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WORKING IN DENMARK

Five essential words you need when applying for a job in Denmark

Finding a job as a foreigner in Denmark is a challenging task, especially if you are applying in Danish as a new speaker of the language.

A few context-specific words can go a long way towards effective communication on Danish job applications.
A few context-specific words can go a long way towards effective communication on Danish job applications. Photo by TheStandingDesk on Unsplash

While we can’t find your ideal job, we’d like to think the below vocabulary will come in handy during the process.

If there’s anything important you think we’ve missed in this guide, let us know.

READ ALSO: 

Ansøgning 

Most job searches begin with an ansøgning, or application. You’re also likely to come across the compound word variant jobansøgning, job application.

You might find a jobopslag (job posting) which asks you to fill out an ansøgningsskema (application form), or perhaps you’ll try your luck by sending out uopfordret jobansøgninger (unsolicited job applications).

Ansættelseshistorik 

While a CV or resume is simply a CV in Danish, it’s worth knowing the typical titles for the various subheadings so you can be confident in (and look confident on) your application.

These include ansættelseshistorik (employment history), which can sometimes be prefaced with relevant if you only want to include selected or relevant past roles on your CV.

Other subheadings you might use include uddannelse (education), sprogfærdigheder (proficient languages) and øvrig erfaring og interesser (other experience and interests).

Referencer (referees) can also be listed, but it’s common for Danish CVs to state that these fås ved nærmere henvendelse, or are provided on request.

The letter of motivation (sometimes also called statement of purpose) commonly attached alongside a CV to job applications is sometimes just called the ansøgning (application, see above) and sometimes a motiveret ansøgning, which is perhaps a more faithful translation of ‘letter of motivation’.

Fagforening 

Your fagforening or trade union may be able to help you when looking for work, should you, like around 70 percent of people on the Danish labour market, be a member of one. In some trades, almost all people working in the sector are members of the same trade union – for example, the vast majority of nurses are members of Denmark’s nurses’ union, Dansk Sygeplejeråd (DSR).

Should you be a member of a union, the wage and working conditions on which you are hired will be determined by the overenskomst or collective bargaining agreement between the union and employer representatives.

While you are searching for work, you A-kasse or unemployment insurance provider can help with resources and guidance related to writing an application and looking for relevant job postings.

READ ALSO: Should I sign up with a Danish union and get unemployment insurance? 

Stilling

Meaning ‘position’, stilling is a good synonym for ‘job’ which can be used both on applications and during your interview. If you think you’d use ‘position’ or ‘role’ in reference to a job when speaking English, you can say ‘stilling’ in the equivalent sentence in Danish.

For example, you might write in your application that you håber at blive taget I betragtning til stillingen (hope to be considered for the position), or say in the interview that you feel you are meget velegnet til stillingen (very well suited to the role).

Kompetencer 

You may be asked at the interview which kompetencer (competencies or skills) you will bring to the role. Possibly, these will be specified as being faglige kompetencer (technical or professional skills). Likewise, you could find yourself explaining why you have the right erfaring (experience) for the job.

If you want to say you’re a ‘team player’, don’t worry about throwing the English term into the conversation – it’s a well-recognised loan expression in Danish.

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WORKING IN DENMARK

Feriepenge: Denmark’s vacation pay rules explained

If you work for a company in Denmark, your yearly time off is likely to be provided for by the 'feriepenge' accrual system for paid annual leave.

If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar.
If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar. Photo by Felipe Correia on Unsplash

One of the perks of being a full-time employee in the country, Danish holiday usually adds up to five weeks of vacation annually. There are also nine days of public holidays, which everyone benefits from.

The Danish Holiday Act (Ferieloven) provides the basis for paid holiday through accrued feriepenge (‘vacation money’ or ‘vacation allowance’). This covers most salaried employees, although some people, such as independent consultants or freelancers, are not encompassed.

What is feriepenge?

‘Holiday money’ or feriepenge is a monthly contribution paid out of your salary into a special fund, depending on how much you earn.

You can claim back the money once per year, provided you actually take holiday from work. It is earned at the rate of 2.08 vacation days per month.

If you are employed in Denmark, you will be notified when the money can be paid out (this is in May under normal circumstances) and directed to the borger.dk website, from where you claim it back from national administrator Udbetaling Danmark.

Anyone who is an employee of a company registered in Denmark and who pays Danish taxes is likely to receive holiday pay, as this means you will be covered by the Danish Holiday Act (ferieloven). You are not an employee if, for example, you are self-employed, are a board member on the company for which you work or are unemployed.

How do I save up time off using feriepenge?

The law, which covers the five standard weeks or (normally 25 days) of paid vacation, states that you are entitled to take vacation during the vacation year period. You earn paid vacation throughout a calendar year at the rate of 2.08 days per month.

You earn vacation time in the period September 1st-August 31st. You can then use your vacation in the same year that you earn it and up to December 31st the subsequent year – in other words, over a 16-month period.

These rules also mean that holiday earned during a given month can be used from the very next month, in what is referred to as concurrent holiday (samtidighedsferie).

So when can I take time off using this accrued vacation?

The Danish vacation year is further broken down so that there is a “main holiday period” which starts on May 1st and ends on September 30th. During this time, you are entitled to take three weeks’ consecutive vacation out of your five weeks.

A lot of people take three weeks in a row while others break it up – which is why you often hear Danish people who work full time wishing each other a “good summer holiday” as if it’s the end of the school term.

Outside of the main holiday period, the remaining 10 days of vacation can be taken whenever you like. You can take up to five days together but may also use the days individually.

If your employer wants to decide when you should take any of your vacation days, they have to let you know at least three months in advance for main holiday, or one month in advance for remaining holiday (barring exceptional circumstances, such as an unforeseen change to the company’s operations or if the company closes for the summer shortly after you begin employment).

If you have not earned paid vacation, you still have the right to take unpaid holiday.

Public Holidays

In addition to the vacation days, there are also public holidays. These are bunched up mostly in the early part of the year and around Christmas. However, the period between June and Christmas includes the above-mentioned main annual leave, so there’s not usually long to wait until you can take time off.

Denmark has public holidays on:’

  • New Year’s Day  
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday  
  • Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag)
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Monday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

In addition to the usual public holidays, companies can choose to give extra time off, for example on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. There are also differences regarding Labour Day and Constitution Day, depending on where you work, what kind of work you do, or the collective bargaining agreement under which you are employed.

Sometimes you can get a whole day off for these extra holidays, sometimes just a half day. Check with your employer for details.

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