How To Work In Denmark

How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Your free daily banana and five weeks off: Job benefits in Denmark

On-the-job benefits in Denmark come in three categories: the kind every Danish worker gets, the kind everyone at your company gets, and the kind only top dogs at your company get.

When you talk with a future employer, there’s not all that much room for negotiation, unless you’re coming in at a very high level or have a highly sought-after specialty.

In most cases, as American kindergarteners say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Fortunately, job benefits in Denmark tend to be generous.

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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

No more cookie pushers: Trailing spouses and working in Denmark

If you’re coming from abroad to work in Denmark, you may be bringing along your spouse. That can be great – it’s nice to have someone to shiver through the Danish summer with.

But unhappy spouses are one of the main reasons that people who come to work in Denmark end up leaving.

Denmark is not an easy place to make friends, given that Danish culture tends toward “respecting your privacy” by not striking up conversations with strangers.

It can also be tough for spouses to get jobs in Denmark, particularly well-educated spouses seeking jobs at their level of expertise.

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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Why job titles aren’t that important in Denmark

When I do How to Live in Denmark presentations, I generally ask for just a few simple items – a screen, a remote, and a glass of water.

On a recent gig, I was provided with everything except the water. And since I had met several of the company’s employees when I arrived – handshakes with Mette, Søren, Nikolaj – I asked one of them to kindly get me a glass of water. I asked Nikolaj.

Nikolaj smiled, walked off, and brought me back a glass of water.

It was only after the presentation was finished and I was home making connections on LinkedIn that I found out that Nikolaj was Senior Vice President for Europe, with more than 650 people working for him and a salary that must have been in the 3 million-kroner-a-year zone.

But Nikolaj had never mentioned his title to me, because that’s just not done in Denmark.

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Events, How To Work In Denmark

Book a “How to Find a Job in Denmark – even as a foreigner” presentation

Finding a job in Denmark is often a long, frustrating process – particularly if you’re not Danish. In this ‘How to Find a Job in Denmark’ presentation, we offer a few practical tips about how to research the Danish job market, how to network, and how to balance the enforced modesty of ‘Janteloven’ with promoting your skills at a job interview.

Be humble in Denmark

Job interviews in Denmark can be tricky, because you must present yourself as highly skilled without bragging too much.

Kay Xander Mellish arrived in Denmark more than a decade ago. She’s searched and found jobs at small Danish media agencies as well as Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank. Kay runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book ‘How to Live in Denmark‘, available in English, Chinese and Arabic.

This presentation is available in both English and Danish, and can be directed towards highly-educated jobseekers (as it was for DTU’s new graduates group) or lower-skilled new arrivals (as it was at Glostrup Sprogskole.)

“Your talk had a lot of fresh insights and very useful information.” – Andreea-Georgiana Enache, jobseeker

Book Kay for your group
If you represent a corporate or community group and would like to have Kay make a presentation at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information. Or go to the How To Live in Denmark events page to download a PDF you can share with colleagues.

Return to the How to Live in Denmark events page

How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Is joining a union worth the money? (And what’s the difference between a union and an A-kasse?)

When you first arrive in Denmark to work or look for work, the last thing you need is another monthly expense. So many foreigners “save money” by not joining a union.

And I was one of them. To be honest, joining a union never even occurred to me.

In the US, unions are either for hands-on workers – steelworkers, hotel maids – or for civil servants, like schoolteachers and cops. Knowledge workers and creative types are almost never unionized.

But that’s not true in Denmark, where engineers, doctors, lawyers, bankers, managers, and writers regularly join unions.

Unions can arguably be even more important for foreign employees than they are for Danes.

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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Networking in Denmark – 5 useful tips for making Danish business contacts

I was at a high-level networking meeting the other day. Not on purpose, but because they originally asked me to be their speaker, and then decided they wanted somebody else to be their speaker instead and were too embarrassed to un-invite me.

So there I was in a vast room of men (and it was mostly men) wearing pretty much the uniform of the male Danish executive: blue business suit, pale shirt open at the collar, a few neckties – not many – and pointy leather shoes.

And they were all wandering around the room like children lost in a department store at Christmastime looking for their parents. They were all there to network and meet each other, but they didn’t quite know who to network with. So they mostly ended up talking to people they already knew. They did not expand their networks.

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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

How to Work in Denmark Part 6: The secrets of socializing with your Danish colleagues

When you work in a Danish office, you’ll often find yourself invited to impromptu in-office social events with your Danish colleagues. Somebody’s birthday, someone’s having a baby, somebody has been with the company for 10 years, someone is going on vacation the next day. And they almost all involve cake.

Cake is very important in Denmark. Cake builds bridges. Cake makes friends. And when there’s cake on offer, as a foreigner, it’s a good idea to show up and accept it.

When I first started working in a Danish office, I made a big mistake. I said no to cake.
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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

How to Work in Denmark Part 5: The Danish Art of Taking Time Off

My apologies that I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of months – I’ve taken some time off to promote my book Top 35 Mistakes Danes Make in English, which you can get on Amazon or Saxo.com, or at any Danish bookstore.

But taking time off is a very important part of Danish life – in fact, some people would say it is one of the best parts of Danish life.

The best example, of course, is the famous Danish summer vacation. When I first began working in Denmark, people used to start saying around April or May, “So – are you taking three or four?”

What they meant was, are you taking three or four weeks off for your summer vacation?

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How To Work In Denmark, Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

How to Find a Job in Denmark Part 4: The Danish job interview

If you’ve been asked for a job interview at a Danish company, congratulations. Danish companies don’t like to waste time, so they wouldn’t be setting aside time to meet you if they didn’t think there was a solid chance they might hire you.

Job interviewing in Denmark is a difficult balance, because the Jantelov makes all forms of bragging or self-promotion distasteful to the Danes. You’ve got to convince the person interviewing you that you’re skilled and capable without sounding like a used car salesman.

What I tell potential hires to do is prepare by reviewing their working history and coming up with three good stories about projects they’ve worked on – two in which you did well and succeeded, and one that went very badly, but where you learned some important professional lessons.

By admitting to have made some mistakes in your work life or have been less than perfect on the job, you’ll give yourself a lot more credibility with Danish companies, where the default motto is “Work hard, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”

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Events, How To Work In Denmark

Book a “Working in Denmark: Some tips from my experience” presentation

Why, foreigners wonder, do Danes introduce themselves by simply stating their name, instead of explaining their position and job function?

Why does the big boss ride a bike to work when he could certainly afford a car?

And why does he help clear the table after our weekly ‘morgenbrød’? Isn’t that the cleaning lady’s job?

After 16 years of working in Danish corporations, Kay Xander Mellish is personally familiar with some of the misunderstandings that can take place when Danes and foreigners work together.

Her presentation Working in Denmark: Some tips from my experience, which has been delivered for Novo Nordisk, HOFOR, DTU and other major audiences, helps both sides examine their assumptions and move towards a happier working environment. It contains concrete tips both foreigners and Danes can use to make their working relationships better.

A trained journalist and a former member of the communications staff at Danske Bank, Carlsberg Breweries and Saxo Bank, Kay runs her own communications consulting business in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is behind the podcast series ‘How to Live in Denmark’ and is the author of the book How to Live in Denmark, available in English, Chinese, and Arabic.

Book Kay for your group
If you represent a corporate or community group and would like to have Kay make a presentation about working in Denmark at your location, please get in touch via this site’s contact form for more information. Or read more about Kay’s other events.

Return to the How to Live in Denmark events page