Recruiter: Denmark doesn’t even make the top five destinations for tech talents
Denmark needs to brand itself as more than a safe and good place for families if the country wants to attract young, international tech talents.
At the startup studio Founders in Skelbækgade in Copenhagen there are constantly startups in need of colleagues with special competences.
With a long career in human resources at companies like Google, Microsoft, and Skype, Talika Robson is one of the young talents entrepreneurs want to draw to Denmark.
Talika Robson was, in her own words, tired of the high pace in London, the congestion, long hours on the Tube, and the pollution. So, when Founders in Denmark was looking for a recruiter, she accepted.
But the appeal of bike friendly cities, beautiful surroundings, and a healthy work-life balance is nowhere near enough if you want to attract the highly sought-after young tech talents.
Welfare state is not a convincing selling point for millennials
Denmark is good at branding itself as a good place for families, with good conditions for children, and good healthcare. But those values don’t sell Denmark to global millennials.
If Denmark hopes to catch the eye of global tech talents, there is good reason to focus on other values.
For example, Denmark has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to young talents settling down for a few months, creating growth and strengthening the ecosystem before they move on.
Particularly for that kind of startup nomads Denmark is an unreasonably difficult destination, says Talika Robson, who has recruited foreign talents to some of the biggest global companies, and a number of startups in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
“If I was considering leaving London and moving to Scandinavia as a tech talent, I would automatically think of Sweden because that is where a lot of famous startups originated. If I was just moving somewhere else in Europe, I would think Zurich or Dublin. Denmark is nowhere close to making the top five of destinations that young tech talents want to move to,” is the harsh verdict from Talika Robson.
Denmark – an acquired taste
Denmark’s failure to appeal to international tech talents is very unfortunate. Because once foreigners have endured the trials and tribulations of acquiring a social security number, a bank account, and a place to live most of them are pleasantly surprised by the country, and the startup environment, Talika Robson says.
For example, a foreigner who came to Denmark to work for Maersk two years ago has just accepted a job offering with a startup at Founders because he has grown fond of the country.
“The challenges I am experiencing amongst startups here when it comes to attracting outside talent are greater than what I have seen anywhere else. The battle for talent is really tough at the moment. You have to really believe in the product to move for a job in a startup, is my experience,” Robson says.
Rebranding needed to attract young talents
She believes that Denmark is just now making a name for itself amongst global tech talents. Sweden has Skype and Spotify but still very few people are aware that an enormously successful company like Unity has Danish roots.
But as more Danish tech companies have international breakthroughs, the talents begin to notice Denmark.
“You are getting there. But you have to market yourself to all generations. A lot of what Denmark offers is rooted in having a family, but that is not really important to millennials,” she says.
It is not a sprint, it is a marathon
Talika Robson’s advice to startups looking for talents around the globe is that it is paramount to be honest about what kind of company and what kind of job they will be a part of. In her experience, it usually takes longer to find the right candidate than startups have. In return, the match will be right when it happens if you have always been honest about the job.
“It may be quite a marathon before you find the right person for the job. But if you present the right picture of the company in terms of funding, in terms of working here, and the ambitions with the company, the people attracted to the job will also be the right ones.”
Founders of Danish startups can also do more to appreciate that a foreign employee is not serviceable from day one. For some it can take months just to get a bank account, and in the beginning new employees need to use their working hours to sort out the most basic things.
“Once you are here it is fairly easy. But until you have your social security number it is a bit of a nightmare,” is Talika Robson’s own experience.
Bonus info: Founders has made a guide for foreigners coming to Denmark to work in startups: https://www.movingtocph.com/