Denmark ‘is paradise for families with children, despite the weather’

My Danish Career: We spoke with Mariangeles Claros, who transferred her experience in the Spanish travel and tourism industry to a job in the Danish town of Horsens, and says the move has been great for her family.

Denmark 'is paradise for families with children, despite the weather'
Mariangeles Claros on a summer's day in Denmark. Photo: private

Having worked in Spain for seven years in the tourism industry, Mariangeles Claros moved to Denmark in 2014 – but she already knew some of her Danish colleagues.

Claros now works full time as a marketing manager with the group, which advertises holiday homes in Spain to vacationers in Denmark and elsewhere.

“I started 10 years ago at our main office in Malaga, but being an international company with offices also in Horsens, I was offered the possibility to move to Denmark and have another vision of life, working for the same company but this time with my Danish colleagues around,” Claros says.

The tourist industry marketer actually knew her Danish colleagues before arriving in the Scandinavian country.

“I met them a couple of times a year, and our communication was always via Skype or emails,” she says.

The travel website for which she works was founded 15 years ago by Claus Sørensen, Claros' husband and father of her three children.

“We had a Danish friend in common in Malaga, who introduced us two. We were supposed to help each other in foreign languages – me helping him in Spanish, and him helping me in English – with a cup of coffee at the beach every afternoon. But that cup of coffee went too far… now we have three kids, he is fluent in Spanish, and I am fluent in English, and even in Danish,” she jokes.

The holiday site owned by Sørensen works in 13 different languages, with Claros overseeing the Spanish market.

“The Danish office existed already. I just moved from the Spanish office based in Malaga to the Danish office located in Horsens,” she explains.

Despite the flexibility of working online, being located in Denmark and having specialist knowledge of Spain made the marketing manager a good fit for her Horsens workplace.

“I still work on the Spanish market, but being here in Denmark brought me the possibility to dedicate part of my time to the Danish market as well.

“I am Spanish and work for a website that advertises holiday homes in Spain. My local knowledge about Spain and my proximity to Danish people is a good combination to get a wider vision of how the holiday rental industry works best for Danish tourists,” she says.

With colleagues from in Malaga. Photo:

Having first visited Denmark at the turn of the century, the tourism manager said she had always found the work-life balance of the northern country an attractive prospect.

“I was gripped by the Danish hygge from first time I came on a holiday to Denmark 17 years ago. I moved to Denmark with a big desire for freedom for my kids. This is paradise for families with children, despite the weather,” she says.

“Generally speaking this is a country where family matters a lot. I mean, family first. For instance, if your child gets sick, you have the right to paid leave,” she explains.

“I could see that Denmark was a very good place for children to grow. As a mother of three kids living in a busy city, with homework and exams from first grade in primary school, I really saw Denmark as a place to live less stressed and more 'hyggeligt', giving children the freedom and joy they need in their childhood,” she continues.

“That was the real reason that motivated me to move up here, and without changing my job, I felt really fortunate to make this happen,” she continues.

Despite knowing Denmark and having a job in advance of moving to the country, Claros says there was still plenty of work to do to get her career on track in the Scandinavian country – as there would be for anyone taking on the relocation process.

“Denmark is not a paradise for those looking for a dream job. Many people with even two university careers have it difficult here because of the language. English is ok, but not enough. Spoken and written Danish is a must. You need to be really passionate about your career in Denmark and the country itself, including the culture, the people, the weather… and the language,” she says.

“In my case, I never went to a Danish school. I self-learned at home, with the help of my husband, and listening to P4 Danish radio every single morning at work. So you can say that my Danish is very 'homemade',” she says, adding that Danes are “very patient when trying to understand a foreign person speaking Danish”.

The tourist industry manager admits that the climate in Denmark was a factor in her adjusting to her new life away from the sunny Costa del Sol.

“Of course, when you move from Costa del Sol, with an average of 320 days of sun a year, not seeing the sun can be a bit tough. I see how Danes are eating vitamin pills, especially vitamin D, and I am a bit reluctant to do it, even though I know sooner or later I will end up buying those vitamins too,” she says.

“I am also a real spontaneous girl from the south. So a coffee with a friend that needs to be planned three weeks in advance, with a starting and finishing time – that's not my 'cup of tea',” she says.

“So, I of course had to adapt myself to it to be able to get a social life here. That's how it is.”

