FAQs about finding work in Denmark
Many of those who want to move to Denmark wonder about how easy it is to find a job when they move. And many who are in Denmark seem to have a hard time finding a job. What to do? This article gives some answers to those questions.
It has not been easy to find jobs in Denmark for a while now. Gone are the times when Denmark had an as low unemployment rate as 1.6 % (August 2008). As of January 4, 2013 the unemployment rate is at 6.3 %. This article will give some answers to the recurring questions I receive and some inspiration and pointers on how to increase your chances for success.
Is it easy to find a job in Denmark?
The economic crisis still has a strong grip on Denmark. Many companies fire people and many don’t have a strong hiring rate. This means that there are not only non-Danes searching for a job but also very many Danes. They have in any case the advantage to know the language and the culture of the country. They have a social and professional network and they know how it is customary to apply for a job in Denmark. There are many Danes who cannot find a job for many months, therefore it will be as difficult if not even more so for non-Danes to find one. This is not to say that it will be impossible, but that you have to do a thorough preparation if you want to increase your chances for success.
Moving to Denmark without having secured a job?
My answer to this question is (and has been for several years) a clear NO! As described above it won’t be easy as you compete with a large number of Danes for the same jobs. If you don’t know the language and the culture you are at a clear disadvantage no matter how good your education otherwise is. If you don’t have a good education it may even be more difficult as under the current situation even well-educated people are taking on odd jobs. You are bound to get frustrated as time goes by and as your savings are melting away. Search for a job while you still live in your country. In the "Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark" we made a list of the job databases for Denmark, you can send applications and you can start building a network long before you have set foot on Danish soil.
Finding a job without knowing Danish?
In 2006 I had made a survey among the expat community of how easy it had been for them to find a job. About half had had a hard time and this seemed to be closely linked to their ability to speak Danish. And mind you, this was when the Danish economy was blooming. Even more so today, knowing the language plays an important role in finding work. If you are waiting for your work permit, if you are waiting for your approval for family reunification, if you have decided to move to Denmark use the time before your departure productively and learn Danish. In the "The Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark" you can find a list of the Webpages and language programs where you can learn Danish online.
Finding a job without knowing the Danish culture?
Not understanding the Danish culture plays very much into why many non-Danes don’t find work in Denmark and it baffles me again and again with how little knowledge about the country, the economic scene, the customs, with how little preparation in general some newcomers expect to be successful. You might be lucky, but in general the chances for success are in relation to the effort you put in and to the approach you choose. And this is not different in Denmark.
Whenever you address a certain audience, the chances to convince will be higher if you adapt your approach to exactly this audience. This is the same anywhere in the world. Culture has molded our perception for what is seen as “right” and “good” in a certain situation. If your approach goes against this, people might not recognize your capabilities and your arguments at their true value. Same in Denmark.
If you apply for a job in the same way you have done in your country, you may be lucky but chances are high that you may not be seen as the best candidate for a job opening and you will have missed your chance. Similar, when you are working with Danes the way you present your arguments and the arguments you choose may convince your colleagues / employees or not about your ideas being the best ones.
I am not saying that you should change your way of being. But by knowing more about the Danish work culture you will automatically do certain things differently. It’s a bit like with your mother-in-law. By knowing what she likes and what she doesn’t you will not change yourself but you will adapt your behavior somewhat and suddenly some things will work better.
The Danish work culture is explained in detail in my newest book "Business-Dances with Danes. Decoding Danish workplace culture" and you will find not only explanations about the DOs and DON’Ts when you apply in Denmark and when working with Danes, but it introduces you also into the economic and the employers landscape in Denmark, which widens your possibilities to find a (new) job as well.
Finding a job without having a professional network?
It is possible to find a job without knowing anybody in Denmark. When I made interviews for the book "Business-Dances with Danes. Decoding Danish workplace culture" some had found jobs by seeing job offerings in job databases or on companies Websites. However, about half of them found their latest job in Denmark through their network (international or Danish).This goes in line with a number which is generally cited all over the world, which says that about 60% of the jobs are filled with people that are suggested by other employees. We will post more articles in the future about how you can build your professional network. In "The Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark" you can find suggestions on how you can build your network in Denmark with Danish and with international people.
An employer needs to feel comfortable that you will be a good addition to the team, therefore, a reference is invaluable. Of course your network can introduce you to their network where they know of job openings, but it also helps if you volunteer. You get visibility in the Danish job market and your name gets out there. If you do a good job in your volunteering position, you have already one reference in Denmark which a potential employer can call and ask about how you work, which is very important as your friends may only tell how they experience you in your spare time and that may not be enough for an employer. Having a reference from Denmark increases the trust.
To give people the chance to get some visibility, we offer volunteering possibilities at Worktrotter, right now for online/offline marketing activities and other topics.
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Denmark seen with international eyes
The Worktrotter books
For those working with Danes and those trying to find work in Denmark.
This book is also aimed at those Danes who want to become conciously aware of the Danish workplace culture.
Find out how to decode Danish work culture, avoid pitfalls and know how you can bring your messages across when working with Danes.
For current and future newcomers to Denmark.
A practical step-by-step guide about living and working in Denmark. Save time, nerves and money. Be smart and do things right - right from the start.
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