Unions and unemployment funds are your security

Do you hold a student membership to a union or an unemployment fund? If not, it might be worth becoming a member before you graduate.

It is important to structure your time when searching for a job, says chief consultant in AKA, Mikkel Stausholm Nielsen.

While you have been studying, you may have noticed that unemployment rates are fluctuating. Employment rates may vary greatly from a mechanical engineer, an IT developer and an innovations designer. This means that your job hunting experience may be very different than that of another graduate. One common feature of the engineering field is that the demand for engineers is determined by the global development and the Danish economy. At the moment, construction is on the rise, so if you are a civil engineer you have more options. The off-shore industry however, is stranded because of the decreasing oil prices, so it is more challen­ging to be a new engineer with dreams of working for Maersk.

Motivation for your job search

  • Start early. Start applying for jobs while you are still a student. Then you can write in your cover letter that you are currently completing your thesis.
  • Watch out for the summer holidays. The summer holidays are never good for job hunting – the people who would hire you are on vacation and will not be thinking about recruitment until September-October. Be ready with your CV and job applications in May and June. The same is true for winter graduates. Many positions for January are posted in October or November because Christmas puts a stop to interviews.
  • Stay visible. Job fairs and company speed dating events keep you assertive and let you practice introducing yourself and delivering your elevator pitch (see page 52). Start attending events in your union, unemployment fund, your place of internship or student job.
  • Stay professionally updated. People rarely land jobs by sitting at home, hiding behind the computer screens. Participate in relevant PhD lectures that could very well be attended by interesting people. If you have a business card, you can hand it out to the people you speak with. Or get their contact information. Send them a LinkedIn invitation with a personal greeting.
  • Connect. There are plenty of other job seeking Danes out there – and perhaps you can learn something from them. There are job searching networks on LinkedIn, in your union and in your unemployment fund. You can find them via LinkedIn, Facebook and the internet.
  • Personal comfort. Make sure to exercise and get enough daylight to avoid depression and dreariness. Stay social and avoid turning your situation into a taboo. It is not prohibited to go to the movies or on vacation with family or friends.

It does not matter whether you want to become a member of IDA, Djøf, Magistrene or a fourth union, they all have cheap or free student memberships. The same goes for the unemployment funds, yet it is important that you become a member no later than 14 days after completing your ­education. If you become a member with, for instance, Akademikernes A-kasse (AKA) one year prior to graduation, you will avoid the obligatory three week quarantine, if you do not have a job on your hand and need to rely on unemployment benefits. It is optional to join a union, and you can become a member of whichever ­nemployment fund you like.

“Basically, the unemployment fund is an insurance that you keep in order to secure yourself should you lose your income or remain jobless once you graduate,” says Mikkel Stausholm Nielsen, Chief Consultant with AKA.

The benefit rates for graduates are lowered
If you have just graduated and are unemployed, you will be granted the full monthly allowance, but rather a rate for graduates. From January 1st, 2017 the amount is 12.811 DKK for people with no children and 14,690 for providers. Before taxes. All the more reason to find a job quickly. Your private economy is scraping along and your market value is plummeting all the while you are unemployed. Searching for jobs is an actual job: “Structure your time,” Mikkel Stausholm Nielsen recommends. “Write cover letters and monitor the job market every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then you can take the rest of the day off without feeling bad about it.” You need to abide by the rule of actively looking for jobs, you need to register yourself at and apply for 1-2 jobs per week. You might as well get organized, AKA recommends.

While the unemployment fund is an insurance system, the union is focused on your salary and working conditions. Most engineers are members of IDA, but it differs from field to field. Perhaps you are hired by a company that has an agreement with Djøf, DM, Prosa or Teknisk Landsforbund – and then it makes good sense to join the same union as your colleagues.

Talk to the company in question and make your decision, unless you have already become a student member. A free or cheap student membership fee will be converted to a more expensive membership fee once you graduate. To retain members, several unions boast cheap home and car insurance, access to further education, legal counselling on contracts, career counselling and more.