I’m an expat husband. My wife got a job in Norway so I quit my job in the US and moved her with her for her job. We’ve been here just under 8 months and while I enjoy our life in Norway, I can’t seem to find a job in here. Can you tell me – is NAV a good way to look for a job in Norway? What about using recruitment agencies? Are there jobs here for English speakers or people with less than perfect Norwegian?
Loving it and Looking for Work
Hei Loving it and Looking for Work,
Thanks a lot for your email! Let me answer each of your questions separately since they are related but two different subjects.
Is NAV a good place to look for a job? What about recruitment agencies?
Going through NAV [Arbeids- og velferdsforvaltninga] is a way to look for a job, although not the only one. You can also go through recruitment companies or find jobs on finn.no, LinkedIn and in print newspapers. Your best bet is to tap into the “unadvertised” job market through networking. This means you need to find networking groups in your area to connect with, co-working spaces to join (such as MESH in Oslo or Digs in Trondheim) and work on community projects which are of interest to you/in your career area. You should also try to build a network through any expat groups you find, church affiliations and hobbies you engage in. And of course in Norwegian class. Get to know your neighbors (which will be tough but invite them over with invitations for coffee + cinnamon buns at your house.
Norwegians also tend to socialize a lot doing sports, so joining a gym and going to class regularly will help you build a network. This could and probably will mean that you spend much of the next few months building a network and not working, but all of that “foot work” will pay off ten-fold when you get a job. Once you get your job – if possible, join a workers union, professional development groups at work, the social organizing committee and basically anything that will allow you to meet and mix with Norwegians on a social level.
Norwegians like things “comfortable” or “koselig”– and socializing gives everyone a way to relax and get to know each other in a non-threatening/non-committal way. Do not, and I repeat do not, underestimate the power of networking in Norway. It is by far the number one thing that is going to help you be successful in Norway in general and is the only way to successfully move your career & personal life forward.
I say this to be honest and challenge you to think outside of the “wait for a job announcement to be posted, apply, apply, apply, interview (maybe) and get the job (maybe)” routine. If you only do that, you are going to wait FOREVER to get a job.
Are there jobs for English speakers or people with less than perfect Norwegian?
The short answer is, it depends. Yes, there are jobs for English only speaking persons in Norway, but to be honest, they are very hard to find outside of science, engineering and technology based career fields. Same as in the US, if you want to work in Norway you must speak at least some Norwegian in the beginning. I know several expats who got jobs teaching English at language schools or who started their own businesses in Norway while they worked on building their Norwegian skills.
Hope that helps and keep your questions coming!