“Give us a chance, you won’t be disappointed”–how do international experts and companies find each other?

International talents at BusinessAsema

Are you looking for an international expert for your company? It’s easy to employ a skilled worker in the Oulu region, as various sources offer support in recruiting. ‘Additionally, circa 12 000 foreigners live in Oulu, who have the enthusiasm and expertise to offer to local businesses’, says Salla Hirvonen, Project Manager of Oulu Talent Hub.

Flexibility and balance. Among others, these two things come to Moustafa Khair’s mind regarding the Finnish working culture and its best characteristics, which he greatly appreciates.

Moustafa, an Egyptian, moved to Oulu two years ago in January 2021. He completed a Master’s degree in Data Processing Science in just over a year at the Oulu University and specialized in AI.

He already worked for Nokia during his studies and also completed his Pro Gradu thesis with Nokia. After which, he has worked for a number of Finnish companies. At the moment, Moustafa is employed by Dentsu Finland.

– I got my first job six weeks after moving to Finland. But I started looking for work long before coming here. It’s important to research the labor market, and the required qualifications beforehand, says Moustafa.

– Working in the technology industry, not speaking the local language is definitely not the biggest barrier. The more international the company is, the less competence in Finnish is required.

Networking plays an important part in job searching, he admits. He thinks it’s good to know the right people and to hear from them about so-called hidden jobs, because not all job openings are advertised in public searches.

– Looking for jobs within my field was challenging, but a rewarding process. The best thing about work life in Finland is the balance between work and private life. My managers have always made sure I’m not overburdened and that I get to rest enough.

Moustafa, during his studies, also participated in several recruitment fairs and networking events, and he found them to be crucial in helping him find work. These events were arranged by the educational institutes, the City of Oulu, and Oulu Talent Hub, he says.

Moustafa also participated in Oulu Talent Hub’s activities as an ambassador in 2022.
Moustafa also participated in Oulu Talent Hub’s activities as an ambassador in 2022.

“Concerns regarding the spouses’ comfort”

Salla Hirvonen, Project Manager of Oulu Talent Hub (OTH) has noticed in her work that international experts first and foremost wish for transparency from companies in their job opening advertisements. They also wish for more networking events in Oulu, where they could meet with locals.

– Job openings are often advertised in English, but the job may still require perfect Finnish skills. It would be important to state in the job advertisement if the job requires competence in Finnish and the level of competence required, says Salla Hirvonen.

On the other hand, for businesses in Oulu, finding a suitable skilled worker and the lack of language skills are often the biggest challenges in international recruitments. There may not be a common language, or changing the language of business meetings to English might be a big ask for the company, says Salla.

– In addition, companies are also concerned about the comfort of the spouses of international experts in Oulu. Will they be able to find work, friends or study places, and will the family find a suitable school for the children?

– We are constantly developing our services in Oulu and we are attentive to the needs of companies. Around a 100 individual companies have participated in the Oulu Talent Hub activities, and we have offered them, for instance, free-of-charge coaching, mentoring as well as information and recruitment events, Salla mentions.

Nowadays, there is a lot of support available for international recruitments – and they are made easy by focusing on the experts residing within the Oulu region, Salla suggests.

– There are around 12 000 foreigners living in Oulu. They have the enthusiasm, expertise and a great deal more to offer to local companies. The primary message they usually have for local employers is “give us a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Oulu Talent Hub recently compiled a “Welcome to Oulu” brochure for people who have just moved to Oulu or who are planning to move here. The Oulu Talent Hub webpages also contain important information for companies and international experts concerning the different services available in Oulu. www.oulutalenthub.fi

– In the early spring of 2023, we will combine a number of different services under the “International House Oulu” concept. The physical location will be BusinessAsema. Likewise, we are going to publish comprehensive webpages, where both international people and companies can easily find information under one roof.

Learning from the mentoring program

E. Helaakoski Oy is a lifting services company, who believes they will have more international workers in the future. Marketing Manager Iiris Helaakoski says that there is a shortage of vehicle crane drivers at the moment.

– We have recently started thinking about recruiting international experts on a larger scale. Our goal is to find competent crane drivers, and this is one option that we’re looking into, says Iiris Helaakoski.

– We have around 130 employees at the moment. A few of them are international workers. The longest work contract with an international worker has been ten years.

The company has participated in the joint mentoring training arranged by Oulu Talent Hub and Oulun Kauppakamari. According to Iiris, the “Pohjoisen bisneshaltijat” mentoring program has been very helpful for their company.

During the mentoring program, they pondered, for example, on what the path for international recruitment could look like for E. Helaakoski Oy and what practical changes would be required in the organizational culture.

– At the moment all of our workers speak Finnish, but moving forward we’ll have to think about whether we could partially use English as a language of communication. This, of course, depends a great deal on our customers and their demands.

People at BusinessAsema

Support on an international level

  1. Support services for international recruitment have developed at a light speed over the past couple of years in Finland. Last year a so-called fast-track lane was opened for specialists, through which it is possible to get a residence permit in two weeks
  2. Recently a common phone and email consultation service was established for employers, offering low-cost consultations on all international hiring-related issues.
  3. A new service in 2023 will be a mentoring program directed at managers. Business Finland’s Talent funding is being updated to support companies’ competence in international recruitment and in leading an international working community.
  4. In addition, the Työpaikka Suomi -palvelu service for learning the language is still available.

The goal of Oulu Talent Hub was to support the employment of international experts in the companies of the Oulu region, for instance, through company visits, recruitment and information events, as well as job searching workshops. The entities responsible for the project (1.2.2021-31.1.2023) were BusinessOulu, Oulun Kauppakamari, University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and OSAO. The project was funded by the European Social Fund ESF.

You can read more positive career stories from international experts here.