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Country ProfileProfessional Resources  |  Job Search Resources  |  Financial Considerations  |  Employment Trends
Resume/CV's  |  Information Technology  |  Interviewing Advice  Engineering  |  Work Permits | Accounting & Finance  |  
Cultural Advice  |   Sales & Marketing  |  General Business

 

Country Profile
Norway is one of the world's richest countries. It has an important
stake in promoting a liberal environment for foreign trade. Metals,
pulp and paper products, chemicals, shipbuilding, and fishing are its
most significant industries, but it was Norway's emergence as a
major oil and gas producer in the mid-1970s that transformed its
economy. Large sums of investment capital poured into the offshore
oil sector, leading to greater increases in Norwegian production costs
and wages than in the rest of Western Europe up until the
mid-1980s. The influx of oil revenue also allowed Norway to expand
its already extensive social welfare system.

Approximately 4.4 million people live in Norway, or about 14 people
per square kilometer, making it one of the most scantily populated
areas in the world. Oslo, Norway's capital is in the southern part of
the country and has a population of 750,000. Almost everyone in the
country is of Norwegian descent; the Lapps, or Sami, are a small
minority of some 20,000 people residing exclusively in the north.

As a major shipping nation with a high dependence on international
trade, Norway is basically an exporter of raw materials and
semi-processed goods. While only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than
Norway, Norway does import more than half its food because there is
so little arable land there.

Professional Resources
Foreigners should get acquainted with the major telephone
directories serving Norway such as Gronne Sider, as well as with the
country's trade publications and books. The website for the
Bronnoysund Register Center contains information on more than
280,000 business enterprises. Expatriates in Norway can find good
connections and business opportunities through a number of
networking associations, such as Rotary and Lion's Clubs. In addition,
many Norwegian cities have their own chambers of commerce.

Norway's trade unions are active locally, nationally, and
internationally. All union members belong first to a local union, and
national organizations are made up of members from the local unions.
The largest and most influential union is the LO, the Norwegian
Confederation of Trade Unions, which represents more than 800,000
workers (45 percent of whom are women), and the second largest is
NHO, the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry,
representing more than 16,000 members.

Job Search Resources
Networking and personal recommendations lead to many jobs for
Norwegians, which can make it difficult for foreigners with few
connections to penetrate the job market. This seeming disadvantage
can be overcome, however, through the use of online resources and
networking organizations.

Many companies are relying on online job sites to help them recruit
workers, especially those in the IT and health care industries, which
are experiencing a shortage of qualified employees. Many positions in
Norway, particularly temporary ones, are never advertised through
official channels, so a foreign job-seeker may have luck by simply
sending resumes/CVs directly to companies. In many sectors,
companies have also begun to use staffing agencies and executive
recruiters.

There are also government-sponsored employment offices, staffing
agencies, recruiting firms, and other resources. The Labor Market
Association has a website at aetat.no which contains Norways
largest database of vacant positions. This site also has selected
information for international job seekers. Foreign job-seekers may
also have luck looking through the job advertisements in Norway's
newspapers, such as Dagens Neringsliv.

Financial Considerations
Like other countries in the region, Norway has a fairly high cost of
living, but according to surveys of expatriates living in foreign
countries, the situation seems to be improving. Housing in Norway is
on the pricey side for many reasons, including the cost of insulation
in such a cold country, the high standards of living among the
citizenry, meaning that few low-cost houses are built, and the high
wages that drive up construction costs.

As a basic principle, health care in Norway is distributed according to
need, not ability to pay, and everyone who becomes ill in Norway is
guaranteed treatment. The health care system uses both public and
private services and facilities, with public health expenditures
constituting about 12 percent of Norway's total public expenditure.

Normal work hours are limited by law to 37.5 hours per week, usually
running Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Norwegian law also
provides for 25 paid vacation days per year and a legally mandated
28-hour rest period on holidays and weekends. Employees have a
right to sick leave and women are entitled to maternity leave with full
pay for up to 42 weeks, or 52 weeks at 78 percent of her pay.

Employment Trends
Compared to other OECD countries, Norway's unemployment rate
(around 3 percent) is quite low, and it's expected to remain stable
for the near future. Interest and inflation levels and Norway's political
and economic situations all point to a stable employment level and
virtually full employment in the years to come.

Qualified workers in the IT and Internet industries are still very much
in demand, particularly as Norwegian industries become ever more
automated. In addition to these industries, the sectors most in need
of qualified employees are health care, construction, and
engineering. Salespeople and financial and management consultants
are also in demand, as are upper-level management personnel.

