How to Land a job at an Online Job Fair
Jose attended the online job fair “Make IT Work in Denmark” and landed a job in Denmark. If you want to know how he did it, and get his best advice on how to use online job fairs, read his story here
Hi! My name is Jose and I am 33 years old. I was born in León (Spain), where I lived until 2021. I studied software development and systems administration (IT), and have been working for roughly 10 years.
While still in high school, I was given the opportunity to participate in a student exchange with Finland. It was a Comenius European Project, which involved a high school in Turku (Finland). I lived with a Finnish
family and I was a student at a Finnish high school for about one month. Realizing how different our cultures were and how much I liked those differences is what lit the flame of moving to another country inside me.
That was the first time, but more came: I was offered to participate in a private grant programme that resulted in an internship in a small company in Ireland, and I also participated in an Erasmus Programme, which allowed me to work as an intern at the University Hospital of Freiburg. The more I traveled, the more I liked it. Thinking of moving abroad was inspiring, but it would not be possible without experience, so I had to park this idea for some time.
Getting a job in Denmark
I subscribed to a local newsletter with weekly job offers and events from the EURES network. Although I thought for quite some time that I did not have what it takes to move abroad, at a certain point I felt that my previous assumptions about my skills had changed. I was a Software Architect & Team Lead with 10 years of experience, and my current project was near completion, so my partner and I agreed on start doing "something" about all the job offers the EURES network were publishing.
Quite frankly, we did not have any concrete plan. We knew we wanted to do "something" about moving abroad, but we had no idea where to start. And that's when the "Make IT Work in Denmark" event (online job fair) was announced. I had the experience, I was motivated, and I had the money to move abroad. Perfect timing!
I thoroughly researched all of the companies which were taking part in the event, and attempted to find the ones that were offering jobs that matched my skills, background and expectations. Hesehus was one of them and there was a 100% match between a good part of my previous experience and what they were looking for.
Since the event allocated many time slots for participants to actually talk with someone from the companies, I prepared A LOT for it. I don't remember exactly how many times I read all the information on Hesehus’ website before the event, but I can say that it was many times.
The Interview Process
I spoke with a recruiter from the company, Magdalena Zaremba Andersen. It was something big for me, because even if I had no concrete plan, my brain kept repeating, "this is the moment you have been waiting for, you cannot fail". After our conversation, Magdalena asked me to send my CV and a cover letter.
My cover letter contained a brief presentation and an in-depth explanation of why I was a good candidate and what the company could gain from hiring me. To write this in a meaningful way, you should have a somewhat deep understanding of what the company is looking for. And it's usually not just high technical competences. I think, I read their job posting at least a dozen times to do this, and the whole process definitely took me more than just an hour or two. I must have done it right since they told me they really liked my cover letter. First challenge completed!
For me, the technical bits of the interview were pretty much a standard process, but surprises started after we got the technical part done. The whole process was conducted like a conversation. There was no: "Okay, you are in" moment, and before I even realized, we were discussing which team I would be joining and what my salary would be.
In retrospective, I would have liked to prepare for that as much as I did for the previous parts of the process. I was still asking myself whether I was hired or not while discussing my salary, which is not the best mental state for that discussion. My advice here would be: prepare for that thoroughly BEFOREHAND, because you will probably not realize that you are progressing in the process - make your ideas clear and research a lot before.
How is it to work at Hesehus/In Denmark
There are many differences between Spain and Denmark work culture wise. What surprises me most is how central discussions and agreements are in the workplace and how much you are actually trusted.
My new colleagues are always open for discussing anything work-related and they value doing this a lot. Presenting ideas to Danish colleagues may result in them being quite critical about your proposal, then discussing pros and cons, finding alternative solutions and approaches, and finally agreeing on something that suits everyone. This could be a little harsh initially, but the fact that they disagree with you (or alternatively that you disagree with them) is not a bad thing. They are not going to get mad at you simply because you don't agree with them, and they also expect that you don't get mad if the opposite happens - that they don't agree with you. Still, agreement is a very important part of the Danish workplace culture. Danes will usually strive for win-win situations.
Trust is the other trait that surprised me. In the Danish workplace, you are expected to give your best in order to achieve your team's goals: this means that you will be working with minimal supervision. Danes are also direct and honest, and they expect the same of you. Have a problem? Not a bad thing: say it so it can be solved and we can keep going. Having questions or just being curious about what someone else is doing is also not a bad thing - quite the opposite actually. Pretty neat!
How is it to live in Odense/Denmark?
When I first arrived in Odense, I was surprised by how much vegetation there is everywhere and the amount of bikes that cycle in the streets. I like the fact that people use bikes instead of cars. After the first impression, I have come to realize that Odense is a truly lively city. Although it is only slightly larger than my hometown in Spain, Odense is actually one of the largest cities in Denmark. There's always something to do, events to join, volunteering opportunities, or clubs and groups of people that do interesting stuff.
At this point, I am just scratching the surface and discovering the possibilities, but I am actually considering joining one of the volunteering initiatives in the city.
Finally, I cannot avoid mentioning how welcoming Denmark is to non-Danish speakers. Of course, one needs to learn the local language to really integrate into any society, and Denmark is no different. The fact that almost everyone speaks (and is willing to speak) fluent English is a great advantage, until you reach a point where you can use Danish fluently. Being from the South of Europe, this is really surprising, but well received for sure.