Services for Job Seekers
Services for Job Seekers
Info for Foreigners
Permits and other Information
A non-EU citizen usually needs a work permit to obtain employment in Finland. More information is available at the websites of the Ministry of Labor and the Directorate of Immigration
For information about getting your foreign qualifications recognized, see the National Board of Education site.
For more information in general, such as about learning Finnish, see Infopankki.
When You Can't Speak Finnish Properly
Even though English is widely understood in Finland, some employers may be hesitant to hire people who don't speak Finnish (or in some cases Swedish), as it would mean that everyone else in the office would need to switch languages. Another obvious disadvantage is that you'd miss all the unofficial communication.
If you encounter problems:
- Apply for jobs where your coworkers are likely to be highly skilled.
- On the other end of the scale, even restaurant workers need to speak Finnish. Ethnic restaurants are an exception, but then you'd have to be able to speak that particular language instead.
- Focus on skills you have that may not be commonly available.
- Look for vacancies at exporters and other firms that deal with foreigners as part of their business.
- Keep an eye out for jobs where your knowledge of your home country would be an asset (training for future expats, etc.).
- Start learning Finnish immediately. For some jobs, even a poor grasp of the language is enough.
Any extra languages are beneficial, but if you can't even speak English well, your options become very limited.
Social standards vary from one country to another. Here are some specifically Finnish features:
- Punctuality is extremely important.
- Small talk is often avoided. Get to the point.
- Employers value initiative. You won't necessarily be shown how to do everything.
- Open chauvinism isn't acceptable. Women expect to be treated equally, and will for example offer to pay for their share of a date. Do, however, be courteous and hold doors open etc. But then again you might hold a door open for a man, too.
- Foreigners are treated with tolerance, and rules are relaxed anyway. You're not going to ruin your reputation by breaking a social norm here or there - it's built up over time.
- People in important positions will often be humble to the point of not even mentioning their title when introducing themselves, and you can usually address your superiors by first name. This doesn't mean they don't expect the appropriate level of respect, though.
- It is not customary to use a person's name unless you're trying to attract his attention or are referring to him. When greeting someone, a simple "Hi" is enough.
- Embracing is rare, nor should you usually perform other gestures, such as touching someone's shoulder while shaking hands. The handshake itself is short and firm.
- Children are usually placed in day care at a young age, allowing both parents a normal job. If one party stays at home, it can also be the father.
- Tipping is not necessary. Good service is expected by default, and waiters/taxi drivers should have a decent base salary. If the service is exceptional, you may want to tip anyway, but no one will be offended if you don't. Rounding the bill up by a small amount to avoid change is not interpreted as an insultingly small tip, but rather as a friendly gesture.
- You should ask permission before lighting a cigarette in the company of others, even in areas where smoking is obviously permitted.
- You're expected to leave your shoes at the door when entering private residences.
- You'll probably be invited to go to a sauna at some point. Don't be nervous about the nudity - no one cares.
You may also want to read this Helsingin Sanomat article on a list of Finnish peculiarities.