Just the job
2019-10-21 | By Giulia Quaresima
Working abroad can be a choice, a necessity, and often an opportunity. While the Netherlands is an attractive country with a high employment rate and numerous opportunities for internationals, finding a job can still be a challenge. A job search in a new market could require knowledge of a new language, familiarisation with new rules and taxation laws and, of course, finding out how and where to find the job.
One of the best resources are recruitment agencies, which can make all the difference in finding the right position, as their purpose is to match the future employee and employer’s requirements.
In the Netherlands uitzendbureaus (employment or job agencies) typically employ people and send them temporarily to employers, or werving- en selectiebureaus (recruitment, or head-hunter, agencies) find employees for employers. There are also recruitment agencies that specifically deal with international employees, and those that specialise in particular career areas. For a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies contact the ACCESS Helpdesk.
Recruitment agencies usually have large networks and partnerships with other agents and employers, allowing them to provide maximum coverage in the current job market. The direct contact between the agencies and the hiring companies means connection with the latest vacancies for candidates, vastly increasing the chance of a job match.
Applicants using recruitment agencies can benefit from professional consultants to guide them through their job search, help to follow up an application and prepare them for the intake interview. The agencies can provide tips or suggestions, handle the official hiring procedure and other formalities, and mediate with the new employer on salary.
O’ona Souissi, founder of Career On Purpose, and member of the ATN as a career coach, specialises in helping expats and expat spouses to reignite their career. She feels a common mistake is to underuse recruiters. “Candidates tend to focus on the recruiter’s role in the selection process,” she says, “and overlook the fact that the recruiter has a strong interest in placing them. So it is important to see the recruiter as a partner.”
Finding the way
Pasqualina Petruccio, director and founder of the recommended path, an Amsterdam-based recruitment agency for the international creative industry, defines herself as a career mentor. She helps people find their ‘path’ by carefully assessing the willingness of the candidate, as she says “a recruiter plays with people’s lives.”
For Janet Rodenburg, a native of the Netherlands who lived abroad for prolonged periods, and is now a career coach and member of the ACCESS Training Network (ATN), when looking for work in a new country it is important to get to know ourselves and find our passions, find our energy source and what sparks our interest. “Relocation means we may be searching for new career opportunities and meaningful work in different contexts and circumstances,” says Rodenburg. “This does not need to overwhelm us, instead it can unlock our potential. For some, it could mean finally pursuing a lifelong dream.”
“I like matching personalities, more than just the skills,” says Petruccio. “It is not simply about qualifications, but personality. I take into consideration a candidate’s eagerness and desires, as well as the prospective companies’ work cultures.”
Rodenburg found that after resettling in the Netherlands, “I felt the need to reinvent myself and gradually embarked on a new career path, combining my skills, my personal experiences and my desire to help others in making important life choices. My mission now is to assist people who–just like me–crossed borders.”
Sometimes a recruiter may feel that a candidate needs to refine his project or his personal brand to become more attractive to prospective employers, or to gain more confidence in how they present themselves in formal or informal interviews. So a recruiter may refer a candidate to a career coach. “We are all part of the same ecosystem,” says Souissi, “our work is complementary.”
The Dutch job market
According to Petruccio, the job market in the Netherlands is very competitive, both for candidates and employers. “The Netherlands is near to 100% employment,” she says, “and it is hard for even the best brands to find the right people, and they find it difficult to attract and retain specialised people.”
This market means for Rodenburg that there are opportunities for everyone, but jobseekers may need considerable flexibility and job-crafting. “Relax,” she says, “and see an international move as a window of opportunity, both personally and professionally.”
But as the market changes, so do jobseekers, with a new generation that chooses jobs not only according to the opportunities presented to them, but also with regard to the amount of engagement they feel with a brand. “It is important for them to feel involved and a part of something,” says Petruccio.
Advice for jobseekers
Rodenburg’s advice is to make room for things to happen, and connect with others, “I looked for alternatives for a better work-life balance, and found new work that was rewarding and learned a lot.” Petruccio agrees that it is important to be adaptable and flexible, “widen your outlook, broaden your horizons, and take the opportunity to learn. Retraining, volunteering and learning new languages can all be part of this process.”
“Be realistic about expectations,” says Petruccio. “Take into account any language restrictions, consider carefully which qualifications are required, and weigh up the difficulty of finding a role relevant to previous experience against adapting to something new.”
“Study job advertisements and be adaptable,” she says. “A position might take you further than you expect, and progress your career, even if at first it seemed lower or different from your expectations, studies or previous work experience. Each experience can make you more relevant and employable.”
To find the best career opportunities in the Netherlands, for Souissi it boils down to networking strategically rather than “sending impersonal electronic applications for vacancies that only represent a fraction of the job market.”
When it comes to searching for a new job, Souissi feels that we can limit ourselves–we don’t know what we don’t know–or make a below-par decision out of frustration, fatigue or fear. “Identify where you may fall short, and find the people to support accordingly,” she says. “Behind the hero’s journey, there’s a dream team.”
Whether as a newcomer, or for internationals who have been here a while, finding work in the Netherlands might be challenging, but remember you are not alone. There is a whole community sharing the same issues and doubts. Contact the ACCESS helpdesk for advice.
About the author
Giulia Quaresima is an Italian who has been living in The Hague with her husband since 2018. Previously an ACCESS volunteer, she loves writing, reading, travelling and culture.