Finland – A Sample of 500 Job Applications

When I first moved to Finland, I was set on finding a job to help support myself while I studied. Ideally I would be working back in an IT position, but it did not matter. Like many, I just needed work.

Landing a job

Finland is a hard place to find work. I’ve known many who spend months on end sending out applications, networking, cold calling offices, and walking straight up to workplaces to ask what jobs are available. Most will turn you away, but as I’ve seen, eventually you will likely get the one “yes” you are looking for.

After six months living in Finland, repairing old bikes to get by, I was determined to land some sort of real work. I had the novel idea of applying for every single job posted on the Finnish Ministry of labour’s job board ( 10,000 positions in all.

I only got around to applying to 1/10th of the original goal as it proved to be an exhausting task. At around 200 applications per 8-hour day, I had spent one full work week on this project.

If it wouldn’t have worked it would have been a colossal waste of time. It worked. I had received four interviews. One was a scam. Two others simply didn’t work out. But with the last one, albeit not in my field, I was working.

The Data

I thought it might be interesting to review the data gathered from the result of the application spree. Below is a pie chart based on a sample of the first half of applications (500):


You’ll see right away that the largest chunk (80.3 %) simply never responded.

This is followed by negative responses at 17.5%. This is not surprising as I had applied to all sorts of jobs regardless of if I was remotely qualified or not. Apart from the automated “You are an excellent candidate, but…” I had others question my skills; asking for example, why I should be considered for a job as a senior explosives engineer.

1.7 % were what I would call positive responses. They were not invitations for work or an interview, but in general encouraging letters. Some simply empathizing with my job search, wishing me luck. Others positively encouraging me to contact them after completion of my degree.

The smallest piece of the pie at 0.4 % were actual job interviews. 2 out of 500.

In the end I did get a job (0.0 %), but not from the first set of 500 applications.

Take this chart however you wish. These were 500 untargeted applications. Many of the applications had little to no chance of being accepted. This is simply the result of applying to anything and everything.

The future

When it comes down to it, there are many strategies you can use to find work. This is what worked for me at the time. I’ve had friends who instead spent their time cold calling offices. When you first arrive to this country, you do whatever works.

The problem is that this approach is only good when you truly don’t care what work you get. When you decide it’s time to find a more career oriented job, your goals will change, your approach will be different.

Best of luck to all job seekers out there!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim K says:

    Just a question for reference. Do you speak good Finnish, or were you applying as an English-speaking-only candidate? This statistic seems rather skewed for someone with good knowledge of the Finnish language, at least according to my experience. Do you have a degree or any work experience in IT? Those things would be important to mention in your overview as well.

    1. Hungry Gizmo says:

      Several degrees and many years of IT work experience. My Finnish on the other hand is not yet quite proficient. Skewed? It’s not meant to be representative of anything but a brief stint of applications. It might show the difficult job market as well. Anecdotally, within a week of staying in the Netherlands I had a job offer in IT. I’ve also been offered work in the Swedish IT sector. The problem? work permits. Having a permit in Finland keeps you working in Finland. Freedom of movement is for citizens and permanent residents. I enjoy Finland, so there is no problem there. But, Finland is an exceptionally hard market to get into compared to its neighbors, even when all your paperwork is in order.

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