Working in the Netherlands – How to?

Well known for its beautiful tulip fields and crazy nights out in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is much more than this. 

The Netherlands is commonly considered as a modern country, with one of the highest standards of living in the world. If you are dreaming of finding a country with great job opportunities, this guide will introduce you to doing so in the Netherlands.

The Dutch job market in 2019

As explained in How to Decide Where to live Abroad it is essential to make sure that the country where you want to move is in the right economical position to offer you jobs. With an unemployment rate of around 3.5% and a fast growing knowledge based economy, there are a lot of jobs in the Netherlands. Actually, the current job market is so tight that many companies have big issues finding manpower.

Let’s start with what probably is your main concern: the language. While Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, pretty much everyone speaks fluent English there. In general, you do not need to worry if you do not speak Dutch, there are a lot of jobs in Holland for English speakers. It might sound like a paradox but due to the trade base nature of Dutch economy, it might be more beneficial to speak another main language rather than Dutch. 

Jobs in the Netherlands

Thanks to the open job market, you can easily find a job in virtually any sector, from catering to aerospace. However, which are the professions and sectors with the best job opportunities in the Netherlands?

Any sort of technical job has endless opportunities in the Netherlands. The shortage of engineers, (software) developers and technicians is huge. You won’t have any issues finding work in Holland in such positions! Other jobs in the Netherlands that can be easily found are marketing, business, finance, supply chain and research. If you are a Medical Doctor, speaking Dutch or at least the willingness of learning it quickly might be a requirement.

Due to a very business friendly environment, many big multinational companies are based in the Netherlands.

Example of large employers offering English speaking jobs in the Netherlands are:

  • Banking: ING, Rabobank, ABN  AMRO
  • (High) Tech: ASML, Philips, NXP, Booking, Google, Oce
  • Oil & Gas: Shell, Exxon, BP, Eni, Chevron
  • Industry: Tata, Duff 
  • Food and Beverages: Heineken, Starbucks, Danone 
  • Information: Elsevier
  • Aerospace: Fokker, Airbus, ESA
  • Ship building: Damen, Royal IHC

Visas and work permits 

At this point you are now probably asking yourself: “I want to work in Holland, am I allowed to do so?”.

Let’s start with the easy ones: citizens from the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a residence or work permit. If you are from one of these countries, you can just move there and start looking for a job, isn’t that amazing?

If you are from any other country, you will probably need a work permit to work in the Netherlands. However, Dutch are quite open to migrants and there are a lot of visa options. Everyone can apply to vacancies, even if you do not (yet) have a work permit. If this is not the case, usually it is clearly stated in the vacancy. If you get the job, your employer will take care of your visa application. For more information on work permits and visas, you can visit the Dutch government’s website.

How to get jobs in the Netherlands

I want to work in Holland, where do I start?

Most jobs in Holland are posted on LinkedIn. Search for suitable jobs on LinkedIn but also on the companies’ career websites. You can start by looking for offers from the main employers listed above, but don’t forget to look for other big companies and startups, as opportunities are endless.

Should I immediately move to the Netherlands or search from abroad?

Finding a job abroad gets easier if you are already in the country. However, moving there without a job can be quite expensive, make sure you have the finances to afford it. In addition, this can create some issues for people that need a working permit. Make sure to check your specific Visa situation before making this decision. If you are from one of the lucky countries where no visa is required, good news, this does not apply to you

Make a good CV and a motivational letter

Dutch are really direct and practical. When writing your cover letter and your CV, be straight to the point in describing yourself without being shy about your strengths and weaknesses.

Remember, in the Netherlands you always need to put a picture in your CV.

Job interviews

I can’t emphasise enough that Dutch are very straight to the point. Job interviews in the Netherlands can be very different from your own country. Here are some tips:

  • Go well dressed. Better to be overdressed than underdressed. I recommend to always wear a suit.
  • Be on time! Punctuality is very important in the Netherlands.
  • Formal or not formal? Although Dutch working culture is generally informal, it is recommended to start talking to the other person formally during the interview. However, if the interviewer explicitly tells you to call him by his/her first name, do that. If Dutch say something, they mean it!
  • In the Netherlands, all questions are asked to get answers, not for formality. This might sound obvious for people coming from similar cultures, but not for everyone. In some countries questions like “how are you” are just social conventions and don’t require a follow up, not in the Netherlands. If a Dutch person asks you how you are, you are expected to answer.
  • Ask them sharp questions about their working culture, business model, ongoing projects etc. Prepare questions upfront, cause you WILL be asked “do you have questions for us” and you must have some ready!

Now you’ve learnt everything you’d need to find a job in the Netherlands, make sure to follow all our tips and remember to try hard and don’t lose hope. Your dream job is out there and the Netherlands is definitely a really good starting point to look for it!