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International Talent: How to find a great job in the Helsinki area

Your Future Career Path podcast series is developed by Haaga-Helia’s Careers team. We aim to help students and other talents to open the doors to future careers.


Timo Lampikoski

suhdepäällikkö, ura- ja opinto-ohjaus
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Eszter Kiss

koordinaattori, ura- ja opinto-ohjaus
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 24.02.2023

Listen to the podcast International Talent: How to Find a Great job in Helsinki Area and discover how to can land a job in the capitol region. This episode is part of the series Your Future Career Path by Haaga-Helia’s Careers team.

In this episode Timo Lampikoski and Estzer Kiss from the Careers team immerse themselves in this very important topic. The Careers team offers career and recruiting services to students.



Interviewer 1 [00:00:05]: Welcome to the podcast in our series: your future career path. I am Timo Lampikoski from Haaga-Helia’s careers team. I help students open doors to their future careers. That is, I offer them career counseling in different ways. Today with me is my colleague and member of careers team: Eszter Kiss. She offers career counseling to international students and is our representative in Talent Helsinki project. Hi, Ester, how are you?

Speaker 1 [00:00:31]: Hey, Timo. Thank you for the question. I’m actually quite excited because this is my very first podcast personally, and also our first podcast here at Haaga-Helia in English for our students, so I think this is a great dat.

Interviewer 1 [00:00:47]: Yeah, likewise. Today we’ll discuss how international talent can land a job in Helsinki area. Eszter, in your estimate, how is the job market in capital region for international talents?

Speaker 1 [00:01:01]: Well, it really depends on the background and the needs of the person. In general I would say that the job market is not easy to get into. It takes a lot of work and preparation to get a good relevant position, but if the dedication and the effort is there, sooner or later opportunities arise too.

Interviewer 1 [00:01:18]: Yes, absolutely. So, where to start looking for a job?

Speaker 1 [00:01:23]: There are plenty of places to look for jobs, but at the same time it is good to know that only 30 percent of the jobs are advertised. The remaining 70 percent are so-called hidden jobs. But if we talk about finding the first 30 percent, there are recruiting portals, for example, oikotie, monster, duunitori, and then there is TE office who also has post job portals and services to support employment. Then if it comes to specific places for internationals, there are and, which are websites dedicated for international job seekers. And then for students, almost every higher education institute in the capital region has job teaser.

Interviewer 1 [00:02:09]: Yeah. That is really so. Eszter, can I ask you, are there a great number of jobs like portals like

Speaker 1 [00:02:19]: Well, yes. I think there are great number of jobs, but I think it depends also a tiny bit what is the actual background of the person who is looking for a position. There are a lot of jobs, but they are very versatile and what kind of profile people they are looking for, but I’m sure that almost everyone can find something for themselves.

Interviewer 1 [00:02:42]: Okay. That’s good news.

Speaker 1 [00:02:45]: Yes. And then in case of applying to jobs via job portals, then I will still advise to learn to write a good CV and application letter from professionals because writing a CV based on friend’s help and the instructions on the internet usually result semi-good or bad CVs in my experience, which can decrease the chance of getting an interview.

Interviewer 1 [00:03:08]: Yeah, I agree. You see so many semi-good or even bad CVs if you just google for a CV or resume template, for example.

Speaker 1 [00:03:19]: Yeah, exactly.

Interviewer 1 [00:03:20]: They are usually not so useful. You say that about 70 percent of jobs are in the hidden job market. I do agree with you.

Speaker 1 [00:03:33]: Timo, do you have any thoughts about how to tap into the hidden job market?

Interviewer 1 [00:03:38]: Yeah, I do. You should start with networking all events where you participate. For example, contact forum at messukeskus and duuninet by our careers team at Haaga-Helia. And these are usually in January, which is actually the best place to look for summer jobs, at least in Helsinki area. Then network actively on LinkedIn, send connection requests, and start conversations with new people in your network. Do join LinkedIn and Facebook groups in your industry. And you can also join job searching groups, as some of the jobs ads are posted in these groups at first. And please contact recruiters and decision makers directly. For example, by first networking with them on LinkedIn. And this is actually a tip they say the professional recruiters when I discuss with them, they really say that please you can contact us directly, phone us, email us, send a direct message on LinkedIn, even text message, WhatsApp message, whatever. So, you can use multiple channels to reach them. And actually what they always advise, they say that always phone recruiters if possible. And during the discussion you can ask for an interview, whether it’s on Teams or Zoom or even a live interview.

Speaker 1 [00:05:08]: This is very important thing that you are mentioning, Timo, because I think actually in different countries this work in a different way. For example, from my country where I’m coming from, it would be very weird to call the recruiter. It would consider to be bothering, while in Finland it is very recommended and it actually is a way to stand out. So, it’s really good to know about it.

Interviewer 1 [00:05:33]: Yeah, so it’s a sort of different recruiting market in Hungary than in Finland.

