The Importance of a Hygiene Passport in the Food Industry: An Interview with Career Coach Esa Heikinkangas

A hygiene passport proves that an individual has mastered the basics of food hygiene, which is essential for the safe and high-quality handling of food products. But how important is it to possess a hygiene passport from the perspective of job hunting?

Esa Heikinkangas has been working as a career coach mainly in the South Ostrobothnia region since 2018. He started at Eezy Employment Services at the beginning of 2022. Eezy Employment Services conducts job search coaching both in-person and online, in group sessions. Additionally, their service range includes individual career coaching, online job search coaching with Luotsi, job search clinics, and skills assessments.

The Significance of a Hygiene Passport in the Food Industry

The food industry is one of the sectors where hygiene is a critical factor. Completing a hygiene passport course demonstrates that a job seeker understands and can apply the fundamental principles of food hygiene. This competency is often a prerequisite for employment in a field where safety and quality assurance are paramount. We interviewed Esa Heikinkangas on the importance of having a hygiene passport in job hunting within the food industry and how crucial it is to complete it before applying for jobs.

Do you see a clear advantage in having a hygiene passport when applying for jobs in the food industry? How critical do you think it is to have a hygiene passport completed before job hunting?

"Having a hygiene passport is surprisingly necessary and often required in practically every sector of the food industry. For example, in my area (South Ostrobothnia), there are major food industry companies (Atria, Valio), where employment absolutely requires having a hygiene passport already at the interview stage. Additionally, smaller producers of salads and other ready-to-eat foods, as well as grocery store food departments/fish and meat counters, require a hygiene passport for employment. The same requirement applies to restaurants and cafeterias. So, in summary, it is extremely difficult to get a job in the food industry without a hygiene passport. Some companies are willing to train new employees and obtain a hygiene passport for them, but these companies are a small minority of all industry players."

Tips for Job Hunting in the Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive sectors, where job seekers are expected to have a diverse set of skills and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. A hygiene passport alone is not enough; job seekers are also expected to have customer service skills, stress tolerance, and flexibility regarding work hours.

What do you think is the most important tip for those wanting to work in the restaurant industry? How can one succeed in a job interview?

"In addition to a hygiene passport, existing experience in restaurant tasks and/or basic education in the field are often emphasized in the restaurant industry requirements. Furthermore, customer service experience, the ability to work under pressure, availability for evening/shift work, and a generally positive attitude towards work are also important. When these aspects can be honestly and naturally highlighted, the chances of succeeding in an interview significantly increase."

Highlighting Food Hygiene Skills

Food hygiene skills are a crucial aspect that can set a candidate apart from others. Employers value concrete evidence of a candidate's skills and ability to handle the everyday challenges of the industry. We asked Esa Heikinkangas how job seekers can best showcase their food hygiene skills in both their job applications and interviews.

How do you think a job seeker should highlight their food hygiene skills in a job application and interview?

"If possible, the best way to highlight skills is always as concretely as possible, preferably through practical actions and situations. The more concrete, practical skills you can highlight, the more credible you will appear from the interviewer's perspective. At the same time, it is good to bring up everyday challenges encountered through experience in the specific job and thus show that you already know what the job really entails."

Hygiene Passport – The Cornerstone of Employment

A hygiene passport is not just a formality or an additional certificate; for many employers, it is proof of the applicant's seriousness and commitment to the industry. Many food industry companies, both large producers and smaller manufacturers, consider a hygiene passport a basic requirement. This is because food safety is a crucial aspect of their operations, and employees must be able to adhere to strict hygiene practices.

In the restaurant industry, hygiene is equally critical. Customers trust that their food is prepared in safe conditions, and hygiene knowledge is a key part of this process. Completing a hygiene passport provides a job seeker with an edge over other applicants, as it demonstrates readiness and knowledge of the job's requirements.

Completing a Hygiene Passport and Preparing for Job Hunting

Completing a hygiene passport is often quick and straightforward. Courses and tests are available both online and in person, making it flexible to complete. Job seekers should complete the hygiene passport as soon as possible, as it significantly increases the chances of success in job hunting within the food and restaurant industries.

In the job search process, the importance of a hygiene passport is particularly emphasized in job applications and interviews. In the application, it is crucial to clearly mention the hygiene passport and highlight any practical experience with food hygiene. In interviews, concrete examples of the benefits of the hygiene passport and its application in everyday work tasks can convince the employer of the applicant's suitability for the position.

The hygiene passport is essential for employment in the food industry. It is often required already at the early stages of job hunting, as many industry companies mandate its completion. Those aspiring to enter the restaurant industry must also highlight other required skills and attitudes. Emphasizing concrete skills in the job application and interview can significantly improve the job seeker's chances of success. Therefore, completing a hygiene passport before job hunting is recommended to enhance employment opportunities in the food industry.

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