WORKING LIFE

Summer will soon be over and it can be a good idea to set your sights on your future job applications. Make a good impression on your employer and you might be able to go back to the same employer later on. At least you will gain a valuable referee for next time you are seeking for a job. In this section, we cover topics that you can use to advance your career after you have entered working life.

Unemployment fund (KOKO)

WHAT IS KOKO?

The KOKO unemployment fund provides financial security if you find yourself unemployed after graduation. The fund pays its members an earnings-related allowance in case of unemployment, temporary layoffs or labour-policy measures, and job alternation compensation for those taking a job alternation leave. You can join the KOKO unemployment fund if you are in an employment i.e. you have a valid employment contract. You should become a member as soon as your first summer job starts and ensure your earnings-related unemployment security while you are still studying.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN?

After graduation, you are entitled to earnings-related allowance if you have been in an employment for 26 weeks, thus meeting the employment condition, while also being a member of the unemployment fund.  The earnings-related allowance you get from the fund is significantly greater than the basic unemployment allowance. (See: https://www.kela.fi/web/en/amount-of-the-unemployment-benefit)

 

You can calculate the amount of your daily allowance on the KOKO website: https://kokokassa.fi/en/allowance-calculator/

Your membership will begin on the day you submit the application if you pay the membership fee by the due date. The membership fee is paid annually for each calendar year.

WHAT IS THE FUND’S EMPLOYMENT CONDITION?

The employment condition is met when a fund member has worked for a minimum of 18 hours per week for 26 weeks during the 28 months that precede the unemployment.  Studies can lengthen this period up to seven years. This means that even a few summer jobs and a thesis job with an employment contract fulfill the employment condition. In other words, the required working period can consist of several individual periods; it does not have to be continuous.

Does work conducted on a grant apply?

A Master’s thesis work written on a grant is only included in the employment condition if you have been under an official employment contract during the work.

You can use the Kela calculator (https://www.kela.fi/web/en) to check whether you meet the employment condition. Note that the employment condition also involves a pay limit. Check the limit on the KOKO unemployment fund website.

HOW DO I JOIN THE KOKO FUND?

The easiest way to join the fund is through your own member information on the TEK website. The website of the IAET unemployment fund (https://kokokassa.fi/en/) contains a daily allowance calculator that you can use to get an estimate of your earnings-related allowance.

Is the allowance tax-deductible?

The allowance is subject to tax and is not tax-deductible. However, the fund’s membership fee is deductible.

Certificate of employment

Asking for a certificate of employment is essential after the termination of your employment. A certificate enables you to demonstrate your work experience when applying for jobs in the future. It is up for the employee to decide how extensive they want the certificate to be.

WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A JOB CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT?

• Name and social security number of the employee.
• Name of the business.
• Duration of the employment: start and end dates.
• Job title.
• Description of the main duties.
• Date and signature.

WHAT CAN I REQUEST TO HAVE IN AN EXTENSIVE CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT?

• The reason of termination of the employment (for example: “fixed-term employment”).
• An assessment of working skills and conduct.
• The employer should not mark this information in the testimonial without checking with the employee.

CAN I ASK FOR A JOB CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT A LONG TIME AFTER THE EMPLOYMENT?

The employeer is obligated to provide a job certificate up to 10 years after the termination of the employment relationship – in Finland. A testimonial of one’s own skills and behaviour can be requested for 5 years after the termination of employment. If the original certificate has been lost or damaged or the employment was terminated more than 10 years ago, the employer is only obligated to provide a testimonial if it does not cause unreasonable inconvenience for them.

CAN I USE A PREVIOUS EMPLOYER AS A REFERENCE?

If you thought your employment went well, ask your employer in advance if you can use them as a reference when applying for jobs next year.

Competence analysis

It’s easier to aim towards interesting stuff when you know exactly what interests you where you’re good at.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY YOUR OWN COMPETENCE?

We all have a unique knowledge palette, and being aware of and recognising this palette is important. It can aid you when considering your career path. What kind of work would I like to do? What kind of knowledge and skills do I want to make use of in my work?

It will also help you when presenting your competence to other people – in a job interview, salary negotiation, or when introducing yourself to a new colleague, for example. The better you know your own competence, the easier it is to present it to other people. You might want to practice presenting your competence to other people in the form of an elevator pitch. Using practical examples is recommendable, as they make your competence tangible!

Identifying your competence will also boost your self-confidence. It will help you stand behind the decisions you make for your career and will most certainly be seen from the outside as well, strengthening your professional brand.

WHAT DOES COMPETENCE CONSIST OF?

Competence is a relatively abstract and multidimensional concept, therefore it can sometimes feel difficult to explain exactly what your own competenceis. In order to identify your competence, it may be beneficial to divide it into three different sections: professional expertise, general working life skills and skills of regulating your own actions. Then examine your own competence through these three categories.

Your professional competence consists of the knowledge and skills you accumulate during your studies. It is this theoretical knowledge and these special skills gained in your studies that you will need in your field. This knowledge and these skills will continue to develop in working life as well as through various trainings and continuing education.

General working life skills can be utilised in various work assignments and fields. These skills are, for example, communication and negotiation skills as well as analytical and problem solving skills. These skills develop in working life, during your studies as well as in your free time.

Self-managing skills will help you succeed in work and in life. These skills help you reach your desired goals and results. These skills are, for example, setting objectives for your actions, planning your actions, evaluating your own actions, prioritising and time management.

HOW DO I IDENTIFY MY STRENGTHS?

You recognise the things that inspire you

During your studies or at work, you have most likely experienced moments when it has felt like time is flying by. You don’t even realise how many hours have gone by. Can you remember any moments like this? What were you working on then? What knowledge and skills were you using at the time? Recognising these moments is beneficial because enthusiasm is a sign of motivation and shows you the direction in which you should take your competence.

Stop, when you succeed

Ask yourself where you have succeeded. Did you receive good feedback from your superior, colleague or fellow student? Did you advance the project you were responsible for? When it came to this field, did you finally dare to venture into your no comfort zone? Mark down your various successes. Small and big. Have a think about which skills and competence you have used when you have succeeded. Reflecting on successes is beneficial because when you succeed, you tend to use the knowledge and skills which are your strengths.

Experiment

Your time as a student allows you the most freedom for experimentation and professional curiosity! Be the explorer of your own career and make professional expeditions. Experiment, ask questions, make observations, find different ways to be active.

Bravely try out new assignments, methods, roles and working environments; you will find the ones best suited to you.

Learn from feedback

What type of feedback have you received from others? From fellow students, professors, colleagues or superiors. Feedback acts as a mirror for your competence, and when looking into it you learn a lot about yourself.

TEK’s Toolkit is a good place to start identifying your competence. You can access the Toolkit here.

References

WHY DO I NEED REFERENCES?

References are important if the recruiter is not familiar with you beforehand. When you are applying for a new job, the references normally consist of former employers that the recruiter can contact to learn more about you as an employee.

REFERENCES IN THE CV

You can write in your CV that references will be provided upon request. Usually their contact information is only asked for at the interview stage. It is polite not to spread people’s contact details around too much. Provide the contact information if the recruiter requests them and you have permission to do so.

AT THE INTERVIEW

Before going to the interview, ensure that your references are willing to vouch for you. It may also be useful to print out their contact details to take with you to the interview.

AFTER THE EMPLOYMENT

Remember to stay on good terms with your employers. Keeping in touch with them is great for networking even if you do not need them as references. However, if you do need references for future job applications, check with your employers to see that they are fine with it.

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