Finding a Job in Finland - version 2

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Phil
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Finding a Job in Finland - version 2

Post by Phil » Wed Jul 21, 2004 8:48 pm

A couple years ago, I wrote this guide for foreigners in Finland. Two years later, I re-read it and added/edited some content. I welcome all your comments in section below!

Finding a Job in Finland

Introduction

Finding a decent job is what will “make or break” you in Finland. With a good job you’ll want to spend the rest of your life here and become a citizen. Without a job you’ll want to take the first plane back home. For many foreigners in Finland, finding and keeping a decent job is the biggest hurdle – even more difficult than learning the language.

This article will focus on foreigners finding a job in Finland. In particular, non-Finnish speaking foreigners who wish to find an entry/mid-level job. Entrepreneurs will not find much useful information here. People searching for upper-level jobs such as top management positions may find some useful tidbits in here, but this is not the focus of this article. People with very few job skills who are searching for manual-labor type jobs will find some useful information here, particularly towards the end of this document. Those trying to become an au pair won’t find too much info here although this article is definitely worth reading.

This article is meant to be a “living document”, it is not final. Additions, subtractions, and modifications will constantly be made. Readers will make comments and suggestions, then the author will make the changes. So please please please comment as much as you like and together we can make this an ideal guide for foreigners searching for work in Finland.

We won’t be discussing ‘normal’ job-seeking tips here, you can find plenty of sources around the internet for this. We are focusing on finding a job in Finland and the differences you’ll find in Finland from your own country. For example, we won’t tell you wear a nice suit to your interview and sit-up straight; we’ll instead tell you about the differences in a Finnish resume and where to search for a job.

About the Author

The author is a 27-year old American IT professional working for a large IT/telecommunications company in Finland. He’s been in Finland for four years and spent nine months unemployed here before finding a job. Together with his own experiences, discussions with foreigner & Finnish managers, and comments from others…he has written this article and is updating it regularly.

Requirements

Education/Experience/Expertise/Language

The four most important things to finding a job in Finland are education, experience, expertise and language. Language is the most important followed by expertise, experience and finally education (although I’m sure it is highly debatable that experience & education could be switched although I would disagree). Job “skills” is very important obviously, but I have grouped this with both education and experience.

Education

Your degree will be very important to landing a job here, but surprising for some, not as important as one may think. I know foreigners with their doctoral degree that have been unemployed for months and I know people without any college experience who have had jobs for years. But nonetheless, your degree will heavily boost your stock as a potential employee.

For those without a college education or for those with only a bachelor’s degree, you may be disappointed to find that just about everyone (so it seems) has a master’s degree and it’s common to find people who have multiple degrees. So how can this be? Well, a degree is totally free of costs here. In fact, it’s beyond free, you basically get paid, fed, and housed to go to school. Once you enter the work world, those perks are stripped away – so many students remain students for much longer if they had to pay for these things themselves.

Don’t be discouraged when your little bachelor’s degree doesn’t size up to everyone’s master’s degree – Many people have said that a bachelor’s degree in some foreign countries are equivalent to a master’s degree here in Finland - I can’t say if this is true or not, this is just what I’ve heard. But like I said earlier, your experience, expertise, and Finnish language skills are more important. For instance, those who are heavily skilled in the IT field but don’t have a college degree may do just fine – although many managers may quickly disregard your resume as soon as they discover you have no degree.

An important thing I’d like to address: Unlike in some countries, Finns refer to a 4-year school (bachelor’s degree) as a “college.” A 6 or 8-year school (master’s degree) is referred to as a “university.” In the United States for example, “university” usually means public institution while “college” means private institution (although not always the case). So if you received a bachelor’s degree from a university in your home country, be cautious when filling out job applications in Finland, they may be referring to a master’s degree but only call it a “university education.” – although you wouldn’t be necessarily lying of you said you had a university education.

Experience

I don’t have too much to say about experience except that, the more you have the better off you’ll be. Many graduates with high GPAs often wonder why they can’t find a decent job fresh out of college - lack of experience is the answer. It’s a bit of a catch-22, you need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience. For those of you with a LOT of experience, you might find yourselves applying for a job in which you’re overqualified for - Be sure to read the section about “dumbing down your resume.”

Expertise

Your field of expertise is vital to finding a job in Finland. A high school graduate who excels in IT may find a great job immediately while a doctor of whatever could be unemployed for years. IT (Information Technology, i.e. computers) is definitely the best field of work to be in for foreigners. However, Finland is known throughout the world for producing some of the finest IT professionals – so you’ll find some stiff competition when you arrive.