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Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Job searching in Denmark can be a daunting and lengthy process with many hurdles to overcome. The Local spoke to Kay Xander Mellish, author of 'How to Work in Denmark', for her tips on submitting a successful CV and application.

Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

CVs in Denmark often have certain aspects of layout, presentation and content in common. By writing a CV that sticks to some of these recognisable customs, you may improve your chances of catching the eye of a potential employer.

1. Length

“Keep it to one excellent page, or two if you’re more senior. I’d say if you’re aged 30 and under, one page will be enough. Only add the jobs that are relevant. Employers don’t want to hear about that restaurant server or babysitting job if it’s not relevant to the role,” Mellish said.

2. Format

At the top of your CV, a paragraph describing your experience, skills, education and character is a common way to lead into a CV. This text can be adapted depending on the job you’re applying for and how you want to present your skills.

“Add three adjectives about yourself that you can support with an example, rather than ten adjectives with no story. For example, say you are innovative for this reason. People don’t like hot air in Denmark,” Mellish said.

Aside from the profile text, chronological lists of qualifications, relevant employment history and other relevant experience should be kept brief enough to fit the one to two pages.

3. Show your personal side and a photo

It is expected that applicants include a section about their hobbies, even family situation on their CV in Denmark, as well as a photo, to give a sense of who they are as a person.

“Danish employers are interested in you as a human, more so than employers in other countries so include information about yourself, including your age and your hobbies.

“Choose a good quality photo that is not too serious but shows you looking friendly and approachable,” Mellish said.

4. Story telling

“Think in terms of story telling”, Mellish advised. “Pure letters and numbers don’t mean a lot to employers in Denmark, they need to know what projects you’ve done, what role you played and what kind of person you are through your CV.

“So rather than writing ‘I have these grades’, it’s better to say ‘I worked on this project, it took this long, I achieved this'”, Mellish said.

5. Hit the ground running

Mellish called this “plug and play”, where you show you will slot right into the company and get going with the role.

“When employers are reading your CV, they want to know what you can do on day one of the job. Sell your ability to solve someone’s problem. You need to give the impression you can add value straight away.

“In Denmark the average length of time in a job is two and a half years, because you can take your pension when you move, so employers don’t want someone they need to spend time training,” Mellish told The Local.

READ ALSO: Five tips for writing an effective Danish CV

6. Teamwork

“Group work is very important in Denmark, more than individual achievements. So talk about your teamwork and how you worked with a group to produce a good business result. It shouldn’t be ‘me, me, me’ – that’s a turn off,” Mellish said.

7. LinkedIn

“People in Denmark love LinkedIn so you need a fabulous LinkedIn profile with a good picture. Before anyone calls you for an interview they’ll have looked at your LinkedIn profile.

“In your profile, include the storytelling, explaining the projects you’ve worked on. If your job involves a uniform, I recommend wearing it in your LinkedIn photo so people get that impression of you right away. Your background photo should also be work-related, not rainbows or puppies. Use it to tell the story of who you are,” Mellish advised.

8. Unsolicited application

This is when you approach a company or department you would like to work for, without a job being advertised. The Danish term for it is uopfordret ansøgning. 

“Many people make contact on LinkedIn and ask to meet for a coffee, where they chat and rather than pitch for a job, they ask if the person knows anyone looking for someone like them. Danish employers welcome this and many people are hired this way,” Mellish said.

Another way to network is to join a union, Mellish advised. They often have career events but can also help read your contract when you get a job offer, or help with any problems in the workplace. 

9. Ring the recruiter

The phone number of the hiring manager will often be in the job advert. Mellish advised finding a quiet place to ring them from and spending ten to fifteen minutes asking some good business questions.

“This also helps you work out if you might want to work for this person,” Mellish said.

“Send your CV within 24 hours of the phone call and mention you spoke to them in your application,” she added.

10. Patience

“On average it can take six months to find a job in Denmark. If it’s under this, you’re lucky. If it takes a year, it’s not you, it just takes a long time because employers are looking for someone to fit into their team.

“I wrote 100 letters, I got ten responses, three interviews and one job which I had for eight years,” Mellish told The Local.

“Danish employers are not always good at getting back to you. If you don’t hear anything, just keep applying for other jobs. If you sent an application on June 1st, you could send a follow-up email on June 15th, then you’ll have to leave it and move on,” she advised. 

Kay Xander Mellish’s book ‘How to Work in Denmark’ offers both job-searching advice and tips on how to succeed in the Danish workplace.