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Working in Estonia - Advice & Tips


Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in one of the most successful economies of the former Soviet region. Estonia, with around 1.34 million inhabitants is the smallest country of the three Baltic States, which together with seven other countries joined the European Union on the 1 May 2004. Today, Estonia is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.

Job hunting in Estonia

In Estonia, a network of personal contacts is absolutely essential to find a job, for Estonians prefer doing business through personal contacts. Informal networks, friendships and even romantic relationships form part of the informal networks essential to every day business life. Please note that all communication in Estonian companies is top down. In theory women are equal to men, but in practice this is not always the case. Although women occupy almost every profession, women are hardly ever spotted at the very top management of an organisation in any of the three Baltic States. The major exception are government functions, were some women have risen to the top. There are many young Estonian highly qualified and highly educated top managers. Education and qualifications are therefore essential to gain authority in Estonia. And although Estonia is still experiencing a fair annual economic growth, unemployment is still relatively high for Estonian standards, which makes finding a job a true challenge.

The Application Letter

In general a letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application in more detail and hopefully invite you for an interview. Your application letter, however, should not provide too much information about experience and qualifications; this will be provided in your CV.

If used, the covering letter in Estonia is usually one page long but never longer than two pages. Although an application or covering letter is getting more common, it is not always required. Motivate clearly why you consider yourself the right person for the job and try to address your application to a specific person.

The Curriculum Vitae

The key focus of your CV should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore, your CV is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it.

In Estonia, try to make sure that you do not exaggerate about your skills and experience; if you have little experience, the best thing to do is to specify what you have studied in even greater detail. Estonian CVs are functional; this means that the information is structured per item. Your Estonian CV should be organised in a reverse chronological order.

Its becoming more popular to apply for a job via the internet. Be aware of the fact that an electronic CV does not always look the same as the standard one.

The Application Procedure

Application interviews are the most crucial part of the selection procedure in Estonia (Do you fit in the team?).When applying for a job in Estonia, be prepared for two to four application interviews. Always mention several reasons why you consider yourself the right candidate for the job. Be aware that although Estonians tend to mix business with pleasure, meetings should be kept formal. And: be on time because Estonians are very punctual! And although honesty and forthrightness are respected characteristics, Estonians do take care that they do not offend those they are in discussion with.

Do not rush Estonians because this can easily destroy the negotiating process and never sit until invited in an application interview in Estonia. Avoid exaggerating, instead, stay calm and stick to the facts. Furthermore, never criticise former employers.

Dress smart. The Estonian dress rather formally; men are expected to wear a suit, a necktie and most importantly quality shoes. Some Estonians may even see footwear as a barometer of success. Estonian women dress in a formal but less conservative way.

On-line applications are becoming more common. Estonian employers commonly use (on-line) application forms.

If we got you started on Estonia order the guide ''Looking for work in the 10 EU Accession Countries'' for further info.

About the author

Looking for work in the 10 EU Accession CountriesNannette Ripmeester is the expatriate affairs consultant to several multinational companies, which she advises regarding the strategy of international assignments and the practical implementation around expat issues.  Ripmeester started her international career at the European Commission, has worked on a project basis in 17 countries and is founder and Managing Director of Expertise in Labour Mobility (
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in the 10 EU Accession Countries", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-084-9) is part of that series of guides. To order this guide or other guides that will help you to secure the international job you want, visit our website:  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.