As for other non-manual labor type jobs, I can’t say much. IT is so great because 1) there’s a good amount of IT companies in Finland and 2) English is the universal language of the computer world. If you hope to get a job in business, you’ll find that your master’s degree will become more essential. Finnish language skills are obviously important when conducting business, maybe you should search for a company that needs a proficient/native English speaker to conduct global business.

For those who plan to be managers of some sort and hope to move up through the company, this could be a potential problem. I’ve both heard and read from multiple sources that without knowing the Finnish language, progressing through a company at a managerial level can be quite difficult. There's a glass-ceiling for foreigners.

If you are a non-IT foreign professional in Finland, please send your comments about expertise here and we’ll be sure to add them.

Language

As far as finding a job is concerned, not knowing the Finnish language will be by far your biggest obstacle. Even in the IT field, I’ll estimate that you won’t even be considered for roughly 70%-90% of all jobs. The more skills/experience/education you have, the less language may be a factor.

Fortunately, Finns realize that their language is obscure (on a global sense) and difficult to learn – if they want to hire foreigners, they’re going to be forced to hire non-Finnish speakers. So being fluent in English is absolutely essential for non-Finnish speakers.

In the office, if there is just one non-Finnish speaker, the whole office is going to have to switch to English just to accommodate you. Many Finns, even highly educated ones, aren’t very confident with their English skills. So if an entire office of lousy English speakers is forced to switch languages on your account…they probably won’t hire you in the first place. Now if you can get just one English speaker in the office, that office will be much more inclined to hire an English speaker since their office has already switched to English.

The larger the company is, the more they’ll probably be open to hiring an English-speaker – but of course this isn’t always the case. Nokia is a great place to start. A government job will almost always require fluent Finnish skills.

Swedish

The other official language in Finland is Swedish. If you have to pick one to learn first, definitely learn Finnish first although Swedish is a much easier language to learn. Those of you with Swedish-Finnish girlfriends might think it’s cool to learn Swedish so you can talk to your in-laws - but it’s going to help you very little in the workplace.

Learning Finnish

So you’ll just come to Finland and learn Finnish real quick, right? Like in a year? Good luck to you!! I know foreigners who have been here for 10+ years and could barely order a Big Mac at McDonald’s. Unless you’re a lingual genius or come from another Finno-Ugric language like Estonian (very similar to Finnish) or Hungarian (Hungarians tell me that it’s nothing like Finnish however) – plan on spending at LEAST 3-4 years to learn Finnish…and that’s assuming you work day & night at Finnish. Those who come here as exchange students or college students tend to learn it quicker, because they’re full-time students. Those of us with jobs, families, and mortgage payments have a difficult time. Don’t think you’ll just learn Finnish by osmosis or just by taking some classes or simply by living here for many years…it takes a LOT of hard work.

Use your native tounge as a positive attribute, not a negative

There are jobs in Finland that require fluent, often native English (or other languages, but English is most popular) language skills. Use this to your advantage and hunt down these jobs. Finns are not known for their public speaking skills, especially in a foreign language. You'll want to show that you have excellent written and spoken skills and you're not afraid to use them.

Your Resume

Finnish resumes aren’t too much different than most other countries. A few things you should add that you normally wouldn’t add and a few things you shouldn’t add that you might normally add. There is one very important difference that I’ll address in the next paragraph.

Humbleness on your resume

Finns are known for their ‘humbleness.’ This Finnish humbleness stretches to all parts of their life, including their resumes. Finns would never brag about themselves on their resume. They won’t cram their resume with their skills and attributes and values and beliefs and mission statements and awards and hobbies and other crap they’re good at. Finns tend to keep it clean, simple, and down to the essentials.

Now, most people call this ‘humbleness’, I think it’s more like a “low-self esteem” combined with being “very unsure of themselves.” I know this is a rough thing to say about a nation of people but I have found it to be often true. Finns won’t list many of their skills and attributes on their resume because even if they’re very good at something, they’re still very unsure about this and are afraid of failure. Finns get embarrassed very easily, so if they write on their resume that they’re good at “XYZ Programming Language” and their new boss says they’re not…they have failed and become very embarrassed. They would much rather remove this skill from their resume to avoid the risk.

So, as a foreigner, you should use this to your advantage. Finns do very little to make their resume shine from the rest. Now of course, you don’t want to cram your resume with all sorts of crap like you might do in the United States. Any sort of apparent “bragging” on your resume will be quickly resented by your potential employer. You need to find a nice balance between the Finnish ‘humbleness’ and bragging about yourself.

