Iceland is an island of natural wonders with volcanoes, glaciers, geysers and mud pots. Fear not the Vikings; Icelanders are friendly, stoical and humorous, and their capital Reykjavik has the safety and charm of a village.
Unemployment in Iceland has historically been very low, around 1 %. This changed with the financial crisis and the collapse of the banks in 2008, increasing to over 8 %, although it has fallen since. The economic crisis also led to an upturn in tourism, due to the devaluation of the currency. A growth in the software development sector has translated into a need for skilled IT workers, and there is a shortage of skilled workers in the metal industry, including welders and ironworkers. The country is also in need of doctors, as many Icelandic doctors have moved to work abroad.
If you don't speak Icelandic, the best way to look for work is via EURES. For some vacancies, you are requested to fill in an online application form at http://www.vinnumalastofnun.is/eures. For others, you can send your application directly to the employer. Make sure that you complete the form giving as much detail as possible.
You may also, free of charge, register with one or more private employment agencies (radnin - garfydnustur),check job advertisements in local newspapers or place your own advert.
You can contact the local branch of your trade union (stettarfelag): they have information on the current employment trends in your profession and can advise on where to start looking.Be aware, too, that word of mouth is very powerful in a small community like Iceland, and many jobseekers find work through family contacts or other personal networks.
Sending a CV and a covering letter is the most common procedure when applying for a job. A CV should never exceed two pages and should be to the point and recently updated. The letter should state why you are interested in the vacancy and why you are the right person for the position.
If you apply spontaneously, try to hand your application directly to the person who will be in charge of the selection procedure. This will make a better impression.
You should have your diploma assessed for equivalence and recognition in Iceland. This will make it easier for employers to evaluate your knowledge and skills. It may also help you to get a better job with higher pay.
The basic principle is that valid qualifications for practising a profession in your homeland are also valid in other EEA countries. Higher degrees, 3 years of academic studies (BA, BSc, BS) and vocational studies with a secondary-school education should be recognised throughout the EEA.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is responsible for coordinating recognition procedures. However, other ministries handle recognition for their respective spheres, for instance the Ministry of Health for the recognition of medical and health professions. The best place to begin collecting the information you will need is http://www.menntagatt.is, the national reference point for the assessment and recognition of qualifications.
Give details in your CV of at least two people, such as a former employer or teacher, who will give you a good reference. Get their approval in advance. They should know how you work and be able to attest that you have the skills and attitude to work that you claim to have.
Letters of recommendation can help, but most employers prefer to get the references themselves. Mention the letters in your CV nevertheless and be ready to present them at your job interview.
Some employers want verification from your local authorities that you do not have a criminal record. This is particularly common in care and cleaning jobs, where you are left on your own, often in private homes or offices.
There may be one to four people from the employer’s side. In general, the more specialised the job, the more people conduct the interview.
Interviews usually take 30 minutes to an hour. There is no specific structure. The best thing to do is to present yourself as honestly as possible and not to 'oversell' or 'undersell' your skills. Be polite and try to be calm.
Employers want to discover who you are during the interview. Do not be surprised if they ask questions about your personal life. Non-professional items usually take up a small part of the interview and are used simply to make the atmosphere more relaxed. The employer should already know basic things about your experience from your CV. Use this opportunity to speak in greater depth about your skills and why you are the best candidate. Also, try to convince them that you will contribute something that will enhance the quality of their company and that you are willing to work hard to do this.
Any questions from you regarding the nature of the job are appreciated, but it is better to wait until you know for sure that you have got the job before asking about the salary, unless the employer brings it up first.
At the end of an interview, the employer usually tells you when you can expect to hear from them again. If they do not, the odds are that they are not interested. If the employer has not contacted you within the period you were told, the best thing is to simply contact them and ask for feedback.While you will always present yourself better in person, if you cannot attend the interview, check if the employer can conduct the interview as a conference call. Video-conferencing is also growing in popularity in Iceland.
Salaries and contract length may be negotiated in the interview or after a job offer is made. Icelandic labour law states that you should have a job contract not later than 2 months after the job starts. The contract should state your salary. There is always room to negotiate your pay. You are entitled to one interview with your employer every year to discuss pay.
The most common point of negotiation is over the monthly salary. If you have a job where you often work overtime, negotiating an hourly rate would be a good idea. Holiday pay and bonuses are fixed, so they do not have to be negotiated.