Speaker 1 [00:05:38]: Yes, exactly.

Interviewer 1 [00:05:43]: That’s good to know. And my final tip maybe at this point is that you really should prepare four to five questions before the phone call. Really start introducing yourself, prepare a small pitch like 30 seconds, and then do ask these questions and have a discussion with the recruiter.

Interviewer 2 [00:06:09]: Great.

Interviewer 1 [00:06:12]: And I also recommend attending the recruiting events. Pretty much every university in Helsinki area arranges them. What do you think, are there good opportunities for international talents, Eszter?

Speaker 1 [00:06:26]: If I come back to my thoughts about the good quality application, then CV clinics, individual counseling, job application workshops are something that are really widely offered in the capital region. Haaga-Helia has its own career services where we are coming from, and then we both offer individual career counseling for the students. And we also have a course called ’employment in Finland’ to teach all the details of starting to career in Finland. This is dedicated mostly for internationals, but I do think the content is very valuable for Finnish students. And then all the higher education institutions have their own CV clinics and then there were NGOs, for example, [?? 00:07:18] integration or familiar [?? 00:07:20] also organizes various groups in the topic, like how to find a job here in Finland. And then international house Helsinki has an individual career coaching session or CV clinic also for students. And then of course there are Espoo, Vantaa, and Helsinki city who are also organizing various events and programs to support job seekers. There are mentor programs like entry point in Espoo or their career club. Helsinki city has, for example, the [?? 00:07:51] program. And then Vantaa will have talent hackathon and then also a work life skills training this spring.

Interviewer 1 [00:07:59]: There are so many services for international talents. That’s great to hear. I must emphasize our job teaser service. We obviously have discussed job teaser couple times before. And our students can find on our job teaser announcements of recruiting events, such as live events and webinars. And we have this career advice section where the students can find tools for job searching and career planning, such as resume templates, cover letter templates, videos, podcast, and tests. And we do have a great number of good resources in English, too.

Speaker 1 [00:08:42]: And what kind of positions there are on job teaser?

Interviewer 1 [00:08:45]: Well, work placements, summer jobs, part time, a great variety of different jobs for our students. And luckily a great number of positions that do not require Finnish language or at least fluent Finnish language. And as we discussed, a great number of other universities in Helsinki use job teaser too. So, each of this university have common platform and this tailor made customized platform. So, it’s a combination of these two.

Speaker 1 [00:09:28]: We are talking about so many things now which I think is great, and I hope that it’s useful also for our listeners, but maybe it’s good to clear a tiny bit the service route and the service path that people can take. So, we are from Haaga-Helia and if we talk about international students, to support their employment or finding summer jobs or work placements, it’s usually the school’s responsibility first and foremost to support these students with their career, but for those for example who don’t study at the higher education institution now in Finland or already graduated, then it becomes the municipality’s responsibility, and then like we mentioned there are a lot of opportunities offered by the cities or NGOs, as well.

Interviewer 1 [00:10:20]: Yeah, that’s great. Eszter, you have experience yourself in job searching in Finland, so please tell me more about that.

Speaker 1 [00:10:32]: Well, it was not as easy as I though first when I arrived. And that was also a big motivation for me to take this career counseling job here at Haaga-Helia because I felt that I have so many experience on my own that I would be happy to share it with our students, as well. I arrived to Finland two years ago because my partner is Finnish, which also meant that I didn’t have a job when I came. And I think my very first advice here would be that don’t listen to the international community of Facebook groups, even though this might sound a bit harsh, because for me it was really discouraging to see how many people are desperate and frustrated about the job finding situation here in Finland. And while their frustration is completely understandable, I was frustrated too, I think it doesn’t help to find motivation to apply for jobs.

Interviewer 1 [00:11:36]: Yeah, it’s true that good feelings but also feelings. Good and bad ideas they spread like wildfire.

Speaker 1 [00:11:43]: Yes, exactly. And I think my biggest challenge was to find the courage and the belief that yes, it is possible to find a job here in Finland without Finnish language and without experience. I think finding this motivation that dare to apply and dare to try is the very first step that one should take. Then if we move on, my second advice is that learn the language as early and as thoroughly as possible. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, but there are several courses offered by the municipalities and the schools which are very affordable.

Interviewer 1 [00:12:23]: Even if Hungary and Finnish are relative languages, so they are the shared roots, so you still found that it was not so easy?

Speaker 1 [00:12:33]: Yes, exactly. Hungarian and Finnish are coming from the same language root, but our languages got separated 4000 years ago, so if you think about how different you speak the language with your grandfather already, for example, you can understand that if that’s the language development in 50 years let’s say, then in 4000 years it is a completely different story.

Interviewer 1 [00:12:59]: Yeah, I hear you.

