Estonia - why work abroad?

Country: Estonia
Official languages: Estonian
Government: Parliamentary republic
Population: 1.3 million
Capital: Tallinn
Currency: euro (EUR)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +372
Internet code: .ee

Why this country?

Estonia is known for its information technology - Skype was written by two Estonians - and for its medieval capital, Tallinn, coastal resorts, islands, romantic castles, and forest covering over half of its territory. Although their country is commonly described as the smallest of the Baltic states, many Estonians see themselves as Nordic rather than Baltic, since their ethnic and linguistic roots are closer to those of the Finns than to those of the Lithuanians or Latvians.

In late 2011 Estonia had the lowest levels of public debt in the EU. Competition for vacancies is fierce in the country's small labour market, especially for manager-level jobs. Jobs in services, sales and for operators of machinery and equipment had the least number of applicants per vacancy, according to recent figures.

Looking for work?

Common ways to find a job in Estonia are with the help of friends, newspaper advertisements, recruitment companies, Internet portals and the public employment service: the Estonian unem­ployment insurance fund and its labour offices (weblinks on the Links page of the EURES por­tal). Other useful Estonian job search portals include: CV-Online ( and CV Market (

In general, a network of personal contacts is essential to finding a job. If you have a connec­tion that will help you find inside information, use it. Do you know someone who works in a company? Ask if they can help.

And use social media. Become a 'fan' of the company you want to join on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. You'll find information you may not have found otherwise.

Tips for job applications?

In Estonia, it is most common to apply for a job through an online job database. It is advis­able to use an electronic application, and this should be short and specific. Any written appli­cation should be legible, grammatically correct, short and to the point.

In many cases you have to go through more rounds after submitting your CV and appli­cation. These may include a language and a job-suitability test. Finally - if you are suc­cessful - you can expect an invitation to an interview.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

This is entirely up to the applicant and is not obligatory. Around half of applications in Estonia include a photo on the CV.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

No, the covering letter and CV are usually typed and sent electronically.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

The national CV format is preferable.

Making contact by phone

When you prepare a phone call, be sure to have the vacancy, skills list, your CV and a notebook to hand. Find the right contact person - an HR specialist. Show interest in the vacancy and ask where you should send the necessary documents. Be polite, listen, and speak slowly and clearly, giving specific answers and information about references. Be proactive.

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

No, you should bring diplomas and qualification certificates with you to the first interview. Copies are accepted. Present the diploma of your highest qualification only. You do not need to present a diploma older than 10 years if it is not related to the vacancy and the skills required.

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

Candidates should indicate the contact details of two or three referees on their CV. These can include previous employers or contacts from school or university. They should be able to con-firm the relevant contents of the CV and give professional background information about the candidate.

Proof of good conduct is obligatory for public service employees. Some professions need police confirmation of a lack of a criminal record (e.g. drivers with regard to previous traffic offences).

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

One month is the average.

Preparing for the interview

Do sufficient preparatory work before the inter¬view so that you can appear self-assured and focused during the meeting. Take a pen and notebook with you so that you can make notes. Do not take a seat before it is offered. Be self-confident and persuasive - and don’t forget to smile.

Dress-code tips

This depends on the job function. It is advisable to dress in a conventional and comfortable style. Jewellery can be worn.

Who will be there?

Normally the official representative of the employer and personnel specialist(s) will be present, as well as other applicants if a group interview is involved. If you are taking part in a test, expect there to be 2 to 10 candidates. Tests usually take 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Do we shake hands?

A handshake is acceptable as a greeting; remember to wait for the employer to offer the handshake first. Be friendly and open, stand or sit up straight, and speak audibly and clearly, keeping eye contact.

Is there a typical interview structure?

At the beginning of the meeting expect a short warm-up (general questions), followed by specific questions about your personality and motivation. You then give a brief introduction about yourself You may then be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, why you are interested specifically in this vacancy, with questions about education, training and previous employment experience, hobbies, job conditions and salary. You are expected to be frank and friendly, but not too familiar.

Expect questions about duties, job conditions, future colleagues, bonuses, salary and gen­eral information about your previous job, your duties there and your reason for leaving.

Candidates can usually ask for additional infor­mation about the vacancy and the company at the end of the interview

When is a question out of bounds?

Questions about private life (e.g. information about sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy, sickness and financial circumstances) are considered to be strictly private matters.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

Contract negotiations can involve the date you start work, salary and bonuses. The salary may be negotiable, but that depends on the position and company. Pay is generally expressed in monthly terms. Holiday pay is included in the remuneration and regulated according to Estonian law. Yearly bonuses cannot be negotiated separately. The following perks may be offered but are not common: company car, reimbursement of travel expenses, gym or pool membership. In the private sector, these extras can be negotiated. Extra benefits are negotiated with your direct superior.

Is a trial period likely?

No, this is not common practice.

How long is the standard probationary period?

Four months, or 6 months for state/government positions.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

No, this is not likely.

When will I hear the result?

Most (60 %) companies let you know the result of the application procedure sometime in the 2 weeks following the interview. The others (40 %) do not send any feedback.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

The employer may expect you to follow-up yourself. You can ask after the interview when you can expect feedback. If you do not receive any feedback within the promised time, you can call the employer and ask for the results. After the interview you can send an e-mail to thank the employer for the interview - this will show that you are interested and will help the employer to remember you.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Being punctual at the interview is highly rec­ommended. Delay without a valid reason is not permissible. You should arrive a few minutes early; this will show your punctuality and inter­est in the vacant position.

last modification: 2014-09-01
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