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With Labour Crisis at Our Door, Every Tenth Employer May be a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

It does not really make much difference if the job seeker is at the moment employed or unemployed; the ultimate goal of looking for a new job in any case is to improve his/her current circumstances. But with every tenth job advert, you could be out of the frying pan and into the fire – in a situation where the labour crisis is knocking at our door, according to the Estonian Employers’ Confederation’s Labour Thermometer. So how do you find the best employer and what can every job hunter do to avoid any pitfalls?

Talk yourself up and find talents

A new position should quench our thirst for new experiences and afford self-actualisation; but since we are all flesh and blood, we need food and shelter as well, meaning that we need to feel secure about the future.

A new employee will be met with expectations of helping to realise the ambitions of the company – to arrive like a fresh gust of wind or a spring shower marking the beginning of new growth. The labour market is like any other market – everyone talking themselves up, hoping for best value deals of the market. The employer can offer the position by stressing its strengths and not advertising its weaknesses. Those on the job hunt do the same so the score adds up to 1:1.

In the beginning of August, we took the two most popular job search engines in Estonia, CVKeskus and CVOnline and used the Credit Score to assess the companies (genuine enterprises registered on the Business Register) advertising vacant positions. As a result, potential employers were divided into five risk categories from Reliable (dark green) to Risky (dark red).

We are happy to report that most advertisers on both portals are ‘green’ (risk class ‘Reliable’ or ‘Neutral’), 86% for CVKeskus and 91% for CVOnline. CVKeskus had more than double the amount of employers advertising for new staff, but at the same time they had a bigger proportion of problematic employers (risk class ‘Problematic’ or ‘Risky’). The following graph displays the division of employers advertising on both portals into risk classes:

Krediit Mummu 2 Firmat Koos Ver 4


Around 9% of employers advertising for new employees on CVKeskus and 6% of those advertising on CVOnline are problematic (orange or red risk class). None of the companies assessed were at that moment facing liquidation or bankrupt. However, if we include companies not clearly identifiable and foreign enterprises (therefore, risk assessment is highest risk class, ‘Risky’), a whole 14% of CVKeskus and 13% of CVOnline adverts can be deemed risky.



Total potential employers on the page










In liquidation










Registered (risk assessed)





Not clearly identifiable employer/ foreign company (risk not assessed)





Total tax arrears for all employers, July 2018

7,700,083 €

581,165 €

Average tax arrears per 1 employer (identified)

5,923 €

1,397 €

In comparison with the employer, the job seeker is fumbling around in the dark

Although both the employer and the job seeker have equal opportunity to praise themselves sky-high, that is also where the equality ends and the employer has more means of doing background research. We do have the Equal Treatment Act (ruling out poking around in a job hunter’s private life) but the job seeker tends to present quite a thorough picture about him/herself anyhow – the better the overview, the higher the chances of getting the job. You have to provide proof of what you’ve claimed, for example a diploma certifying your education, a driving licence etc. For some positions, the law allows for background checks of the potential employee: to request a medical check, a certificate of absence of any criminal record or psychiatric conditions, or dig deep into the person’s background to see if s/he is eligible for access to state secrets, etc. The potential employee has no such means regarding the future employer.

The employer presents itself in the job advert, on the home page and the media in general, but this presentation is generally quite skewed. Having seen the labour market both as a job seeker and an employer, I cannot quite imagine a person on the job hunt asking the potential future boss for the last annual report or a confirmation that the company has no tax arrears before submitting a CV or attending an interview. Information on both of these is available on public registers (annual reports for a fee, tax arrears for free) but the majority of jobhunters do not check them. I state this based on the number of the unemployed and the continually rising expenses of Töötukassa, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The problematic employer is keen to hide its unsustainability

The annual report (and the lack of it!) and information on taxes carry the vital information necessary to any job seeker – is the company that I am about to dedicate myself to, the company I am leaving my current job for, going to be there tomorrow? Will it live up to its promises? What do other entrepreneurs think; how does it look amongst its peers? Of course, there are also problematic (some more, some less) jobhunters on the market, with no real interest in working hard and contributing, but for the moment, we are not concentrating on them.

It follows that every potential employer should be assessed in the context of the company’s face, 360° (branding, including media reports), other enterprises active in the same field, and business background data. For example, if a million euros in turnover is a substantial result in catering, then in some industries it would be a mediocre, if not a disappointing outcome. And ill-meaning debts are never a good sing, not for a private individual nor for a business entity (what is meant here is not meeting one’s obligations rather than credit in general).

We see the same connection over and over again – some pay their taxes, others incur arrears. And it is highly likely that someone who tends to owe money to the state will sooner or later owe money to its partners and employees. This is evident from the following graph:

V6rdlev Graafik Protsentidega Cvkeskus Cv Online 2 Firmat 1

As a job seeker, I recommend that you take time (as I do) to do very thorough research into the background of the company – because the success of the company determines the employee’s future and the employer’s reputation will reflect on its employees. For instance, when I last applied for a job, I checked the last two annual reports of the company (ordered from the Business Register), examined its business background, tax payment patterns, financial successes and the individuals at the helm – their values and management principles. This required me to spend time as well as money. Today, my employer’s 360° brand is on display and thousands of other smart employers have taken the same route.

The job seeker should not have to pay to see the truth

A good employer will do everything in its power to protect the already decreasing workforce of our country and makes sure that the potential employee does not have wrong expectations when starting on a new position. To this end, it displays its employer brand – which is especially easy if you’ve got nothing to hide. A company can add to every job advert a link to its profile on Inforegister, providing the potential employee a quick overview of how reliable the company is through the labels and the Activity Story. But you can also put in more effort and drive away all other competition – by showing your company brand from all angles, condensed into one site.

The smart job seeker will look behind the pretty words and always check the background of the hiring company. On the Inforegister job portal, PARTNERWEB, this is possible free of charge – bringing together what the company wants to say about itself (the offer) as well as what needs to be told about the company (its sustainability).

Inforegister brings together the full picture for the job seeker and the perfect branding tool for employers. The Inforegister Business media page also offers overviews of trends in the labour market, and separate articles on problematic employers-companies, for examples see here and here.

Wishing you safe and successful jobhunting!  

Rita Treimuth

Inforegister Business media Editor-in-Chief


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