Language skills during job seeking and at work

Many workplaces require you to know Finnish or Swedish, but employers’ attitudes and practices are changing. Even if your language skills are still developing or you have yet to start learning, you can still find a job. If you have a limited knowledge of Finnish or Swedish, finding a job may seem frustrating and often requires persistence. But don’t get discouraged!

Language skills during job seeking

  • In job seeking, focus on your competence, not your possible language limitations.
  • If the open position seems promising for your competence level but your language skills do not meet the requirements, contact the employer, describe your competence and enquire about the possibility of working even with your limited language skills.
  • Map out organizations in your own field from the perspective of their working language; in some organization, English is the principal working language. Pay attention to the language used on the job advertisement and the job description.
  • Make use of your networks for finding a job that matches your own language skills.
  • You should invest in improving your language skills, as even limited language skills can help you to find a job and attach to the work community and society. Consider the most natural way for you to learn languages whether it be language courses, interactive situations or independent studies.

Language skills may be important in Finland, but you must have faith in your own competence and showcase it to the employers, even if the language poses a challenge. Fortunately, in some organizations, you can work in English or other languages. You should look for information about these and also study the language. Even limited language skills are useful.

Language skills at work

  • Even if your knowledge of Finnish or Swedish is limited, do not let it hold you back from showcasing your competence and ensure that your supervisor and colleagues are familiar with your core areas of expertise.
  • Bring up challenges related to comprehension in work-related matters and make sure that you have understood everything correctly. Remember that there are no stupid questions.
  • Interactive situations at the workplace make for good learning opportunities. Dare to speak up and use the language!
  • Consider whether you could benefit from integration training-related language training.
  • Try to find out if it is possible to get support for your language studies in the workplace through a special language mentor. For example, the language mentor could be a colleague who supports your language development by helping you with filling in work-related documents or other tasks. 
  • If you would like to develop your language skills, explore if your employer could support your language studies. It is also possible to study both Finnish and Swedish at adult education centres and open universities. Studying languages is possible also independently, for example, through the use of various applications. There are lots of study materials online as well that support the development of the necessary English, Finnish and Swedish skills in different fields.

My Finnish skills aren’t always sufficient, or I can’t produce speech in the same way as the others. However, I think that you should always focus on the thing that you want to talk about. When my Finnish isn’t good enough, I’ll explain things in English.