How to Get a Job in Copenhagen: 8 Steps

29.05.17
9 minute read
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Greater Copenhagen covers the city of Copenhagen, and surrounding areas of Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden. It aims to be the global leader in attracting global investment and talent. That means they're looking for you to bring your skills to one of the flourishing international and local businesses that call Copenhagen home.

And why not? Copenhagen is a cool, relaxed and liveable city, where the standard of living is high by any measure. But it's not cheap to live there, so you're likely to need a job to pay your way.

Here's a quick guide to getting a job in Copenhagen.

1. Make sure you’re eligible to work in Copenhagen

Before you start to look for a job in Copenhagen, you need to check if there are any steps you need to take before you're able to work legally there.

As Copenhagen is in an EU country, citizens of other EU and EEA countries are free to live and work there without any special visa or permit. In some cases, however, you might be required to register with the local authorities.

If you’re from America, or another country outside of the EU, you'll probably need to have a permit to work in Copenhagen or elsewhere in Denmark. You can check out all the details about living and working in EU countries at the EU immigration portal. Simply put in a few personal details and you'll get a listing of all your visa options. Alternatively, check out this quick guide to getting a work visa for Denmark.

You can find out lots of useful details about getting a visa for Denmark on the government backed ‘New to Denmark’ website. There are several different ways to get the residence and work permit you need, including making an application based on working in a shortage area or by being a highly skilled worker coming to work for an approved company. The system is straightforward, but you can expect a wait time of up to three months for your permit to come through, so be prepared.

2. Consider the types of available jobs

If you’re looking for international jobs for Americans or other English speakers, then you’ll be glad to know that Copenhagen has plenty to offer. Copenhagen is home to the head offices of business working across sectors like finance (such as Danske Bank) and pharma (Novo Nordisk), as well as household names like Carlsberg beer. With large international businesses and cross cultural teams in smaller companies, you might find a position where English is the main language spoken, and having knowledge of Danish isn't such a big deal.

There are always a range of opportunities available for Americans and expats with language skills at Copenhagen Airport, which is a major transport hub, and one of the region’s largest employers.

If you’re not looking for a private company, and third sector is more your thing, then there are often UNICEF jobs available in the large team based in Copenhagen. Details can be found online.

Medicon Valley is a large draw for businesses working in life sciences, meaning that there are lots of opportunities in this growing field, too. This is a great place for part time jobs for students, and jobs for graduates in Copenhagen.

Alternatively, if you're looking for work in Copenhagen while you study, the Study in Denmark has a fantastic directory of the places to find jobs as a graduate, intern or on a part time basis to fit in with your studies. Teaching jobs are a good bet if you're a native English speaker or have a TEFL qualification. To find more information in regards to this, ask locally or advertise through your university for private clients. A good alternative if you speak some Danish is to look for cafe jobs which are typically locally advertised, especially in the busy tourist season. Look out for adverts in cafe windows, or ask if they're recruiting in your favourite spots.

If you’re coming to Copenhagen for an au pair job, it’s worth remembering that there are specific au pair visas available. The terms are fairly strict, and detailed on the Immigration Authorities’ website.

Of course, if you’re looking for expat jobs in Copenhagen, you’ll want to know a bit about how the salaries and costs of living in Denmark can work out. If you have a specific company or role in mind, Glassdoor can be a great way of getting insight into the company culture and likely salary ranges on offer. For cost of living information compared to your current home, check out Numbeo's cost of living in Copenhagen guide, where you can compare costs of rent, groceries, utilities and so on.

3. Look online

When it comes to job hunting, whether you want a part time cleaning job or a successful career in IT, the internet is your friend. Aside from the most popular job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster which cover more or less the entire globe, there are lots of local sites to choose from, too.

Try these Copenhagen specific job sites as a starting point for international jobs for expats:

  • Copenhagen Capacity is a city led campaign to entice new talent into vacancies in the Greater Copenhagen area. They can be a great resource for jobs across many fields.
  • Work in Denmark, similarly, is a portal specifically for recruiters to tap into international talent. Look at active openings or add your CV to their bank.
  • Jobindex has a range of live jobs on offer as does the Danish site of The Local.

Recruiters in Copenhagen are used to receiving applications from foreigners, so they won’t be phased by this process. Do make sure you specify your visa situation and your availability when you apply, so the employer can check the fit to their requirements.

4. Find a recruiter to help with your job hunt

Big international companies fight for top talent, and recruitment agencies are there to help them connect with the job seekers that are right for them. Looking online will certainly generate ideas and give you a sense for the job openings that are out there. On the other hand, talking to an agent can really speed up your job search.

