Perspectives from the field
2023/12/19 | By Deborah Valentine, Executive Director, ACCESS | Photo by Aren Nagulyan
For more than 36 years, internationals have been sharing their experiences to serve and help others arriving in the Netherlands. That is what ACCESS has been doing, and continues to do, every day.
In the course of that time, issues relating to employment have shifted as the population we reflect and serve has also changed. Issues relating to employment, dual careers and professional development are increasingly the topic of the day and can be best observed from the scores of calls and emails we receive through our Helpdesks and the inquiries we receive from HR departments.
There can be no denying that these topics are of growing significance. University educated partners of newly arrived internationals who were employed prior to relocation, search for and expect to be able to continue their careers in their new countries of residence. Many of these individuals are recently graduated international students anxious to explore the opportunities of starting a career abroad, and labour migrants see the Netherlands as an increasingly attractive place to explore new opportunities.
Relocation is opportunity
At ACCESS, we see these trends in the volunteers who join us at events we attend, in the attendance at courses and seminars, the interactions with our Trainers, and in the number of times questions about dual careers are viewed on our website. Employment, and specifically dual careers, are issues on every newcomer’s mind.
For us at ACCESS, the underlying theme to all we do, write about, present, and research revolves around the central idea that relocation is opportunity. Of course, we’re aware of the inherent difficulties in finding employment in a competitive job market or in a country other than one’s own, but that doesn’t diminish our optimism as we see the Netherlands as a place of unlimited opportunities.
The other options
Starting a business is one of the opportunities ACCESS supports. Doing so in the Netherlands is fairly straightforward and supported by a number of schemes offered by chambers of commerce, or initiatives powered by internationally focussed networks and start-up incubators throughout the Netherlands.
On yet another front, increasing number of English language educational facilities in the Netherlands provide many with a chance to explore a career change, or re-train in a new field, not to mention the possibility to extend the skills and qualifications already possessed. Granted, many on-line options exist which may be pursued from wherever you live, but if you prefer the classroom and interaction with fellow students, don’t let the language barrier be a deterrent.
Finally, speaking from our own experience, volunteering has a multitude of benefits for jobseekers and, as we all know, finding employment (even starting a business) is often all about networking and getting your name and credentials out there. Who you know, what they know about you, and how can they help you can ultimately be the most productive way to achieving your professional goals. ACCESS is by no means the only place for internationals to volunteer and network as there are many organizations nationwide. Either tailored to new arrivals or within the local community, there is always something you can do, to share, and broaden your network and get started on the right foot with the process of settling in and finding rewarding employment opportunities.
Top Tips for Jobseekers
- Explore what you want first – what are your drivers, values, job satisfiers?
- Research your profession and how it’s positioned in the Dutch labour market.
- Networking is very important when looking for a job, this helps you to access the `hidden’ job market i.e. jobs that are not advertised.
- Have your elevator pitch ready – who you are and what you can offer in one statement.
- Create a LinkedIn profile and make use of the options available.
- Have your CV and Cover letter checked by a professional.
About the author
Deborah Valentine has been the Executive Director of ACCESS since 2011. In a career that has spanned more than four decades, Deborah has dedicated her working life to improving the lives of others through her affiliations with organizations such as UNICEF, CONNECTing Women, the Dutch Ministry of Housing. Born in Dusseldorf, Deborah earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in history and political science from University of Toronto-Victoria University and a Masters from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.