Finland - why work abroad?

Country: Finland
Official languages: Finnish, Swedish
Government: Presidential republic
Population: 5.4 million
Capital: Helsinki
Currency: euro (EUR)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +358
Internet code: .fi/.ax

Why this country?

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.

Looking for work?

Jobs are posted on the website of the labour administration, on private jobsites and in news-papers. The EURES portal has links to all of these

Tips for job applications?

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.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

No, but in some cases it is possible.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

No, handwritten applications are not used at all.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

It is rarely used in national applications, but for international applications it may be used.

Making contact by phone

Some employers expect applicants to contact them by phone or e-mail to ask for further details before sending the application. They see the contact as an expression of interest. However, other employers do not have time to answer calls or e-mails and do not expect the jobseekers to make contact.

If you do call, prepare beforehand. Think carefully why you are applying for the position and why you should be chosen. Speak clearly and try to be relaxed.

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

Enclose copies of your diplomas only if stated in the job advertisement. Take original diplomas to the interview, as the employer may want to scrutinise them.

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

You should mention in your application or your CV the names of a couple of referees the employer can contact. Make sure in advance that these referees are willing to recommend you, as references are usually requested. Some employers ask the applicants to enclose copies of any letters of recommendation in the application. Bring these to the interview, as many employers are interested in studying them closely.

It is usually mentioned in the advertisement if you need to prove that you have no criminal record. Only successful candidates will need to do this.

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

It varies, although the period is usually longer in the case of international recruitment.

Preparing for the interview

One of the first questions the employer asks is your motivation: why you are applying for this job and why you should be chosen. Be prepared to clearly explain your motivation and make a list of your professional and personal strengths.

To make a good impression, visit the company’s website before the interview to make sure you know the basic facts about the company.

Dress-code tips

Dress neatly and appropriately. Normally smart casual is enough. However, in the business world, men tend to wear a suit. Wear simple jewellery in order to give a good, clean-cut appearance.

Who will be there?

It is normal that at least two people from the company will be at the interview.

Do we shake hands?

Yes, shake hands with everyone present.

Is there a typical interview structure?

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.

When is a question out of bounds?

The non-discrimination act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age, ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religious affiliation, political allegiance, state of health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. The applicant does not need to answer questions dealing with his/her religious or political persuasion, illnesses, pregnancy, family planning or trade union activities. Employers can make precise enquires about health if a good physical condition is vital in order to carry out the required duties of the job.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

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.

Is a trial period likely?

A trial period is usual, but not in all positions.

How long is the standard probationary period?

The probationary period normally lasts no longer than 4 months.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

Probably not, but for some positions it might be negotiable.

When will I hear the result?

Normally at the end of the interview the employer tells you when you can expect to get the results/follow-up.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

If you are not asked for an interview, you can contact the employer approximately 2 weeks after the application deadline.

Following an interview, if the employer does not contact you after 1 or 2 weeks, you can enquire about the results by phone or e-mail. If you are not selected, you can contact the employer and ask for feedback about your interview and application.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Punctuality is the norm in Finland, both for the candidate and the employer.

last modification: 2014-09-04
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