Back in the day, when young folks grew up, they had a sense of adventure and wanted to see the world. They signed up to work on a cargo ship and set sail for where the winds would take them. Why not try a modified version of that today, and work in Estonia a bit?
This immediately raises the question: how do I find a job in Tallinn, which is almost 7,000 kilometres from Toronto? As Elizabeth Barrett Browning said in her world-famous poem, let me count the ways. OK, I admit, she was probably not counting ways to find jobs in Tallinn. But still, come with me, and let’s count the ways to find a job in Tallinn.
The following information is aimed at the 18 to 30-year-old crowd. This assumes you are in the middle of university or have just graduated from university, or are a few years out of university. In other words, no long-term relationship, mortgage, etc.
An ex-boss of mine, an Estonian, said that he would never consider hiring anyone over 40. This is a very common view among Estonians. Among young Estonians, hipsters, or the startup company crowd, old is passe. A more difficult question though: is this true in most societies?
In digital-savvy Estonia, most people would begin looking for work on two job websites. They are cv.ee (the largest job website in Estonia) and cvkeskus.ee (cvkeskus means “CV Centre” in English). Both sites have English language equivalents. Create your own account by entering via Google or Facebook. On both sites, you will be required to upload your CV or type the relevant information into the fields that appear. Under categories, pick which field you would like to work in. Or better yet, surf around and see the options, or click on the button to see their 640 odd job openings. If a job ad is in English (most are in Estonian), that means you can apply in English. Many of the English language jobs are in IT or programming, finance, or startups. Have a look. I did not conduct a thorough and definitive search, but my impression was that cv.ee had many more English-language job ads than cvkeskus.ee.
I also have the sense that in Canada and the US, LinkedIn is a common way of looking for work. LinkedIn is also used in Eesti, mostly by Estonian startups. Type into LinkedIn’s search engine either “Estonia jobs” or “Estonia startup jobs”.
I am told Estonian creatives collaborate using Instagram. Although I did not find job ads here, have a look at “work-in-estonia” on Instagram.
The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (an Estonian government entity that registers unemployed people, pays unemployment insurance, and also helps people find work) advertises many simpler jobs. Looking through these job offers (thousands of positions are listed), I did not notice many that were for English speakers.
Another way to find work is to travel to Estonia. Either stay with your relatives (to keep costs down) or rent a bed at one of the many hostels in Tallinn. Before coming to Estonia, Google search jobs in Tallinn in your field of interest or expertise. Or use the above-listed sites. Write a cover letter (and attach your CV) in English and tell them that you will be in Tallinn during these dates and ask whether they would be interested in meeting you.
If you belong to an Estonian fraternity or sorority, email a senior member of the Estonian chapter and tell them you want to come work in Estonia. See where that goes. When the Estonian chapter of Korp! Vironia came to visit Toronto in the summer of 2022, they came with three job offers to Toronto Vironused. One of the jobs began the next month.
You will be a much more attractive candidate if you have an Estonian passport or ID card. You simply sign an employment contract with your Estonian employer and then you’re off to the races. If you apply as a Canadian or American citizen, your employer will need to apply to the Estonian Police and Border Guard to register you or obtain a visa for you.
The interview process will probably be different than in North America. The first round may well be on Zoom or Teams. If the interview is in Estonia, there will probably be many people behind one table, all of them asking you questions—no separate interviews by three or four people.
Once you start work, it will be different. Your first assignment may come by email. As one student from Toronto said about their summer job in Eesti: ”My boss sits in the office next to mine. Why does he not come over and tell me the assignment? He sends me an e-mail!”
International start-ups like Wise (which has Canadian-Estonians and American-Estonians working there) have people of many nationalities working together. A more traditional Estonian company will have a different feel. Getting new employees to feel comfortable will not be their strength. You can expect that.
During the past few years, a number of Canadian-Estonian and American-Estonians under the age of 25, both men and women, have come to work in Estonia. Many are still here and having fun. Think about it. And if it does not turn out as you hoped, you can get on one of the next flights back to Canada or America. You will be the wiser for what you learned and can pick up where you left off.
Originally published in the Toronto Estonian newspaper Eesti Elu / Estonian Life
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