How can a young job seeker stand out in a highly competitive market?

”Some job openings are filled very quickly, so one should not hesitate to apply without delay.

Searching for new jobs once per week is not necessarily enough,” says General Manager Marja Pylkkänen of Monster Oy Finland.

Pylkkänen has an excellent grasp of what companies are looking for in their recruiting. The service is one of the most popular recruitment websites in Finland. Currently, there are around 1.300 open vacancies from all fields on the site. Job seekers can search the site for open vacancies or fill in an electronic Curriculum Vitae.

General Manager Marja Pylkkänen of Monster Oy Finland

The current fiscal situation is especially difficult for young job seekers who do not yet have much work experience. The youth unemployment rate in Finland rose steeply in 2009. It is now declining but according to Statistics Finland, around 15% of 15 to 24-year-olds are still unemployed.

The few jobs that are out there are heavily competed for and job seekers must be faster than in the past.

”In our recruiting we usually start interviewing applicants the moment applications are submitted. Efficiency in job seeking is positive as one must be quick in sales work, for example,” Pylkkänen explains.

Getting a job may depend on small details. The applicant is not necessarily apprised only on the basis of their application or interview. “If a company has a reception desk, recruiters often ask the receptionist for their first impression of the applicant.”

Not all jobs are desirable

There are few jobs on the market today, but according to Pylkkänen, certain positions are still difficult to fill. Positions in financial administration or telemarketing still attract few applications. However, jobs in marketing and customer service are more popular than before, as job seekers with experience and studies from other fields also apply for them. A popular vacancy can attract 300 applications.

How can the best applicants be selected for interviews out of such a huge number? “It is difficult, of course,” Pylkkänen sighs. “Some applications are easily discarded if they do not meet the criteria at all. It is also a fact that your application will probably be discarded no matter how perfect you would be for the position if your writing is not good enough.”

Pylkkänen recommends giving the job application for a friend to read. Another person’s perspective may help weed out typing errors and make the realistic evaluation of the application possible. One should be as honest as possible in their application without exaggerating or being too modest, Pylkkänen emphasizes.

Job seeking, as a matter of fact, does not require perfection. An interview is often an anxious situation for a young applicant, but being anxious is nothing to be afraid of. “I find it nice to notice that the interviewee is slightly nervous, because it indicates that they are genuinely interested in the position.”

It is also not necessary to meet every requirement mentioned in the job advertisement. An exhaustive list of criteria in a job ad may dishearten the applicant. For no reason.

”Finns often don’t apply for a position if they don’t meet one or two of the mentioned criteria. The employers don’t actually assume that the applicants have all the attributes listed in the advertisement. Sometimes it would be downright impossible!”

Pylkkänen also points out that the actual duties of a position are often tailored according to the skills of the person recruited.

”But you shouldn’t apply for a position in foreign trade if you can’t speak English, of course.”

Career launched in telemarketing

When applying for a job it is important to keep in mind what is essential about the position,Pylkkänen reminds job seekers. “If you are applying for a job which will include a lot of telephone conversation, it is absolutely a good idea to call the employer. A good telephone voice is memorable and may be a deciding factor in recruitment. You shouldn’t call if you have nothing to ask, though!” Pylkkänen laughs.

It is also important to consider whether you really want the job you are applying for or not. Many people send the same applications and the same CV to several places and do not necessarily even remember all the positions they have applied for. “It is very embarrassing when an employer calls the job seeker to invite them to an interview and they have no idea which position is in question.”

It may be difficult to find your dream job with high unemployment rates – especially if you have just graduated and do not have a lot of work experience yet. Pylkkänen urges young people to not underestimate telemarketing, for example.
”I personally started at Monster in telemarketing, and ten years later I am now the General Manager. I slowly moved from one position to the next,” she explains.

Pylkkänen sometimes runs into applicants who, on the basis of their studies, think they could be accepted into managerial positions straight after graduation. “One must have experience to work in leadership positions, however. It might be a good idea to apply for positions which feel slightly more modest as well,” she reminds the applicants.

Europass communicates versatility

Talking with Pylkkänen, you get the idea that no one thing is most important in recruitment but all of the applicant’s attributes form a whole from how well the application is written to how they greet a receptionist. Recruitment has its own trends and the current one is versatility.

One possibility to communicate diverse experience is the Europass Curriculum Vitae. On, it is possible to use either a traditional CV or the Europass CV. With the Europass CV one can display social skills and competences and hobbies as well as work experience.

”It is important to mention hobbies in an application as well – it is of interest to the recruiter whether the applicant is a team player or whether they play individual sports. Being a Scout can be beneficial, for example, because it develops social skills.