Episode 44

Finding Work in Finland: Recruiters' Perspective

In this episode we combined two interviews together to provide you an overall picture of recruitment in Finland enriched by many tips and suggestions on how to improve your job-searching in Finland.

In the first part of the interview (0:00-24:25), we talked to Hannah Gay that started her Finnish journey as an intern at The Shortcut, a company you may remember from our previous episode. She currently works as a talent acquisition consultant at Tieto Evry. Hannah shared with us her views on the current international job market in Finland.

After moving to Finland for love, Hannah began the daunting job-hunting process. Within a month of beginning her job search, Hannah had landed an internship with The Shortcut. She continued looking for meaningful full-time employment, but had no luck for about a year. After applying unsuccessfully to 75 positions, she was referred for her current position at Tieto Evry.

In her current role, Hannah has insight into the hiring processes common within the Finnish job market. In terms of hiring internationals in Finland, Hannah points out that the TE office often refers educated foreigners into cleaning, construction, and nursing.

“Finland is behind in hiring international talent for meaningful work,” she said. “2021 is starting off way stronger than 2020 was.”

Part of that may be the increased initiatives for recruiting and retaining international talent. Hannah imagines that bringing in more international talent will speed up the process of integrating foreigners into the labor force.

We asked Hannah to share her tips for internationals currently looking for work, and she stressed the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Whether it means joining volunteer-based organizations, letting others in your industry look over your CV, or reaching out to people currently working in your industry, Hannah says that putting yourself out there can increase your chances of landing a job.

“I don’t want to tell you to grow your network,” she joked. “But it kind of is like that.”

We have all heard that the key to landing a job in Finland requires that applicants speak Finnish. However, Hannah admits that she is far from fluent. Depending on your industry, she said, you may be able to find a niche position that not only does not require Finnish, but values English language skills.

In general, Hannah points out, Finns are overeducated in the sense that they do not enter the labor force until late into their twenties. Internationals who might have begun gathering experience in their field earlier in life may have an advantage in that sense.

“Don’t compare yourself too hard to Finns,” she advised. “And just don’t give up!”

After meeting with Hannah, we chatted with Miina Väsäinen (from 24:25 onwards), a Finnish recruitment professional living in Paris. Miina has an eclectic background in recruitment, psychology, and freelance journalism.

Miina grew up in Helsinki, where she was educated in psychology and journalism. After working as a recruitment specialist in a Nordic-French company, Miina briefly returned to Finland to continue her education before returning to Paris.

In her current role as an international career consultant, she works with students who are looking for professional direction. She believes that her background in psychology helped to prepare her for a role in which she evaluates students’ personalities and motivations while helping them to develop their career paths.

Although most of her recruitment experience is abroad, she did have some insights to share as to the differences between the Finnish and French recruitment systems. France, she said, is still rather old-fashioned in terms of expectations for applicant qualifications. In Nordic countries, on the other hand, factors such as motivation, potential, and the culture fit might play more of a role in the recruitment process.

Moreover, French companies has a stricter sense of hierarchy than you will find in Finnish companies. This can make networking harder in France, because gaining access to the “right” person in a company is only the first step to landing the position. On the other hand, Finnish companies have a less strict hierarchy, so networking may actually be easier.

Miina hopes that recruitment in both French and Finnish companies becomes more international in the coming years. For example, she explained, companies should evaluate whether strict language requirements are really necessary for a given role.

We have all heard that Finnish is necessary, or at least highly desirable, for successfully landing a job in Finland. Miina, however, suggested that this is more the case in France. She explained that there is low incentive for foreigners to learn Finnish due to the language’s difficulty and the ease of living in Finland with only English language skills.

“In Finland, you’re able to live your everyday life completely in English,” she pointed out. “Whereas here, you just have to learn French.”

In addition to learning the language, Miina stressed the importance of learning the local culture. Rather than trying to change the local culture to fit your comfort zone, Minna said, adapting to the local culture can make integration easier for international job-seekers.

For more success with job-seeking in Finland, Miina relates her experience helping non-French speaking applicants find work in France.

“Networking is super important,” she said. “It just is.

When you first move to a new place, start networking among your own community.” For example, when Miina moved to France, she sought other Finns working in her industry. Find others who are from the same place as you or who have completed the same degree as you. She also stressed the increased importance of having a strong online presence. Although it may be difficult to focus on anything other than your job search, Miina points out the negative impact of constantly stressing out over job rejections. Rather than falling into a hole of rejection and self-pity, taking time to enjoy your everyday life can boost your morale and improve your attitude during the job search.

“I imagine the pressure is so huge,” she said. “Maybe the energy can get a bit stressed or negative if you’re only living around those questions. Try to also make your everyday life nice and easy and enjoyable.”

We really enjoyed sitting down to talk with both of these knowledgeable and helpful guests, and we hope you do, too! Tune in to hear more about the Finnish recruitment process from an inside perspective. As always, be sure to check out the links in the description box for more information.