Whether you are a foreign student finishing up with your studies or a recently relocated spouse, you find yourself at a challenging point at your career. Where do you start from?
When relocating to a new country, we are all faced by new challenges. The ups and downs in the new living environment and cultural differences may be challenging. Take your time to adopt the new culture, language, and get acquainted with the local employment market. This all might seem overwhelming, but it is important to keep positive and remember that “With new challenges, come new opportunities”.
I moved to Finland a few years ago. I came to study but pretty soon I also started look for a job to support myself and to start my career. I’d like to share my personal experience as a foreign job seeker as well as some tips I got from peers, colleagues and clients. Here I have gathered helpful 5 tips when starting to plan your career path:
1. Discover your passion
The first step is to find out what you really like to do. You can start discovering your passion by thinking about what you enjoy doing the most. There are plenty of job opportunities for everyone with different interests and ambitions. Therefore, it is necessary to understand, what is it, that you would genuinely like to pursue. Discovering your passion can help you to focus on which field or sector you could to work at.
I studied BBA. Business Management in Laurea University of applied sciences. With every new course that I took, there was a whole new career path building in my head. One day I wanted to do finance, and the another I was sure I would like to work in marketing. My head was full ideas, in fact, too many ideas that made me lose my focus. The path got smoother when I joined a mentoring program organized by Helsinki Chamber of commerce. During the mentoring, I met with my mentor once a month and started talking about what I want to do and in what position or company I would like to work. This helped me a lot to discover my passion and to find out what I am interested in.
2. Recognize your skills
When you start planning your career, you might encounter hundreds of open positions which require different skills than yours, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of open positions out there that match your skills. But what are your skills? To find the job that suits you best, you need to make sure your skills match the job requirements. In addition, you could consider the skills that you can potentially improve by working in that position. To start recognizing your talent, take a moment and ask yourself, what are my biggest strengths? Your core skills can be for example, some subjects from your university courses, language skills, using different ICT programs, or more hard skills such painting or playing a music instrument.
When I started my career planning, I came across interesting positions in different companies, but my skills were not always matching the vacancy. That is when I realized, first, I should recognize my competences and start my career planning based on that. Being in the start of my career and coming from immigrant background added to this challenge even more. It took me a while to figure out my strengths. I decided to focus on my unique language skills, communication skills and even a totally different approach when it comes to problem solving.
3. Get acquainted with different employment options
There are different employment options based on the time, location and the tasks. The employment can vary from full-time to part-time, remote work or onsite at the premises, it can be standard office hours (9-17), shift based or routine (day or night) employment. It is also wise to consider the length of the employment and contemplate whether you would like to have a permanent or temporary contract. For instance, a full-time job can easily occupy up to half of your day. In addition, you need to consider the commute and all the other necessary preparations. Thus, I recommend that you consider an employment that can match your personal lifestyle and to keep an open mind for every opportunity out there.
As I needed to finance my living during my studies, I was looking for an employment type that can be flexible and matches my schedule. I started working in a hotel restaurant through a staff outsourcing agency, which gave me the possibility to choose my working shifts and build my own schedule. Later, after my studies, I had a more open schedule and I started applying for full-time job.
4. Find the local recruitment channels
Like every other country, Finland has a unique way of working culture and searching for a job. The internet and digitalization have immensely influenced how we look for vacant positions today. In Finland, there are different digital and social media channels where you can look for vacant positions. Some examples include the employment office website, LinkedIn, and staffing companies’ career portals. In addition, you can participate in job seeking seminars and fairs, to meet company representatives and learn about the company’s culture.
I participated in several career fairs when I was looking for employment. These career fairs were extremely helpful. This experience taught me how to approach a company or a person in the first place. The career fairs, helped me to get to know different companies, learn about their culture and how to start writing my first email to them. For example, during the fairs, I directly approached the companies and started to talk to their repressive about the company culture, future development and even possible career opportunities. At the end of each conversation I always asked for their business card to maybe add that person on LinkedIn or send an email along with my CV and application letter. In this way, when you send an email to the person you meet in the fair, they already have a picture of you in their mind. I found it very interesting and easy that in comparison to other countries, in Finland the communication and emailing doesn’t necessarily need to be very formal. For example, you call you colleague/boss with their first name.
5. Network, network, network
The word “Networking” may be associated with intensive effort in communication and exchanging information. Networking can be much easier than it sounds. You can start networking by talking to your family or friends and telling them about your ideas and passion. Talking about your interests and goals can help you to shape your thoughts and discover new opportunities. A good next step could be to join social media groups with like-minded people and read about their ideas and hear their stories.
As I started my career planning, I realized the importance of networking. It was in fact very helpful to share my ideas with the people around me and hear their feedback. I started by talking to my friends about the jobs I am interested, and they gave me ideas that I have never thought about. Another helpful networking channel for me was LinkedIn. I started following the companies that I am interested in and even started to connect with key professionals from potential employer companies. In this way I had the chance to get to know the company and follow their updates.