3 steps in writing a job application

You've finally found some potential companies you're interested to apply to - those registered in the PRH- Finnish Patent and Registry Office. Note that the company should be registered in trade (kaupparekisteri), tax administration (verohallinnon), value added tax-liability, prepayment- and employer register.

Step 1: Write your cover letter in English

Most private companies in Finland require Finnish or Swedish language proficiency in their job ads because they are obligated to serve in their local language. However, more and more companies in Helsinki and Espoo are becoming more open to the ideas of adopting English as the general work language. The progress is slow but it is getting there.

Even so, recruiters and company owners, who are responsible for the recruitment process, are able to read cover letters written in English. This makes it more advisable to write the application in English rather than ask someone else to write it in Finnish. You can always add your Finnish and other language competencies in your cover letter. People often say that job hunting in Finland is can be quite challenging without connections and the right networks.

Step 2: Write a short and direct cover letter

A cover letter is a one-page document you usually submit in your job application, along with your CV. It aims to sell your skills to the employer and the specific job you are applying to. Make it compelling and engaging enough that the recruiter would want to review your CV, or even call you for an interview.  

Most companies in Finland are more casual than formal, which is why the cover letter can be written directly in the email rather than an attached form. This way, the recruiting manager will be able to see the information directly in the email rather than opening a separate PDF file.

The cover letter should be short and direct to the point. There could be hundreds of applicants for the job so no beating around the bush. Tell them why should they hire you, what makes you stand out, maybe despite being a foreigner who doesn't speak Finnish.

Are you located near their office? If the company is in Vantaa, chances are, the company will hire someone who lives in Vantaa rather than someone who lives elsewhere, especially if the company you are applying to is a local SME (small medium enterprise).

Does your skill match their requirements? Every worker in Finland has to pass a 3-year vocational school degree to become a cleaner, restaurant worker, construction worker or a caregiver. During the studies, students have to go through a three-six month training period to companies with no salary or a salary below the minimal requirements before passing their degree.

Why? 90% of companies in Finland are SME with less than 10 employees. Hiring an incompetent employee who needs training takes longer time and more effort for the entrepreneur. Finland is also heavily regulated in taxes, insurances, health, and other employment benefits that require the companies to comply. Failing to adhere with all the regulations and the minimum policies of the trade unions is expensive and risky for the SME business. This is why most companies will hire new employees for part-time work with consideration of full-time employment or enter for a trainership programme through TE-office or educational institutions before considering full employment.

Step 3: Fill your CV with detailed information

The CV should give a current and detailed description about your work, education, skills, hobbies, competences, and possible references with their contact information. A job title is not enough, so instead, describe thoroughly but briefly your work experiences , what you've done and achieved during the work period.

Include companies that are relevant to your job application and the career advancements you have accomplished. If you have work experience in an international work environment, add its website. Avoid mentioning multiple short-term jobs that lasted less than two years. If you do mention them, explain why you have worked in a short-term basis. The trial period in Finland lasts four-six months, which makes sense why companies are more interested in hiring an employee who is committed for the long-term period.

Leave out details about your personal life eg. family and children, age, status of being married or being single, status of gender. If you have a long and difficult name, put a nickname so it will be easier for the recruiter to contact you. Finnish people will pronounce your name on how it is written.

Remember, if the employer owns an SME, they are often more reachable than large enterprises. So after sending the application, wait a couple of days and then call the recruiter and politely ask how about your application.

Looking for a job? Read 3 steps to find a job.

Mae N.