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

Norway job foreignerPhoto: Ben White / Unsplash

It is tough to get a job as an immigrant in a foreign land, but with the right preparations, it’s not impossible. Here’s what the experts at Skillhus say.

It goes without saying that Norway’s labor market has been hit by the pandemic, as is the case in the rest of the world.

The crises in different countries are multifarious and range from economic meltdowns and financial losses to surging unemployment.

Amid such circumstances, foreigners and immigrants have often ended up in difficult situations.

The economic fallout from the pandemic is especially hard on foreign workers who came to Norway in search of jobs.

Are foreign workers bearing the brunt of the pandemic?

Many foreign workers, especially from outside the EEA, are not getting unemployment benefits at present if they got fired or laid off.

They face numerous hardships.

In order to get a more nuanced understanding of the situation, Norway Today spoke to experts at Skillhus, a recruitment agency that works to bridge the gap between skilled migrants and refugees and the Norwegian job market.

Skillhus’s 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 amounts to 4.3%).

So, 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 the 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 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 imbibe 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 other 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 (it varies from country to country),” Magnell added.


Furthermore, recruitment experts warn that immigrants with lower education suffer a higher risk of being unemployed.

And one of the reasons for the higher unemployment risk is because they 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.

So, what can foreigners in Norway do?

“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 to get integrated properly in the Norwegian culture,” 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 following various pro-active efforts, such as pursuing internships, could be a game-changer for those who studied arts, humanities, and social sciences and are looking for jobs outside technical or engineering fields.

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 etc.

“We also help companies raise awareness around 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 will look bright for skilled international talent in Norway with more organizations focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, the experts believe.

“And lastly, let’s hope a (coronavirus) vaccine is ready by 2021 so all businesses that are negatively affected by the pandemic can get back on track and more people can get back into the job market again.

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

Source: Norway Today


1 Comment 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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.