One day, Jaakko Nauha’s phone rang. A recruitment agent called to tell him that Tracegrow was looking for a business development director and Nauha could be a good fit for the job.
Nauha was not familiar with the company nor was he even looking for a new job, so the phone call came as a surprise.
“I think they had found me on LinkedIn.”
Tracegrow makes fertilizers from recycled alkaline batteries. Nauha was interested in the circular economy, because he was leading an initiative at Neste to study business opportunities in algae.
Both Tracegrow and the offered position started to sound interesting to Nauha.
“The recruitment agent simply said that you can find quite a lot of information just by googling it, so go right ahead.”
So Nauha started googling the company. He checked to see how the company’s revenue and personnel numbers had changed over the years and read the company's website to find out what it says about itself. The company has also been written about in the media, so he read articles about it.
Tracegrow is a company of less than 20 people that has started creating revenue only in recent years. Nauha had to consider whether the business is on a solid foundation.
“What impressed me right from the start was the good track record of the CEO and the team. The company had first developed technology and then established a production plant.”
Next, Nauha was convinced by the experience that the board members of Tracegrow possess.
“The chairman of the board is Kaisa Hietala, a rock star in the business world.”
Hietala became known for her former position as executive vice president of Renewable Products at Neste. Among other roles, Hietala is currently a member of the board of oil company Exxon Mobil.
Nauha did not settle only for information that he could easily find on Tracegrow. He also called several people he knew who had had some kind of cooperation with Tracegrow.
Their messages reinforced his belief that this was an interesting company.
Suitable values and boundaries
Once Nauha was convinced by the company, he had to find out what the culture was like at Tracegrow and what his role would involve.
Nauha says that he has given a lot of thought to his personal values over the years. He has three small children, so he knew he wanted to set clear boundaries between work and free time.
“I’ve worked in several international positions, so I knew that this is not an option everywhere. In the American culture, for example, it’s important to brag about how rarely you take time off work.”
Nauha wanted to understand how the company would react if his child fell ill or if there was an event he had to attend.
“In the end, I didn’t even have to bring up the topic, because the CEO mentioned during the interview that he has kids and explained how he had found a balance between the kids’ hobbies and work.”
It became clear to Nauha that the culture of the company was driven by healthy values and the well-being of employees was a priority.
During recruitment, Nauha also asked about the holidays and how duties are divided during them. CEO Mikko Joensuu said that not everyone working at the company takes their holidays at the same time.
Substitutes are clearly named during employee holidays so that nobody on holiday has to read their emails or be reachable by phone.
“I myself have noticed that going on holiday with three kids takes up all your time. It’s no holiday if you’re expected to do a bit of work. It feels more like double the work, because you're constantly thinking about work stuff,” says Nauha.
With his transfer to Tracegrow, Nauha’s employer changed from a major listed company to a small startup. This was one of the things he found appealing.
“A big company needs to have structures in place. I wanted to get my hands dirty and move on.”
During the recruitment process, Nauha prepared a preliminary task where he presented some of his own thoughts on the growth plans of Tracegrow. He presented his views to the board of the company.
“We all had very similar thoughts on the matter.”
Already during recruitment, Nauha was impressed by the company's conversation culture, which he describes as frank.
“We don't hesitate to address the elephant in the room, so to say. We confront issues directly, deal with them and look for solutions. And then we move on.”
Take things seriously and be open
Nauha believes that job changes should be taken seriously. He recommends starting out by considering your personal values and wishes.
“I myself have spent the last ten years working on and thinking about these things. The recruitment process further solidified my values.”
Nauha urges anyone considering changing jobs to be open towards their new employer. In other words, you should be honest about your wishes instead of playing a role.
“During the recruitment process, it’s important to be who you genuinely are. It's a bad deal for both of you, if you get a new job just because of some role you have been putting on.”
- Read more about the little things you should remember when changing jobs: https://www.tek.fi/en/news-blogs/changing-jobs-requires-precision
Always a leap into the unknown
Many industries are now suffering from a shortage of labour and head hunters are used more and more often to fill positions, and not only the managerial ones. Even if a job offer sounds attractive at first, changing jobs is not something that should be taken lightly.
“Changing jobs is always a leap into the unknown,” says Career and Organizational Psychologist at MPS Päivi Montgomery.
Montgomery published a book this year entitled “Työnhaun psykologia”. The idea of the book is to help job seekers understand the employer’s perspective on things and how they should talk about their skills and personality.
Montgomery believes that anyone considering changing jobs should first clarify their personal values.
For example, you could ask yourself if career progression is important to you. How about being able to influence your duties, responsibilities and working methods? Do you have demanding hobbies or a family that affects your working hours?
In addition to your values, you should also take a look at the employer's values. Montgomery points out that in some workplaces, values are nothing more than empty words.
That is why Montgomery urges everyone to ask value questions that are as concrete as possible during recruitment.
“For example, if one of the values is equality, you could ask what exactly the company has done this year to promote equality.”
In general, Montgomery encourages everyone to ask a lot of concrete questions during the recruitment process: Would I have specific working hours? What is your take on employees who have to go and pick up their kids from daycare at 16.00 every day? How do you look after people's wellbeing?
Montgomery also urges job seekers to ask questions from the current and even the former employees of the company. You can search for employees and contact them directly on LinkedIn, for example.
Employee experiences can also be found on Glassdoor, an online service dedicated to this purpose. However, Montgomery warns that some reviews can be biased if the reviewer harbours bitter feelings towards their former employer.
As a general rule, you should always take what other people say with a pinch of salt.
“If an employee has previously worked in a highly hierarchical culture, they may find their workplace quite unconstrained. But someone else may feel that the same place is extremely restrictive. There is no one, absolute truth.”
Montgomery also reminds us of our superpower.
“You should listen to your intuition. It's not always magically right, but if it warns you about something, you should stop and think about why that is.”