“What advice do you have for international experts in applying for relevant skilled employment in Finland?”
As part of my work, inevitably I am asked this question. Honestly, and this is something slightly difficult to admit, I often feel unequipped to answer. After all, I have never been in charge of hiring, and actually wasn’t even particularly successful in my own job searching attempts as an international student.
I therefore took the chance near the end of the Contact Forum -rekrytointitapahtuma to speak to representatives from a few companies, including AFRY, Borealis, Fortum, Granlund and Sweco, in order to ask them exactly that question. What mistakes have they noticed international experts making?
Below are the five main tips I received.
- Clarity – To start with a stereotype, Finns, and especially Finnish engineers, like focused information. Be straight and to the point in an application, and make sure the reader is easily able to get the key information they need.
- Personality – A CV is already a great summary of your skills and qualifications, and a cover letter should therefore not just repeat it. Let them know who you actually are: what are your interests, and why are you applying? Why this position over another, and what kind of person has all that information in your CV created?
- Relevance – While it is great to have qualifications, certificates and awards, if the hiring manager can’t gain anything from reading them, they aren’t serving a purpose. They may even intimidate the reader, and put them off getting what they need to know. Put down those that are relevant, and what they have taught you for the position.
- Soft skills – A huge part of effective work in a company comes from your ability to fit in with the working culture, and on having good quality soft skills. Find ways to highlight these things, and make sure to actually provide evidence of them; anyone can write they have team working skills, where did you get them from?
- Language – Even if a particular job is in English, on a company level, Finnish or Swedish is still used in many positions. Language skills therefore without doubt make you a more attractive hire. Nobody is expecting even close to fluency, but the inclusion of some indication you want to learn is huge. If you don’t mention them, they will assume language skills don't exist, and that makes them question if you are someone who really wants to fit in. The amount that will help you is a lot smaller than you think.
Finally from me, remember to be patient and to learn from your applications! Job applications are a skill like any other, and that means practise makes perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself – you’ll make better applications that way. Tekniikan akateemiset TEK (and other unions) also have plenty of help available from people much better qualified than me, so make sure to join and use them!