University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Your 5 step path to a good Danish job

Want to get a Danish job? The University Post asked three experts to give us their insider tips

Times are tough, and there are not that many jobs out there, ripe and ready to be plucked.

Getting a good job in Denmark is not easy, and this goes for Danes, just as it goes for international students and graduates.

But, our experts assure us, it can be done. Here is the University Post’s step-by-step guide. It will give you your best shot at the Danish labour market.

1st step: While you are at university

While you are studying it is a good idea to learn the local language, agree our three experts.

Tip: Learn some Danish

Many industries are positive towards receiving students and graduates who are talented, bright, and motivated, regardless of their nationality.

»However, many jobs require a knowledge of the Danish language, or they are distributed through Danish networks and this makes it more difficult for internationals«, explains Helle S. Waagepetersen, our first expert.

She is head of studies at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, now merged with the Faculty of Health. It was recently awarded the International Study Environment Award for its efforts in getting international graduate students to create networks and stay in Denmark.

Ana Mosneaga, our second expert, is a PhD student researching how international students get jobs here. One of the tips her informants provided for her while studying was as follows.

Tip: Be specialised in at least one area.

Bear in mind that you will need to be able to translate the competencies you have attained during your studies to professional qualifications that companies need. Therefore, »be specialized or good at something«, Ana sums up her research article.

2nd step: When you graduate.

Helle has helped students in her department make themselves attractive to the Danish labour market.

»We have also helped them formulate what their strong points are in comparison with Danish graduates«, she explains, adding that it is important to have relevant work experience that outplays the Danish opposition job candidates.

Tip: Formulate what makes you strong relative to a Danish candidate.

Søren Kibsgaard is from Work In Denmark, an employment service for Danish companies and foreign job seekers.

He also underlines the importance of exploiting your condition as international. It is the added value to sell yourself that Danish students do not have.

Søren strongly recommends that in case you can’t find a job, it is a good idea to volunteer in the meantime in order to show that you are interested and to get some of this experience that many companies require. His tip is therefore: Volunteer.

He calls on international students to think out of the box.

»Don’t limit yourself to certain job titles, open the range of possibilities«, Søren says.

3rd step: Improving your network.

All our three experts agree: Making use of your network in Denmark is essential to find a job. But the question is: How do you build your network?

Helle explains that at the Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty, they helped students along by creating academic and social networks, and getting students out on company visits in Denmark.

»Be active and persistent! Show motivation! Actively create a Danish and international network! Contact people who can help you! The worst thing that can happen is that you get a No«, she says.

Ana Mosneaga says her research »also highlights that adopting a proactive stance in approaching people, and showing interest in what they do, and where they work, helps students and graduate to expand their network.«

Tip: Don’t be afraid of the ‘No’

WorkInDenmark recommends students to join sport clubs or volunteer in different organisations in order to meet Danes and other internationals in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Some examples of networks are Expat in Denmark, Meetup, USG or the different groups that you can find at your own national embassy.

4th step: Contacting companies

It is a good idea, according to Søren, to make research on Danish firms who deal with export activities in the country you come from. This will let you apply to companies that have not advertised job openings.

In fact, some of Ana’s interviewees that got a job after graduation had been active in searching for opportunities to cooperate with companies on a project-basis (through Masters or PhD projects for example) already during their study time.

Tip: Apply for unsolicited positions

However, if you are responding to a job advert, there are things you can do to make yourself visible.

Before sending an application, »always call the company and, more important, ask an intelligent question«, Søren explains. Show them that you know the company. As a result, you may stand out, and above the rest, thanks to this one intelligent call.

Tip: Make an intelligent call

Given your status as an international student, the worst thing you can do is to sit down and wait for answers from companies that you have applied to.

»However, you should not spam companies either. Show your interest, but do not overwhelm them«, Søren recommends.

5th step: Succeeding at the job interview

Søren believes in handing in your application personally. It may give you the opportunity to introduce yourself. »But this strategy is better in small companies where you will have more chances to speak with the manager«, he says.

Work In Denmark gives these 10 interesting pointers for job interviews:

• Arrive in good time
• Look at the person you are talking to
• Be honest
• Look presentable
• Be calm
• Bring all relevant documents (your application, CV, the job ad and degree diplomas)
• Ask questions about the job and the company
• Prepare a short presentation about yourself and your reasons for applying for the job
• Prepare your wage demand.
• Get clarification on the procedure following the interview

So there you are. Hopefully these tips will get your job! But remember, there is one final tip from PhD student Ana Mosneaga. »In the end, you also need some good luck!«.

Let this be our final piece of advice.

Tip: Be lucky

Once you have one job, it is much easier to find another.

Let us know in the comment field below if you have any further tips!

Like us on Facebook for features, guides and tips on upcoming events. Follow us on Twitter for links to other Copenhagen academia news stories. Sign up for the University Post weekly newsletter here, and then follow the University Post on Instagram here.