You should keep your resume clean and easy to read. If you’re in IT and think you have a lot of essential skills, you could do a two-page resume but most Finns tend to stick to one-page. Things like hobbies, clubs you are in, your values and beliefs, and silly awards you’ve one shouldn’t make it to your resume – if you really want them you can save them for your personal web page (read more about that below).

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Finnish Resume

Unlike the United States, it is traditional to have your gender, marital status, and religion on your resume. Why these things are traditional on a Finnish resume, I have no idea. Personally, I believe your marital status and religion should have NOTHING to do with a potential job, but obviously Finns don’t feel this way. In my experiences, you can leave this information out of your resume if you so desire. I seriously doubt too many employers would discard your resume because you didn’t list your religion. However, if your religion is something like “Voodoo”, maybe it’s best just to leave it off.

One big mistake foreigners often make (especially Americans) is to include the salaries from their previous jobs on their resumes. This a big no-no in Finland. You may want to impress your potential employer with the hefty salaries from your previous jobs, but this do more harm than good. Here’s why: Salaries are much lower in Finland compared to the United States and much of Europe. If you list that you made $40,000/year in your previous position, your potential employer might think you’ll expect at LEAST that much and will automatically rule you out because the salaries are lower here. A $40,000/year job in the states might be equivalent to $30,000/year in Finland. So I highly advise that you remove those salaries from your resume.

I don’t know about translating your resume into Finnish, it may just confuse your employer. You’ll be applying for English-speaking jobs, so an English resume is expected. But I really can’t comment too much about this since I never translated my resume into Finnish and I don’t think too many other foreigners do this either.

A note to foreign women and pregnant women searching for a job

In Finland, after pregnancy, you are entitled to many months of paid of leave by your company. This is obviously a great hardship on a company to have to pay much of your salary and also the full salary of your replacement while you’re gone. So walking into an interview with a belly popping out will be an unfortunate disadvantage to many. It’s notorious here in Finland for pregnant to have trouble finding jobs. Also, I’ve heard that young married women can have trouble as well because they are prime candidates to give birth. Maybe it’s best to leave that wedding ring at home and not list your marital status on your resume – but that of course is entirely up to you. I know it’s not so politically correct to say these things, but it’s often the sad truth.

Pictures & Web Pages

It’s also quite common to include a picture with your resume although this is not required. I highly recommend a nice picture of yourself to be included with your resume. I have heard from managers in Finland that a picture will help separate your resume from the rest of the bunch.

Another nice touch would be to add a link to your personal website. Especially in the IT fields, this would be another thing that could help place you at the front of the pack. Include your resume on your site, a picture of yourself, projects you’ve done, and maybe even your hobbies and stuff like that. I highly recommend a website, especially if you’re applying for an IT job.

Need a job? Start a blog

Trying to get a job in the XYZ industry? Then begin a blog and write about XYZ, especially XYZ in Finland. Write daily. People in XYZ industry will begin to notice your blog and get to know you, and they'll want to hire you. It may take a few months, maybe longer, but blogging is the new best way to find a job in your field.

Overqualified – Dumbing down your resume

If you’re overqualified for a particular job, that’s even worse than being UNDER qualified for the job. Yes, this is very true. With the high unemployment in Finland that reaches up to 20% depending on how you calculate it, there are many individuals who are forced to apply for jobs in which they are overqualified. You need to put food on the table and if that means doing a job which pays half of the salary you’re accustomed too and doing the kind of work you haven’t done in 20 years…that’s just the way it has to be.

Now some may think that since they’re the most qualified for the job, it should automatically be theirs. This isn’t always the case. Just because the job description states, “2 years of Java experience required” and you have 8 years…that could actually be hindering you instead of helping you. This could hinder you because your employer knows you are overqualified for the job and knows that as soon as you find a better job, you’ll leave. It’s very inefficient for a company to have an employee for only a few months and then leave.

So, for all you highly skilled people, I strongly recommend that you have at least two different resumes. One is your normal resume, and the other is your dumbed-down resume for when you apply to jobs in which you are overqualified. Now of course I would never advise you to “lie” on your resume, just word things a bit different and maybe neglect a few skills. Instead of saying you’re an ‘expert’ at something, be humble like the Finns and just say you’re ‘good’ at it. You get the idea.

