The Danish Labour Market, 2011

One year ago, I joined ranks with a an unfortunate and unequal crowd whose only commonality was something they lacked: a job. There are and were good explanations for this, and being unemployed does not, repeat does not, have to be your own fault. Blame the economy. Blame chance. Blame Canada. Or blame no one, and move on. Which is easier said than done. I have certainly had my ups and downs during that year, but I believe that I’ve come through in a much better state and with much more self-confidence than one could have feared.

I am now 8 weeks into a real job within the A.P. Moller – Maersk group, a big global conglomerate and probably the largest private company in Denmark. I love my job, and while this is only a temporary position, I have reason to hope that my restless and uncertain days at home are over for now.

Much can be said about public welfare and the demands that the Danish system puts on people in order to give them their benefits. But the short version is that I have been able to make ends meet with the support that I received, and “the system” has treated me much nicer than feared, and than one might deduct from the media.

What I will mention is a few statistics from my job hunting period.

In 10 months of unemployment, I was considered for 183 positions; 18.3 per month or 4.2 per week.

For 50 of these positions, I was notified of the number of applicants; the average was 188 persons.

I attended 6 interviews; or one every 7 weeks, on average.

The average response time was 22 days. Worst of these were Lionbridge (92) and the Nordic Ministers’ Council (82).

That is, for those who actually bothered to reply. 17 never responded at all. 3 of these were unknown employers, the rest were: 3 mobil, 3XN, Amnesty International, Beredskabsstyrelsen, Bispebjerg Hospital, Bolius, DanaWeb, Europæiske, Frederiksberg Kommune, FødevareErhverv, Google, Hempel, Kilroy Travels, Privatbo,, and Tranberg Marketing. For all their good reasons, I may think twice about applying at any of these again.

Furthermore, it is ironic that I never even applied for the position that I actually got. The recruitment agency contacted me because my resume was in their database from a previous application, and only 11 days after the first contact I had my first day in the new job.

Looking back now, I could probably have done much worse, given the current economic state of affairs.


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

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