Iceland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe with less than 3% at the end of 2016. Since the end of the 20th century the economy has flourished on the island, in particular, the construction sector which provides many jobs for Icelanders and also allows many foreign workers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Icelandic labor market. The huge growth in tourism in recent years has also created a lot of employment opportunity, both temporary and permanent.
The structure of work in Iceland
Icelanders often have multiple jobs. A full-time job represents about 40 hours of work per week; Beyond 173 hours per month, your employer must pay you overtime.
Office hours are from 8 am to 4 pm – which is also the opening hours of most Icelandic administrations, banks and nursery schools. However, for those who do not speak Icelandic, it is difficult to find a job in an institution or an office, unless you have a very specific qualification.
Jobs in tourism and hotels are the easiest to find, especially in summer when the tourist season is in full swing: museum guide, tourist office worker, reservations manager, receptionist, waiting and bar staff, night watchman, etc. Many tourist enterprises operate on the 2-2-3 system, ie one week with two working days, two days off, three working days, and the following week two days off, two days of work and again three days off. The system is used with the standard eight hour working day but also often with 12 working days.
Finding a job in Iceland
The steps to find a job in Iceland are generally much less formal than in France, for example. Spontaneously presenting yourself with a resume in a company is often the best way to find a job. Doing your job search from abroad is often not very successful, as Icelanders rarely reply to letters or emails sent to them. A visit (or several) in person is a much more effective way to find a job.
If you already work in Iceland or know people on site, do not hesitate to give their name as a reference. In this small country, we like to know who we are working with and your potential employer will be reassured if he knows that one of his colleagues recommends you.
To find a job in Iceland, some sites may be useful. The EURES website identifies the jobs available across the country and puts the ads in English first, which means jobs are open to foreigners. When the list goes to Icelandic, these are announcements from the Icelandic ANPE, VMST. This site is rarely provided outside the Icelandic capital, as Icelandic employers use other recruitment strategies, but you can go to one of their offices and send them your CV. They are in contact with potential employers to whom they could pass on.
Visir.is and Morgunblaðið, both have a classified ads section. The first is the site of the daily Frettablaðið, which, every Saturday, devotes tens of pages to employment.
Reykjavik.is and Akureyri.is will give you access to the announcement of Icelandic municipalities with examples such as assistant cook in a school, assistant in a nursing home or ski lift operator in winter.
If you have a special degree or are looking for a job in Iceland, you will not necessarily need to speak Icelandic to be hired; Specialist doctors are in high demand, especially outside the capital. If you have a PhD, a research or teaching position may be available; Please contact the universities for more information (or better: visit the University of Iceland, University of Reykjavik, University of Bifröst, Hólar University, University of Western Fjords, Akureyri University) .
For jobs in tourism, you do not necessarily need to have experience or a diploma in this field. It is mainly your motivation and your skills that will be valued – especially your language skills. English, French, German and Spanish are assets to work in Iceland. Guesthouses and farms easily hire in the summer, and it is also possible to work at picking or producing fruit and vegetables in one of the many greenhouses of the country.
Your motivation and your will are your greatest assets – your CV and experience are often relegated to second place. Finding a job by going “door-to-door” will give you the greatest chance of success.
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