Name: Kristine Lober
Company: Arla Foods amba
Title/education: Finance project manager / Economics and Business Administration
My journey in Denmark started when I came here to do a Master in Economics and Business Administration (cand. merc). Contrary to my experience of studying in Germany, where a focus on method and grades were prevalent, university in Denmark introduced me to a more end-result-oriented approach, and brought to my attention the important role that personality plays in finding a job.
During my studies, I had a job at SDU (University of Southern Denmark), participated in a lot of competitions and was also enrolled in quite a few extracurricular activities. I found my first job as a student research assistant at SDU on Facebook. It was posted on a study program group, where a lot of competitions, programs and jobs were posted. While my network made me aware of the job opportunity, my previous experience of working in research got me the job.
While these experiences gave me a good foundation for applying to Arla, I had to do some additional preparation to land a job in the company. This included learning about the industry and its key challenges as well as preparing for different tests (e.g. Matrigma tests), among others.
Luckily, it worked out for me and I got into the F15 Program: a program that develops leadership and cross-functional skills as well as international experience. The program exposed me to different markets and people and helped me create a strong network, but it did not guarantee me a job afterwards.
I heard about my current job as a project manager through a friend who reached out when a vacancy came up in his team. After a short initial call with the hiring manager, I decided to apply and handed in my CV (including a short video) and went through a long application process (including several tests). Luckily, I got the job and was very happy that I could stay in Denmark permanently. I work as a finance specialist in the Automation & AI team. I translate Supply Chain business needs to IT regarding automation, optimize and automate financial forecasts across all European markets and all SC (Procurement, Production, Logistics). I also prioritize the needs of the business and I am the day-to-day manager for the team. The last part was added later to my role, which also shows that you can shape the roles that you are applying for.
Denmark’s great work culture was one of the things that made me want to stay here. I enjoy the trust that you get from your managers and colleagues, and the fact that you do not live to work but work to live. However, the transition to living here has not always been easy for me. Having left my family and friends behind, I had to search for new friendships and build a new support network. I found that Danish people often have very tight friend circles, making it hard for foreigners to integrate. But, while it is hard to make Danish friends, once you've made one, you have a friend for life. I was lucky enough to become friends with some Danes through my studies and hobbies, and these friendships have enriched my life here immensely.
My best advice to job seekers
- Learn Danish. From my experience, a lot of the smaller firms require you to speak Danish and otherwise, it is always a big plus if you can speak it. Even if you are unsure if you want to stay in Denmark, learn it. Start to use the free language education and if you do not have the time yet, remember to write to your language school to pause your free language education, so you do not lose the opportunity to get it later for free.
- Apply for jobs posted in Danish. Just because a job is posted in Danish, does not mean that it is a requirement to speak Danish. I have often approached recruiters to ask if it was a requirement to speak Danish, since the job was posted in Danish, and some of them actually said no, and that they hadn’t considered the fact that international students would be deterred by this. I was told they would also like to have an international student.
- Add personality to your CV. You can do this by creating a unique design for the written CV, adding your hobbies to it, or bringing a personal note into the video CV. I have often experienced that companies rather hire employees based on their personality and motivation, than only on their experience: “I'd rather have a highly motivated, less experienced person that is willing to learn what he/she misses than a highly skilled demotivated person."
- Apply for jobs even if you do not fulfil the full list. The list of requirements is quite often more of a nice-to-have list. So, if you do not fulfil all the requirements, but are willing to learn the missing ones, then this might also qualify you for the job. Just try it.
- Call. If you have questions about a job or are unsure if Danish is a requirement, then call. It is easier to write an email, but a call leaves an impression. But, be careful, you must have relevant questions that the job advertisement cannot answer. If you just call for the sake of calling, this will leave a bad impression.
- Dress code. If you are unsure what to wear at an interview, look at the website or the social media of the company that is hiring. This will leave you with an impression of the company's dress code.
- Network. Network. Network: Networking does not get you the job, but it will make you aware of possibilities and might get you an interview. I only found a few of my previous jobs in Denmark through networking or taking part in different programmes. Try to get outside of your usual network for more opportunities.
- While networking. Don't go for the highest-ranking person in the room. During networking events, I see a lot of participants trying to talk to the higher managers to leave a good impression. If everyone does this for a few minutes, how many people do you think this person can remember? Instead, approach some other people in the room that aren't being focused on. This gives you the benefit of having an actual conversation and creating a better bond. These are the people that might refer you for a job. And what do you think will influence a manager's choice of applicant more: the 5 min talk they had with someone, or a reference by an employee with whom they’ve been working for years?
- If you get rejected, don't be sad. Try again. The difference between two candidates is sometimes incredibly small, which makes it hard to decide whom to choose. However, you can only hire one. This means that quite often highly qualified applicants are rejected. If this happens to you, try again with another company or at a later stage with the same one. If the company is willing to give you feedback then ask: “in your opinion: what are the skills that I am missing and need to develop/improve for this role?" This will give you a starting point, which leads me to my next tip:
- Try again. Most of you might not get the first job you apply for. But, that is fine. Every rejection is an opportunity to learn and to get better (F.A.I.L- first attempt in learning). The more you apply, the more you will learn about how to phrase words, what to say, what to leave out etc.
- Cultural awareness. Learning about Danish values and how these differ from your culture will help you acknowledge the differences and avoid misunderstandings. Try to take part in free cultural courses. A book I can recommend is: "the culture map” by Erin Meyer.
- Be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not in the interview. The truth will come out sooner or later. For your own happiness too, stay true to who you are.