltdowns and financial losses to surging unemployment. The economic fallout from the pandemic is especially hard on foreign workers who migrated in search of jobs.

To get a more nuanced understanding of the situation – and discover expert tips – Norway Today spoke to Skillhus. This recruitment agency works to connect skilled migrants and refugees and employers on the Norwegian job market.

Skillhus’ co-founder and chief operating officer Hanne Magnell said that, according to SSB, the unemployment rate amongst immigrants was 9.5% in the third quarter of 2020 – vs. 3.2% for the rest of the population. With immigrants included in the data, the total unemployment rate in Norway amounted to 4.3%.

What are the major hurdles foreigners face while looking for jobs during a pandemic?

The organization’s HR and marketing coordinator Courtney Lineback listed the biggest problems faced by foreigners during their job search in Norway.

Unconscious biases

“One of the major hurdles is that recruiters and hiring managers, unfortunately, have a lot of unconscious bias – especially towards foreigners.

“Research from a recent study conducted by the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDI) showed that 84% of the Norwegian population agrees that discrimination against immigrants happens in the hiring process.

“Moreover, if you have a foreign name, you are 25% less likely to be called in for an interview. And this is not necessarily because Norwegian employers are actively discriminating against foreigners, but more that the immigrants and international job seekers become a victim of unconscious bias,” Lineback explained.

According to Magnell, a foreign job seeker’s intention and ability to “fit” into the local culture also plays a vital role in the possibility of hiring.

“We also see that a lot of Norwegian employers, when looking for new employees, are actively looking for someone that needs to ‘fit’ into the culture, rather than hiring someone that can ‘add’ something new and valuable to the culture (culture add vs. culture fit). 

“You shouldn’t hire someone based on who you want to sit next to and have a glass of beer with at the next Christmas party. When recruiting new employees, it should be a thorough and inclusive recruitment process that focuses on competency and what the organization needs as a whole,” she added.

Local language, degree transfer barriers

Experts also pointed to the language barrier and difficulties in transferring degrees as major hurdles for foreigners.

“We also see the language barrier playing a part in the high unemployment rate. A lot of Norwegian companies tend to prefer employees that are more or less fluent in Norwegian. 

“We have also had candidates at Skillhus who had difficulties transferring their degrees from the home country,” Magnell added.

Other reasons for vulnerability

Recruitment experts warn that immigrants with lower education are also at higher risk of being unemployed.

One of the reasons for the higher unemployment risk is because lower educated people tend to work in industries that are hit harder by the pandemic. 

“Moreover, those who have been out of work for a while, or those who have worked in one field but want to switch positions/professional focus, have a more difficult time than those who have recently graduated from a Norwegian university,” Lineback stated.

What can foreigners in Norway do to maximize their potential on the job market?

“Persistence and networking are key. Don’t give up. Surround yourself with a strong network, both personally and professionally, who believe in your value and don’t let you forget it.

“Learn Norwegian, not because you need to know it fluently, but because it shows an effort and interest in the culture and in getting integrated,” Magnell noted, adding that joining the Skillhus-community and attending cultural workshops held by the organization could be beneficial for job seekers.

The experts also suggested that strong networking skills and proactive efforts – such as pursuing internships – could be a game-changer for those who studied arts, humanities, and social sciences and are looking for jobs in the technical or engineering fields.

What are five must-have skills to land a job in Norway as a foreigner?

According to Skillhus, the top 5 must-have skills are as follows:

  1. Relevant education and experience 
  2. Self-awareness and curiosity to learn 
  3. Perseverance and patience
  4. Willingness to learn the local language 
  5. Networking

“We offer virtual workshops to our candidates where we give them an introduction to the Norwegian workplace culture, help them with their CV, prepare them for a potential job interview, and more.

“We also help companies raise awareness about the value of diversity by offering workshops and training around how to create an inclusive workplace culture that fosters belonging,” Lineback said.

How does the future look for foreign job seekers in Norway?

The future is bright for skilled international talent in Norway, with more organizations focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, the experts believe.

“Let’s use this crisis to rebuild a healthier, more inclusive, and diverse workforce,” Magnell concluded.

Source: Norway Today, #NorwayTodayTravel

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2 Comments on "Finding it hard to land a job as a foreigner in Norway? Follow these expert tips"

  1. Interested in learning more about inclusiveness courses

  2. James Edward Wumah II | 4. August 2021 at 10:29 | Reply

    This is an absolutely true analysis in my opinion. I hope hiring managers within various entities can critically consider this brilliant analysis. You couldn’t have said it even better.

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