Getting A Job In Denmark

How to get a job in Denmark: A guide to working in Denmark as a foreigner

Denmark is one of the best countries to work in, and its work-life balance is famed and lauded in all corners of the globe. We don’t blame you if you’ve set your heart on working in Denmark, so we’re going to show you how to get a job in Denmark.

Employees in Denmark enjoy very high salaries compared to most of Europe, and the standard of living is excellent. As one of the world’s most advanced economies, Denmark is a fertile breeding ground for businesses and entrepreneurs.

However, getting a job here can be tricky — especially if you don’t already have a network. Danish employers often look for different qualities on CVs and cover letters than what you’ll see in the US and the UK.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for your dream job or you’ll take anything to start with, this guide will give you everything you need to know about working in Denmark as a foreigner.

You’ll learn how Danish culture in the workplace differs from your home country, along with discovering ways to stand out and more.

Working in Denmark

Before we talk about how you can find a job here, it’s worth going over what it’s like to work in Denmark. The Danes work some of the shortest hours in Europe, and the average working week lasts for 37 hours.

The work-life balance is one of many reasons that Denmark regularly ranks as one of the world’s happiest places. One could also argue that the high tax rates stop people from working for the sake of working.

Generally speaking, the working day in Denmark starts at 8am and ends at 4pm. On Friday, it’s not uncommon for many employees to leave even earlier; some workers also leave early during the week to pick up their children.

Job titles aren’t as relevant in Denmark as they are elsewhere. Companies tend to have a flat hierarchy, and everybody is expected to contribute to decisions and meetings. So, if you think that you’ll have special treatment as a manager, think again.

On the flip side, you might find not having to refer to bosses as “your superiors” the best thing about working here.

If you’re from a country where people live to work, you’ll find the Nordic countries’ approach to work a huge shock. Employees in Denmark get at least five weeks of paid vacation each year, and you’re encouraged to use all of your days.

If your boss catches you working late, they’ll probably tell you to go home and enjoy your evening.

When you work for a company in Denmark, you’ll typically contribute some of your salary to your “feriepenge” (holiday money). You can then get this released; this money is for you to spend when you enjoy your leisure time.

Employment in Denmark

The job application process in Denmark probably doesn’t differ massively from your home country. You’ll usually apply for an opening, and if the company is interested in moving things forward, they’ll arrange an interview with you.

You might need to go through more than one interview round, so the process can sometimes be pretty tumultuous. Work in Denmark has a useful guide for questions you can expect and the no-gos — along with calculators for median salaries in your industry.

Once you’ve finalized everything, you’ll receive a job contract if your employer wants to start working with you.

You’ll quickly learn if you live in Denmark that business attire is not the same as in the US or UK. You probably won’t need to wear a business suit for your interview, though you should double-check the dress code to avoid embarrassment.

Think smart-casual, and you’re pretty much good to go.

Denmark has a mixed economy. Many jobs are in the public sector, with the OECD reporting that 28% of employed people here worked within that particular field.

In Denmark, renewable energy is another significant industry — as is manufacturing. Fishery and agriculture are also important for the national economy.

Considering that it’s one of the easiest countries to do business in, along with one of the least corrupt, you won’t be surprised to hear that many private sector companies have made Denmark their home.

Many private-sector jobs are based in Copenhagen and Aarhus, and we’ll talk a bit more about companies you might want to consider applying for later.

If you land a job in Denmark, it’s important to remember that you can only get your salary for a limited time without a Danish bank account. Once you’ve obtained your CPR number, get your NemID sorted and contact your preferred banking service.

Opening a bank account is often time-consuming, and foreign workers are often caught out by this. So, you’ll need to keep it in mind.

Note that if you receive a work permit in Denmark, it’s not valid for the entire Kingdom of Denmark. So, you cannot live in the Faroe Islands or Greenland on your mainland Denmark work permit. The Faroe Islands also aren’t part of the EU, so EU citizens will need to apply for a visa.

Nordic passport holders, however, can live and work freely without one.

Is it easy to get a job in Denmark?

Denmark’s job market is competitive, even for the locals. If you don’t live here, you face even more of an uphill battle to secure a position with a Danish employer.

Speaking English is an advantage in many countries, but that isn’t the case in Denmark. The Danes are excellent English speakers, and having fluency will not — in most cases — make you stand out among everyone else.

For most jobs in the country, you also need good — if not fluent — Danish language skills. Even for openings that say you don’t strictly need Danish, those companies might still prioritize Danish speakers.

Besides needing it for your role, the language is also useful to have for socializing with your colleagues.

Even with a high education level, you might struggle to find a job in Denmark if you didn’t study at a Danish institution. Simply put, it’s easier for employers to know how skilled you are if you got Danish grades; standards for international degrees can also vary.