When you first arrive to Finland you may pass-over all of these jobs in which you’re overqualified for, thinking you’ll find something better. Unfortunately, because of the lack of Finnish skills, you may find yourself applying for these less interesting jobs after a few months without a steady income. Yeah, it may be a bit of an ego-shot for some, but having different resumes may help you get that job. And you know that old saying, “It’s easier to find a job when you already have a job.” – So you can take that less-than-thrilling job while looking for something better.

The Job Search

The internet is a great way to find an English-speaking job in Finland since the internet is global while a newspaper is only directed towards people in a particular Finnish city. There is a bunch of Finnish jobs site full of English-speaking jobs, especially for IT professionals.

Using a head-hunter is one to find a job, but usually head-hunters are only good for experienced seasoned professionals. If you’re not some true expert at something useful having many years of experience and a fancy degree…I wouldn’t waste your time with them, especially here in Finland. Internet websites like monster.com where you can post your resume for other employers to search through seem like a good idea but are rarely useful for people looking for entry/mid-level jobs.

If a job is posted in English, that’s a great signal that they’re open to English speaking candidates. If the job is posted in Finnish, don’t let this discourage you, but there is a better chance they’re looking for a Finnish speaker.

Don’t bother asking a business if they’ll hire a foreigner. They’ll always say ‘yes’ even if they won’t. Nobody wants to be labeled a ‘racist’ or ‘prejudiced against foreigners’ in this country.

They want their dream employee. You aren’t it, so what!!

Many job seekers get discouraged when they search through job descriptions and find that they don’t meet all of the requirements that the employer is requesting…although the job seems perfect for them! The job requires 3-5 years experience and you have 2. The job wants a master’s degree, you only have a bachelor’s. The job requires you to know A, B, C, and D – you only know A, B, and C. ….no problem!! These employers are searching for their “dream” employee, but they know they won’t get this type of person. Just like if someone asked you what kind of car you wanted, you’d probably say some expensive sports car. But that’s your dream car, in reality, you’ll be settling for the Toyota Corolla. The same goes for employers.

So don’t automatically rule out a particular job because the requirements are just out of your reach. Apply for it anyway!! This is something I can’t stress enough to job seekers.

Applying for a job

When you found a job you’re interested in, apply for it using the means that they provide. If they direct you to their website and have you fill out an online form, do that. If they want you to e-mail them with your resume, do that. But don’t just forget about them and wait for their response. I recommend sending them an e-mail in a few days time. Ask them something like, “Hello, I’m just inquiring to see if you did indeed receive my resume. I am really excited about this position and am eager to meet with you and discuss things further.” This way, you’re not being annoying, you’re just “following up” just in case they lost your resume.

I think a follow-up e-mail is crucial and might help separate your name/resume from the rest of the bunch. You could follow-up with a phone call, but Finns tend to clamp-up when confronted in person or on the phone. E-mail is very Finn-friendly. If they don’t reply to your e-mail, I wouldn’t recommend bugging them again. Although e-mail is very Finn-friendly, Finns don’t always feel compelled to respond to their inbox.

Annoy the hell out of them?!


Others have recommended to call a possible employer on a regular basis and get them to know you. Maybe stop in and see them unexpectantly or phone them every few days. I couldn’t think of a worse way to annoy a Finn but it seemed to have worked for some, but I personally don’t recommend this. Finns are not the most socialable people and annoying phone calls and surprise visits would add you to the top of their !"#¤% list. But like I said, others recommend this but I have no experience with it.

Blind E-mailing

Some try the tactic of just e-mailing blindly to anyone and everyone. You write up a nice cover letter and attach your resume then let it fly. I have no experience with this but I think it could be an okay idea. You only need just one job, so if you send out 1,000 e-mails and get one response, you’ve succeeded. However, I would NEVER send any sort of follow-up e-mails or phone calls to them since they weren’t asking to be contacted in the first place.

You want them to think that their job is what you’ve always dreamed of

Employers obviously want enthusiastic employees working for them. Since, we foreigners have a narrower amount of positions we can apply for because of the Finnish thing, we’ll sometimes apply for jobs we’d not normally want. So when filling out an application or during the interview, we may not be as excited as the employer would like us to be. So you need to be sure that you put a big smile on your face and act like their job is what you’ve been waiting all your life for. Now don’t act fake, they’ll see right through that. Just try to be enthusiastic, hide any ill feelings and don’t get them to think that their job is just a stopgap until you find something else.

When writing e-mails to potential employers, I’d recommend adding a personal touch to your ‘universal’ e-mails. If you’re sending out dozens of e-mails per day, you’ll probably create one ‘universal’ e-mail to distribute. That’s fine, just be sure to personalize it a bit, add a few extra lines that are specific to the company you are applying too or something. …just a suggestion.

