mandag 15. oktober 2012

Avoid Being Had in a Job. Playing Hard Ball in the Norwegian Labour Market

A huge proportion of newly created positions in norway are going to immigrants. Dagens Næringsliv, the FT of the country, quotes over 3 of four going to "invaders".

A lot of them are going to be "had". I have, many of my pals from abroad have. It will continue.

Being had means basically not getting as good a deal as a Norwegian would get, but being conned into thinking it is "par for the course" in terms of pay and conditions.

It means being on contracts, having monkeys dumped on your back ( happens in any country), and runs as far as being moved or sacked so a norwegian can get your job, as has happened to me 2.5 times in 8 years here.

How do you avoid "being had"?

Well it all boils down to being hard nosed and taking it not just to-the-wire, but over it. It starts with interview and job offer stage.

1) Work round recruitment consultants and temp agencies: they will only prolong your rather undesirable period as a temp and reduce your potential earning if you went direct. Firms in general are pretty okay with direct applicaitons while they are using a temp or recruiter bureau.

2) Say at interview that you know the going rate for the job and you would expect that. Find out the going rate for graduates ( between 280 000 and 380k )  and then add about 2.5 % per years experience you have in that field. Add another 10% for a technical college education / apprenticeship earlier in life and another 10% if you have a masters, 20% with a good MBA.

3) Be very clear on what you want in any "possibilities for extension or permanancy": either great experience, no rubbish, but temporary OR something that you will hope becomes permanent. You should not need to temp in Norway for more than 6 months,  in most professions where your qualificaitons and experiences are recognised.

4) Buy time to think about a low offer on a job. Ask to come back to a final discussion on the position and see the location, ask about what tasks they have planned for you. Norwegians are terrible for dumping monkeys off their backs onto temporary immigrants, and that can include dead end projects and dead end sales leads. Balance up though if the experience is worth while,

5) On a low offer, you may want to take an 80% position: sounds contradictory, but then you can use the other day to enjoy yourself, shop around for cheaper stuff you need in life and most of all looking for better paid jobs.

6) anything they promise at interview in respect to future wage reviews, commission on sales, bonuses etc you have to get in writing

7) also in writing, you want to get your right to over time in black and white, over for the terrible abuse of flexitime: hour for hour instead of your deserved overtime and a half or more. This is a legal gray area, the employer can land on the employee as having "chosen flexible Working Hours". If you are required or asked to work more than 8 hours then it is overtime. If you choose to work longer and take out the hours later, it is choice. But be clear: Norway is so expensive that you MUST earn time and a half on weekday overtime. Walk out the door, or say you were hoping to do something with the night, make it damn clear you are taking overtime.

8) Contracts should detail your job description., all you remuneration as above, period of notice and pay review point then.

9) When you get an okay-ish job, yet you know your skills are in at least some demand, then keep on looking for work and applying, so you can do 10

10) If you are p**d off with temping, lower wages that colleagues, less job security, ever changing work tasks etc, then make sure you have a job to move

11) If you want more pay or better condiitons in the job you have, then do 10. Be hard nosed, make sure your other offer (s) is unconditional and walk into firstly your boss with the letter and also have a meeting with Personnel or the MD prearranged to explain your reasons for leaving.

12) play hard ball: wait to do this until the point at which they most need you. If you are a temp on a large project, then wait until it goes critical and is boiling over and threaten to leave if they dont give you a permanent post with your time served to good as trial-period months.

The latter is all because mysteriously they will offer you quite a good deal if you threaten to leave.

A little more background

There are several  sources of trouble for you as an immigrant.

 For the first they have a UK 1950s view point on immigration- a bit of a novelty, we can use you for temporary work, then you can probably disappear back home please.

Secondly there is a very high "on cost" of social security and pension payments for employers. This means that permament employ can evade many and in fact even large institutions have been caught breaking the law. Small companies, as in the UK and other places come out with the old " we cant afford to pay you very much" or " we have a lot of people here who work really hard and earn just a little more than this even" Bullshit. For a graduate with five years experience on shore, ask for 420 000 minimum in business or academia.

Then there is experience: Norwegians go up about 3 to five percent a year and often you will be offered the basement price on a job even if you have the experience or related experience. This is discrimination. Some experience will not be accepted as relevant enough for pay negotiation.

Lastly there is the "rødt, hvitt og blått " glass ceiling. You are very, very unlikely to be promoted to middle management unless you have very special skills and abilities. So think that you are likely to remain at a fairly low level, or as a consultant without real management responsibilities and you need to aim to earn as much as you can because it is so expensive to live here.

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