Finding & Securing Employment in Finland
Finnish Language Skills
The most important asset for entering the Finnish labour market is Finnish language ability. Whatever you do, show that you are willing to learn Finnish - indeed, you should learn some Finnish before you even start looking for work. There are sectors and companies where English is used as a working language but these are exceptions. Lack of Finnish is an obstacle even at the application stage because most positions are only advertised in Finnish. Knowing at least elementary Finnish helps open many doors; see the Finnish Language Courses section, which includes numerous free online lessons and courses.
Before looking for work:
- Assess Finnish recognition of your foreign qualifications
- Have your qualifications and documents translated into Finnish (English may also be acceptable in many cases, but Finnish is best)
When searching advertised positions:
Tips from the University of Helsinki, Career Services Unit
- Analyse job ads thoroughly: Understand the formal requirements and assets for the job, and list those qualities you possess. Note the style of language used in the ad, and use the same level of formality in your covering letter.
- Call the employer: Unless the ad specifically says not to call, telephone the contact person for extra information; this opportunity to make a positive impression can help later in the application process. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the call. Prepare your questions in advance; they should be appropriate and pertinent. Do not ask what the salary is or whether they think you are a suitable candidate. Take notes, including the name of the person you spoke with, and refer to your notes when writing your covering letter.
- Use Finnish standards!
- The job application Covering Letter should be concise - preferably 1 page
Customise the letter to the style and interests of the employer.
Demonstrate that you have the skills and abilities needed for the advertised position.
Write a new letter for each job opportunity; do not send copies of the same covering letter to many employers.
- The CV / Résumé should be no more than 2 pages, easy to read and visually effective. Use plain language and 'action phrases' (ex. I participated, We initiated, I obtained etc). Include:
Personal and contact information.
Relevant employment history and educational background in reverse chronological order.
Computer &/or programming skills, Language skills, Special skills.
Positions of responsibility.
Hobbies (not always necessary).
- Do not exaggerate; in Finland it's virtually the same as lying
- Do add letters after your name if you have them; Finns
- A summary of your life is not required
- A photo is not essential
The Europass is a "European skills passport" - a pan-European CV / resumé consisting of five documents used in the same form in all EU/EEA countries. It presents a comprehensive picture of your skills and qualifications which you can use when looking for work or applying to educational institutions. The Europass is especially intended for Europeans seeking work or applying to foreign education programmes in other European nations.
At the Europass sites you can create your Europass CV online. Also available at the sites are CV models in Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, German, Greek ,English, Spanish, Estonian, French, Croatian, Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Finnish, Swedish, and Turkish.
At a Finnish job interview - be Finnish!
Apart from 'standard' techniques for successful interviews, pay attention to Finnish culture:
- Be direct and state facts; be concise
- Show confidence, but beware that overconfidence may well be seen as arrogance in Finland
- Do not exaggerate; to a Finn it's tantamount to lying
- Use Finnish language if you can; even a little is good
- Do not be surprised by long silences, someone taking notes or having an aggressive tone of voice
You should really start job-hunting before you arrive in Finland. If you are already here, register as a jobseeker at your nearest employment office. Anyone can ask advice from an employment office, and some larger offices have EURES advisers who can provide help specifically aimed at immigrants.
Job-seekers usually look for positions which have been advertised, and this site's Employment section contains pages which deal specifically with finding work advertised through employment agencies, employment search engines, EURES and the Finnish government's TE Employment Service. The reality is that many jobs are taken before they ever get to the point of being advertised; word of mouth goes a long way here and having the right connections is invaluable.
Other ways to find work in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Oulu, Pori, Rauma, Riihimäki, Rovaniemi, Savonlinna, Seinäjoki, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa
This section looks at a couple of alternative methods to give yourself a better chance of gaining employment:
Many people find success with direct submissions; it's how I got my first job in Finland.
- Go through Fonecta, or a similar business directory, looking for companies in the field and location you're interested in. A successful company will not necessarily have a large advertisement. www.fonecta.fi (use Google Translate if required).
- Give those companies a call - a lot of them. If possible try to speak to the person directly responsible for hiring. Make sure you get their name.
- Introduce yourself; use some Finnish if you can! Make a quick enquiry about any employment opportunities available.
- Even if the company is not currently hiring, ask if it's okay to send a CV or speculative application for future reference. Mark it to the attention of the person with whom you were speaking, and refer to your telephone conversation in the covering letter. If you've spoken to the right person and made a good impression, you may well have a foot in the door for the future!
- Stay in touch if you judge that it would be well received.
Start Your Own Business
The procedure for doing this in Finland is not difficult, nor is it expensive to set up a sole proprietorship (toiminimi). If you have skills you think you could market, this is definitely an option! Expat Finland has a whole section on it: Entrepreneurship
Enroll in a course related to your field of employment; you can make valuable connections and you may hear of opportunities which would otherwise have eluded you.
Notice-boards at Educational Institutions
Look at notice-boards at universities (yliopistot), colleges (ammattikoulut) and other educational institutions. They are particularly useful for students looking for seasonal work or internships, but full-time jobs can be posted too. Many jobs 'advertised' in this way will not be published elsewhere.
Networking is very important; if you can become known in your field of interest/expertise, you may well hear about jobs before they are advertised, maybe even get recommended or "head-hunted" for a position. Let everyone know you're in the job market and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything suitable. Join professional discussion boards. Social networking sites and "professional networks" like LinkedIn can also be very helpful.
Finland Forum and IESAF both have large, active memberships in Finland. Their primary language is English and even if you don't find work directly from either of them, you'll find a lot of invaluable advice, and learn from others' experiences.
If it's appropriate for the type of employment you are seeking, put up notices advertising yourself / your services. It's also possible to list yourself in newspapers.
- Internships / Work Experience (työharjoittelu): You can gain experience in a particular field as well as valuable experience of the Finnish work culture. Income is minimal but you may be able to receive the Labour Market Subsidy from Kela.
- Voluntary work (vapaaehtoistyö): An option for those with little or no experience, generally unpaid. Unfortunately, working for free can also displace paid employees and may impact your social security rights.
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