Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are you a job seeker in Denmark? Read this!

Are you a job seeker in Denmark? Read this!

Are you a job seeker in Denmark? I recommend you to read this article and increase your exposure to the Danish job market through job fairs.

I will tell you about what a job fair is, how to get prepared for it, what to do at the job fair and what to do and expect afterwards. You can apply these tips when having decided on visiting a job fair(s), plenty of which are happening in March and April throughout the country. Search those you might be interested in here.

Ok, let's start. Today I was at a job fair (jobmesse) in Aarhus, second biggest city in Denmark located in mid Jutland. My God, there're so many ..............
unemployed in Denmark!! I'm a slim girl, but I had to squeeze through the crowd all the time! Surely there might have been some who were just looking out for new opportunities there, but I would guess that their number is very small.

What is a job fair, you ask? Well, it's a kind of "human market" but with a slightly different sales procedure. Products to be sold (i.e. you and other job seekers) are walking around, while a great number of buyers (i.e. companies) have their stands and wait for the products to come to them. 

I've never been to a job fair and honestly had no idea how it all was going to look like and how it was going to work. Anyway, I decided to give it a go and see what opportunities might open in front of me there. I definitely don't regret it!

A great preparation kit for a job fair in Danish can be found right here (see pages 12-30). For you, who can't read Danish, here are the main points.

* remember that the first impression is very important! Your purpose is to be remembered. And when I say "remembered" I mean in a positive way. Choose your clothes carefully, do not wear bright clothes but rather neutral; don't be dressed too casual. Give yourself a quick look in the mirror right before you leave for the job fair 

* it is always an advantage to know the "buyer". Therefore, before the fair have a look at the list of the companies going to be present at the fair, choose those you're interested in and learn about the companies, their values and vacancies. For this purpose you may use catalogues provided by the organisers of the career fairs (for ex. this one), check out the tab "Companies" on LinkedIn and the companies' home pages. You might also read the latest news about the companies and their press releases / newsletters

* when talking to a representative start with introducing your name and reason for your interest in this very company, etc. (see the following tip below); then ask questions. Remember they're there to see you and answer your questions! You might want to prepare some of them in advance

* think through in advance how you're going to present yourself, what your main competencies are, what your achievements are, what you're as a person, as well as remember to mention your education and work experience (incl. voluntary one). What is extremely important here, is that your prepared speech should only work as a skeleton for you. When you approach a certain company, adjust it to the specific needs and culture of the company and tell them how they can benefit from your skills and qualifications; do not tell them you're good at teaching if you are talking about a marketer position, for ex. Do not polish your speech too much, it should come out naturally and lively. Do not make your presentation long, remember there is a queue behind you, literally! Make it short, precise and interesting. Remember you're a product which wants to be "sold"

* bring your CV with you (better both in English and Danish) but do not start waving with it at the beginning of your conversation, for companies are there to increase their visibility and to see potential employees, not to hire someone right away! When coming to the end of the conversation, you might mention that you have your CV with you, the company representative will let you know if they want to have it right there. For ex., I offered my CV to three of the company representatives I talked to and one of them took my CV (the others recommended to send it online)

* a good idea would be to have your business cards with you. You never know how a conversation with a company might turn or who you migh meet in the crowd. I didn't really have a chance to give my card to anyone there, but I did the following

* always ask for contact details of the representative you've talked to. Asking won't hurt you, while you might get a contact which could be very helpful (if not now, may be some time in future) and a person you might refer to talking with when applying for a job in the company. Ideally it should be an HR-department representative or an employee of the department you'd like to work in

* you might want to bring a friend with you to support you and to discuss things on site, as well as he/she might ask questions you didn't even think about. Though you should also be able to give each other space and approach companies separately. Adjust it to the situation given

* when you speak to many people from many different companies, you might forget the names or the information you've got. So it makes sense to make notes after each conversation. What I did (even though I talked to only 5-6 companies), is that at home I printed out the profiles of the companies I was interested in and after having had the talks I wrote down important things right on those pieces of paper. Choose your own way to do it or follow mine

* even though you might have decided on certain jobs and / or in certain companies, you should stay open for any opportunities that might come up

* if the company of your dream does not have a job for you at the moment, you can almost always send an unsolicited application (uopfordret ansøgning), i.e. one describing your wish to work in the company, where you see yourself in the company, how you can contribute to its development and why it is exactly you they should hire. I write "almost always", because some of the companies might not provide such option, though most do nowadays. I was even recommended to send one

* check out if there are additional things going on at the fair. Sometimes there are lectures provided (see example here, first pages). Or like today for ex., there were two stands at the entrance, where two professionals could check your CV and give you tips on how to improve it or how to actually write one. The man I talked to, turned out to be very helpful. Again, ask for their contacts if possible. I did and he even suggested, that I should send him my corrected CV which he'd give a look and kind of confirm it. And all this is for free!

* job fairs are worth visiting even if you don't have a certain job in a certain company in mind. You never know who you can meet and what new interests can be awaken in yourself. If you're a student, it will definitely help you broaden your search horizon and vision of what certain companies do and what kind of candidates they're expecting to see

* last but not least, smile and be open! Remember you're a product which wants to be "sold" :)

* after the job fair: strike while the iron is hot! While the representatives can remember you and you can remember them. Contact the companies, send you CV and cover letter right away. Rememer to mention the person you talked to at the fair. I, for ex., am going to do it tomorrow :) 

* be aware of the fact, that not all of your dreams may come true or at least not right away. Be self-confident and positive, but do not put your expectations too high. If you don't have a reply from the company, you might call them and just ask if they eventually received your CV, but do not molest them with questions like "Why haven't you replied", "Why does it take so long", "What can I count on" and so on. If the company think you fit them, they'll contact you. Though if nothing happened, you might want to remind them of yourself in half a year or so (if you still want to work there). Indepent of what kind of reaction might follow your attempts, do not give up and see only positive things! :)

* it will definitely not harm you to visit (a) job fair(s), but rather help you tenfold to see the opportunities out there on the Danish market and grow your network, as well as exercise in speaking to potential employers and presenting yourself

Now, when you're armed and ready to go, what are you waiting for? Go here, choose job fair(s), that suit(s) you better and give it full throttle! :) If you need help with understanding Danish (as some of them are only in Danish), let me know in the comments below and I will help you.

BTW!!! There were dozens of conversations held in English at the job fair. So, don't let the lack of Danish stop you. Tons of luck!!

How did it go at the job fair, you'd chosen? Looking forward to hearing from you!

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