Looking for work in Denmark is not for the faint hearted. Whether you speak Danish fluently or still navigating this strange little language, it’s generally not easy to find a professional job if you are a foreigner.
Over the past 11 years of living in Copenhagen, I have experienced the highs and lows of job seeking and as of June 2018, found myself back at the Job Centre. It would have been so easy to feel sorry for myself and start panicking about being over 50 and “back out there” but thankfully I had a good network of people around me.
It’s taken me years to build my professional network and I am still learning how to maximise it efficiently but being a people-person, I have found it easy to create good contacts and look for every opportunity. I had “panic” moments when I thought I would never find that perfect job but the many resources available kept me motivated and on the right track.
It can be daunting to know where to even start looking if you have just arrived on this island but Denmark has produced a variety of places and organisations that will guide you through the job maze. Hopefully you will find one or more that will give you the right information and encouragement to start looking.
Here are my top tips for seeing out that elusive “Perfect Role”
- CV and Cover Letter: Get your CV and Cover Letter up to date to fit in with Danish “rules”. Applying for a job in Denmark is very different to what you are probably used to (UK for me). Your application needs to stand out among the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of applications for some jobs. I found Welcome Group Consulting while I was looking through Facebook. I met Karey-Anne Duevang for my one-to-one and she was brilliant at helping me to hone my skills and experience down to 2 pages for my CV, and really look at how I could mirror the job application and “sell” myself through the Cover Letter. WGC also hosts free Employment workshops that explain how to get a job with the opportunity of booking Employment Assistance for a more in-depth one-to-one session. If you want to get into work quickly, try the new 5-day, Fast Track to Employment Course, which is designed to give you an in-depth understanding and practical advice of what is needed to be employed in Denmark.
- Network, network, network: Join as many job-oriented groups as you can on social media – especially Facebook. Go to as many networking events as you can and be ready with your “elevator pitch” and to hand over your contact details. Over 70% of jobs in Denmark aren’t even advertised so building your network is vital.
- LinkedIn: Living in Denmark, where most jobs are not even advertised, creating a wide professional network is going to be a sure way of bagging that role. Danes don’t generally like confrontation so if you have found a workplace that really fits your experience and personality, then approach people within the organisation through LinkedIn, ask some great questions and get connected. WGC is hosting a LinkedIn Event for Professionals at Google Learning House on 27 May and there are a few spaces left! It’s just one of the many workshops made available to help internationals find an English-speaking job. Tip: Always ask a contact to refer you when you apply for a job.
- Unsolicited applications: Find organisations- small to medium size is optimal- that attract you and seem to be a good fit for your profile. Do your research and work out how you could help them fulfil their goals/mission. It’s incredibly expensive to hire someone in Denmark – hence why an organisation uses their network- so if you approach a company and let them know how you can help them grow with the skills and experience you have, then you often have a higher chance of being employed than applying for an “advertised” role.
- Life coaching: It’s not just the “in thing” but I think essential if you want to know your “why” and how to approach the job market here. I assumed I would find a job easily when I arrived fresh-faced in November 2008, little did I realise that the recession was starting to hit and I was up against dozens of others for jobs I would actually dismiss in the UK. It was a hard learning experience and I wished I had had the expertise and knowledge I have today. I can recommend Jewels Carter, especially if you are looking to start your own business or want to find out what it takes to set you apart from the other applicants.
- Dansk: You can live your whole life in Denmark and never HAVE to learn the language as Danes speak brilliant English. However, it really does affect your chances of fitting in in a Danish company. Danes are fabulous to work with, highly social and Friday night drinks/work events play a huge part of their work life. Being able to speak even a basic amount of Danish shows you are willing to join in with it all!
There’s no doubt that it can be difficult to find a job but utilise all the resources available. Stay positive (queue candles, hygge and all that), network until your feet hurt and place yourself regularly in the uncomfortable zone (reaching out to the contact on your job application and asking really good questions). Then, will you have a greater chance of being noticed among the sea of CVs. Best of luck!
Leslea Petersen is a mum of 2, married to a Dane and originally from the North East of England. She is now happily the COO of The Welcome Group (feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn) and prides herself on her Northern roots, love of Cadbury’s chocolate and Peter Kay dance moves.