Some of the larger and more popular agents in Copenhagen include:

  • International recruitment firms Hudson and Hays operate across Copenhagen and Denmark, and can offer roles across various sectors. As global firms, they're experienced in finding international jobs for Americans and other expats.
  • Amrop is a large executive search agency covering Copenhagen and the Scandinavian region.
  • Hartmanns can offer consultation and advice from people who have worked in the same field as you before transferring to recruitment.

Be wary of scams or people who say they can deliver extraordinary results. It’s a good idea to check out the credentials of any agency you choose to use, and you shouldn’t hand over any cash to simply be put in touch with an employer. Some agents offer a range of ‘add on’ services like helping you to polish your CV, write a cover letter or get a visa. Make sure you’re very clear about what you’re paying for if you decide to include any extras and, if in doubt, move on to a different agency you can trust.

5. Do some networking

Many jobs are never advertised but are filled through word of mouth instead, meaning your network is your most important tool when you’re job hunting. This can feel like a challenge when you’re also moving to a new city, but don’t panic. Once again, the connectivity offered by the internet makes this process much simpler.

Start by building your network online, joining groups active in your field in Copenhagen on professional sites like LinkedIn. Depending on your work area, you might also benefit from joining a local chamber of commerce or business networking group, which you can investigate before you even land in Copenhagen.

Once you arrive in Denmark there’s a particularly healthy selection of events and active groups on Meetup.com operating in Copenhagen, with focuses on different industries and interests. Also, check out Copenhagen Capacity’s event and networking calendar. They maintain an active diary of events and networking meetings which spans across all segments.

6. Get your CV Copenhagen ready

Having a strong CV is crucial when you’re looking for a new job. Make sure it’s up to date, error free and easy to read. Otherwise, busy recruiters will put you to the bottom of their call pile. High standards of living and great salaries mean that getting a job in Copenhagen will be a competitive affair, so make sure you invest the time upfront.

The document you need to submit is usually known as a CV in Europe, but is different to that known as a curriculum vitae or CV in America. Here, your CV should be no more than two to three pages and must provide a concise summary of your work, education, extracurricular activities and how they relate to the job you’re applying for.

If you’re starting from scratch preparing a CV for the European market, check out the CV and cover letter templates and advice available from Europass. Here you can download a standard template which includes all the relevant information for CVs in Europe. You simply have to fill in the blanks. For more specialist ideas about the Danish labour market, try online sites like Jobera or consider hiring a local CV consultant who can help tailor your documents for the roles you’re seeking.

Copenhagen recruiters will pay especially close attention to your personal statement in your resume, which should sum up your key skills and career aims in a handful of sentences. Luckily, Work in Denmark’s CV video tutorials offers tailored advice to help you polish your CV for the Danish market.

It's also useful to know that it's normal (even expected) for you to contact your prospective new boss before applying. Give them a call if you have any specific questions, using the contact details in the ad, and if you don't hear quickly back after interview, then feel free to follow up. Work in Denmark explains the interview etiquette in Copenhagen in a simple video tutorial.

7. Get prepped for your job interview

For most of us, job interviews can be pretty stressful. It can be even worse if your prospective employer is on the other side of the globe.

When recruiting long distance, you might find that first interviews are held over the phone or on a video call. This approach throws up a whole set of different challenges to a face to face meeting, so it’s worth planning in advance and considering how to build rapport with your interviewer while you’re not even in the same room. Asking relevant questions, using humour, and even smiling while you speak can make for a friendly conversation which can help you get through to the next round.

Once you're in your face to face interview, you're going to need to know the local norms. Make sure you're punctual, and dress to mirror the business standard - which isn't necessarily a business suit. Get a sense from the company website, or ask outright what the dress code is, as in Copenhagen it's often a relatively informal affair. Also, lay off the fragrance, as it implies you're off to a date directly after your meeting. Checkout this thorough take on the best way to prepare for a Danish job interview.

8. Get ready to move

Nailed that job interview? Get some varied views on life in Copenhagen as an expat with these short videos, and then move onto the more practical tasks.

International House Copenhagen is there to help you settle into the city smoothly. You can get advice about registering for tax and social services, as well as having all your individual questions answered by an expert. There’s also plenty of information for expats in Copenhagen, on the New in Denmark website.

You’re going to need some cash to get you started in Denmark, so you may be wondering how to go about converting your money to the local currency. If you plan to open a bank account in Denmark, or know someone with an account there, consider using TransferWise to send your money to and from Copenhagen.

There’s a small transparent fee, and the real exchange rate is applied to convert from one currency to another - the same one you can find on Google. In addition to that, TransferWise receives and sends money via local bank transfers instead of internationally, which saves you even more money by eliminating international transfer fees.

Once your visas and currency exchange are in order, you’re ready to move to Copenhagen!

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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