Why and how employers in Finland recruited in 2019: a few lessons

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In the past two blogs, we’ve looked at the combination of unemployment and labor shortages in Finland. In this one, we’ll look at the other side of the coin and talk about why and how employers recruited in Finland in 2019.

We’ve talked a little bit about that before as well. We’ve talked about the importance of networks in Finland. In another blog, we summarized what recruiters in Finland say about what they pay attention to when reviewing applications and applicants

Today, we’ll focus on what employer survey data from 2019 tells us about the reasons employers hired new people and how they reached their candidates.

We’ll be using the two Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment reports we used in the two previous blogs. One is by Juho Peltonen, and the other by Heikki Räisänen and Minna Ylikännö.

Why employers recruited in Finland in 2019

There are three basic reasons for employers to recruit new employees. Firstly, they can replace a person that has left the workforce for one reason or another. Secondly, the employee has changed jobs and left a vacancy. Thirdly, the job is a completely new one. 

These new jobs can, in turn, be jobs with a completely new job description or additions of hands to existing tasks. 

In 2019, about 40 % of all surveyed employers needed completely new personnel either to do existing tasks (33 %) or to do something completely new (ca. 7 %). Just over 50 % needed replacements for someone who had switched jobs within the same company (ca. 7 %), taken a job somewhere else (ca. 26 %), or retired (ca. 7 %). About 15 % needed substitutes. 

Recruiting a person to a new position is somewhat more common in smaller (less than 10 employees) establishments. In larger establishments, recruitment as a replacement of someone exiting the workforce is more common. 

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Recruitment reasons by industry

Adding new employees to do existing tasks was most common in the construction industry. There, 56 % of construction employers in Finland recruited because of that reason. 

In public services, education, and the health care sector in contrast only 17-18 % of establishments said they recruited because they needed more people to do existing tasks. 

Completely new positions were most commonly the reason for new recruitments in the information and communication industry (20 % of establishments surveyed). It was far more seldom the case in the social services and health care sector (6 %). There, the recruitment of substitutes was the most common reason (27 %) for new recruitments. 

Retirements were the main reason for 13 % of establishments in public services and education. It was quite rare in retail (2 %), information and communication industry (2 %), and transportation and warehousing (3 %).

Recruitment reasons by sector

In the private sector, 49 % of establishments recruited because they either needed new people to do existing tasks or they had completely new positions to offer. 30.6 % of them needed replacements for people that had changed jobs. This could be within the company or to another organization. 14.8 % needed new people to fill fixed-term substitute positions or replace a retiree. 

For the government sector, the same percentages were 37.1 %, 27.2 %, and 29.4 % respectively. 

21.4 % of recruiting municipal employers did so because they needed to add new people to already existing jobs or they had created completely new positions. 29.5 % needed replacements for those switching jobs. 42.3 % were replacements of retirees or subs. 

Here the difference with the private sector is quite clear. Recruitment needs of the municipal sector are often driven by people leaving the workforce for retirement or other reasons. Municipalities need replacements for those. 

In the private sector, the need is driven by the creation of brand new positions or by the need to hire more hands to do the tasks they already have.  

The non-profit sector resembles the private sector in this respect. In the non-profit sector, 42 % of establishments offered new jobs, 25.2 % needed replacements for job switchers, and 23.6 % of non-profit employers recruited replacements for retirees or subs in Finland. 

How employers recruited in Finland in 2019?

In one of our previous blogs, we discussed the recruitment methods recruiters in Finland use. That blog was based on a survey of 255 recruitment professionals. The survey was commissioned by Duunitori. 

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) reports we have been using in this blog also include information on the recruitment methods of employers. Here I want to pay attention to three specific ways to acquire candidates.

Acquiring candidates through social media

These different sources of information, the Duunitori survey on the one hand and the TEM reports on the other, disagree somewhat on the importance of social media in recruitment. 

The Duunitori survey highlighted the importance of social media, such as LinkedIn, as an important recruitment tool. According to that survey, 80 % of recruiters considered LinkedIn as at least somewhat important as a recruitment tool. 

Less than 30 % of employers in the TEM reports, however, said that they used social media in recruitment. There is, however, variation in social media use depending on the establishment size, geographical location, industry, and sector. 

Most common social media use as a recruitment tool was in the information and communication industry. There, 59 % of the surveyed establishments have used that channel. In contrast, only about 14.4 % of public service and education industry establishments had used social media to reach potential employees. 

Also the size of the employer matters. Social media use is rarest when the number of existing employees is four or fewer (19.5 %).

Although the TEM reports indicate that social media use, in general, is less important than what the Duuritori survey would suggest, social media use has increased steadily from year to year in their data. It also seems quite efficient for those employers who use it.  

The continuing importance of the TE office

Despite not always having the best reputation as a recruitment channel, the TE office is still holding its own as a recruitment channel. 

Anywhere from about 40 to 60 % of employers still use their services. 

42 % of private-sector establishments used TE services in 2019. The same percentage for government, municipal, and non-profit sectors was 57, 51, and 46, respectively. 

Most commonly, social services and health care industry employers use services provided by the TE office (59 %). It’s the least common in forestry and agriculture. There, only about 28.4 % of employers use the TE office. 

There are also regional differences in the use of the TE office. While 56 % of establishments in southern Savo used the TE office, only 40.5 % of establishments in southeast Finland did.

Overall, though, it’s still one of the most important, and efficient, ways for employers to find candidates.

Networks, networks, networks

Both the Duunitori survey and the TEM reports, however, make it clear that employers use unofficial recruitment channels a lot. These include notifying both current (over 50 % of employers) and former employees (just over 40 % of employers) of open positions. 

Government employers use current employers to acquire candidates for their new positions very often (70 %). The least common it’s with municipal employers (45 %) although it’s still quite common. Overall, the percentages of employers using former employees as a channel in these sectors are significantly lower. 

Small employers rely less heavily on current employees as a channel to recruit new employees than large ones (46.7 % vs. 64.6 %). They, however, use former employees more than larger ones (49.6 % vs. 31.7 %).

After the TE office, networks are the other significant way to acquire new employees in Finland. The importance of networks is particularly high when these positions are completely new.

Implications for job seekers

These reports provide nuanced information for job seekers who are trying to find the best job search strategy for themselves. Obviously, this data won’t give you definite answers one way or the other, but it does suggest what to emphasize. 

For example, while these reports confirm that networks are important for everybody, these reports show that they are particularly important for students and the unemployed. 

They also show that one should not overlook the TE office as a source of information about new jobs. Particularly those looking for a job in the social services and health care sector or those wanting to work for a municipal employer. 

The reports indicate that if you want to work in the information and communication industry being visible in social media, such as LinkedIn, is quite important. It is less important for those wanting to work for public services and education. 

If you would like to have more help with your job search strategy in Finland, consider my career consulting services. I also offer career coaching. Go here for more information and access to my calendar to book a Zoom appointment.

The mission of Finnwards is to help internationals thrive in their life abroad. We provide coaching, consulting, and training services that help them do just that. Check out our Services for Businesses and Organizations or our Expat Inspiration Catalog for more information! While we serve internationals and their employers all over the world, our specialty is Finland. With our help, internationals can build a uniquely Finnish life for themselves and their family. In addition to the coaching, consulting and training services, we also offer a wide selection of self-guided online courses about Finland. Contact us and let us help you or your employees succeed in their professional and private lives abroad and in Finland.


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