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Five job hunting tips for academics seeking careers in Finnish companies

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Last week, forty people gathered in the sunny office of E2 Research for the event, E2 Connect – Navigating career paths in Finnish companies as an international academic. The purpose was to present research results and discuss how international academics could best find their ways into Finnish companies. E2 Research brought together international academics from various disciplines and organisations across Finland, alongside representatives from the business and public sectors, to discuss the matter.

Last week, forty people gathered in the sunny office of E2 Research for the event, E2 Connect – Navigating career paths in Finnish companies as an international academic.

The purpose was to present research results and discuss how international academics could best find their ways into Finnish companies. E2 Research brought together international academics from various disciplines and organisations across Finland, alongside representatives from the business and public sectors, to discuss the matter.

During the event, preliminary results from E2 Research’s Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and the international workforce in Finland (PIKEUS) research project were presented. The project involves interviewing 40 SME managers, with one of the questions focusing on what companies appreciate in their international staff. The interviewees have highlighted the following:

Having personnel from different countries and backgrounds opens up possibilities to expand networks by offering new customer and recruitment opportunities. It also helps businesses aiming to expand abroad. Diversity in the workplace can foster change and improvement by encouraging companies to rethink their methods and perspectives. This change can also help companies build their communities. Several interviewees emphasized that a multicultural work environment brings joy to the workplace. Support and commitment were also frequently mentioned in the interviews. There is an experience of international employees who support the entrepreneur and are likely to verbalise positive things at the workplace. Finally, interviewees highlighted the value of innovativeness; more diversity can lead to a wider range of views and experiences, which can be beneficial when developing something new.

During the event, numerous insights were shared on how international applicants, whether already residing in Finland or planning to move there, can find employment in Finnish companies more easily. From the discussions, five key job-hunting tips emerged:

 

  1. Respect the process and let your motivation shine through. Employers often read small signals when evaluating candidate’s suitability for their organisation. Many employers value candidates that follow their recruitment processes and are punctual. These qualities are (perhaps partly subconsciously) evaluated during all communications in the recruitment process. Employers make assumptions about your motivation based on how well you have familiarised yourself with the company you are applying to. Do you know what they do, what their strengths and challenges are, who works there, and so on? 
     
  2. Help recruiters understand your CV – and find linkages with familiar references. Some of your previous experience may be from abroad. If your former employer is not known to Finnish recruiters, introduce them. All experience from Finland, or anything that links you to the country and shows your networks and cultural understanding, is worth highlighting on your CV.
     
  3. Be realistic and clear about your skills. In Finland, employers value (brutal) honesty regarding skills you possess. Exaggerating your skills can be seen as dishonest, unlike in some cultures where it might be perceived as a sign of confidence or optimism. There are cultural differences in this respect compared to places like the UK or the US.
     
  4. Attend events, talk to people, and ask for help. Meeting people can open up opportunities. At events, ask questions, speak up, and introduce yourself to representatives of employers you are interested in. You can also get information that is not available on websites and leave a lasting impression. Mentoring relationships can also be crucial, so don’t hesitate to ask for help – most people are happy to help.
     
  5. Indicate commitment to life in Finland. Recruiting is costly, so the employers prefer candidates who are likely to stay in Finland. One way to signal commitment is by attempting to learn the language. Even if the job can be done without Finnish language skills, an effort to learn Finnish is a positive sign to many employers. Additionally, consider other ways to demonstrate long-term commitment to Finland, such as family ties, friendships or volunteer commitments etc.

 

While these tips are tailored to support international academics in finding their way into Finnish companies, they are also intended to help a variety of international applicants in Finland.

One of the leading messages from our discussions at the event was that improving diversity within Finnish enterprises and increasing the variety of views and career paths for academics (and non-academics) will require collaboration and flexibility from everyone.

 

E2 Connect – Navigating career paths in Finnish companies as an international academic event was organized on 6thJune 2024 in Helsinki.The event guests were international academics from a variety of fields who live and work in Finland. Research results were presented by PhD Mari K. Niemi, Director at E2 Research and PhD Ville Pitkänen, Research Manager at E2 Research. Results were commented on by Youssef Zad, Chief Economist in the Finnish Startup Community, and Eero Manninen, Senior Advisor in the Technology Industries of Finland. The panel members were Elina Koskela, Vice President of Global Talent Solutions at Barona; Apramey Dube, Senior Research Manager at Cambri; Glenn Gassen, Director of Migration Affairs at the City of Helsinki, and Heidi Lehtovaara, Doctoral Researcher at Tampere University. The panel was moderated by Mari K. Niemi. The event was hosted by Venni Arra, Project Manager at E2 Research and Vilma Niskanen, Specialist at E2 Research.

 

For more information about E2 Research, visit: www.e2.fi/en

For more information on E2 Research’s projects on the themes of 'Work Life & Skill Shortages', visit: www.e2.fi/en/research-themes-projects/work-life-skill-shortages.html

Authors

Mari K. Niemi

Mari K. Niemi

Director (new research openings, research communication and stakeholder relations, internationalisation), Docent, Doctor of Social Sciences

+44 773 7161 944 mari.k.niemi@e2.fi
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Matti Välimäki

Matti Välimäki

Senior Researcher, Doctor of Social Sciences

+35850 5430 191 matti.valimaki@e2.fi
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