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Reesh and Kirsi Sharma are the founders of Resha Ltd. One of their restaurants is Wok’n’Curry at the Messukeskus.

Attracting international talent creates a pathway to growth

The popularity of international recruitment is soaring in Finland as attracting talent from abroad becomes necessary to secure the country’s competitiveness. The need is particularly acute in fields that require special expertise. Hiring an employee from another country is not always easy, but help is available for employers.

Ten years ago, restaurant entrepreneurs Kirsi and Reesh Sharma were looking to hire a chef for their Indian restaurant, but they could not find a suitable candidate in Finland. When Reesh – who was born in Mumbai and moved to Finland with Kirsi years ago – went to visit India, the entrepreneur couple ended up securing their first international recruit.

According to Kirsi, experience has taught the two that in certain situations employers should meet their potential employees face-to-face to find out more about them.

“If you are looking for someone with a very specific skill set, you should meet them in person,” she says.

The many phases of recruitment

The Sharmas have supported their recruits throughout the entire process of recruitment and getting started at work. They have since hired several Indian chefs remotely as well. However, using remote hiring means that the employers cannot take care of practical matters with the employee on the spot, which always creates a few additional twists and turns. For someone living in a village in rural India, visiting the local Finnish embassy may be difficult due to the cost of long-distance travel, for example, Kirsi says.

When a recruit arrives in Finland, Kirsi and Reesh help them with filling out the forms and making the various government agency visits required to open a bank account for salary payment, for example. Taking care of mandatory matters like this can take a long time.

“If you want to open a bank account and buy a bus travel card, your papers must be in order,” Kirsi says.

The Sharmas have helped their new employees with acquiring housing, furniture and public transport travel cards, as well as with dealing with the bank and Digital and Population Data Services Agency, for example.

International talent creates a pathway to growth

Kirsi recognizes that obtaining residence and work permits has become easier, as chefs recruited abroad are no longer subject to labour market testing, which eliminates one extra step from the process.

Business Coordinator Hanne Suomalainen from Business Helsinki highlights the restaurant industry as one of the sectors interested in international talent. The IT, software development and technology industries, as well as the nursing, service and tourism industries, are also increasingly international.

“Some companies are looking for growth opportunities from internationalization, from international talent and the markets they are familiar with,” Hanne says.

According to Hanne, international recruitment generally entails the same challenges as domestic recruitment. Linguistic, cultural and legislative issues and hard-to-navigate bureaucracy pose their own additional problems. Many of these challenges arise from biases, fears and assumptions.

“International recruitment is often discussed from the point of view of challenges rather than opportunities.” In the best case, international talent and internationalization can create growth for businesses.

Support is also available for employers in matters related to recruiting international talent. International House Helsinki (IHH) provides employers with help in matters related to international recruitment and international employees.

“IHH Employer Services helps employers through the necessary steps so the international recruit can get started at work,” says Juho-Tuomas Järvikangas, Service Manager at International House Helsinki.

At IHH, employees can use the services of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the Tax Administration and Kela at one service point, for example. European Union citizens can also apply for EU registration at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) service point at IHH.

Responsibility and freedom

Over the years, Kirsi and Reesh have learned about the challenges and responsibilities of acting as employers. Kirsi says that she worries about their employees having enough work and making them feel comfortable in their work environment.

“During the recruitment phase, we emphasize that the work is demanding during the peak periods – when it gets busy, it gets busy.”

For Kirsi, the best thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to do things the way you see best.

“In the restaurant world, you have to take responsibility and make your own product with pride.”

Are you considering international recruitment? Here are some things to keep in mind:

    1. Plan a realistic schedule and budget. Finding the best talent takes time.
    2. Define exactly what kind of an employee you are looking for. The more specific the industry is, the more detailed the requirements should be, and the more detailed you should also be about what you can offer to the employee.
    3. However, you should always remember that when it comes to international recruitment, you are not alone. In Helsinki, International House Helsinki (IHH) supports employers in all matters related international recruitment.
    4. If you hire a recruit from abroad, your new employee must go through the required bureaucratic measures to live and work in Finland. International House Helsinki will guide you through the process, and at IHH, your employee can apply for a personal identity code, municipality of residence, tax card and Finnish social security eligibility.
    5. Consider how you, as an employer, can support the potential family of the recruit and provide the family with various services, such as the International House Helsinki spouse programme or day care and school counselling.

Source: Business Coordinator Hanne Suomalainen, Business Helsinki and Service Manager Juho-Tuomas Järvikangas, International House Helsinki (IHH)

TEXT Venla Vuosalmi
PICTURES Jaana Tihtonen