I will be relocating to the Netherlands or I am new to the Netherlands and have yet to find work. I don’t speak Dutch and would be happy to receive any advice from you with regards to employment possibilities and opportunities in the Netherlands.
Many international companies, non-commercial organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and affiliates of the United Nations and the European Union use English as the main working language. Also, certain jobs need languages such as French and German. Learning some Dutch would no doubt increase your opportunities, but there are many jobs for which no Dutch is required.
Where can I find information about international jobs in the Netherlands?
Here are the most useful methods of job hunting:
Via uitzendbureaus (employment or job agencies)
Some agencies employ people and send them temporarily to employers, though you can also get other types of contracts depending on the employer. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using this channel. On one hand, an agency can give you inside information about an employer as well as helping you prepare for an interview. On the other hand, an agency is one step further away from the employer. It’s up to the agency to propose and promote you for the job, which is why it’s important to make a good impression on them as well. Treat them the same as you would a potential employer, including dressing professionally.
Choose agencies representing your area of work and especially those dealing with international organisations if you do not speak Dutch. Some Dutch employment agencies may not consider you as a candidate if your CV is in English. To avoid being turned away with a standard response, look for job opportunities having descriptions which are in English. If Dutch is a requirement for the position and you can manage the language, then you should send the cover letter and CV in Dutch. In both cases, have your cover letter and CV checked for spelling and grammar errors as that is one of the first things a recruiter will look at.
Some agencies specialise in jobs for non-Dutch speakers. You can either forward your CV to the job agency or apply for their advertised vacancies. Both can be done via their websites; however, it is a good idea to give them a call to introduce yourself and stand out as a potential candidate. For a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies, contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here. If you are looking for a recruiter or headhunter for your next career step, then refer to the werving- en selectiebureaus (recruitment agencies). You can find all agencies available in the Netherlands on: allewervingenselectiebureaus.nl.
Many agencies require an MBO (vocational education) or HBO (professional higher education) diploma to apply for vacancies. If you are looking for part-time work as a student, job boards such as Monsterboard.nl may be more helpful.
In the Netherlands, establishing a network of contacts is invaluable. This can happen anywhere (e.g. in sports clubs, your children’s school, interest groups and clubs). Be ready for the question: What do you do? Spend time on perfecting your profile and practising your ‘pitch’ but remember to keep it simple and natural.
Attending multilingual job fairs can be helpful. Some of the organisations/employers participating in these fairs may have positions for English-speaking job seekers, and the added networking opportunities may provide valuable information.
LinkedIn is widely-used in the Netherlands so make sure your profile is up to date, including that you live in the Netherlands. Ensure your profile and experience are consistent with your CV and include a professional photo. Recruiters and hiring managers are constantly reviewing profiles and placing job advertisements there. You can also join groups, take part in discussions, and use LinkedIn for your job research. Sign up for job alerts by filling in key words and areas of work interest, and you will be notified of jobs matching your requirements.
Via the internet and job boards
There are internet platforms with available job opportunities especially for internationals. You can upload your CV and sign-up for job alerts on various job boards such as: Togetherabroad.nl, https://www.iamexpat.nl/career, https://www.dutchnews.nl/jobsinholland/, https://www.expatica.com/nl/working/.
If you have identified particular organisations which interest you, seek a connection in your network (LinkedIn can be a good start). This can lead you to an introduction to someone working there. Simultaneously, you could also consider an open application, and if possible, deliver it in person. This method is more effective in small- to medium- sized companies.
ACCESS career coaches and trainers offer courses/workshops about professional skills development, cultural awareness and global mobility. You can email them directly if you would like details about how they can help you.
What is the Europass CV?
The Europass CV is understood in every European country and it pays particular attention to your skills and competences. You can create a Europass CV on europa.eu/europass/en
What kind of CV and cover letter is customary to support job applications in the Netherlands?
It is important that your CV is clear, comprehensive and written on one page or two pages maximum, as it will give a valuable first impression of you, your skills and the experience that you have to offer. Companies are flooded with CVs and scan through the CVs, so make sure your CV markets you in the best possible light.
In the Netherlands, a cover letter accompanying an application is often known as a motivation letter. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to the company, clarify why you are interested in the role and the organisation, and how your skills and experience would benefit their organisation. A motivation letter usually has the following structure:
- Your reason for applying
- Explanation why you believe that you are the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company
- Concluding sentence stating that you look forward to meeting them to explain in detail what you have outlined in the letter
Tailoring your motivation letter as well as the CV to the role you’re applying for will increase your chances of success. Don’t forget, in the Netherlands a catchy application/motivation letter, both content and design wise, is sometimes more important than impressive grades.
