Hiring a foreigner

Hiring a foreigner is a necessary but frightening step for a lot of companies. Many fields in Finland have already declared that they need more skilled talent in order for the field to truly grow. Programmers, modelers, construction foremen, doctors and more are needed in greater quantities than the domestic labor market can provide. There are exactly three options: Forego an important recruitment and the growth that comes with it, try to grab a talented individual from another company in the same country, leading to overall stagnation of the field, or hire a suitable talent from abroad. Many employers are careful with this last option, and not always without reason.

Hiring a foreigner has indisputable benefits: Access to new networks, increased market knowledge, new thought patterns, reputation as an international company, and above all acquiring much needed talent. These factors make it appealing to hire from abroad. In addition, the potential talent pool expands significantly, and it is possible to attract even experienced talent to Finland. Yes, this has happened, is currently happening, and there is no reason to doubt that it will stop right now!

It is a fact however, that one has to consider more factors when hiring from abroad than one does when hiring locally. Language for one, but thanks to the outstanding linguistic skills of Finns that is ultimately a minor point (go us!). What companies are actually concerned about are for example residence permits, the time it takes to complete the hire, and the actual skill level of the foreign applicant. This last one is always present in all hiring processes, and after a certain point one has to trust that the applicant has the skills he says and that the company is looking for. This is why companies have the probation period. Permit matters and the time factor on the other hand are more significant challenges. Let’s look at the relevant permit concerns first.

The Finnish bureaucracy is considered by many to be complex, and not without reason. When figuring out a foreign employee’s permit matters a lot of people will end up scratching their heads. What kind of a permit should the employee apply for? What attachments should be acquired? What if they have multiple nationalities? What if the employee has a beloved dog or legume they absolutely must bring with them? These are all real examples of situations that one will run into when hiring a foreigner. It is no surprise therefore, that companies don’t feel that they can overcome these situations by themselves. Just figuring out these examples would take quite a while, right?

One often hears, that hiring from abroad is very time consuming, and that is why companies choose not to do it. It is preferable to find someone already in Finland, even though any suitable applicants are “not available right now”. This non-logic sounds strange to me: there is no time to hire from abroad, but there is time to wait for a suitable Finnish applicant. Chasing sunk costs (or time) is still being done. The fact of the matter is, that getting a specialist to Finland to work is not a 6 month undertaking, nowhere close. If the applications have been done correctly and all necessary attachments are attached, the time frame is measured from a few weeks to a few months, any longer is a rare anomaly.

There are a lot of benefits to be gained from hiring a foreign professional, but there are also challenges to overcome. When correctly executed and managed, hiring a foreigner is well worth considering for a company’s internationalization and growth agenda.

Are you thinking about recruiting from abroad? Contact us and let’s find out what you need to take into consideration!