SIMHE-Metropolia customers have many characteristics in common yet the need for an individual and personal approach for planning their path in Finland is highly demanded. The most frequently discussed topics, that are almost always in the core of the discussions when it comes to career paths and taking the first steps: how to create a coherent image of yourself as a professional, and how to sell and brand your competences to employers? Also, how does a certain field work in Finland, and which competences are appreciated in the field? How to update and supplement those competences if necessary? I will share some thoughts concerning these topics below.
What are you made of?
Knowing your skills and assets can take you far in today’s working life (1). To create a coherent image of you as an expert in your field, you could start by searching answers e.g. to these questions: What are your interests? Where are you good at? Which are your core skills and competences? What can you do with them? Which are concrete examples of your talents?
It is also beneficial to strive to understand how your competences position you in your field in the Finnish context (2), as different skills might be appreciated, different applications used, or different educational level required. Finding out about the educations in your field gives you an image of the skills set that is valued and offered by the Finnish degrees. To perform a detailed comparison between your skills acquired in e.g. a degree in higher education and the Finnish counterpart, have a look at the curricula open for all at the websites of the higher education institutions.
Do you know your field of expertise in Finland?
It is important to understand the characteristics of the field you aim to, as fields can be different between countries. There are multiple ways to access information, but one could be through the organizations functioning in your field in Finland. You can get information e.g. about the different companies operating in your field. Another good way to get information is to go through the open job vacancies ads, as they give you information of what the employers are looking for. Remember, that you don’t have to tick every box to apply.
Different mentoring programmes exist to give you an opportunity to connect with an expert from your own field to add to your field-specific knowledge, but also the opportunity to find out more e.g. about the practices for applying for a job and contacting interesting employers with an open application. Overall, networking is a key skill in today’s working life.
Where can you update your skills set?
At the moment, the pressure to continuous self-development and learning is strong in Finland, as job descriptions are more and more complex and multidisciplinary (1). This applies to everyone, not only immigrants. After mapping your competences, comparing them with the competences gained through the local degrees, and familiarizing yourself with the competences the working life requires, it might be easier to understand what kind of completing of your skills could benefit you.
Options to build up your expertise could be e.g. open university/university of applied sciences studies, different educational opportunities offered by the TE-office or degree studies in an educational institution. Supplementary studies do not only increase your expertise, but also help you build up your networks and knowledge of your own field. (5.) Preparatory educations for immigrants aiming for studies in higher education can give you an intensive Finnish language learning opportunity.
How to brand and sell yourself?
The ability to brand yourself and to sell your skills is crucial, especially because it might be that the employers do not know what skills your degree completed abroad has given you. Research shows, that the employers find it difficult to comprehend the true skills of the immigrant applicants (3). At the same time, the capacity and potential of immigrants is not in full use (4).
Building your cv towards a skill based cv could help. Instead of focusing only on the formal degrees you have completed, in a skill based cv you focus on outlining the key skills the degree and everything else in your life has given you. The emphasis is in describing how you convert all that learned into practice, with the help of practical examples from your personal history. Don’t forget to add in the results you have gained during your work history. (6)
1 Hakala, L. (2018) Työelämä muuttuu – mitä työelämävalmiuksia tarvitsemme? https://stm.fi/artikkeli/-/asset_publisher/tyoelama-muuttuu-mita-tyoelamavalmiuksia-tarvitsemme-
2 Autero, M. (2018) Osaamisen kartoitus tukee maahanmuuttajan työelämään ohjaamista. In the title Osaamisella ei ole rajoja – Vastuukorkeakoulutoiminta maahanmuuttajien integraation tukena Suomessa. https://www.metropolia.fi/fileadmin/user_upload/TK/Julkaisut/pdf/2018_stenberg_ym_osaamisella_ei_ole_rajoja_TAITO.pdf
3 Hakala, K. & Pesonen, J. (2018) Työnantajien haasteet korkeasti koulutettujen maahanmuuttajien työllistämisessä. https://unlimited.hamk.fi/ammatillinen-osaaminen-ja-opetus/tyonantajien-haasteet/
4 Uudenmaan liitto. (2019) Helsingin seudun muuttotutkimus: Koulutettujen maahanmuuttajien osaamista ei hyödynnetä, paitsi huippualoilla. https://www.uudenmaanliitto.fi/uudenmaan_liitto/uutishuone/tiedotteet/helsingin_seudun_muuttotutkimus_koulutettujen_maahanmuuttajien_osaamista_ei_hyodynneta_paitsi_huippualoilla.34372.blog
5 Hiitelä, E. & Kolu, M. (2018) Korkeasti koulutettu maahanmuuttaja matkalla työelämään. https://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/elo/2018/11/29/korkeasti-koulutettu-maahanmuuttaja-matkalla-tyoelamaan/
6 Uusivirta, M. (2019) Pelkkä töiden listaus ei enää riitä – Näin laadit osaamista korostavan cv:n, jonka avulla erotut ja saat työpaikan varmemmin. https://www.hs.fi/ura/art-2000006091980.html