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Job searching challenges in Denmark

Navigating the job search process in Denmark as an international: Insights from Vladimira Cerneavski.

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Vladimira Cerneavski

Job seeking is an inherently stressful process that most of the earth’s population has to deal with at some point.

While searching for a job in Denmark, many internationals, myself included, face certain difficulties. However, I must admit that the struggles my international friends and I have anecdotally faced can be very similar to the experience of my unemployed Danish friends. The job search process is stressful and can be pretty discouraging, but it’s essential to keep our spirits up and keep trying. Even though every person has a unique job search experience, many internationals generally encounter similar obstacles.

The language barrier

Although most Danes possess a conversational level of English, being fluent in Danish can open many doors, making it easier to navigate and get started with your life in Denmark, find friends, establish a network, and significantly increase your career options - depending on your field of work. Learning an extra language is not easy, but constant exposure to the language might help speed up the process.

Once you settle in Denmark, you have the option to start learning the language at the local language schools, volunteer language cafes or even independently. It is always a good idea to practice the language whenever you feel comfortable, and having Danish friends double-check a message for you wouldn’t hurt.

Establishing a network

Applying for jobs online is perhaps as popular as it is convenient. Drafting an application, compounding a CV, and sending it to the potential employer sounds easy enough. However, it’s highly likely that your application, as well as mine, will end up filtered out by a bot before it even has the chance to appear in front of the scrutinising eye of the HR department.

A common way to circumvent such a futile exercise is to contact potential employers directly. Standard advice is to call the companies you’re interested in and ask them a few questions. Naturally, this strategy can yield varying results, and it’s up to one’s individual preference.

Another option is to try getting to know the companies by attending career events for students and graduates, special in-house events organised by companies searching for international workers or seeking to establish personal connections with potential employers through contacts.

Attending job search-themed events is a great way to familiarise yourself with the Danish work culture, get to know the companies on a more personal level, and get a clearer picture of what the employers are looking for when hiring.

The Danish work culture

In Denmark, the approach to hiring is a little bit more personal than what I personally imagined. The Danish work culture is unique in its’ own way and, therefore, a bit harder to grasp for many internationals. Although work qualifications are an important factor that is decisive in getting a job offer, often the thing that ends up getting you the job will be passing the ‘vibe check’.

Passing the CV screening is only half of the challenge. Employers tend to select their candidates based on shared vision and values and appreciate strong interpersonal skills. The interview style in Denmark gravitates towards casual, the goal being to get to know you. So don’t be surprised to be asked about your interests and spare time.

When you get a job in Denmark, expect that your coworkers will want to get to know you a bit. Socialising after work is typical, either during company-organised events or just a casual get-together for board games at a local gaming café.

Getting a job can be a mighty challenge regardless of where you live. If you want to know more about how to search for jobs, how to write an appealing cover letter and CV, and how to prepare for your first interview, feel free to reach out to International House North Denmark. International House North Denmark hosts monthly job search seminars where we cover these topics and are happy to answer any questions that might arise. Get in touch with us!

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