Finland has a strong economy with a high GDP and a strong position both among European economies and as a global player. Finding a job in this economy might be a challenge though, and expats need to be aware of required permits, tax regulations and other issues including recognition of certain foreign qualifications. That said, there certainly are a few gaps in the job market that foreign nationals can exploit.
For an expat to work in Finland, a residence permit is normally required. Exceptions to this include citizens of EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and other foreign nationals with a valid visa or Schengen residence permit. For expats with jobs already secured, the residence permit process is dependent on the type of work. For specific information on the need for and types of work and residence permits, contact the embassy directly.
When working in Finland, expats must have a tax card and follow tax regulations, paying tax on their income both from abroad and in the country. Another aspect of working life in Finland is that most employees are members of a trade union. This will cost a fee, though it is tax-deductible.
New arrivals must also understand that certain foreign qualifications may not be recognised, particularly some doctors and lawyers. For these cases, further training, as well as language proficiency in Finnish, may be required. More on this can be found on the official website of the Finnish National Agency for Education.
To secure employment, expats should understand the job market, how to go about their search as well as how to do business given Finland's work culture.
Job market in Finland
The service sector makes up a substantial portion of the workforce with the government being a significant employer. Jobs can be found across public and private sectors in education, healthcare, hospitality, transport and commerce. Some of these industries have labour shortages, including IT, hospitality, accommodation and catering, which leaves the door open for foreign nationals to secure jobs.
Teaching English as a foreign language in Finland is another popular opportunity as English is in high demand. Expats are likely to find work as freelance teachers, giving lessons to everyone from businesspeople to children at winter camps.
Entrepreneurship is actively promoted and starting a business has been made easier in recent years. As a result, more small and medium-sized businesses have been springing up and are looking internationally for employees.
Finding a job in Finland
When relocating, looking for work may be stressful. Some new arrivals may already have a job secured by a transferral through their company, but for those who don't have employment secured, job portals would be the go-to option to look for work. The European Employment Services website is another place that we can recommend for a job search.
Thanks to its great social welfare system, Finland extends its support to foreigners just as they would to their citizens. Expats are encouraged to be income-generators who help boost the economy and live happier lives in general. New arrivals can easily find support in job searching as well as integrating into their new homes and society.
One major contribution is the opportunity to learn Finnish or Swedish as a free course in universities, whether the expat is formally a student or not. For some large companies and sectors such as IT or teaching English as a foreign language, being able to communicate fluently in Finnish is obviously less important. Unfortunately, the job market is not altogether easy to enter as a foreigner and so learning Finnish will be a great benefit when looking for and securing a job.
On top of language, experience is also important. Recent graduates with little experience may find it harder to secure employment in Finland compared to those with more years of experience.
Work culture in Finland
The workweek in Finland is normally 40 hours, although many sectors allow their staff to work shorter hours. Time management is important in Finnish culture and employees make sure to produce and complete their tasks in the allocated work time.
Business communication is normally quite open, and Finnish employees are generally free to speak their mind. That said, courtesy and politeness are still highly valued. Punctuality is also important both in work culture and in social settings.
►Doing Business in Finland is a useful resource
►Read more about the Lifestyle in Helsinki to understand culture and customs
Are you an expat living in Finland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Finland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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