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Working in Finland - Advice & Tips

Finland

Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in a European country with one of the lowest immigration rates in the EU. Finland is known for its trees and economy based on private ownership and free enterprise. The new government wants to increase labour immigration, and most jobs can be found in medicine, pharmaceuticals, engineering, telecommunications and biotechnology. An interesting market to join.

Job hunting in Finland

Speculative applications are only successful with the larger companies, but due to the fact that immigration is stimulated, open applications are becoming more common. It is advised that you phone the personnel manager of the company in advance to introduce yourself, to ask some questions (prepare the questions in advance; you never get a second chance to make a first impression!) and to show your interest in the company and the job. It is important to notice that most good vacancies are filled, before ever being advertised. For the few remaining jobs, competition is high and of good standard. Therefore, having the right connections is important and getting directly in touch with the employer can be very useful. When starting to look for a job, places to find them are the Finnish newspapers, like ‘Helsinki Sanomat’ or ‘ Metro’. EURES (the European employment service) can also be of great help, and even Finnish television (teletext or programmes like ‘Avoimet työpaikat’) can do the trick. Also the Yellow pages for companies in Finland can be useful in this respect 'Yritysele' (sort of yellow pages for companies: www.yritystele.fi). The Finnish public employment service can be of help too. They have several publications, but also an internet site with vacancies: www.mol.fi, the website of the Ministry of Labour (also in English), with an electronic job application form so that you no longer have to visit the employment office. Also in Finland, networking is of great importance, when trying to find a job.

Please note, that Finland has two official languages, besides Finnish, Swedish is also officially recognised.

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.

The Finnish covering letter should be concise with preferably 1 page only. Unless otherwise requested it is common to send a typed application letter. It is important to customise the letter to address the interests of the employer. The style should be formal, clear and comprehensible. Your letter should positively show what kind of person you are and why you have chosen that particular company to work for.

The application procedure differs a little between the public and the private sector. In the public sector an extensive CV with emphasis on your education and previous practical experience is expected. Testimonials, references and certified translated copies of diplomas are requested for the public sector. In the private sector on the other hand, recruiters prefer a short CV giving only the main details. For the private sector send only principal information as a supplement. A photo is only attached to your application when specifically asked for. Application forms are becoming more popular, especially with the large multi-national firms.

The Curriculum Vitae

The CV in Finland is seen as a basic document that exactly shows what somebody has done. It can never be sent without a covering letter. On top you put in Finnish (or Swedish) the word Curriculum Vitae and your name, address, telephone number (including international access code) and e-mail address. Date of birth and civil status are voluntary items. In reversed chronological order (most recent activity first) you mention your competences (voluntary item), education, your practical experience, the main tasks in your current job, your publications, if applicable, your linguistic abilities, your computer skills, your hobbies/personal interests, military service if applicable, your positions of responsibility and the names, contact information and positions of two referees. For the letter and the CV you can choose between Finnish or Swedish, however, stick to one language once chosen. Foreign job seekers are expected to have a basic understanding of either of the languages, but in the IT sector for instance, you stand a fair chance of finding work when you are capable of speaking just English (but think of the social events and how much you miss out on those!). At all times, avoid exaggerating, to the Finn this is the same as lying! In general, a photo is not expected.

The Application Procedure

The application interview, as in most countries, is the most crucial part of the selection procedure. The recruiter is most interested in your personality and how you are likely to perform as part of the team. The importance Finns attach to interpersonal relations is reflected during the interview. The best piece of advice we can give in this respect, is to consider the Finnish culture and act by this during the interview. Therefore: be direct, show confidence but do not exaggerate, be concise and use the Finnish language if you can.

It is difficult to generalise about the intensity of interviewing. The number of times prospective candidates are interviewed varies a great deal, depending on the company, the position and whether or not tests are involved. Psychological and aptitude tests are common. For management positions and management trainee jobs, assessment centres are usually used. In fact, assessment centres have become extremely popular lately and are even used for strategic positions in public administration.

On-line applications are nowadays getting more common in Finland. Particularly large employers use on-line job databases. If an employer publishes their vacancies on-line, do complete the job application form on-line.

If we got you thinking on Finland – think about ordering the guide ''Looking for work in Finland''.

About the author

Looking for work in FinlandNannette 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 (www.labourmobility.com).
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in Finland", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-075-7) 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: www.labourmobility.com.  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.