Speaker 1 [00:13:02]: I started to learn the language two days after I moved to Finland because I knew that the language will be the key to my integration here. So, I learned quite intensely for two years, and now I am about on a B1 level, which is not enough to work in Finnish, but it is enough to get a chance from employers and that was also my case when I applied to Haaga-Helia. I didn’t and I still could not work in Finnish, but I do speak and understand some, and that was enough to get the position.

Interviewer 1 [00:13:39]: Yeah, and our team language is English, but I noticed that we speak more and more Finnish. At times it’s Finglish.

Speaker 1 [00:13:48]: Yeah, exactly.

Interviewer 1 [00:13:50]: Careers team language.

Speaker 1 [00:13:54]: And the third advice that I could give that be very, very proactive and take all opportunities possible because I think Finland somehow the culture is that no one asks you if you are doing alright, but if you ask for help then there are many hands to take. And then I also did a four months unpaid internship when I came to Finland, though I already had years of working experience from home. So, I would also encourage everyone to be open because actually to have some Finnish experience in my CV also helped me to move further along my career. So, I would say that apply, apply, apply, actively look for opportunities, and then take them. There are also several mentor programs, CV clinics that help a lot.

Interviewer 1 [00:14:55]: Okay. Let’s sum up.

Speaker 1 [00:14:59]: Yes. I would say the situation is not easy, but not hopeless either. The most important thing are proactivity, networking, and learning the language. The latter two, networking and learning the language are not immediate solutions, but in the long run they are the best tools that will help one’s employment. I definitely encourage all Haaga-Helia students to start to build their Finnish language skills and network as soon as they start their studies.

Interviewer 1 [00:15:31]: So, what has been the best way for you to learn Finnish? Is it the daily practice or spoken Finnish or what is your tip or tips about learning actually?

Speaker 1 [00:15:45]: Well, I noticed that it’s very individual. For example, I have a friend who finds it really useful to learn songs in Finnish and sing along. And from there she learns a lot of vocabulary. For me it’s very hard to do that way, but we are all different. What worked for me is that I had an intensive course, it was four evenings a week for three hours. So, quite a lot.

Interviewer 1 [00:16:12]: That’s lots of work.

Speaker 1 [00:16:13]: Yeah, it was quite a lot of work, but what it made me is that we repeated the same thing all the time. I sat in this environment a lot. So, basically I didn’t even need to do that much homework at home anymore individually because I was just sitting in the environment itself so much that it really helped me to practice the grammar and the vocabulary quite a lot.

Interviewer 1 [00:16:38]: Yeah. And I guess a Finnish spouse of friend helps a lot too?

Speaker 1 [00:16:42]: Definitely. So, there are also a lot of opportunities in libraries, for example, where one can join to a language speaking group and then just practice Finnish. And again, NGOs are also organizing this kielikahvila. So, that could be also really useful to speak. And maybe the most important thing that don’t be shy to speak, even though it’s not good or grammatically perfect, but to be honest, I would also give this advice with Finnish people who are struggling with English a tiny bit because at the end of the day I think the main thing that we understand each other and we build bridges between us and not about judging each other based on the language.

Interviewer 1 [00:17:32]: Super. So, to sum up, be active, be courageous, be consistent, and you will find your place in Helsinki area. And use your existing network. And of course as you advice, so grow your network, your live and online network, and ask for advice and tips where you could contact or who you could contact in which company or which organization or association. And really tap into the hidden job market. Contact the recruiters and decision makers directly and attend to the recruiting and networking events live and virtual ones. And whenever possible, phone them, the recruiters, so the decision makers, supervisors, and try to schedule a brief zoom or teams meeting with them to start with.

Speaker 1 [00:18:32]: I actually would have still a question. I’m not sure if it’s okay here at the end, but the question is that if one is not sure how to start this networking because many times I think it’s hard to figure out that okay, what to write when I contact the recruiter, or when I call, what would be a good question when I introduce myself on a job fair, what would be a good introduction. Do you have any thoughts about that?

Interviewer 1 [00:18:57]: Yeah, yeah. Excellent question here at the end. Just of course say your name, if you are studying, say what you are studying in, majoring in, minoring in, and then just ask that do you have any vacancies now or in the near future. And the same tips also applies for phone discussions or even LinkedIn direct messaging. So really tell about your studies and, for example, in phone discussion in the beginning you can ask that will you have available vacancies in the near future or in the coming months because if you ask do you have vacancies, so if the person replies no, it’s quite hard to continue discussing with that person, right? But as we are recording this pod, so post Finnish companies and organizations have vacancies or they will have vacancies in the near future.

Speaker 1 [00:20:02]: Great, thanks.

Interviewer 1 [00:20:05]: Thank you, Eszter. Great discussing with you today. Thank you our listener. You can find more tips on the Spotify account and [?? 00:20:13] of Haaga-Helia. Have a good one.

Speaker 1 [00:20:17]: Have a nice day.