Denmark has a highly educated workforce, and 10.69% of people in the country had a Master’s degree in 2020. So, having something on top of your Bachelor’s degree might be a necessity for certain fields.

How can a foreigner get a job in Denmark?

Although it’s difficult to start working in Denmark as a foreigner without Danish language skills and qualifications, it’s not impossible. For European Union (EU) citizens, relocating here is pretty simple, and you have access to a larger job market.

If you’re from one of the European countries in the EU/Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you can live and work in Denmark without obtaining a work visa beforehand. You’ve also got a little more flexibility when finding a new job, as you might find a wider pool of work available.

For non-European job seekers looking for work in Denmark, you’re going to need to put in a little more legwork. First and foremost, you’ll need a work visa — which typically requires obtaining employment before moving.

Moreover, the country has pretty strict immigration laws; since hiring Danes and Europeans requires less hassle, you’ll have to really impress Danish companies if you want to land a job offer.

Nonetheless, you can improve your chances of getting hired by a Danish company by taking a few tips on board. Below, we’ll help you out; these tips are applicable to both skilled and unskilled workers, along with EU and non-EU citizens.

How can I stand out to Danish-speaking companies?

When learning how to get a job in Denmark, you’ll need to consider the top traits that Danish employers look for in candidates. Before anything else, you’ll need to remember that Janteloven (Jante’s Law) is alive and kicking throughout Scandinavia — and you’ll see it everywhere in Denmark.

The general idea of Janteloven is that everybody is equal.

Below are the 10 rules:

  1. Don’t think you are anything special.
  2. Don’t think you are as good as we are.
  3. Don’t think you are smarter than we are.
  4. Don’t convince yourself that you are better than we are.
  5. Don’t think you know more than we do.
  6. Don’t think you are more important than we are.
  7. Don’t think you are good at anything.
  8. Don’t laugh at us.
  9. Don’t think anyone cares about you.
  10. Don’t think you can teach us anything.

As you probably gathered when reading the above, bragging probably isn’t going to get you a job interview in Denmark. Instead of talking about your achievements on an individual level, you should discuss how your contributions impacted others positively.

Even if you don’t speak fluent Danish, the Danes often appreciate your efforts. If you show that you’re learning it, you’ll have a much better chance of at least getting an interview.

Studieskolen has online classes that you can pay for, and you can use platforms like Babbel and Duolingo to at least start learning vocabulary.

If you don’t see a job at a company you’d like to work for, you can always make the first move. Many openings aren’t advertised, so you might strike gold if you send a speculative email or ring up the HR department.

Intern as a student

Perhaps the best way to start working in Denmark as a foreigner is to first come here as a student. Many Danish companies have student jobs and internships, enabling people to come in and learn — along with building their network and showing off their skills — alongside their studies.

You can find student jobs in several places online, including on company websites and LinkedIn. Moreover, you can send a speculative letter to businesses and find out if they have anything available.

What jobs are in demand in Denmark?

While many countries struggle with high unemployment rates, Denmark has the opposite problem — it’s currently suffering from a labor shortage. Some industries require workers more than others, and you will probably find the Danish job market easier to navigate if your skills are in demand.

Twice a year, the Danish authorities publish a “Positive List” — which outlines professions where Denmark has a labor shortage. Common industries with shortages include education, healthcare, and engineering.

You can find the full Positive List on the Danish Immigration Service’s website.

Where are there jobs in Denmark for foreigners?

If you’re looking for work in Denmark, it’s a good idea to diversify your search across multiple sources. The country has several job portals and websites where companies advertise open positions that you can apply for.

A good starting point for finding a job in Denmark is Work in Denmark. The website has several openings for positions throughout the country, so you might find something that fits your needs — even if you don’t want to live in Copenhagen.

You’ll also find plenty of helpful tips and videos to assist you in tailoring your job application.

If you want to begin working in Denmark as a foreigner, The Local — a major English-speaking newspaper in the country — also has a job board worth exploring. You can search for openings in several industries, along with tailoring your search for different cities.

Copenhagen is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and Copenhagen Capacity is trying to attract more foreign workers to the capital and its surrounding areas. You can join its talent pool to potentially find jobs that match your skills, and you’ll also find several resources that might help you in your search.

LinkedIn is another popular place to find jobs, and many Danish employers advertise postings on the B2B social media network. Elsewhere, you might find some luck with websites like Indeed, Neuvoo, and JobIndex.

Companies also advertise their job openings on their website. So, if you want to work for someone specific, you can check their careers page.

Are there jobs in Denmark for US citizens?

If you’re a US citizen without dual citizenship for a European country, you’ll need to work a little harder to find jobs in Denmark.

In terms of specific jobs for Americans in Denmark, some companies might want to hire an associate or manager for their dealings in the US market; it’s worth looking at the Danish businesses operating there to see what you can find.

