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For a country of only 5.8 million people, Denmark has more than its share of major companies, including Nov Nordisk, Maersk and Lego. Most of these companies are trying to hire people with IT skills – but there just aren’t enough candidates.
On top of the fact that Denmark isn’t producing enough tech talent, another problem is that US companies are shopping for tech people overseas – and are even hiring remote workers in expensive markets like Denmark.
Not surprisingly, this new practice of hiring remote workers stems from the pandemic. When Covid first hit, companies stopped hiring. Then, slowly, they began to realise that remote working was not just an option – but a great option.
The big US tech companies caught on to this idea and are now looking to hire people for as little as half the salary they would pay in the Bay area. While Danish workers are more expensive than in many places, they are still cheaper than workers in Silicon Valley.
This trend has changed tech job markets around the world. Now, suddenly, companies that were not directly competing for job candidates because they were so far away, have begun to scout out the same people – and Danish recruiters are feeling the pinch.
“Anything and everything tech is lacking in Denmark,” said Claudia Delgado, a tech recruiter at Talentiir. “Trying to find a DevOps engineer right now is like trying to find a unicorn
“Talentiir encourages clients to be open to bringing in people from outside Denmark. Some programming languages are not common here. Ruby, a programming language used for e-commerce platforms, has a total talent pool in Denmark of only around 700 people. That’s not enough. For those roles, we advise companies to be open-minded about taking on people outside of Denmark.”
Delgado added: “If you had asked anybody three years ago if the market would look like it does today, nobody would have guessed. The last semester of 2021 was a crazy market. Any developer – even the most junior – had three to five offers at any given point. ”
But she warned: “Now we are expecting a recession. While I don’t think the market will come to a full freeze like it did in 2020, I do think it will be more stable than last year. The offers are not going to be as generous as they were last year. It is also going to depend also on what new technologies come out. For example, as soon as blockchain came out, it became a very sought-after skill. Nobody knows when the next revolution is going come.”
Delgado advises companies to be flexible. “Some companies put a cap on salaries they offer, which is understandable,” she said. “But they need to find ways of being more flexible. They can offer remote working – even for people in the same country. The pandemic showed that people can work from home and be as efficient. Once you look outside your own borders, you’ll see a whole new world of candidates.
“Companies often look for senior developers. But bringing in more junior people and helping them develop is a brilliant idea. It allows you to shape people’s careers. Companies don’t do that enough. Consider graduate programmes, which usually last two years. Student interns can fill different roles and work with many different people in many different departments. They do work for you – and along the way, they learn a lot.”
Delgado advised employers: “Be more diverse. One of the things we also see with companies is that they struggle to hire diverse talent. If you want to attract diverse talent, you should reflect diversity in your interviewing panel.
“Have a short interview process. In a market that is candidate-driven, you don’t want to make them go through five or six interviews. Make sure your internal stakeholders are aligned. If a candidate goes to four different interviews with four different people, make sure you don’t ask them the same thing four times. You want candidates to understand why they are going to each interview, and you want them to feel valued.”
As in most parts of the world, developers in Denmark can progress by following one of two main branches. First, they can be individual contributors, working with hardcore technology. They may not necessarily code, but they might become an architect instead.
The second option is to go down the managerial path. Someone might start as a developer, and then become a tech lead. Then they might become a manager and move up the ladder.
“Developers need to figure out if they see themselves as people leaders or as strictly technical,” said Delgado. “If you stay technical, don’t get too attached to one technology. Maybe today you think Golang is the greatest language out there. But we don’t know how it’s going to be in three years. Of course, you can choose one thing that’s going to be your core. But keep up with things. Stay up to date by keeping an eye out for new technologies.
“It is also important to think about the kind of company you want to work for. Do you want to be in a product company? Do you want to be in a service company?
“For experienced professionals, I give the same advice. While it’s good to specialise, make sure you don’t get stuck on something that won’t be in high demand later. Keep an eye on changes. Invest time in continuous learning.”
Delgado also recommends people to find tech blogs that they like. This will make it easier to stay up to date on some of the skills and to follow tech news and market trends.