For job seekers

Seeking employment

You can apply for unemployment benefits one month prior to becoming fully (or partially) unemployed.

It is important to apply for unemployment benefits on the same day you become unemployed i.e., when your termination notice period ends, at the latest. Your unemployment benefit payments are calculated from the date you stipulate that you can commence employment in your application.

All information can be found on the Directorate of Labour website.

Those who have experienced it, know that seeking employment can be challenging and difficult, as well as requiring knowledge which not everyone has, knowledge of how to prepare a good CV, how best to prepare for job interviews and so forth. 

The CV

There is much to consider when it comes to preparing a CV; there is in fact not one correct recipe for a CV. It is however important to keep certain factors in mind.

A CV is a short introduction of an individual who is applying for employment. The CV presents an overview of work experience, education, skills and the individual’s field of interest. It has the purpose of giving the company good and descriptive information about the applicant.

It is important to prepare the information and presentation of the CV carefully as it is the first introduction of the applicant and determines, along with the introduction letter, whether interest is triggered for further communication or an offer of an interview.

The CV should be kept short and concise. Spelling must be in order and good language used. The CV must be well organized and in most cases the main principle is that it is approximately 1-2 A4 pages long. The CV should be an introduction of the applicant rather than an extensive biography. Most people also agree that it is suitable include an employment history from the last 10-15 years.



    The order of the information in the CV can make a big difference. As an example, it is a good idea to first put forward personal information, too much detailed personal information should be avoided, as an example it is not necessary to indicate marital status or number of children.
    It is recommended to include information such as:

    • Name
    • ID number
    • Home address
    • E-mail address
    • Telephone number

    It is customary in Iceland to insert a photograph in the CV but this is generally not done overseas. It is best to place the photograph in the upper right-hand or left-hand corner beside the name of the applicant. The photograph should be rather conventional and reflect a positive image.

    It is a matter of opinion which should come next in the CV, information about education or information about work career. What matters in this regard is which has more meaning for the job which is applied for and how much work experience the applicant has. Those who are coming out of studies and have little or no work experience should emphasize their education and mention it first. Those who have a high level of work experience or work experience that may prove particularly useful in the job applied for should first describe this.

    Work career

    When listing a work career it is important to list it in time sequence. The job that the applicant had most recently should be listed first in the enumeration and so on.

    Mention should be made of:

    • Period of employment
    • Workplace
    • Job title
    • Short job description

    It can be a good idea to explain specific work projects which reflect the work experience that will be useful in the job applied for but it is important not to make this account overly detailed but rather short and concise.


    Information about education is listed in time sequence in the way that the education which was completed or the education last pursued comes first and so on. Those who have completed secondary education do not need to disclose which primary school they went to, most commonly high school, college and university are targeted in the CV.

    Mention should be made of:

    • Graduation year or period of studies
    • Educational institution
    • Name of studies
    • Degree

    It can also be a good idea to elaborate very briefly on a final paper or papers which could reflect knowledge that will be useful in the job applied for. This rather applies in the case of recently completed studies.

    Those who have less education can mention courses they consider having a meaning for the application but otherwise not all courses should be listed. It can possibly be useful to mention that the applicant has attended courses in particular fields which relate to the job being applied for.

    Other information

    What additional information is presented in the CV is a matter of opinion but it is a good idea to consider which requirements are stated in the advertisement about the job applied for.

    It is common to mention:

    • Language skills
    • Computer skills
    • Interests
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Voluntary work

    It is best to mention that which is useful for the job applied for. A short personal description can also be good where the main advantages and strengths are emphasized, such as communication skills, organizational skills etc. in which case it is important to consider which personal skills are required in the advertisement.


    It is common for employers to request 2-3 referrers who can be contacted to verify and gain further information about the applicant. The name of a referrer must be given as well as his work place, job title and telephone number. Most commonly these are former employers or teachers but can also be co-workers or school mates. It is not considered suitable to give a name of a family member as a recommender or referrer.

    The permission of a referrer to mention him as a referrer should always be obtained, both to know whether he is willing to provide a reference and also for him to be prepared for a phone call. Written references are rarely used.

Introductory letter

In recent years there has been a growing trend for applicants turning in an introductory letter along with a CV. An introductory letter is specifically suitable when applying for jobs which demand special knowledge. Introductory letters are a type of annex to the CV, where an opportunity is created to explain specific items in the CV better and give a more detailed description of one’s skills in a personal way. It is important to keep the introductory letter short and concise, not more than half- to one page. An introduction letter should i.a. answer the questions below:

  • Which job are you applying for and why?
  • How do you meet education- and qualification demands?
  • What knowledge and experience do you have to offer that makes you the most eligible individual for the job?
  • In the beginning of an introduction letter, it is important that the text is engaging and arouses the interest and curiosity of the reader and causes him to want to read more. In the beginning the job applied for is described and the main reasons for this job being applied for.

    Based on this, it is important to state why the applicant considers himself qualified to perform the job and the extent to which he may have a positive impact on the company's activities. It is preferable that the applicant specifies how his background, experience, knowledge and characteristics meet the qualifications required in the job. Overuse of the word “I”, however, should be avoided, the letter should not only be about everything the applicant has achieved in life but should rather be based on the job applied for. It is also important to be honest with regards to one’s skills and if the applicant considers himself needing to add to certain knowledge it is alright to note that he is open to challenges and prepared to find ways to acquire such additional knowledge. It can also have a positive effect to mention something that the respective person possesses which could provide a counterbalance.

    At the end of the introduction letter it is possible to mention the applicant’s interest in an interview and that he could then better explain his application and the individual behind it. It is important to substantiate the story well as an introduction letter is intended to arouse the interest and attention of the hiring agent.

The job interview

  • View job description thoroughly before going to an interview.
  • When asked about having children, mental or physical illness, honesty is always best. Sentimentality should be avoided if such is brought up, best to prepare oneself well beforehand for such questions.
    • Why did you apply for the job?
    • Why resign from your current job/last job, employment termination, why did you resign?
    • Tell me about your former job? Projects, skills, work environment.
    • How will your experience benefit this job?
    • Give an example of your communication with others in the former work place, how was the experience?
    • Give an example where you feel that you succeeded in the job or that you are proud of, accomplishment, communication, organizing, success…?
    • How do you deal with working under time pressure?
    • How do you manage being organized under time pressure and how do you do it?
    • What is important for you in your work environment?
    • Wages, wage ideas?
    • Any final questions? Good to have some questions.