Your CV and your cover letter are the two most important elements of your job application. These two documents are your chance to stand out from the crowd. Apart from showcasing your capabilities and past experiences, you should remember to customize these documents to show how your skills are the perfect match for the job you are applying for.
Remember to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and always look after your network. These things can also go a long way to helping you find employment.
On this site, you will find useful tips for the job application process. Remember that your university and trade union will be able to help you as well.
Make your CV a success
Here are our tips for what you should include in your CV when applying for jobs in Denmark:
- Personal information: State your name, address, phone number and email.
- Education: Include your formal education (e.g. name of your degree, university attended).
- Work experience/career to date: List the places and companies where you have been employed and describe your main tasks and responsibilities. (Tip: if you have recently graduated and don’t have much work experience, write a little bit about your thesis, relevant projects, volunteer work and internships. Show them what else you’ve done.)
- Other relevant skills: List any other relevant skills-related courses.
- International experience/Languages: Give information about your period of study abroad, including any work experience. List languages spoken and degree of proficiency.
- IT skills: Indicate your knowledge of different PC and Mac programmes and familiarity with social media platforms.
- Interests: How you spend your free time e.g. sports, and/or volunteer community work.
Know your strengths
Spending time reflecting on your strengths and competencies not only helps you to write your CV, it can also help you to identify ways to stand out against other candidates and feel more confident about yourself. Remember that an international perspective appeals to employers.
Personal competencies tend to reflect the kind of person you are and the kind of mind you have. For example, you might know yourself to be logical, well-organized, approachable, creative or communicative – or any combination of these characteristics.
Professional competencies are more about skills acquired through application in the work-place – for example, the ability to conduct market research, analyse data, write specialist copy or do web-design.
General competencies may have arisen from your upbringing/education/hobbies. Perhaps you speak many languages or have lived in several countries or have advanced IT skills?
Writing your CV
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Your CV is often the first point of contact between you and your future colleagues. That makes it an extremely important document, and worth taking time to get right. It should be well-designed and easy to glance through. Employers won’t have much time to spend reading it.
- Design and length: Structure and simplicity is important when you write your CV. It should be no longer than two sides of A4 pages.
- Customisation: A CV should be useful for all your job applications. However, remember to customize your CV for each position you apply for. Perhaps the best way to do this is to insert a 'Personal Statement' or 'Elevator Pitch' near the beginning to grab attention quickly and show why you fit the job description. Such a statement will set you apart from other candidates and can be expanded upon in the cover letter.
- Focus on achievements: In summary, the CV should include background, accomplishments, responsibilities, results.
- Show what else you do: Employers are also interested in your outside work experience, social skills and personal interests, so don’t forget to include any hobbies or clubs you are involved in.
- Get a second opinion: It’s always a good idea to have someone read through your CV for errors and to give constructive feedback so that you can adjust and correct it before you send it to an employer. Ask a friend or your university careers advisor.
“Look at me!” Or how to write a cover letter
The main objective of your cover letter is to make the employer want to meet you for a job interview. This means it should grab attention in a positive way. To improve your chances of success,
don’t forget to collect as much information as possible about the company, its culture and its management before applying.
Check out your interviewer's profile on LinkedIn, for example. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to show them how you fit into their culture and, more importantly, how you can best fit the role they are looking to fill.
Keep in mind that the cover letter is a complementary document to the CV, not a repetition of it.
What to include in your cover letter:
- Your motivation: The cover letter should focus on your motivation for joining the particular company and what you can offer them, not the other way around.
- What you bring: Explain what you have to offer. Try to see things from the employer’s perspective. Focus on the future benefits for the company in hiring you rather than your own past experiences.
- Be specific: It’s important that each application letter is specific to the company and the actual job. Make sure that you refer to the job ad and address the criteria specified in it. Give reasons why you are the best candidate for the job based on how your experiences and personal qualities match the job criteria. Try to provide examples.
- Be style-conscious: Check out the website of the company and look at the type of language that they use. Try to write your cover letter a style that matches the type of company you are addressing and reflects their own language.
- Keep it simple: Write with clarity and precision, avoiding long and complex sentences. Use short sections referring back to the job ad. A cover letter should be no longer than one A4 side, so keep it brief.
- Avoid mistakes: Take the time to check each application for language and spelling errors. If you are not writing in your mother tongue, get a native speaker to proofread your letter.
You may think you've found your ideal job and written the perfect CV and cover letter combination, but don't pin all your hopes on it. There's nothing worse than sitting around waiting for an interview which may never happen. Instead, keep hunting. Your best job might actually be the next one to come along!
The job interview, Danish style
Let’s say your CV and cover letter did the trick. The next step is the job interview. Gulp…
No need to worry. The Danish word for a job interview is 'jobsamtale', meaning 'job conversation' – which is actually quite an accurate description of the typical Danish job interview. You’re expected to engage in a conversation rather than just answer questions from the interviewer. So prepare in advance. Your interviewer will also be trying to judge whether the chemistry is right and you could be a good personal and professional fit in the company.
Here are a few tips about job interviews in Denmark:
- There are different types of interviews – one-on-one, committee, case interviews, telephone interviews and – since the pandemic – Zoom or Skype interviews.
- You might have to go to several interviews for one job.
- You might have to take some tests, e.g. personality or numerical tests. There is usually nothing you can do to prepare for these.
- Be punctual, confident, smart and make sure to be well prepared!
If you have a job interview lined up, make sure to ask your university’s career counselor for more information before going.
It's who you know, not what you know
It can be difficult for any graduate to find their first job and trying to do this in a new country doesn't help. But it's as true in Denmark, as anywhere else in the world: 'It's not what you know but whom you know’. Many vacancies are never advertised on job sites but go on personal recommendation. So let your network know that you are looking for work in Denmark and what kind of experience you have. That way they will think of you if something turns up.
Be visible on LinkedIn
Having a LinkedIn profile with well-thought-out content, covering your past experience, academic qualifications, skills and achievements will increase your chances of finding a job. Make sure that your profile settings show that you are actively job hunting. Also, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is aligned with your CV!