What steps should I take to prepare myself for my interview?
Here are some useful tips to prepare for an interview. Some may be obvious, and some may be different from how you would prepare yourself in your own country:
- Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and correct pronunciation, and his/her title.
- Research the company, products/services, growth and potential growth in the future.
- Refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your present employer and former employers.
- Prepare the questions you will ask; the interview is about input and feedback from both you and the interviewer.
- Arrive on time – this is very important in the Netherlands.
- While the Dutch may appear to be very informal in their dress and appearance, it is still recommended to dress professionally when attending an interview.
- Don’t forget the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting your interviewer(s).
- It may help you to prepare yourself by knowing about the person(s) who will be interviewing you, so look them up on LinkedIn.
In the job interview, the emphasis is on your motivation. You may be asked questions such as why you chose that particular company or to name your skills and strengths, but also mention some of your less strong points and skills you do not possess. Give examples that demonstrate your skills and strengths (these are called competency-based questions) and also be prepared to answer questions about personal matters like hobbies and social engagement.
You will usually be interviewed by one or two people. Applicants often have to attend two or even three interviews. At the end of the interview, it is common for you to ask some questions.
Can I get some support and advice in looking for a job in the Netherlands?
If you are actively looking for a job but unsure about how to proceed, thinking about the next step in your career, considering returning to work after a career break, or looking for a change of career, you may find support useful.
There are several professionals and companies offering career counselling or coaching for expats looking for work. ACCESS has several trainers who can provide you with job hunting support.
Where can I find more answers to questions I may have once I find a job?
Additional information on working in the Netherlands can be found on the government website: https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/. Here you will find comprehensive information about who may work in the Netherlands, searching and applying for jobs, contracts, qualifications and credential evaluation, and the Europass CV.
Where can I find job openings for students?
If you are a student and looking for a job, the following websites can be useful:
Your university may have an overview of job openings for students in the area of your studies. If you have done an internship, you can also ask if that organisation has anything for you.
Aside from the websites listed above, the general tips in this section for finding a job can be useful for students too.
If I want to apply for a job, would I need a work permit as a student?
If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work without restrictions.
Highly educated persons scheme
‘The orientation year for highly educated persons’applies to all recently graduated students in the Netherlands from non-EU countries.
The residence permit orientation year for highly educated persons can be submitted within three years after completing the studies or after obtaining the PhD.
The scheme gives those graduated in the Netherlands the opportunity to first return to their country of origin after having completed their studies, and to then come back to the Netherlands. A work permit is not needed, which means that if you hold a residence permit for the orientation year for higher educated persons you are allowed to work in the Netherlands without any restrictions.
More information is available on the IND’s website.
Work permit application
Should you need a work permit to work while studying, your employer needs to apply for it at www.uwv.nl/werkgevers.
Exception for internships
If you are studying at a Dutch host institution and you need to do an internship as part of your study programme, you do not need a work permit. Your host institution and your employer do need to sign an internship agreement. Please note that this exception does not apply for exchange students. For more information click here.
How can I find an internship?
If you are looking for an internship many Universities have a database of internship options.
Study In Holland:https://www.studyinholland.nl/dutch-education/doing-an-internship will point out to you what to pay attention to when contemplating looking for internships in the Netherlands as part of your study programme.
The following links are a selection of websites offering internships in the Netherlands:
- https://stageplaza.nl/ : click on “ik zoek een stageplek” and write “English” in the ‘ zoekfilter’ to the right
- https://stage.nl/ : you can type ” English” in “trefwoord”/ Keyword box.
Please note that if you decide to accept a paid internship and currently have a student health insurance, you must take out a new, ordinary Dutch health insurance.”
Will I be paid during my internship?
Dutch employers are not legally obliged to pay you for your internship, though many give some kind of compensation, such as travel expenses. Others may be more generous and pay you a small amount. Be aware that you will have to pay taxes on anything you earn from an internship.
What is the difference between an internship and a traineeship?
A traineeship is a paid job for those who recently graduated, while an internship is part of a study.
An internship (stage) is usually a mandatory part of the education that focuses on learning. It is a work
placement or practical training arrangement that allows the student to gain practical work experience in the field of one’s study in a company. Internship is typically shorter-term work (3 months to a year) experience for students. Internships are usually not paid, but can be remunerated modestly. Because an internship is a learning goal, this allowance is not regarded as a salary.
A traineeship in the Netherlands is typically a starter’s position for graduates with a normal salary. Essentially you get paid to learn. A traineeship is a paid (entry level) position in a company/ organisation for a graduate who aims to develop professional skills etc. It is a job.