How have you boosted your professional networks in the past couple of months?
As we embarked into this decade, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra published a compilation of future mega trends (1) stating that the importance of networks and managing them will only continue growing. But how to discover and seize opportunities for networking? This is with no doubt one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter in my work as a career coach for international talents at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
Institutes of higher education boosting networking between businesses and international talents
Networks surely are vital for the integration process of a newcomer entering the Finnish labor market, and the lack of professional networks is perceived as one of the main obstacles to the employment of international talents. This scarcity of networks gives rise to another issue: Employers are struggling to spot the international talents with suitable profiles, while the latter group finds it hard to discover Finnish businesses in their own field (2).
According to a study on cooperation between Finnish institutes of higher education and businesses, issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture (3), the main objective for businesses collaborating with institutes of higher education was recruiting new workforce. Further development of networking opportunities meeting the needs of everyone involved is for sure in demand, and it seems to be a timely objective for us at institutes of higher education.
Perks of tailored recruiting events
We, the SIMHE Metropolia team (4), have the luxury of working with various groups of international talents: both current international degree students, and persons with a higher education degree from abroad seeking to develop their career in Finland. Among these professionals of different fields, the common denominator is their motivation to create networks to local businesses and find their niche in them.
Hence, we decided to organize a recruiting event focusing on businesses interested in the potential of our English-speaking international talents. The event, “Metropolia Match – Boost your Business” took place in early March and successfully united businesses with high-skilled talents.
According to their feedback, the participating companies were pleased to attend an event tailored specifically for English speakers, and thanked the attending international talents for being well prepared and genuinely interested in hearing more about the businesses. For example, the recruiting company Digipool (5) not only discovered several interesting profiles for their clients, in line with the common procedure for recruiting companies, but also hired a recruitment consultant and a marketing specialist straight from the event to boost their own business.
We are looking forward to the next round, as soon as gatherings of people are possible again. Next time perhaps with an increasing amount of businesses tapping the potential of our international talents!
Networking events instead of recruiting events
Events are great opportunities for brushing up on your networking and self-presentation skills and hence being less nervous when you have a chance to impress a potential employer at a job interview. Thus no need to be disappointed, if a visit at a career fair did not lead into a direct job offer yet, since you probably made new connections anyway. Due to this reason, it would actually make more sense to talk about networking events instead of recruiting events.
Besides forging new connections at events, there are other benefits likely to arise. Perhaps you could receive valuable feedback on your CV or LinkedIn profile by a recruiting professional, or learnt more about the skills needed by an interesting company, and then used this knowledge for the most brilliant job application they are about to receive. Talk about perks!
Growing your professional networks online
And yes – due to the exceptional situation we are currently facing, lots of upcoming events have been cancelled. It is thus the ideal timing to fix up your LinkedIn profile and see what kind of opportunities for networking are available there, for example groups and channels in your professional field. This is also the prime time to keep an eye on emerging virtual platforms, such as the Find a job in Finland Meetup (6). Or maybe you will come up with a new online-based solution for networking?
Other steps taken to create new networking opportunities
What kind of a role can Finnish institutes of higher education, such as universities of applied sciences, have in facilitating networking among international talents and local businesses seeking for talented workforce, apart from organizing networking events?
According to the study on cooperation between Finnish institutes of higher education and businesses (3), one key issue mentioned by the businesses was that institutes of higher education do not seem to be sufficiently informed on the actual needs of businesses. To address this issue, we at SIMHE Metropolia (4) aim at acknowledging the skills needs of companies as the first step in the collaboration process.
For example, our current project SIMHE path (7) strives for matching the skills needs of participating businesses operating in the field of ICT with the skills of the project participants. The latter group consists of persons with a higher education degree in the field of ICT completed abroad, often supplemented by even years of work experience in their field, yet lacking sufficient networks for finding employment in Finland.
Matching the profiles of international talents with the skills needs of businesses
To tackle the challenge of international talents lacking both networks and information concerning the skills needs of their professional field in Finland (2), we first mapped the skills needs of the ICT companies taking part in the SIMHE path project. This information was then utilized in order to match the companies with the participants’ skills. If needed, the participants have an opportunity to supplement their skills by taking online courses in the field of ICT, to even better correspond with the expectations of potential employers.
Considering that “What are the top skills in my field that employers based in Finland are looking for?” is one of the top questions asked by the international talents at our career counselling and guidance services, this kind of opportunities are desirable. The SIMHE path project also showcases the plurality of ways for an institute of higher education to facilitate networking between businesses and international talents.
If you have ideas on what kind of further networking opportunities would be interesting to you, we are all ears!
Would you like to utilize the extra hours at home by getting feedback on your CV or LinkedIn profile, or by discussing possible ways of developing your skills? You can book a free career counselling and guidance appointment by sending an email to , and chat with us on Skype!
Interested in reading more about the experiences of a previous SIMHE path participant? This blog describes the path of Shaki, our participant in the 2019 intake to SIMHE path (8).
Emilia Deseille, career coach and employer relations specialist at SIMHE services, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
1) The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra 2020. Megatrendit 2020. Viewed on 6 April 2020.
2) Ministry of Education and Culture 2019. Kansainvälisten korkeakouluopiskelijoiden maahantulo ja integroituminen sujuvaksi yhteistyöllä. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2019:31. Published on 16 September 2019.
3) Crazytown 2019. Korkeakoulujen työelämäyhteistyön tilannekuva (PDF). Published on 1 February 2019.
4) SIMHE – Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland. Viewed on 6 April 2020.
5) Digipool – Helping businesses in their digital growth. Viewed on 6 April 2020.
6) Meetup: Find a job in Finland – peer-2-peer and recruiter insights. Viewed on 19 March 2020.
7) SIMHE path: From Recognizing and Supplementing Competences to Employment. Viewed on 19 March 2020.
8) Metropolia blogs. Various Variables. SIMHE path connecting Finnish employers and international talents. Published on 3 February 2020.