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Finding a Student Job: Tips and Tricks

One of the first things I noticed moving to Denmark was that many things here are a bit expensive, especially when it comes to going out for a meal, or having some drinks in the city. It's no secret that going out for drinks is quite a regular student activity... but how on earth was I going to afford this?

Well, I had to dust off my old British CV - give it a Danish twist, and start job-hunting!

One super important point to note before I get started: due to the new EU GDPR Law, most places will not accept a paper CV, if you just walk in to stores/restaurants/cafe's to hand them out as an unsolicited application. I made the mistake of spending a fair amount on printing out multiple copies of my CV and a Cover Letter, only to find out that no one wanted to take them!!! This is for security reasons, related to the safe storage of your personal data, so I was told it is always better to send an email or apply through the official application channels.

The Danish CV and Cover Letter

I would say the format of a Danish CV is quite 'universal' - keep it short and sweet (2 pages max. for a student job) and make sure to include your highest educational qualifications and relevant work experience. However, there were two things about the Danish CV which did surprise me:

  1. It is very normal to include a picture of yourself, in fact, it's expected!
  2. A short 'profile' description of yourself is essential - employers want to know who you are!

In addition, rather than focusing on previous job titles and generic explanations of the role, be very specific about what you have actually done in your previous jobs, and highlight skills which could be transferable to the role you are now applying for - even if the two jobs are totally unrelated! If you have not had any previous work experience, you can focus on experiences from your studies such as projects or your thesis specification, and detail the skills you learned from them (time management, team-work, organisational skills etc.). You can also check out this helpful CV template, which is for recent graduates but could easily be adapted to a student job while you are still studying.

Now, a significant thing to keep in mind when creating a Cover Letter for the Danish job market, is that your personality is just as (if not more) important as your qualifications to Danish employers.

They really want to know that you will make a good fit in the team, and may also want to know a little bit about your background and personal life... for example, Why did you chose to study in Denmark? Why are you applying to this particular company?

This is especially relevant when applying for a student job, where you may not have much previous experience to use to 'sell' yourself. I found this really strange, as in the UK companies would just not care about these small details, but here in Denmark employees are hired as individual people and not just workers! This leads me onto my next point: do not worry if you don't perfectly fit the required qualifications/experience! Apply anyway, and emphasise that you are willing to learn and adapt to the role.

Many Danish companies would prefer to take someone less qualified, but who they feel fits in well to the team, than someone who is perfectly qualified but has a clashing personality!

However, if you have any doubts or questions about your qualifications or experience then you can always contact the company and ask. For example, if the job asks for 2 years of experience but you only have 1 but feel you would be a perfect fit otherwise, send an email or try phoning the company to ask if they would still consider your application(a contact will usually be listed in the job advert). This also shows employers that you're very interested in the job, and can help to get you noticed above other applicants who have not reached out - remember to ask a few extra questions about the role too, you might get some insider info about exactly what they're looking for which can help you tailor your cover letter!

Cover letters should also be kept quite short - I would recommend around 1 page max. Remember to do your research into the company before applying, and try to tailor each Cover Letter to the specific role you are applying for, rather than having a generic one to send out on all applications. I tend to have a few 'template' Cover Letters for different types of jobs (bar/waitress, shop assistant, student assistant etc.) that I can modify, instead of writing a new one every time. There's also some great tips here on the WorkInDenmark website.

Networking

Trust is a big deal here in Denmark, which can be very helpful when job hunting. For example: if your friend works in a cafe and they need an extra employee, a good recommendation from your friend to the boss will give you a higher chance of getting an interview. This is because the boss trusts that the recommendation is an honest one, and that an employee would not lie just to get their friend a job!

So, by this logic, the more people you know, the better - as you might hear about upcoming job opportunities before they are advertised, and get your friends to put in a good word for you!

Networking online can be just as important as in real life. The Danish job market relies quite heavily on LinkedIn, and many companies post vacancies there. Recruiters will also check you out online, so if you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I would make one ASAP!

Where to look

So, you've made an awesome CV and have a new, personal (and adaptable) Cover Letter, LinkedIn is all set up and you're ready to begin. But where do you start?! Here are a few websites and Facebook pages that I have found to be super helpful:

  • LinkedIn

    - As mentioned, many jobs are advertised, both English and Danish-speaking

  • WorkInDenmark

    - This website advertises English-speaking jobs, and has tips for job hunting

  • AU Job Bank

    - Aarhus University's own job portal - both English and Danish-speaking jobs

  • Studenterhus Job Portal

    - Advertises both English and Danish-speaking jobs

  • HEADSTART

    - Part of a scheme to attract international talent to Denmark - English-speaking jobs

  • English Job Denmark

    - Facebook page posting English-speaking jobs

  • JobIndex

    - Generic job-search website, mainly Danish-speaking jobs but some English too

I would also recommend following Facebook pages such as Aarhus Internationals, as employers often post on there!

What to expect

Please be aware that the majority of student jobs available are within the customer service and hospitality industry (bar/waiting/dish-washing/cleaning/sales assistant), as this is the industry with the most part-time positions - and offers flexible shift work which can be fit easily around studies. That being said, there are a lot of large, international, companies based in Aarhus. Many of these companies work in English and they often seek out student assistants - so you might get lucky and land a job that fits in perfectly with your studies!

However, the job market here is Aarhus is very competitive, this goes for both Danes and internationals.

Aarhus is a young city with about 1/7 of its population being students - that means there are a lot of people applying for each job. So you really have to make yourself stand out, and convince your future employer that you're a great fit for the position!

Some final words of advice

Don't be disheartened by rejections - I honestly can't even count how many I received before finally getting an interview - just keep persevering! If you feel you are really struggling then don't hesitate to book an appointment with a career counsellor at your faculty's Career Services. 

Learning Danish really does help! Even if you have just started Modul 1 and have only the most basic knowledge of the Danish language, the fact you are trying to learn is a huge positive for Danish employers. It shows that you are committed to putting in hard-work (and boy, is learning Danish hard!), and also that you are trying to integrate more into Danish society - and being involved in society is a very important value for many Danes. I really noticed a positive improvement in getting invited to interviews after I started Danish lessons and wrote it on my CV. Danish lessons are free at the moment (with a refundable deposit) - so I would definitely recommend signing up if you can fit it into your schedule! You can easily find a language school near you on Google - I go to CLAVIS, but there are also many other options.

I hope this has helped to give a bit of an insight into the Danish jobs market - good luck with the job hunting, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!