Joni Mäkinen is in charge of skill development at Alma Media. Mäkinen encourages employees to be brave and think about why and how they want to develop their skills. "Understanding your skills will help you in future job searches", he says.

At Alma Media, Joni Mäkinen oversees skill development. He encourages employees to be brave and think about ways to improve one’s own skills. According to Mäkinen, identifying and understanding your skills is important when applying for jobs. 

Developing one’s skills is an ability, that anyone can work on and achieve. Nowadays, wanting to develop and improve your skills is desirable in working life. ” I’ve noticed that after finishing school, I’ve had to constantly update my skills based on the company I was working at and the role I had there. Of course, there are many skills that were directly applicable to the job, but the focal points and development needs have changed throughout the years.”

Alma Media is a multichannel media company operating both nationally and internationally, which is best known for Kauppalehti, Talouselämä, Iltalehti and Aamulehti newspapers and magazines. In addition to this, Alma Media manages the job search service Monster and the real-estate service In Finland, the company’s business includes national, regional, and local media, digital services for consumers and companies, and publishing. 

You can always develop your skills

Alma Media has a business-oriented approach to skill development. “It’s important to think about what kind of company Alma Media wants to be, now and in the future. This acts as a common thread, a reasoning behind development and change. Nowadays, skills development has become very versatile, and there are countless ways to develop one’s own competence. Self-improvement has never been this easy.”

Joni Mäkinen also points out that it is not always easy to figure out how to go about developing one’s skills. “Change happens so fast, and constant change is a constant. A continuous sense of urgency might increase panic, but being able to recognize which skills are important for one’s career and job right now and in the near future will bring you peace of mind.”

Mapping out one’s knowledge can be done by taking time to recognize and list one’s own areas of expertise and creating a plan to develop one’s skills. Mäkinen points out, that skill development is no different than preparing for a marathon – both require setting goals and thinking of appropriate ways to reach those goals. At Alma Media, no one has to do this alone.
” When skill development is planned and executed as a group, it’s a much more pleasant experience and more doable for the employees. We set plans and follow up on their execution. We start small and set smaller milestones along the way.”

Skills acquired during your studies are also useful in job searches

In working life, employees have very different and diverse backgrounds, and many aren’t necessarily working in a field that is typical for their degree. “Obviously it’s helpful to have studies that are useful for your job, but it’s more crucial to find your spark towards a field or job. If you really want to do something, you can directly contact the supervisor for that job and ask, what kinds of skills and knowledge should you have, in order to be considered for that specific position.” Mäkinen also encourages students to take diverse courses during their studies: “Interdisciplinary studies and the integration of subjects help you stand out in job searches. They are also a valuable asset when working in diverse teams.” 

Joni Mäkinen also mentions out that one’s studies might be of use in surprising ways. Obviously, a degree is proof that you’re well-read, but that is only the first step in developing your skills. “When you know yourself and your skills, it’s easy to think about what fields those skills are suitable for, and what kinds of jobs you would like to do. It’s up to you – do you want to be a supervisor, a specialist, a consultant or something else?”, he says. 


Being able to express your skills is important in job recruitment 

When applying for a job, showcasing your skills is key. Even though finding the right way to bring up and discuss your skills might be hard, it is a big part of the hiring decision. Mäkinen suggests that you should try linking your skills to your interests. It doesn’t make sense to bring up the same things in both your resume and your application letter. Instead, your application letter should highlight your interest in the position, while linking your own potential to the skills needed for the job. Linking your skills to the requirements on the job listing and bringing that up during the job interview shows the employer that you’ve put in effort. And if you don’t meet all of the requirements on the job listing, be sure to show that you’re willing to learn and capable of adapting your plans. 

It is possible, that after graduation you end up somewhere you wouldn’t have expected to be. For example, Mäkinen says that his current job is something that he wouldn’t have even though about during his studies. “You should think about what you like and what you appreciate, since they will slowly form and idea of the kind of job and work you would like to do.” 

However, it is also important to be kind to yourself, especially due to the pressure created by the need for constant learning. “You should focus on developing those skills, which are important to you, and focus of the bigger picture”, Mäkinen says. He has personally decided to set aside thirty minutes each Friday for self-reflection and skill development. However, skill development can also happen spontaneously, and even when travelling abroad. 

When you gain and develop skills internationally, explaining them to an employer or in your resume may be difficult. The new Europass aims to better support the description and perceptions of one's own competence and skills, which Mäkinen considers to be useful. “Europass has a clear format, which is be a good thing. When recruitment is more data-based, the right skills can stand out better and attention is not paid to irrelevant information. In the initial stages of recruitment, you will stand out you’ve clearly put thought into this ”, he says.