As a jobseeker: identifying competence

Job seeking will be easier if you know your strengths and skills. The constantly changing work life requires us to both maintain and update our own competence – also when looking for a job.

While you do not need to know everything before starting at work, you should find information about the organizations and try to get a general sense of the task you are looking at and what the broader goals of the work are.

Identify your competencies and wishes

When you are looking for a job, you should start with strengthening your self-knowledge. This will also help you with identifying your own competencies.


  • What interests you?
  • What type of work would you like to do?
  • What long-term goals do you have?
  • Also consider your previous work experience, competence, skills and strengths.
  • If you do not have much work experience, consider the competence you have accumulated through your hobbies or, for example, through different positions of responsibility in school, in your community or while volunteering, and other situations in which you have applied your skills and competence.

Also consider which qualities you specifically could bring to different positions. Work is always malleable to some extent and changes according to who is doing it. Aside from subject-related competence, you should try to think of a way of working that is uniquely you and the strengths related to that.

Succeeding at work is promoted by professional competence and various other skills

  • Interaction and collaboration skills
  • The ability to identify and develop your own competence
  • Initiative and activity
  • Knowledge of the practices at Finnish workplaces and of employee rights and obligations
  • The ability to operate in a variety of environments and amid changes
  • Managing project-based work: skills related to managing your own work, networking, time management and planning

Maintain and develop your competence

The constantly changing work life requires us to both maintain and update our own competence. Maintaining your competence is also important when looking for a job.

Once your long- and short-term work life goals are clear to you, accumulate and maintain the necessary competence. You can maintain and develop your competence through self-study and education and by participating in events in your own field, for example.


In addition to the fact that networking can open interesting opportunities and help build links to work life, it is also a way to keep up to speed with developments in your field. So, you can try to find interesting groups and people that involve your own interests, for instance, on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media. Request permission to join the groups or get directly in touch with people you find interesting.

Consider finding a mentor

Mentoring is a good way to extend and develop your own competence, plan your career or studies and build connections to work life. Mentoring is a conversational relationship built on trust, in which the focus is on the needs and goals of the person being mentored. In its traditional form, the mentor, who has more extensive work life experience, provides the other person with professional support and tips. There are other forms of mentoring as well, and the role of the mentor can also be closer to a listener or supporter than a provider of professional information. Colleagues can act as co-mentors, too. You can try to find a mentor through a mentoring programme in your field or by contacting a person you yourself find interesting.

I talked with a person who had already done well and found success in work life. With their help, I was able to find my own motivation, hope and self-belief. They also gave me concrete advice.

Acquaint yourself with the opportunities in the recognition of qualifications

The recognition of a foreign qualification in Finland is not always straightforward. All positions do not require the recognition of qualifications. If you have a background in the field or are interested in a position that requires you to have one, acquaint yourself with the opportunities for applying for recognition of qualifications.

I was nervous to start looking for a job, even though I knew that there was work in my field in Finland. I had to actively look for information and ask for advice, and I also studied Finnish at the same time. Although it at times felt difficult, my activity paid off in the end.

Work trial, internship or volunteering?

  • A work trial organized by the Employment and Economic Development Office can help you explore career options or opportunities of returning to the labour market.
  • Internships are a way of gaining work experience. They are available through an official educational institution or the Employment and Economic Development Office. The internship practice is always related to studies or agreed with the Employment and Economic Development Office. Other forms of unpaid internship are illegal.  The relevant thing is that there is someone at the workplace who guides, instructs and supports the intern in their work.
  • Volunteering is also another way to develop your own professional skills. It also helps you to build social contacts and networks. Look for organizations that interest you and map out opportunities for volunteering in them. You can accumulate professional skills also in your hobbies or in different positions of responsibility. You should highlight volunteer work, hobbies or other positions of trust that have strengthened your competence in your job applications and during job interviews, for example.