How to secure a job in a Finnish startup

The Shortcut
Oct 24, 2017 · 6 min read

Here you are, you want to land a job in a Finnish startup but don’t know where to start. Are startup applications different from corporate? How can you get an interview?

Let’s go through it together.

Where to look from: right place, right time

If 70% of job listings are hidden, in a Finnish startup world, it could easily rise up to 85%. Finland is a small country, and its startup ecosystem is even smaller. Thus, everyone knows everyone. No wonder, finding job listings might be confusing and time-consuming. To ease the process, keep your eyes on the job portals and company sites.

The Hub gives a fair listing of startup jobs in Finland and Nordics. Follow them and constantly screen interesting roles or potential workplaces and subscribe to their newsletter. Once you apply for a position at The Hub, you will receive a weekly job digest on roles that interest you.

Right place, right time often means being physically at startups. Attend business conferences, workshops, and events supported by startups of your interest. Get noticed and network. Let them know, you’re interested in the job position. This way, you will not only meet your potential future colleagues but get to know the culture and atmosphere of the company.

Job description

In a startup, you have to do a bit of everything” — they say. That’s why you would often find almost unrealistic job ads with 10 foreign/programming languages, years of experience here and there and more.

Not everyone knows that a job description is a wish list. A company often lists all desired skills under one job ad but doesn’t expect a candidate to have it all. For example, company “X” was looking for two people — a senior and a junior marketing manager. The company published an ad only for a senior manager and managed to fill the role, plus found a junior manager from the applications.

Conclusion: apply for a job even if you don’t have all the listed skills!

Make that call

Often, you’d be able to find a phone number of a contact person in the company in the job description. Make that call! Make it before you apply, ask who exactly they are looking for and introduce yourself, make it personal. By calling, you become a real person, not just an anonymous letter. Later, in the cover letter, it’s worth mentioning that you already had a chat.

One of many beautiful CV templates, find more here.

CV says it all.

CV is still the king of job applications, and although it started to step down to LinkedIn, most of recruiters would expect you to have a CV.

Regarding content

There is no need to load your CV with 1000 words. The quality of the content you put in there matters. A golden rule says: keep your CV up to 1 page. Yes, even if you have 25+ years of experience. Keep it short and relevant. State what you have been doing during the last 5 years, write down your achievements and greatest learning outcomes.

No secret, recruiters love numbers. Show what you have achieved at your previous work in a quantitative manner. Did you increase KPI’s by 25%? Did you build a follower base of 1500 subscribers? Write it down! Quantitative statements are easier to follow and show yourself as a result-driven specialist.

Design!

You might be a finance manager and there’s a chance that you don’t think about design at all and you rightfully ask me: “Why does it even matter if I am an experienced specialist?”

The answer is, that in this digital era design does matter. A simple matter is that you want your CV to be readable and understandable and that from the first 10 seconds we should understand who you are. Second, that’s your chance to stand out!

The good news here: even if you’re uncomfortable with design, many online tools (like canva.com and more here) have ready-made CV templates. No need to learn all Photoshop basics, it’s already there for you to use.

Cover letters. Old-fashioned?

You might think that cover letters are an old-fashioned way to apply for a job, but most of the recruiters still consider a cover letter a crucial point of the application. A cover letter is your elevator pitch.

It’s not about you

Many think that cover letters are a summary of your CV or an explanation why a company should hire you. That’s not going to take you far. A proper cover letter should be an answer to the question: “What can you do for the company and how your skills help you to achieve it?”. A cover letter is always about them.

Cultural fit

Finnish startup culture tends to be informal and flexible. Startup doers are not wearing suits on a daily basis, rather using Steve Jobs’s approach. They care about the result, less of formalities. Thus, check the language style of the company’s website, social media and follow it. Most of the time, it’s informal business-friendly language.

Open application

Although open application sounds quite abstract, don’t underestimate the power of it. Before opening a position, many companies would first screen received open applications in case they have a fit. Find a problem of a company and offer a solution. Sometimes, a company doesn’t know itself how much they need you.

Make it personal.

Be more than “just another application”. Add a personal touch to the application, find a story of why the company matters to you. Find the name of a recruiter and address the letter by that person’s name.

LinkedIn: let’s get professional

Like in many parts of the world, LinkedIn is becoming a must-have in Finland. Very often, you could see that the employer doesn’t ask for a CV but for a LinkedIn.

Virtual CV

Think of a Linkedin profile as of your virtual CV. Keep it updated, polish it and include all possible links to your portfolio. LinkedIn allows you to be interactive with your profile. You can add projects, volunteer experience, skills or references.

Remember, LinkedIn is more than a CV. Be confident to fill in all the relevant information, pay attention to self-description or work experience. In a couple of sentences explain what the company you worked for is doing, what you have done and learned from the experience.

Showcase

Take advantage of all LinkedIn services that might benefit you in your job search. Use the fields of skills and references. Don’t be afraid to ask your former employer or even a university teacher to leave you a reference on LinkedIn.

Another great way to showcase your knowledge is to participate in LinkedIn discussions, share related content and write articles yourself. Show that you are an expert in the field!

Network!

The best part of LinkedIn is that it is still a social media platform, so let it be social! Use LinkedIn as a way to connect with your industry, dream companies and, importantly, recruiters and recruitment agencies. Explore! As a simple trick: you could connect to a potential colleague in your dream company and ask about working life in that company, what’s it like, invite them for a coffee or lunch. Be honest and be open.

by Anna Pogrebniak, social media activator at The Shortcut

The Shortcut is a community driven organisation that promotes diversity as an engine for growth. If you are curious about technology and entrepreneurship, you are welcome to join us.

The Shortcut

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Maria 01

Maria 01

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