The Local contributor finds work, can stay in Denmark after employer reads article

In November, Yater Dabbo wrote to The Local about the challenges faced by skilled foreign professionals looking for work in Denmark, and how his personal situation reflected the issue.

The Local contributor finds work, can stay in Denmark after employer reads article
Yater Dabbo. Photo: private

Two months later, Dabbo was contacted by a potential employer who had read his contribution on our website – and was eventually offered a position which secures his medium-term future in the country.

Dabbo, a digital marketer and sound engineer who moved from Jordan to Denmark in 2014 to study at the Zealand Institute of Business and Technology, wrote in November last year about the issue.

Obstacles faced by foreign professionals include difficulties fulfilling working and residency requirements, resulting in stress on individuals and a potential loss of talent for Denmark, he wrote.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Danish odds are stacked against skilled foreign workers

After reading Dabbo’s article on The Local, the CEO of Rockfon, a Copenhagen-based company which is part of the international Rockwool group, decided to get in touch.

“Our managing director is a key googler, so we were looking for someone to join our digital team,” Rockfon’s head of communication Line Helmark told The Local.

“Because we’re in the acoustic industry, we’d been looking for someone in that particular field,” Helmark said.

After reading about Yater and finding his LinkedIn page via The Local’s article, the company contacted him and asked him to send a CV.

“Since we’re an international company, and my department is quite international, we thought ‘let’s talk to him, he has an interesting profile’,” Helmark said.

After attending an interview, Dabbo was eventually hired for a different position than the one for which the company had advertised, after a good match was found for his skill set, she explained.

Helmark agreed that the proactive approach and unconventional route taken by Dabbo to finding work was worth considering for those setting out on a professional path.

“He was following the regular procedure, it’s just that he came in differently. I think, more and more, that’s how it happens… our HR department also goes on LinkedIn, so it’s a mix of people applying themselves and finding someone interesting that we can call in,” she said.

Dabbo, who begins in his new job on Monday, stressed his gratitude for the opportunity to remain in Denmark and to everyone who had helped him.

“Since we published the story, I’ve had a lot of support on LinkedIn and on social media, from both Danes and non-Danes,” he said.

After applying for up to 100 jobs, he was contacted by Rockfon.

“They were very nice and flexible, it was a good conversation, and then we ended up taking this other role (than the one initially interviewed for),” he said.

“There was this thrilling sensation about working with a brand I knew very well from my audio engineering days. So now being able to be part of it brings me so much excitement,” he added.

The job offer provides Dabbo with a work permit for the duration of his contract, which is an open contract, under the pay limit scheme (beløbsordningen in Danish), a provision that enables companies to hire employees who are nationals of non-EU countries, provided they are paid a specified minimum salary.

“During these last three months, I experienced a bit of depression, a bit of trying to figure out how things were going to go… I have a lot more white hair now,” he told The Local.

“Lots of people wrote to me to say they had experienced the same thing, and that they were very sad at having to leave Denmark,” he said.

Dabbo said that he felt at home in Denmark, where he has lived since 2014.

“I want to have stability, I want to build my life here, but I need to wait another three years yet, and I’m holding tight to this job with my hands and teeth,” the Jordanian said.

“I chose to come here and I love Denmark, I fit in to the culture perfectly. At least, this is how I feel,” he said.

Rockfon’s head of communications said she understood the challenges faced by young international professionals in Denmark.

“It’s always difficult to get that first job, for anyone, and then I think maybe it’s even more difficult when you’re not Danish,” Helmark said.

Rockwool has over 11,000 employees in 39 countries, while Rockfon’s working language in Denmark is English, she noted.

“But, you know, Yater actually speaks quite good Danish,” she added.  

READ ALSO: I took the Danish citizenship test today. What was it like, and why did I do it?

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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.