The recent COVID Pandemic has accelerated the use of digital tools in recruitment [Duunitori study, pg. 17]. Compared to just a few years ago, most of the recruitment processes and first interviews are nowadays done virtually. Social media tools, especially LinkedIn, have become the main channels for companies to connect with potential candidates, and for job seekers to find vacancies.

This online approach has left job seekers wondering how to approach a recruiter virtually, especially when an international talent faces unwritten social rules in an unfamiliar cultural environment. What is considered acceptable in Finland when connecting with potential employers? And furthermore, how to stand out from the other applicants in the eyes of a recruiter?

This issue was the main theme of a recent panel discussion at the Attract the best talents event, where companies and public organizations laid bare how they successfully recruit, onboard, and retain international talents. The panel experts were Hanna Kontinen, Head of Talent & Culture at Brella Ltd; Roger Carulla Bové, Manager Product Foundation at Trimble Inc; Mari Taverne, Director of Talent Attraction and Migration at the City of Tampere; and Jonathon Murphy, Talent Advisor at International House Turku. The event was moderated by Natalia Mufutau.

The panelists discussed and shared their recruitment processes and experiences of interacting with the applicants, and a result a short guide with relevant tips was developed. The tips are generally useful for all job seekers, but are particularly relevant for the international job seekers in Finland:

Demonstrate motivation.
The 3D rule: Do (your) Due Diligence: To stand out from the mass, you need a unique selling point for the recruiters. Familiarize yourself with products or services and the company’s mission and values. You can use the information in the cover letter by telling how you can add value to the company and why you are the best person for the position.

Be concise and straight to the point.
Recruiters do not have much time, same as hiring managers.  You can contact them in a polite, short, and straight-to-the-point message online (LinkedIn, and emails are the most used channels). Usually, in Finland, the job application contains a contact where one can ask more about the vacancy. Contacting the recruiter before sending an application may also be a good way, but you need to be prepared to ask relevant questions and engage the recruiter. Yes, they know if you are calling just for the sake of it.

Work on your LinkedIn profile
In Finland, LinkedIn has become the main channel for recruiting. The recruiters will check the profiles of the applicants. Here are the most effective points you need to check:

  • Polish your personal summary as it is the first line recruiters will check
  • Make your location visible, as not all roles are remote
  • Ask for recommendations and endorsements from people you have worked with
  • Be present and stay consistent with your LinkedIn presence
  • If you don’t have work experience in the field you are applying to, make clear why you have such an interest (this can be added in the summary section as well)

Consider the style of the CV
Every country and every industry has different preferences when it comes to the CV. Colorful graphic design or black and white? With a picture or without a picture? Should I mention family status, hobbies, volunteering etc.? In general, the style of CV in Finland is rather conservative and short (max. 2 pages), but different industries have different preferences, so it is a good idea to spend some time to research. You can also consider CV clinics offered by Universities, International Houses or NGOs.

Cover letter
When you are applying online, remember to always add a cover letter. A cover letter is still the best way to appeal to the recruiter. A good cover letter is simple and concrete, you can include concrete numbers, achievements, feedback from the people you have worked with, etc. Do not repeat what is written in your CV or LinkedIn profile.

Be professional
From the first contact when you are enquiring about the role, during the recruitment process and even if you are rejected—and disappointed—be professional. Avoid negative posts about the company that rejected you on social media channels. Recruiters follow the applicants’ social media activities. Negative postings can turn against you in future applications.

Ask for feedback
It is not game over when you get a notice that you were not selected for the position. You can still contact the recruiter and ask for feedback on how you can improve next time. Returning to the first point shows your motivation, and your CV can stay in the recruiter’s memory.

Be curious and open-minded
You may have been working in a certain role in your country, but you may have to be flexible and look for something new. Think of transferrable skills you have learned from your previous jobs. Can they be turned into your strength to find a new role? Especially if you are planning to change careers, be vocal about what role you would like and ask for support from other professionals in the same role.

Continuous learning
Skills needed in the future are increasingly diverse. While you are job hunting or on the job, learning is never wasted. Try to keep learning something new that interests you to add to your skill set. Especially in Finland, adult continuous education is quite common. Show it on your LinkedIn profile and get noticed by potential employers.

Networking, networking and networking [Finnwards]
If you are located in Finland, you have heard of this before. You can start networking with the recruiters and the employers of the company you are interested in on LinkedIn. Always add why you would like to connect to initiate a conversation. Be proactive but not demanding. And see points 1 & 2.

International Employer of the year 2022

During the event, the Junior Chamber International in Finland also announced the International Employer of the Year 2022 competition winners. Launched in 2021 by JCI United to find the most international employer in the Pirkanmaa area, this competition has now expanded to a national level. The competition gives recognition to the organizations in Finland that have successfully recruited, onboarded, and retained immigrants and international talents. It showcases employer success stories and encourages more organizations to recruit foreigners who play a key role in Finland’s future economic growth.

The winners of the competition were Brella Ltd, Trimble Inc, and The City of Tampere (Director of talent attraction and migration). The awards were given by the president of JCI Finland, Mari Männistö.

The Attract the best talents event was held on 24th of August and was organized by JCI (Junior Chamber International) Finland, DigiMESH project (by Turku University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University and International Working Women of Finland Ry), Turku Business Region and SHIFT Business Festival.

Article by Megumi Hayashi, Business Advisor at Turku Business Region and Lucia Vuillermin, Vice-Chair of International Working Women of Finland.