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A foreign University Graduate’s Job-Seeking Adventure in Norway

As a recently employed international
student, Atila’s story reveals the challenge of getting a job as a
non-Norwegian graduate and gives valuable tips. 
If you finished your studies in Norway and are planning to settle down
for a full time job here, there is more to know than the general job seeking
tips. First of all, you will notice that most of the job posts are in Norwegian,
and this gives you a good idea of what Norwegian employers are looking for –
fluent Norwegian speaking workers. So, having a strong educational background
is not, per se, enough to get a job. It is possible to find part-time jobs,
mostly unqualified work, where Norwegian skills are not required, but
competency in Norwegian opens up more opportunities for you in Norway.

Atila Ekimci, earning his Master’s degree
in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the University of Oslo and
working in Computas AS, verifies this fact. Ekimci came to Norway seeking a
better education and to build upon his work career in the country.

After the first year of his study, he
started applying for jobs which he found on websites such as finn.no, and
nav.no. He was sending 1-2 job applications per month. “I was sending my
application in English for every job posting in which Norwegian competency is
not explicitly emphasized. But of course, I did not get any positive reply even
from English speaking international companies. Some called me back and told
they are looking for Norwegian speaking people,” he said.

An
Application in Norwegian Makes a Difference

Afterward, Attila changed his strategy and
contacted certain employment agencies. However, he was ignored by most of them.
Then he realized that he would not have any chance, and nobody would care for
him as a new English-speaking graduate. Nevertheless, he continued his struggle
and tried to pick up some Norwegian on his own summer holiday.

From then on, he started to write all
applications in Norwegian. His change in strategy worked this time, and some
companies called him for interview.

Getting
Job as an ‘Immigrant’

Being a foreigner in the job-seeking
process may be both an asset and disadvantage. Even though it is not as common
as in the rest of Europe, ’Immigrants’ are seen as people who enter the country
just to exploit the welfare system. This stigma accompanying with other
prejudices may be another challenge you face with your job seeking.

Atila Ekimci’s experiences after passing
the threshold of Norwegian proficiency are self explanatory in this frame.
Ekimci said that he was generally encountered with a skeptical attitude and
strikingly biased questions from the interviewer because of his immigrant
background. He says some of them questioned whether he would misuse the sick
leave after he asked a question about it. He also had to explain some private
issues: “They asked me whether I had a girlfriend, when they had learned that I
came from a non-European country.” Ekimci, however, took notice that these
attitudes cannot be generalized and that you can get past these labels just by
your attitude and communication.

Likewise, Ekimci warns new graduates that
they should not be broken and discouraged because they cannot get a job, but
rather should strive to build communication and advance in the Norwegian
Language. 

Be
prepared to answer these questions before you go to an interview

Why are you in Norway?

Why did you choose to apply to this
company?

What is your aspiration in this job?

What can you contribute to this company?

Ask your references: If you had a company,
would you hire me? Why?

Fact Box: Did you know that you can be granted a residence permit as a jobseeker or to study
Norwegian for a total of one year after graduating from a Norwegian higher
education institution? Your purpose must be to seek employment as a skilled
worker or specialist in Norway. However, the permit is not renewable. A new
permit as a jobseeker cannot be granted until the applicant has stayed outside Norway
for one year.

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