Heli Väinölä helps young people identify their own skills in online courses for job seekers. She encourages young people to be active and modest in the job search.

“Finding hidden jobs is the great challenge nowadays,” says Heli Väinölä. “Finding an unadvertised job requires a lot of work, but it is estimated that up to seventy per cent of jobs are not advertised.”

Väinölä works as an online tutor for the joBitti organized by TE services. JoBitti offers online job-search information and training for job-seekers under thirty. The whole job search process is covered from planning and finding information to preparing for a job interview. In shorter CV workshops, tutors give participants pointers for polishing their resumes.

Most joBitti participants are aged 20-25, but there are older participants, as well. Some are starting to look for work again after maternity leave. Some have lived abroad, and want tips on finding work in Finland now that they have returned. “I’m delighted at how many people have found us,” Väinölä says.

Väinölä encourages young job seekers to be active. It is difficult to stand out when there are many applicants for open positions and you do not have much work experience yet.

“It can make a big difference if you call the potential employer or take extra care in preparing your CV and application.”

Sell your skills

Uncertainty is a central challenge for a job seeker who is just getting started in the job market. The fledgling job seeker does not trust his or her skills, or does not identify them, and contacting a potential employer directly is a cause for trepidation.

“Support from peers is an important element in our courses. It helps you realize that everyone is anxious about the same things,” explains Väinölä.

Väinölä has noticed that young people often think they have no skills at all. In the courses, participants think about and discuss their skills and know-how together. If they have no previous work experience, they can think about what kinds of skills they have learned in hobbies or other activities.

Even if young job seekers identify their skills, they may play them down. This can be apparent in their job applications. “This is problematic, because a job application should be a marketing letter that the applicant uses to convince the employer of their competence. For many, it is a challenge to sell their skills.”

A good application reflects the applicant’s personality, Väinölä says. It is difficult to stand out if your application is the same as everyone else’s. A typical problem in drawing up an application is repeating information already included in the CV.

The application should elaborate on the facts presented in the CV. From the CV, the recruiter can glean what work experience and education the applicant has. The application should show the recruiter what kinds of skills and know-how the applicant has accrued in work, education and hobbies.

You should back up your skills with evidence. It is better to say that you have received good feedback from customers than just to state that you are good at customer service.

Think before applying

It is essential to tailor your application to the job you are applying for. The employer will notice if you have sent the same application to lots of places, notes Väinölä. A creative application gives you the opportunity to stand out. “Your imagination is the only limit! A client of my colleague’s applied for a job at Fazer, and used a Fazer Blue wrapper as the material for her application. She was hired.”

You can also make a good impression by directly contacting the employer. When Väinölä was applying for her previous job as an employment counsellor, she printed out her application and delivered it personally. “Later on I heard that it made a good impression, as I was the only applicant to have done so.”

Researching the firm you are applying to beforehand helps in planning an application. The first question in a job interview is often “What do you know about us?” remarks Väinölä. If you are well prepared, the anxiety may fade away when you get off to a good start.

Getting to know the employer ahead of time is especially important when you are looking for hidden jobs. You have to have a clear picture of the employer and the kinds of skills they might need for directly contacting the employer or sending open applications to work.

All skills are valuable

JoBitti has received a lot of positive feedback from participants, Väinölä says. Many participants have come to realize how many different facets the job seeking process encompasses. Support from other people in the same situation has been valuable to many participants. “Getting direct feedback from young people and experiencing their excitement is the best thing about my job!”

It is hard to get started in the job market, but Väinölä also encourages young job seekers to be modest. She notes that all available positions should be considered valuable. “You can not be too picky, since all kinds of job experience are valuable.”

“The less experience you have, the younger you are, the humbler you should be in looking for work. No one starts at the top.”

Text: Juha Rudanko