Tackling the dual-career spectrum – ACCESS Training Network
2019-11-29 | By Deborah Valentine
The signs are imperceptible. But we see them. The employment market and opportunities for internationals looking for jobs in the Netherlands is growing … imperceptibly perhaps, but we see the trend. Here at ACCESS, there is a slightly higher turnover in our volunteers. From within our own volunteer network there are more people finding jobs or paid internships. We celebrate this even though it does – of course – place some strains on what we do. But, by the same token, as opportunities increase locally, so do the numbers of people coming in to the Netherlands for the first time. So while we may see more leaving us for jobs, we also see more coming to us. We, at ACCESS, are prepared; we manage this transition of supply and demand. We have processes, procedures, knowledge transfer mechanisms and more, in place to be able to wish our volunteers a fond (though sometimes bittersweet) farewell, as we welcome newcomers with open arms.
Question is: are you, as a globally-mobile employee, or the ‘other half’ of one, as prepared? From the resources we have, within the ACCESS Training Network, combined with our own institutional experience, here we share a few tips to meet the challenge of tackling the dual-career spectrum.
Culture proof your CV
CVs, or ‘resumés’, may seem universal– but how they are presented, what is included or excluded, where value is placed, etc., does differ from country to country, not to mention from industry to industry. It is well worth reviewing your CV to ensure it fits within the cultural parameters and expectations of the Netherlands. With so many more job openings these days, and candidates looking, making sure your CV – and covering letter hit the right mark – is vital. Be sure, of course, to take advantage of technology, and spell check both. Mistakes catch people’s attention – but not in a good way.
Value of LinkedIn in NL
According to Bastian Verhulst of LinkedIn Netherlands, this business social network is visited monthly by 4.2 million Dutch people, and has surpassed 6 million Dutch accounts. “With this number we are not only the country with one of the highest penetration rates in the world, but we have also been in the top-3 ‘most engaged LinkedIn countries’ for years.” Experts will tell you though it is not simply being on LinkedIn that enhances your visibility to potential employers. It is having a profile which attracts, is clear about what you are looking for as well a being active within the network. Investing in ensuring you are using this tool correctly is therefore highly recommended; that goes for content, as well as a professional image.
Check on skills/talents/passions
Relocating to a new country is, for many, an opportunity to reflect on work, career and passions. This period is the chance to change directions, pursue further studies, start something new. One of the resources ACCESS recommends for this exercise is the book Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichcrath-Smith, both of whom have worked and started businesses in the Netherlands. The workbook includes a programme you can follow to explore, determine and identify the skills, talents and strengths you already have.
Network, volunteer, engage
Looking for a job can be a lonely experience, and there are only so many hours in a day one can dedicate to the process. Time for yourself, doing something you like while meeting people and expanding your local network can not only contribute to a sense of fulfilment, it also expands the network of people you know. New acquaintances may be the source of a new job lead or recommendation. They say that up to 70% of the job market is hidden – behind networks of all sorts, becoming involved therefore is one way of accessing them. Besides volunteering for ACCESS, there are a number of internationally-oriented groups and associations with which to join, and more and more volunteer opportunities within the local Dutch environment for which Dutch fluency may not be a requirement. Contact your local municipalities for these volunteer vacancy sites, or reach out to the ACCESS Helpdesk for resources near you.
Give yourself time
Relocating to a new country takes time, and energy. Adding to the already many tasks related to moving a family, a home, a life to another country – simultaneously tackling the job market in a foreign country may be too much. Our advice: give yourself time to get settled, acclimatised and familiar with your surroundings, and how things are done. While doing so, make a mental plan of what steps you will take, how you will implement what needs to be done and where you may need support,. When the dust of moving has settled, and your energy levels are back where you need them, you will be ready to tackle the next step: you and your career. Learn more about the ACCESS Training Network.
About the author
Deborah Valentine is the Executive Director of ACCESS, a not-for-profit volunteer-based organisation which has been helping internationals arrive and settle in the Netherlands since 1986. Her colleagues at the Helpdesk and at the expat centres of The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden are there to help – and have been in your shoes.