The oil industry has traditionally been one of Norway's most
important, and the international nature of the sector has meant that
the official language of many oil companies is English. Recent higher
oil prices have brought more job opportunities in this industry, as has
the prediction of a shortage of skilled workers in the future.

While Norway is not a member of the European Common Market, its
extensive trade agreements with EC countries tie it to the
community. The nation also has agreements with the EC that allow
free work rights for EC citizens in Norway.

Resume/CV's
Since most Norwegians speak English, you may write your cover
letter and resume in English, unless you are fluent in Norwegian.

At the top of the resume, place your name, address, place and date
of birth, marital status and contact information. Then, under
"Education," list schools you attended, starting with high (secondary)
school, and continuing with college and university training, giving
dates of attendance, study emphases, diplomas and degrees. Include
honors, relevant extracurricular activities, foreign travel, and
additional courses or training in specialized areas, such as languages,
or IT.

In the third section, "Work Experience," should be listed in
reverse-chronological order, with complete information about the
companies for whom you have worked; their location, the dates of
your employment, your title(s), and responsibilities-emphasizing areas
relevant to the position for which you are applying. Conclude by
citing recognitions, promotions, professional affiliations, military and
volunteer service, and hobbies.

At the end of the resume, list references, preferably managers
familiar with your work. Provide their names, titles and contact
information. Enclose your resume with a one-page cover letter, and
small photo. If requested, enclose certified copies of grades,
diplomas, and recommendations.

Information Technology
In recent years, IT consultants have been among Norway's most
sought-after employees. Even though the fall in IT stocks has calmed
the frenzied hiring of recent years, qualified applicants still have no
trouble finding jobs.

Certain types of IT jobs require more than just technical knowledge,
and for these, a degree can be helpful. Otherwise, what you know
and how you use it is more important than where you learned it.
Resumes and references are often the most important factors in
hiring decisions, but software certifications through Microsoft,
Oracle, and other companies can also be quite valuable.

The IKT-Neringens Interesseorganisasjon and the Norwegian Counsel
for Information Science are two professional resources for those in
the IT industry. The industry has not as of yet organized into labor
unions, but many in the field are considering the possibility of seeking
representation in the large Norwegian labor confederations.

Interviewing Advice
Before applying for a job, research the company. Learn something
about its history, its current operation, and plans for the future. Your
knowledge will enable you to match your skills to the company's
needs, and to ask relevant questions.

For most jobs in Norway, knowledge of the language is a prerequisite,
although there are exceptions within some technical areas and in the
tourism industry. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that
municipalities offer free Norwegian language classes for those who
have received job offers.

Business attire in Norway may be somewhat casual, but you should
dress conservatively for the interview. Suits and ties are appropriate
for men and tailored suits for women. The meeting generally starts
with introductions, handshakes, and perhaps a bit of small talk. Be
careful to address each person by title (Dr., Mr., Mrs., or Miss), and
by last name.

During the interview, be respectful; avoid bragging and familiarity.
The Norwegians are well educated, and they will expect you to be
knowledgeable, competent and well-spoken.

Engineering
The job market in Norway is quite good for qualified engineers with
prior work experience. Fewer students are getting engineering
degrees than before, and many experts predict a shortage of
qualified engineers within a few years.

Engineers seeking jobs in Norway must have internationally
recognized degrees, preferably at the master's level or above.
Practical experience is very important as well, and can sometimes
compensate for a lack of formal education. Different engineering
fields require different types of certification, with some recognizing
only Norwegian certification and others accepting international
documents. For more information on certification, contact the
Network Norway Council or the National Academic Information
Center.

Organizations representing engineers in Norway include the
Norwegian Society of Chartered Engineers. There are also several
engineering-related periodicals and websites.


Work Permits
Norway's strict immigration policies are becoming more liberal as the
country's population ages, but for the moment, residence and work
permits are granted only if the foreigner demonstrates a specific
need to work in Norway (such as family reunification, cultural
exchange, study, or research) or fills a specific labor need
unavailable in the domestic workforce.

Labor needs are increasing, and proposals are being made to
liberalize work and residence permit regulations. Until that happens,
non-EEA nationals must have a concrete job offer in Norway before
obtaining a work permit, and they must submit their applications
through a Norwegian diplomatic mission in their home country. Permit
applicants may not enter Norway until they receive a permit; if an
application is rejected, the applicant may appeal the decision to the
Ministry of Justice.