While spamming out your resume to many employers, be sure not to send too many applications to one company. If a certain company has 20 available jobs, and you apply to 15 of them, the employer may discover this and realize you’re not very serious about just one or two positions. I’ve heard a manager complain about this sort of tactic in the past.

You are just one in 300

With the high unemployment in Finland, there is a TON of people who will apply for each and every job that’s available and only one person can be chosen. Most IT jobs will gather somewhere between 100-300 candidates. Large companies like Nokia will gather more resumes than smaller companies. When an employer collects all the resumes, he’ll quickly look over each of them and try to narrow them down to just a few, 300 resumes need to be squeezed down to 20. You need to make sure you’re one of those 20 and something as simple as a web page, clean resume, or picture may be the deciding factor. Overqualified people will be the first to go when narrowing down resumes. Once the employer has it down to 20 resumes, he/she will look over them much more carefully. Finally, maybe 4-8 people will be called in for an interview. These of course, are all very rough figures and will be different for each company, but are some good rough figures to think about.

Applying from abroad & work permits

Applying for a job in Finland from abroad can be a disadvantage, especially if you don’t have a work permit. If you’re applying for some high-level position, maybe they’ll fly you over for an interview but that’s rare. If you’re not already here in Finland, your prospective employer is not going to want to wait for you to arrive for an interview. So be sure to tell them exactly when you’re arriving in Finland. If you’re about to move to Finland and haven’t gotten interviews yet, don’t be discouraged, you’ll have a much easier time finding something once you’re here.

Not having a work permit can be a big disadvantage as well. Employers know that if they hire you without a work permit, they’ll have a ton of paperwork to fill out and a lot of waiting time before they can hire you. If you have a work permit already, be sure to put that somewhere near the top of your resume. If you don’t have a work permit, don’t worry, the vast majority of foreigners in Finland didn’t have them before their first job.

Where in Finland will you live?


Hopefully you’ll be living in the Helsinki metropolitan area, this includes Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. Also, surrounding cities like Tuusula, Kirkonummi, Sipoo (and others) are all close assuming you have an automobile. Tampere would probably be your second best place for work, Oulu third. Turku is a large city but very few IT jobs available, their main focus is biotechnology and sciences rather than IT. Other than these four cities, job seeking could get even more difficult. Jyväskylä and Salo rank after these four cities, then maybe Lahti and Kuopio. But if you have a choice of where to live, be sure to pick the Helsinki area. Lots of foreigners in the Helsinki area. I estimate that 80%-90% of all professional jobs for foreigners would be found in this region.

The Interview


I don’t have too much to say about the interview, they’re conducted very similar to how they’re done in the states. One important note to young IT guys, you do own a decent suit, don’t you?? If you don’t, go buy yourself a tailored suit right now, something in black, charcoal, or a dark gray preferably. Buy one in your home country because it’s probably cheaper than here. Your father’s or brother’s hand-me-downs won’t do.

When you first meet the interviewer, shake hands (not too hard, not too limp). Men can do a traditional bow while shaking hands that is quick and very subtle, nothing like the Japanese for instance. Women can do a traditional curtsey while shaking hands, but like the men, it’s quick and very subtle. This bow and curtsey are traditional in Finnish culture, but not required. Don’t be too overpowering during the interview, American culture somewhat teaches us to behave this way during an interview, probably not a very good idea here in Finland. Finns don’t take well to confrontational tactics.

Lower salaries, higher prices, & higher taxes

Remember those nice salaries you used to earn in your home country? Well, say bye-bye to them. If you plan on spending your life driving a bus or sweeping floors, Finland will bless you with a nice salaries. But any sort of IT or business position might yield a smaller salary than you’re accustomed too. Plus, taxes are much higher here and prices of things are much higher…so that means less disposable income for you.

Negotiation

For most entry/mid-level jobs, there’s very little room for negotiation. Employers usually have set budgets, vacation rules, and other policies and you can’t do ANYTHING to change them. Now, if you’re looking for a high-level position and/or working for a smaller company, you’ll have more room to negotiate. But for most of us, we’ll just have to take what they give. Often, conducting negotiation during the interview could even hurt your chances of getting the job. They offer $30,000 but you “demand” $35,000 – well there’s nothing they can do about this. Even though you’ll eventually accept the $30,000, they know you won’t be very happy with it and may think you’ll soon leave them for a higher paying job.

