Maybe you have noticed, that we recently have posted a series of articles about job search (If you haven’t read the articles, you can find them here). In that series you will receive tips and tricks for your résumé, application and learn how to manage the job interview. These articles are addressed to all job seekers, but as an international in Denmark, you can be especially challenged in this area because the process around job search differs from country to country. On that note we want to dive into the challenges that internationals experience when looking for jobs in Denmark, and furthermore, we will try to give some advice on how you can prepare yourself for the Danish job market.
This miniseries will be divided into three separate articles. This article, the first of three, will present some general tips and tricks regarding job search in Denmark from an international perspective. The two succeeding articles are based on small interviews with two internationals with different degrees of experience with job search in Denmark. The articles will outline their professional careers, and they too will pass on their knowledge in the area of job search in Denmark.
Event: Common Mistakes – Job Searching in Denmark
On 5th of September 2019 WolterJohannsen held an event in collaboration with Career Denmark for international job seekers in Denmark. The participants came among others from Egypt, Great Britain, Latvia, Russia and Romania. Some of the participants had just moved to Denmark, while others had been here for many years. Common for all the participants were desire to learn, network and share knowledge about job search in Denmark. Many of the participants have long educations and job experience from their home country, but at the same time experienced difficulties in finding a job in Denmark. Our role at the event was partly to facilitate the event and partly to answer questions from the audience and contribute with our knowledge in this area. The main conclusions from the event will be highlighted throughout this article.
Does culture matter?
First of all, it is very important to understand the Danish workplace culture, when you are applying for a job in Denmark. Understanding the culture enhances your ability to target your application to the recipient and in the end avoid misunderstandings. Therefore, the culture, norms and values should impact the style of your job material directly.
Some of the companies we work with have hired internationals, but often these companies have concerns about how to properly onboard internationals, and what about language barriers, culture etc. It is our impression that a lot of the Danish companies would like to recruit internationals, but they face problems like work permission and other legal issues that are related to politics and thus quite difficult to overcome. In this point of view as an international, you would have to make an additional effort to come into consideration.
Labour market culture
Most Danish companies have a flat structure where the distance between managers and employees is small. Everyone has the opportunity to share their opinions and offer suggestions. Compared to other European countries like Germany, we are way less formal in our language and behavior. Danes are often on first name basis with their colleagues and even their superiors. As a student worker or intern, you are also expected to use people’s first names, just as others will refer to you by your first name. Titles are rarely used. Therefore, it is important to understand the codes and norms, and it is our impression that this can be quite challenging for an outsider.
In many Danish workplaces it is expected that you take initiative and work independently. The work culture is very open, and you are expected to figure things out for yourself and work independently on tasks. As an example, a project manager from Vestas, who led an international team with Danes, Indians, Americans and other nationalities, once told us that the Indians never replied to the other team members unless they CC’ed her on the emails. The reason being that they are not used to make decisions. However, Danish managers would generally like their employees to be critical and think for themselves. So, our first advice is to take a closer look at the Danish workplace culture.
The next advice concerns your résumé. The style of the résumé differs a lot from country to country. In many countries’ résumés have a lot of text, for instance in the UK, Australia and India. Here all projects are written out in detail in the résumés. In Denmark we are not interested in that. Here we would rather have a recap of your experience and meet you and talk about how you can make use of that experience to benefit the company in question. As a recruiting agency we experience quite a few résumés like that, and we try ignoring it, but if you apply directly to a company, they might not. So, try to keep it simple, use bullet points, headlines and keep it down to a few pages.
In our article about the résumé we argued that a picture works as a psychological trick. Humans remember pictures better than words, so use a good picture. We sometimes see pictures that mostly look like mug shots. That doesn’t work too well here. We sometimes also see pictures where the applicant appears naked due to unfortunate choice of outfit. That is not a great idea either. Smiling works best and having a neural background that doesn’t steal a lot of focus away from you is preferred.
A personal profile is key because you get an opportunity to describe yourself, and on your résumé that is the first thing the recruiter or manager sees. If the résumé is not interesting, they might not even read your application. The company would like to know who you are as well as how you can fulfill the job description, and the informal style should be part of the personal profile too.
The application is another important part of the process. Researching on the company you apply to is key, so you can highlight the right abilities. Here the informality of the Danish work culture means that Sir/Madam or Mr./Mrs. is simply alienating and confusing to most Danish people, and we see that sometimes. In the application it is important to be specific on how you can contribute to the company. For instance, highlighting specific assignments from the job description and explain how and why you can solve them will give additional credit in the eyes of the employer.
Our last advice
We encourage you to network as much as possible and talk to potential stakeholders. It is beneficiary to contact the company before writing your application. It is our impression that many candidates do not make this call, and hence it is a good opportunity to stand out and learn more about the company. Furthermore, it is a good idea to follow up on your application, because even though you might not get this job you have an opportunity to learn from the experience which could improve your next application. Finally, it is obviously a good idea to check your spelling and grammar in your résumé and application, because these mistakes are very eye-catching and indicates slackness.
In this article we have presented our advice for job search in Denmark. If you take advantage of these and read our other articles about job search in Denmark, we think you will be able to improve upon the process and increase your chance of landing your next job in Denmark.
Good luck with your job search!
If you have any questions to the article, feel free to contact us at [email protected].