This summer, when I successfully graduated from the University of Tartu, I thought the local employers will break me into pieces in order to get such a great, highly-qualified specialist. However, the next day after we had a great prom night and I posted a selfie with my new-brand diploma no one woke me up offering a high-paid job vacancy. Then I realized that being a cool person is not enough to be a competitive at Estonian labor market.
Your CV and Social Media tell everything about you
Apparently, I had to do something more. First, I decided to sit and write down a list of my strengths and weaknesses (I’m still hesitating how I should classify my sociability). It was followed by the list of all kinds of activities that I could potentially do, and finally I wrote down all do’s and don’ts about my future job. So, now I know that I would never agree on a job, which would be about selling magic vacuum cleaners to housewives or calling people and annoying them with cheap cosmetics offers.
Then it was time to look at my job profile and to show myself in the best light. There are numerous websites that help you to update your CV and make it look attractive for HR managers (attractive means not only a photoshopped profile picture). Here are some that I came across in the web: Vizualize.me (can make a good info graphics about your job and skills), Pathbrite (will help you build your working portfolio), ResumUp (make your CV brighter and more visible), or CVmaker (use ready templates for your CV).
Probably, you know which information a typical CV contains. So, when I looked through my colorful resume, I realized that email@example.com does not really match with a Master in Social Sciences. I’m kidding, my teenager’s nickname was simply taratai7. Anyway, heavy-hearted, I put away my old good account and switched to solohub.lena at Gmail.com. Hope, now it helps me to look more serious in the eyes of those guys, whom I spam with my applications.
One more advice about creating a bright image of yourself is to remove, or at least hide, the Facebook photos from your attempts to drink three Spartas at once and wild nights in “Bermuda triangle”. There is a great chance that your potential employer will look up your profile. In Tartu, he or she might even have 1-2 common friends with you.
Also don’t forget to make a good LinkedIn profile, which would be representative of your skills and experience. So I updated my LinkedIn and added all people that I worked with as connections. Probably, one day it might help as well, who knows?
It is also very useful to ask your previous employers or place of internship or your student organization for a recommendation letter to show that you have already been useful to someone else before. I have had a summer internship (preparing a layout for a new odd-size paper guestbook for a month and a half — that was really something!), which was only useful in terms of adding a couple of lines into my CV and getting a recommendation letter. Dear place of my internship, if you are reading this, just be sure that I really enjoyed the time with you and have no complaints against not getting any job here. No, seriously!
Where and how to hunt a job
Of course, it’s not that I expected a job to drop from the skies. Already in spring, a few months before my graduation, I contacted UT Career Unit for a job consultation. Our university’s career unit offers free consultations and help with job hunt for students and graduates. They also add you to a university job vacations mailing list and every day you automatically receive the new job openings. You get dozens of e-mails written in Estonian and not really correlating with your expectations though, but it’s still better than nothing. They also organize job fairs from time to time and although they proved to be rather useless for me as a social science graduate, others (like IT-specialists, who seem to be the most important men in Estonia) can find lots of interesting vacancies there.
A nice girl in career unit helped me figure out my potential jobs in Tartu and suggested a few more options that I did not think of myself. She also suggested registering at the main job portals in Estonia and uploading there my CV. For me, the most worthy are these ones:
but you can always check up for more here https://www.tootukassa.ee/eng/content/looking-job/other-job-portals. This is webpage of Eesti töötukassa (Estonian unemployment Office), and their mission is to help all job seekers in Estonia. I have nothing to say about them so far, except that they almost refused to talk to me in English or Russian, insisting that we can obviously communicate in Estonian (probably my Ma ei räägi eesti keelt sounded far too native for them).
What really proved to be useful for me, was mindmapping all my job ideas and insights. So when you start, I suggest making a mindmap of all possible options that come your way. Let there be all International companies, NGOs, startups etc. Estonia is considered to be a hub for startups, so you can always check the list of the biggest ones like here http://hub.garage48.org/estonian-startups
What else can be helpful? There are integration programs for foreigners living in Estonia, aimed at helping them find out more about studies, research, family life and work in Estonia. This program is meant for all people who lived here less than 5 years and is for free. You can sign up for their work modules and find out more information about labor market and mobility, labor laws and tax system, Estonian work culture, opportunities for starting a business and a lot more. Here is their website, where you can find more details: https://www.siseministeerium.ee/en/welcoming-programme. First modules start in October and November, so there is still time to sign up for this year (apparently, they will organize such informational meetings in the following year again).
I also began writing down my steps and results in a Word file. In a few weeks, you will forget what did you send and whom, so keeping the whole process written down will significantly help you later. Copy the vacancies that you apply for, copy the links found in the web, copy anything you think is important. In four months, I have written down about twenty pages and now can see where I started and what has been already done. Keep it as a kind of a diary of your success and failures. When you are old, you can proudly show these papers to your grandchildren, just do not forget to tear up the pages about your flops.
From my recent experience, when you start sending people your CV and motivation letter, you shouldn’t expect to even get a reply. Most often they will not answer you, especially if you apply through the job portal (like cv.ee or similar). If you send a personal email, there is slightly higher chance to get a reply, if you write them again in one week, politely asking about your application status. But get prepared to be ignored with ~70% probability after submitting your application.
Well, as you can see, I did my best to find a job. And what do you think? Nope, I’m still unemployed! Why? Sest ma ei räägi eesti kelt. Language here really matters, unless you are a cool IT-guy (I think you’ve already noticed how these e-country creators are worshiped here).
Sorry, gotta go, I’m having my another Estonian class in an hour. Yes, it seems three semesters of Estonian-for-dummies torturing classes could be enough only for a Metro-sandwich-maker job.