During the interview, if they ask you something like, “What kind of salary are you looking for?”…don’t give them a figure, throw the question back in their laps. Say something like, “Well, I’m open for negotiation, what are you willing to give?” Since they probably already have an exact salary in mind, there’s no sense in you ‘guessing’ at it and going higher or lower than their offer.

Take what you can get

I know this is kinda a defeatist attitude, but if I were you, I’d take whatever kind of offer they’d throw at me. Then, if I truly am not happy with it, I’d begin looking for another job. Some may not think this is fair to your new employer, but it’s their fault for not offering you a better salary. Plus, it’s not only you who can leave prematurely - If their budget suddenly disappears, so can you.

Why didn’t you hire me?

It can sometimes take 2-3 months for a company to even contact you about a job you applied for. Sometimes you’ll receive a letter in the mail or an e-mail with your rejection. Most often, you’ll receive nothing. Earlier, I suggested you send a “follow-up” letter, but I advise that you never send a “Why didn’t you hire me?” letter. You won’t receive a response and you’ll just annoy the employer, maybe they’ll have another available job in the future and that could just blow your chances.

Other Things to Consider

Working “Under the Table”


Working under the table (i.e. avoiding official paperwork and taxes) isn’t common in Finland. If you’re applying at any formal business, don’t even think about asking to be paid under the table. Punishment for white-collar crimes are more severe than rape & murder (not joking), so businesses wouldn’t even think about this. If you’re looking for manual labor, working for an individual or very small company, maybe you’ll find under the table work, but I have no experience with this. Some people say that Finns would be ‘offended’ if you asked them to get paid under the table. I doubt that although maybe some will kindly show you the door. If you’re going to ask someone for work under the table, be careful with how you word it. Instead of saying, “Will you pay me under the table?” maybe instead say, “I am open to being paid under the table,” then see how they respond. If someone gets upset, just play the whole “dumb foreigner” card and act like you didn’t realize it is illegal in Finland.

No Experience

Looking for some sort of manual labor? Sadly, you’ll find that even restaurants looking for dishwashers will want someone who speaks Finnish. Before I found my current job, I tried finding dishwashing jobs and was turned down because I didn’t know the language. Contact some temp agencies, they’re open to foreigners and will find you some temporary jobs that may lead to a permanent job.

In Conclusion

Living in Finland will be a wonderful thing but will take a lot of hard work and perseverance. Nothing that’s worth wild in this life comes easy.

Like I said at the beginning, all these things said in this article comes from my own personal experiences and research. Don’t take this article as the Bible. If you disagree with something in here or would like to add something, please be sure to let me know!! This article is constantly being updated and with time I hope it becomes the ideal guide for foreigners seeking work in Finland.

Other Resources

Want to read about living in Finland? Read Culture Shock: Finland" by Deborah Swallow
Want to read about doing business with Finns? Read "Finland: Cultural Lone Wolf" by Richard D. Lewis
Want to learn the Finnish language in English? Read "Finnish: An essential grammar" by Fred Karlsson (hands down, the best Finnish book ever, it's the Bible)
Last edited by Phil on Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:34 pm, edited 6 times in total.



Finding a Job in Finland - version 2

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Hank W.
The Motorhead
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Post by Hank W. » Thu Jul 22, 2004 10:43 am

Yay! :wink:

Looks good. Now remember to make some copyright trap into there...

2 points:

A

"Another nice touch would be to add a link to your personal website"

- Yeah, and make sure the prospective manager finds your proper website and nothing l33t you made in high school. Or the manager's son. Tell you what to do (what they will do) - Google yourself. Godforbid you have been so stupid as to post with your own name into newsgroups. "Jay Gorp wrote in 1995: awwmigawwd I am sooo high" in alt.recreational.drugs ... Jay Gorp applies to company X in 2005 - so you do drugs then... ??? if a nick 'Gorjay' was high in 1995 thats a bit different (unless the nick is visible on the webpage with your resume...)
Finns didn't 'invent' the internet, but they're very savvy in digging up data from there.

B On the working under the table thing and how jobs are offered. One of these is to lure the foriegner to establish himself as a business "toiminimi" and then buy services from this business entity. Now this sounds (especially to Americans) very lucrative. Not. Finland is less small-business-friendly as was the former DDR. The thing is the company "hiring" is looking to avoid paying social expenses, pension etc. One might wonder say checking into a hotel in the middle of the night there is only a scruffy bad-tempered guy working the desk. Anything you want is a "no". Well, you'd be bad-tempered having to be the receptionist, auditor, bell-hop, breakfast cook and janitor. The employer's social expenses in Finland are high. So if you pay someone $5 an hour, that worker in reality costs $15 for you (and the employer gets in hand after taxes maybe $3.50). So that is one of the reasons it is hard to get a job and why especially smaller companies insist on hiring "services". There are catches to this, as the formidiable tax office will not recognize the business entity if it is just working for one company and will hit it as "tax fraud".

