How is it to work as a relocation consultant? We interviewed Pirjo Koskivirta, who has worked at Finland Relocation Services for 14 years.
Own experiences made interested in the relocation
Pirjo learned about relocation services while living abroad for a total of 17 years; the family lived in Germany, Belgium, Singapore, Thailand, England, and the Netherlands.
“We received relocation help in almost every country we lived in. First, we thought we could do everything by ourselves, but then we realized the relocation services were a huge help. Especially when moving with children and dogs, it was easy when we just had to tell our wishes to the relocation consultant, who then fulfilled them. It saved time and effort when we didn’t have to figure out the practices of each country by ourselves.”
After moving back to Finland, Pirjo heard about FRS and started working as a relocation consultant. “I wanted to continue working in an international environment in Finland as well. I had gained experience with relocation services from the customer’s point of view and knew how useful the services are.”
What does a relocation consultant do?
In the work of a relocation consultant, every day really is different. On the same day, there may be both office work and various customer meetings. The work includes, for example, registration visits, home viewings and move-in inspections with the customer, as well as remote meetings, telephone calls and e-mails with customers still in their home country.
In addition to the versatile tasks, every day is different also because every customer case is different. Some move to Finland alone, others with a spouse, children and pets. Families can have very different needs in terms of hobbies, schools and housing. Some customers have already lived in several countries, while others have never visited outside their home country. Customers also come from all over the world, so there are differences in both immigration processes and cultures.
A large part of the work is answering customers’ questions both before and after arriving in Finland. “Customers may ask about anything. Especially those who are moving for the first time or from very different cultures naturally have a lot of questions. Many are shy at first, but when we have met a few times it’s easier to ask many things. I always tell that there are no stupid questions, they can ask anything. In addition to the employer, I may be the only person a foreign employee knows in Finland, so they have no one else to ask these questions.”
Relocation before and now
Pirjo says that in 14 years, many things have changed in the work of a relocation consultant. The development of technology has had a great impact especially on communication: before the materials were sent to customers abroad by fax and mail, now video calls are more and more usual. Technology has also made everyday life easier for employees moving to Finland, as they always have a map and a dictionary with them on their mobile phones. Nowadays many things also happen at a faster pace and require a quick response, as people are used to getting answers quickly.
Nowadays people have more international experience, so the cultural shock when arriving in Finland is usually not as huge as before. Finland has also become more international, and those who move here now find it easier to find both service in English and, for example, food items familiar from their home country.
Registrations are an important part of the relocation process, and the related practices have also changed over the years. For example, EU registrations have been moved from the police station to the Finnish Immigration Service, and registrations that required queuing before, are now done by appointment. New things come up often and your own skills need to be constantly updated, but years of experience as a relocation consultant help you adapt to the changes faster.
The best in the work of a relocation consultant
According to Pirjo, the best aspects of the work are versatility and internationality. “In this job, you get to know so many different people and hear interesting stories. However, what the customers have in common is a positive attitude. They are very excited about moving to Finland, and have a positive attitude towards possible challenges as well.”
Pirjo likes to get to know the customers and tell them about Finland and the local culture. It has also been nice to live with the big events in life, for example when a customer has their first child in Finland.
“I love to help people. Customers are very grateful for the help and give positive feedback. I sometimes coincidentally met a customer, who was very thankful that I helped them to find the perfect home many years ago. It’s always very nice to hear feedback like that.”
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