Finland appears with striking regularity at or near the top of global rankings for quality of life, education standards and economic competitiveness. The most popular national pastime is taking a sauna, but the Finns are also keen on hosting wacky world championships: for wife carrying, air guitar and mosquito catching, amongst others. Inhabitants can also easily escape to the wilderness, be it forest, lake or one of the country's 180 000 islands.Despite Finland's record for competitiveness, the recent economic uncertainty has put a brake on recruitment. However, there is still demand for skilled workers in the service sector, including nurses, doctors, psychologists and dentists, nursery school and special education teachers, social workers, accountants, sales staff and telemarketers, and cleaners.
Make sure that you fill in the application carefully; if it is not complete, it might not be taken into consideration. The employer is likely to receive hundreds of applications. Try to stand out positively from the rest.
A covering letter should not be longer than one page. Describe briefly why you would be the best candidate. Name one or two referees, and give their contact information; the employer may be interested in calling them (possibly even before an interview) to ask what kind of employee you are. Remember to sign the letter.
The length of the CV should not exceed two A4 sheets.
Before making a spontaneous application, look at the company's website to see what kind of career opportunities you can expect and how the employer usually hires new staff If there is an electronic application form for spontaneous applications, use it. If not, contact the employer by e-mail or phone. If you make the first contact by e-mail, call the company after approximately 1 week and ask whether the people in charge of recruitment have received your application and had time to consider it.
In smaller companies especially, there may not be enough staff to advertise vacancies, handle applications, organise interviews, etc. Therefore, it is worth contacting the employer directly and applying for a post spontaneously.
The employer usually interviews between 3 and 10 candidates. They may make their decision after one interview, or conduct further interviews or aptitude tests.
Greetings are followed by an introduction about the job and the company by the employer. Introduce yourself clearly and look everyone in the eye. Before questions begin, you are normally expected to say something about yourself - why you applied for the job and why you think you should be chosen. At the end of the meeting, you have the opportunity to ask any questions that were not answered.
Interviews are generally relaxed. However, do not be surprised if there are silences, as the interviewers may be taking notes.
During the interview, stay calm and speak clearly. Set out what you have achieved, but try not to be over-confident. It is important that you show interest in the position by being active, listening carefully and asking for clarification if you do not understand what the employer means. However, do not interrupt the interviewer. Above all, be honest and do not criticise former employers.
If you are asked to take a psychological or aptitude test, you can take it as a good sign, as it means that you are among the best candidates. You cannot really prepare for the tests; the best thing is to get a good night's sleep and to be honest. Do not try to pretend to be someone you are not.
It is important for the employer to find out about your professional background and capabilities. However, they also want to know about your personality; your strengths and weaknesses; and how your previous employer would describe you. You may also need to describe how you react to stress and deadlines or how you cope with difficult situations.
In Finland, contracts are based on collective labour agreements. Almost every field has its own labour agreement. However, pay is sometimes negotiable. If it is, this is mentioned in the job advertisement, and candidates are usually asked to indicate their expectations in their application.
Pay is usually expressed in hourly or monthly terms. Holiday pay is based on the statutory requirement. In some fields or enterprises (especially in executive positions), you may negotiate annual bonuses, which are likely to be performance-related.
Extra benefits are very common in Finland and include luncheon vouchers, sports and cultural discount vouchers, and occupational healthcare. In some companies, you may be supplied with a leased car. Some advantages are negotiable. Consult your new superior, who can tell you the right person to negotiate these extra benefits with.