So what does this have to do with working under the table? Well, there is sometimes an option to do work "without receipt", but when the tax office catches someone doing that, the results are devastating. In Finland, the tax office can and will make "assessment taxation". Say you start a business that has no cash money. The tax office says you'll be making 100 000 a year and asks 25.000 even your daily cash flow is a 100. You have to pay the 25.000 and you may get it back in returns the next fiscal... not to forget the obligatory insurance and pension for a business entity.

So being asked to form a "toiminimi", kick up some money, go talk with an english-speaking lawyer (or better still, enroll into one of those free enterpreneur classes the government offers) so as to avoid nasty surprises. Considering there is no such thing as personal bankruptcy in Finland, they'll liquidate your estate after you die.
Cheers, Hank W.
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Post by Phil » Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:31 pm

Good points Hank! I'll put them in on version 0.2 :)


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Post by Hank W. » Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:52 pm

few points more:

Salaries.
In Finland you know everyone else's salary. Not only are tax records public, but there are union agreements that are binding, even you or the employer don't belong to the unions. If you are looking for a job, and the salary is informed as "TES", you have to dig up the "collective labour agreement" of that profession, and see the minimum wages, hours, salaries, benefits etc. You can try to make a better deal, but you cannot make a worse than the minimum of that very TES in question. So you won't get a job promising to work for less, because the employer will be sued for that. In government jobs, such as an university teacher (private universities are illegal so all university jobs are government jobs) the payscales are according to a "government wage scale" A25 so your salary will be that. Maybe 10% of you'd get being a professor at MIT, but atleast yopu know what all your colleagues get. A private sector job will pay 10-25% more than a "wage scale" job, so those are a good ballpark "it cannot get lower than that".

One good point on this low salary is, that as Finnish speeding fines are calculated according to your net wages (no use lying, the traffic cops have GSM access to the tax office database), you can always feel glad you didn't earn more.

After you find a job. Join an unemployment fund. You can do this two ways; either by joining the labor union or just joining a private unemployment fund. Unless you do this, in the case you get unemployed next year, you'll get zippo money. Now joining an union is more expensive, they have some social & recreational aspects, but you also have access (in a a big company) to the ombudsman and an union lawyer. You have to be contributing for 10 months, so after that if you get unemployed you'll be getting say 50% of your wages as benefits for the maximum of 500 days. Now to be entitled to unemployment benefits is a whole another story, just remember if you quit you'll be "quarantined" for 3 months.
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


luddite

Post by luddite » Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:01 pm

Phil wrote:This is a FIRST DRAFT, so please don't focus on any spelling/grammar mistakes.


I'll ignore the stray comma, the poor spelling and the missing apostrophe... as you're probably typing with one hand. ;-)
Last edited by luddite on Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by Mook » Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:03 pm

Also conditions of employment such as working hours, etc. are according to union agreement.

Try and get things like a mobile phone, home adsl connection as these are tax effective.
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Post by Lawrence Perry » Thu Jul 22, 2004 3:59 pm

Phil,

Good article. Lots of ideas.

1. Think about a 1st section on Finland demographics and unemplyment, numbers looking for employment, etc. Assume that the reader is new to Finland and looking for a job. Never hurts.

2. Get facts about education and equivancies from other countries or drop the comparison. It could confuse the reader. Maybe stats of finnish education levels would be helpful. e.g. 5% have Ph.D., 30% Masters, etc.

3. get as much info for other fields of work from members.

4. Be positive about accepting entry level jobs and how any job "buffs" your C.V. A sample Resume would be useful.

5. How much experience is minimum for most jobs? 6 months, one year

6. Give web site links for more info on important subjects. This may end up being the "bible" for foreigner job seekers.

7."annoy the hell out of them"?

8. I assume " networking" in important for most fields especially professional. The more people you know from whatever social event can be useful. So, get out and do things. Maybe even get to know a polititian.

9. give advice on the weather and the "downs" of winter and how to avoid it affecting you job search. In short, how to keep a positive attitude when you have not seen the light of day and the heat if off.