For the most up-to-date information concerning the still unfolding
Norwegian work and residence permit situation and evolution, it is
highly recommended that prospective expatriates and immigrants to
Norway always check with the nearest Norwegian diplomatic mission
prior to even beginning the permit application process. Be aware that
the permit application process may take, at a minimum, six to twelve
weeks after the applications are submitted.

Accounting & Finance
The stable, strong economy demands private and international
accounting consultants, and new business laws have made
accountants and consultants even more valuable to small
businesses. International companies and companies wishing to
expand overseas also need financial consultants right now.

The Norwegian Accounting Standards Board is responsible for issuing
accounting standards. Norway's reporting method is more lenient
than that of more stringent countries like the United States, requiring
a cash flow statement only for large companies.

There are two categories of accountants in Norway, both of which
enjoy a clear identity and high standing: registered public
accountants and state-authorized public accountants. Standing in
the categories depends on the accountant's level of education and
amount of relevant experience.

Professional organizations for these industries include the Norwegian
Financial Services Association and the Norwegian Institute of Public
Accountants. Other resources that may be helpful to the foreigner
seeking work in Norway's accounting and finance industries include
periodicals, books, and websites.

Cultural Advice
There are two Norwegian languages, Bokmal and Nynorsk. Bokmal is
used by the majority of the population and is the major language for
business, and expatriates should have a good grasp of the language
to work in Norway. While most people working in international
companies and governmental agencies speak English, it should not be
assumed that they understand everything being said, so get written
confirmation for all business dealings.

Norwegians tend to keep business and personal relations separate,
resulting in a reserved but pleasant business environment.
Punctuality counts in establishing confidence and trust, so be on
time. Due to an informal and direct business climate, you can expect
easy access to top management, and decisions are made by
consensus.

Conservative, casual dress is customary for Norwegian business, and
in the summer, most people dress for comfort, even to the point of
sportiness. Business in Norway is run very much like a family, and
there are few entrepreneurs. While Norwegians tend to be open and
friendly, they do value their privacy and independence.

Women in business can be expected to be treated with respect. As
in most Scandinavian countries, there is no open discrimination.
Norwegian women are found working in every aspect of the business
community, holding high positions in government agencies and other
organizations.


Sales & Marketing
The Norwegian economy is small, and the country has a relatively
uniform industrial structure. Compared with many other countries, it
has a high share of exports and imports. Most of Norway's exports
and imports are sent to and from nearby countries--74 percent go to
the EU, and just over 68 percent of Norway's imports come from this
area.
A university degree is typically required for employment as a manager
in sales and marketing in Norway. The National Academic Information
Center is responsible for coordinating the evaluation of individual
applications for recognition of foreign credentials from permanent
residents for job-seeking purposes. Organizations and trade
associations for sales and marketing professionals in Norway include
Annonsorforeningen and Norsk Markedsanalyse Forening.

General Business
The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare
capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and
government intervention. The government controls key areas such as
the vital petroleum sector and extensively subsidizes agriculture,
fishing, and areas with few resources. A major shipping nation with a
high dependence on international trade, Norway is basically an
exporter of raw materials and semi-processed goods.

Typically, management consultants in Norway must hold a university
degree. The Network Norway Council and the National Academic
Information Center can provide more information on the recognition
of foreign degrees and diplomas in Norway. In addition to these
resources, there are also professional organizations and general labor
confederations. Foreigners interested in working in Norway should
also be sure to check out any of a number of business-related
publications and websites.



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Country Career Guides Table of Contents

I. COUNTRY PROFILE

II. JOB-SEARCH RESOURCES
1.Online Job Sites
2.Government-Sponsored Employment Offices
3.Job Fairs/Career Events
4.Staffing Agencies/Temporary Help Firms
5.Newspapers that Publish Job Advertisements
6.Other Resources

III. EMPLOYMENT TRENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES

General Trends
Information Technology

1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Engineering
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Accounting and Finance
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Sales and Marketing
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
General Business
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources

IV. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES
1.Business Organizations/Trade Councils
2.Chambers of Commerce
3.Telephone Directories
4.Publications
5.Other Resources

VI. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS ( Cost of living, salaries, health insurance, taxes, vacation/leave, benefits, etc)

VII. WORK PERMITS/VISAS

VIII. JOB APPLICATION GUIDELINES
1.Cover Letter Guidelines and Sample
2.Resume/CV Guidelines and Samples

IX. INTERVIEWING ADVICE

X. CULTURAL ADVICE

XI. COUNTRY RESOURCE BOOKS