Finland has a strong economy with a high GDP and a strong position 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 trade union members. This will cost a fee, though it is tax-deductible.

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 the 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.

New arrivals must also understand that certain foreign qualifications may not be recognised, particularly for some doctors and lawyers. For these cases, further training, as well as language proficiency in Finnish, may be required.

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Finding a job in Finland

When relocating, looking for work may be stressful. Some new arrivals may already have a job secured through a transfer from their company, but for those who don't have employment secured, job portals would be the go-to option to seek employment.

Thanks to its great social welfare system, Finland extends its support to foreigners just as it would to its 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 university course, 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.

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Work culture in Finland

Voted one of the best places to live for work-life balance, Finland's work culture emphasises employee wellness. The workweek in Finland is normally 40 hours, although many sectors allow their staff to work shorter hours. Most workplaces also offer around four weeks of paid holiday leave annually for their employees to enjoy summer. Time management is important in Finnish culture, and employees make sure to produce and complete their tasks in the allocated work time.

Finnish workers typically experience flat hierarchies, and it is quite normal for colleagues to refer to each other by name rather than by title. Business communication is normally quite open, and Finnish employees are generally free to speak their minds. That said, courtesy and politeness are still highly valued. Punctuality is also important both in work culture and in social settings.

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