10. What are "overpowering" attitudes during an interview? expound on that. The interview is critical.

Sorry for so much advice but I really liked what you wrote and it has major possiblities.

LP


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Post by managesoft » Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:06 pm

Applying for a job in Finland from abroad can be a disadvantage, especially if you don’t have a work permit. If you’re applying for some high-level position, maybe they’ll fly you over for an interview but that’s rare. If you’re not already here in Finland, your prospective employer is not going to want to wait for you to arrive for an interview. So be sure to tell them exactly when you’re arriving in Finland. If you’re about to move to Finland and haven’t gotten interviews yet, don’t be discouraged, you’ll have a much easier time finding something once you’re here.


This is a bit negative, I've had 2 contract jobs in Finland and now a permi job here, all of them applied for from outside of Finland, and in all cases I have been flown over for interviews,
Also know of at least 3 others who have got jobs applied for from abroad.
Maybe you are basing this on your experience of Nokia? an international company with a uniquely Finnish way of doing business!


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Post by Mook » Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:10 pm

managesoft wrote:Maybe you are basing this on your experience of Nokia? an international company with a uniquely Finnish way of doing business!


I got a Nokia job from the UK. First interview was in Espoo (I was going to be in Finland anyway), second one in Cambridge. But that was in '99.
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Post by Phil » Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:17 pm

managesoft wrote:This is a bit negative, I've had 2 contract jobs in Finland and now a permi job here, all of them applied for from outside of Finland, and in all cases I have been flown over for interviews,
Also know of at least 3 others who have got jobs applied for from abroad.
Maybe you are basing this on your experience of Nokia? an international company with a uniquely Finnish way of doing business!


Well, I do work for Nokia, but my experiences are more about my Pre-Nokia unemployment days. But alot of managers I've talked to about this are from Nokia.

In my experiences, it's a bit more rare to find a job in Finland while you're abroad. I'm willling to bet that the vast majority of IESAFers found their initial job while living in Finland, maybe we should take a poll and find out.

Just wondering, what kind of work are you in? Maybe you're closer to this upper-tier of positions?


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Post by Mook » Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:23 pm

(maybe this thread shoudl be branched/edited)

Was Conned into coming as an Engineer, became Senior Engineer shortly after (Which was better, but the job role still seemed to involve telling the Chief Engineer what to do)
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Post by Phil » Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:25 pm

Thanks for your comments Lawrence, I'll be sure to add many of these points to my next draft. Great idea to add more statistics.

Lemme address a few of your points...

Lawrence Perry wrote:7."annoy the hell out of them"?


I've heard some people suggest this tactic. Phone someone like everyday and they'll eventually grant you an interview. I dunno how good an idea that is but maybe that tactic has landed people some job here.

I'm not even suggesting using the phone much at all, although this is highly debatable no doubt. Finns don't like phones, especially when having to talk English. You'll just scare some Finns if you cold call them up and start blabbing English. E-mails & SMS are the way to go IMO.

Lawrence Perry wrote:10. What are "overpowering" attitudes during an interview? expound on that. The interview is critical.


I don't know about British interviewing tactics, but I'm afraid Americans might come to interview in FInland and act way to "American." I think Finns tend to be more humble during the interview. In the states, we often try to "sell ourselves", and those tactics may hurt your job chances. like Hank? I think said in Gavin's job thread, "Am empty barrel often talks the loudest" (or whatever the hell it was)) :wink:


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Post by managesoft » Thu Jul 22, 2004 5:30 pm

Phil wrote:Just wondering, what kind of work are you in? Maybe you're closer to this upper-tier of positions?


I'm a programme manager so very much middle management, but the other people I know are vanilla support staff so it is across the board,
I guess it just depends on the company, I have to admit that with the exception of my current position all the other jobs I have had were for Non Finnish companies with operations here in Finland. maybe tht makes a difference?


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Post by Hank W. » Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:02 pm

Phil wrote:"Am empty barrel often talks the loudest" (or whatever the hell it was))


A Yankee goes to an interview age 20, he's seen a computer at a agriculture fair once: "I am a computer expert in both hardware and software compatibility".
Some Finn goes to a job interview age 20, he's co-written the 2.0 Linux kernel: "Computers, yes, I've been practicing a bit something little."
Cheers, Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:04 pm

Phil wrote:I don't know about British interviewing tactics, but I'm afraid Americans might come to interview in FInland and act way to "American." I think Finns tend to be more humble during the interview.


Well, you learn manners when you are little and if not before the military teaches you to sit down, shut up and speak when you are addressed :wink:
Cheers, Hank W.
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