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'Being the right fit': The unwritten rules for getting a job in Denmark

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
'Being the right fit': The unwritten rules for getting a job in Denmark
Photo: Elisa Ventur, Unsplash

Job searching as an international in Denmark is notoriously tough: you need to network without being pushy, sell yourself without being a show off, be prepared but still relaxed. The CEO of English Job Denmark, Leslea Petersen, unpicks the unwritten rules.

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Don't "show off" about your skills

Many people from the UK or US they think they have to sell themselves. That’s definitely not how you do it in Denmark because of the flat hierarchy in the workplace. It's how you work as part of a team and not that you think you're better than anyone else. Try and show exactly what you can do for the organisation and how you'd fit in.

Network

Use LinkedIn. Find people in your field of work and just say 'Hi, I'm building my network in Denmark, can we connect?' Then if you see a job on LinkedIn you might have a connection who works there. You can then go back to them and ask how they got their job. Don't be too aggressive, or send too many messages.

Follow the application structure

Follow the procedure for the recruitment process, applying through a website if that's what's asked for. Don't send your CV to the CEO if someone from HR is handling the recruitment process, Danes have a clear structure. 

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The relaxed interview

Danes are very laid back in interviews but always be on time, not super early but definitely not late.

Be relaxed but professional and be prepared; do as much research as possible to show that you are interested and to make the interviewers feel their organisation is special.

Don't be alarmed if they use the F word, it's not often seen as that offensive in Denmark.

Being the right fit

About 80 percent of getting the job is whether you’re the right fit. This is much more important than your technical ability. This is a stumbling block for internationals as some Danes will worry about how they will fit into their teams.

My work involves working with companies to help them retain international talent, as well as helping internationals understand the process of getting a job in Denmark because it is different here.

Show your personality on your CV. Danes are big on their clubs so add your hobbies: you might have a shared interest with the people in the company. 

In the interview talk about learning Danish, even if it's an English environment. 

Some people can get the impression that their interview went really well and that they got on so well.  Danes want to see how you fit into their team but is it a good fit for you? It’s a two-way thing so ask questions.

READ MORE: The verdict on Danish bosses: 'If you get fired, it’s just business'

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Have smart goals for your job search

Choose a job search day or a Monday to Friday job search with structure. Choose your hours and have some clear achievements by the end of the week, such as ten more connections or one application.

Try and find someone else who is job hunting and if you’ve clicked with someone, do a job search with them and meet in a café.

This means you can skill-share. If one of you is creative, they could help format your CV while in return you proof-read theirs.  There are also job-searching events and workshops for internationals in Denmark you can attend.

Get outside for fresh air and exercise. People feel guilty when they're not working, but going for a walk is free and really good for your mental health.

READ MORE: 'Be very blunt': How to navigate Danish office culture and come out on top

Once you're in the job

Some people are used to being micromanaged but that doesn't happen in Denmark - you are trusted to get on with your job.

The Danish workplace has a flat hierarchy so expect to see the CEO and warehouse workers sitting together at lunch. 

You might think you're too busy to have lunch and choose to eat at your desk but that isn't a thing in Denmark and would be seen as not integrating. 

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

Leslea Petersen has lived in Denmark for 16 years. She helps equip internationals with knowledge about Danish work culture and the job-search process through her company English Job Denmark.

 

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