Regardless of whether your occupation is on the Positive List or not, you can potentially find something in your field with some persistence. If you’re not yet in Denmark, you should talk to your potential employer about when you plan to move here.

Where can I find English-speaking jobs in Denmark? 

From a business perspective, Denmark is a very small market. As such, many companies headquartered here focus not just locally — but also in the Nordics and beyond.

Many companies need to do business in English, and for some, the primary language at work is English. Generally speaking, these companies are some of the larger ones that you’ve probably heard of — and there are plenty of jobs in Denmark for English speakers.

Carlsberg remains one of Denmark’s biggest private-sector employers, and if you’re in the Copenhagen expat scene for long enough, you’ll almost inevitably meet someone that works for Novo Nordisk.

In short, your best bet is to look for English-speaking jobs at major international companies. Other examples we haven’t yet mentioned include Danske Bank, LEGO, and MÆRSK.

If you’re in the education sector, you might also want to consider looking at schools and universities. Denmark’s tourism industry is also growing, so you might find something there as well.

How can I move to Denmark without a Danish employer?

While our article has talked mainly about how to get a job in Denmark, you can also move here — in some instances — via other means. The following subsections will talk about these in a little more detail.

Studying at a Danish university

Many foreigners begin their Danish adventure at a university before later finding a job. Denmark is one of the best places in the world to study, and if you’re an EU citizen, you can do so for free.

Copenhagen and Aarhus are popular places for students, and both cities have buoyant job markets. During your time at university, you can network and try a couple of student jobs. Having a Danish degree will also earn more trust, and you can get an Establishment Card — which allows you to look for work in Denmark — after graduating.

Some exemptions apply, and you must meet certain conditions; you can read more on the New to Denmark website.

Starting your own business

Denmark is an excellent place to start a business, and setting up a company takes little time. If you’re an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you can set up a proper company or simply freelance. You’ll first need to come here with self-sufficient funds before changing your residence document later, but it’s not a difficult process.

You can try the Startup Denmark scheme if you’re from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. You’ll need to have an innovative business idea that is clearly scalable; if it’s accepted, you can apply for a work and residence permit.

Moving for love

If your significant other is Danish, you can apply for a residence permit that allows you to live with them. Obviously, you’ll have to meet a Dane and have a genuine relationship with them beforehand — and you shouldn’t actively seek to marry someone just for a residence permit.

Nonetheless, if your partner is Danish, a spouse visa is available. However, getting one is far from simple; you need to meet several requirements, including visiting Denmark at least once before and passing two Danish tests.

You might not need to meet as many criteria in certain instances, such as if your partner in the country has a child with them who has “an attachment of their own to Denmark”.

If you’re in a relationship with an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you can join them in Denmark. However, your permit is only valid for as long as they stay in the country.

Summarizing our top tips for finding a job in Denmark

We’ve gone into quite a lot of depth about how to find a job in Denmark, so we figured that summarizing our top tips would help you digest everything easier. Below, we’ll do exactly that.

Get an EU passport (if possible)

Getting an EU, Nordic, or Swiss passport will make it much easier to move to Denmark — both in terms of finding a job and actually relocating. If you have a European parent or ancestors, check the individual country’s citizenship laws and see if you’re eligible for a passport.

Work remotely for a Danish company first

The world has changed drastically since the beginning of COVID-19, and many companies are now hiring more remote workers. If you want to work in Denmark, you could look for remote jobs available on Jooble and try getting a Danish company to hire you remotely first. If all goes to plan, they might agree to relocate you.

Don’t focus solely on Copenhagen

Copenhagen is where you’ll find the bulk of jobs in Denmark, but you might have less competition elsewhere. For example, the Danes are currently building a tunnel to Germany — and they need people to help them construct it.

Try using a recruiter

International recruiters might be able to help you relocate to Denmark. For example, Hays operates in the country — as well as elsewhere in Europe.

Spruce up your LinkedIn profile

Danes are a huge fan of LinkedIn, and you’ll want to have a presence there if you’re serious about working in Denmark as a foreigner. Update your profile, and begin connecting and networking with people in your industry.

Working in Denmark as a foreigner is great, but you’ll need to offer something valuable to the market

So, there you have it. You’ve now got our complete guide on how to find a job in Denmark as a foreigner. Looking for a job is difficult if you don’t speak Danish and haven’t studied at a Danish higher education institution, but it’s not impossible.

Finding a job in Denmark requires changing your application to meet what the market is looking for. Focus on the collective and show what you can offer the company; they will pay you if they hire you, so you don’t need to worry about that.

If you’re thinking about moving to Denmark, you might also consider Norway as an alternative option. Both countries offer high standards of living, good salaries, terrible weather, and friendly people. Why not compare them and make a decision accordingly?

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