Category 2

Getting a Job: 1

October 29, 2021

Are Danish companies overlooking international talent?

The Danish job market is a competitive hunting ground. Many applicants find themselves sending out hundreds of CVs without any joy. In this episode we identify what makes the Danish job market different to the countries, and how misunderstandings in the application process may mean Danish companies are missing out hiring top international talent.

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The episode begins with Sam and Josefine introducing the guests who will be featuring on the show: Karey-Anne Duevang, CEO of The Welcome Group and English Job Denmark and Nikolaj Lubanski, Director of Talent Acquisition at Copenhagen Capacity.

They then get started on what Danish recruiters look for when hiring.

3 Golden Nuggets 

The first big hurdle is to get your application noticed. 

When looking through hundreds of applications, the recruiter will usually be looking for three things: 

  • Can you deliver the prerequisites of the job description?
  • Will you be able to fit in with your team? 
  • Are you going to stay in the job for a long time, or is there a chance that you will be looking for something new soon? 


If the job has been posted on one of the many job portals, chances are, the position has received a large number of applications already.

To be considered, you have to read the description carefully and make sure you include everything listed in either your CV or letter of motivation (cover letter).

“Recruiters, or the technology they use, typically spend seconds scanning applications, simply checking whether they meet the requirements or not.”


According to our guest Karey-Ann, having a job in Denmark is not just about completing the tasks at hand. You have to show that you are a committed team player. Talking to your coworkers during lunch and showing an interest in their private life is essential. 

If you walk into an interview and say/ imply that you intend to “clock in”, do your work, and then leave when you’re done, this can be seen as a red flag to Danish recruiters. The teamwork and social interactions are important to most workplaces and so you will be rewarded for being (perceived as) a nice person who engages with your coworkers.


“Unless you can prove that once you gain employment, that you will stay, then you will not be hired”

Suppose the employer is looking over your application or CV, and you seem overly qualified for the position. In that case, they might actually turn you down.

This seems contradictory; after all, should they not want the person with the most experience? However, many recruiters will assume that if an applicant with a lot of experience applies for a starter job, they might turn around and leave the company soon after employment. 

This is a waste of resources to the company, and they will have to start the re-recruitment and training process all over again. And so, they turn down people if they suspect the applicant can leave at a moment’s notice.

Focus on your team contribution

In the episode, Karey Ann tells us a story about a man who had previously worked with NASA but struggled to get a job in Denmark. He had sent out hundreds of applications and heard back from none of them. According to Karey Ann, the problem was that he talked too highly of his accomplishments. 

In Denmark, boasting is not very well received, so when talking about your accomplishments, it’s important to frame them in a way that appeals more to Danish humility. Instead of going, “I did this, and I managed that”, try to focus on your accomplishments within a team. How you have contributed to the group, and how did you help find solutions to problems.

“Don’t try to stand out as a lonely high achiever. Make sure that you say that you're someone who can do really well within a team setting.”

Sam remembers that it was the exact opposite in the UK. When he was looking for work after university, he was advised to boast about his accomplishments and the projects he had led. Otherwise, he risked not being taken seriously by the recruiters.

Pictures on the CV?!

Another difference Sam found surprising was that people include pictures on the CV.

In Denmark it is common practise to include a headshot or portrait of yourself in your application. However in the UK doing so is seen as unprofessional. 

“Often in companies in the UK, not only will you not have a photo, you won't even have the person's name, to avoid hidden biases the employer might have”

Sam and Josefine wondered aloud whether this practice of including photos might soon become outdated in Denmark.

Word of Mouth

Another thing to be aware of is that many positions out there will never make it to the job listing websites. The smaller the company is, the higher the possibility they hire people from within their network. 

“As an international, if you come into Denmark and you don't know anyone, then it's very difficult to be found by this network”

Larger companies are more likely to have their own jobs citing websites and a more streamlined hiring process. 

A way to get connected to this network could be through linked in or through facebook groups.

Getting the connection 

Josefine has been on the other side of the table, as the recruiter, and her advice is:

“Write a nice short message saying: “I think what your company is doing is incredible. I am looking to work within that industry. Just trying to find my way. Would you have time to drink coffee with me?” Don't expect that person to give you a job, but do expect that person to give you an opportunity to talk about your ambitions, your skills, your situation. They might know someone who knows someone who can help you.”

Don’t be afraid to try and reach out to people you don't know. The ones who do reply could be a path to your next job.

The Diverse Ecosystem 

From a company perspective, a problem with limiting your hiring process to your network is that it risks creating a homogenous culture. Research shows that more diverse workplaces are more productive, efficient and innovative, and if everyone in a company comes from the same background they may not get the benefits of different perspectives and skill sets.

“Generally speaking, diversity in biology makes the ecosystem stronger. If you've got a homogenous culture, it might be good in the short term, but it's not the most resilient. Whereas, if you can be having an ecosystem that encapsulate and support lots of different inputs, then that's going to make it a more resilient ecosystem”

How to integrate non-Danes into a Danish company

Creating a diverse workplace comes with its own challenges, depending on the company’s situation. Turning a fully Danish operation into a place open to everyone is no small feat. But luckily there are organisations out there who exist to help companies create that inclusive environment. Our second guest Nikolaj is part of one of those organisations.

Copenhagen Capacity works with companies across Denmark to help internationalise their operations so they can start benefiting from international talent wanting to work in Denmark.

Established vs New companies  

Nikolaj mentioned that, for job seekers, it may be best to look at start ups, or at least companies that have their website written in English.

Newly started companies are usually more open to hire the untapped international talent. They might even have an international market in mind from their establishment. However it can be harder for these companies to adapt, simply because they are lacking resources to make the necessary accommodations.

Companies that are more well established face other difficulties when adapting to an international strategy. They might have the funds and resources, but the established culture might be more difficult to change.

Main takeaways

We've learnt that Denmark is different from other countries when it comes to getting hired in that the recruiters place a greater emphasis on team contribution compared to individual achievement. When applying for jobs

  • Keep in mind the 3 Golden Rules: Deliver, Fit and Stay. They will likely be how the recruiter is evaluating your application
  • "We not I": talk about your achievements in the context of what the team did. This will balance your successes with teamwork
  • Build a network: it's not easy, especially when moving to a new place, but (at least some) people will being receptive to having a coffee to talk about their work. These connections will help create connections in a country where "who you know" is important

Be sure to check out Getting a Job (Part 2) for our practical tips on how to get a job.

What Do you Think?

  • What is your experience with applying for jobs in Denmark? 
  • What tricks have you used to improve your CV for Danish employers? 
  • A Photo on the CV: useful or dangerous?  

Let us know by heading over to our Facebook group where you can discuss your experiences with us and other listeners.

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