Finding a job and working in the Netherlands

the Netherlands
Updated 2022-08-20 20:30

Because unemployment rates are so low and you can find many international companies in the country, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a job in the Netherlands. However, fluency in languages other than English (especially Dutch) can be extremely beneficial. Read on to find out how to find work in the Netherlands and how to increase your chances of success.

Good to know:

The unemployment rate in the Netherlands has always been low, with an average of 5.29% from 2003 until 2019; in April 2022, this dropped to 3.2%.

Work permits in the Netherlands

If you're from the EU or the EEA (this includes the EU, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Iceland), you won't need a work permit to seek employment in the Netherlands. Short-term, temporary workers won't need one either.

Otherwise, if you're staying for longer than three months, you'll need to apply for a work permit. It'll be a combined residence and employment permit, which is called a GVVA.

Some exceptions apply. If you're a highly-skilled migrant or worker, have a resident permit with “arbeid is vrij toegestaan” (permission to work), or are self-employed and carry out the work specified on your residence permit, then you won't have to apply for a GVVA.

The GVVA is considered a "single permit" and is most convenient since it combines with a residence permit. However, there's another permit called the TWV, which is an employment permit. These are for people who are working in the country for under three months, students who have a study residence permit, and asylum seekers who are still waiting on a decision for the asylum application.

It may be tough to get either a GVVA or a TWV, but it'll be easier for certain groups of people as there are fewer requirements. These include students who are working and studying at the same time in the Netherlands (working under 16 hours a week), trainees, interns, and spiritual leaders.

The labor market in the Netherlands

The Dutch labor market is great from an expat's standpoint. There's an excessive amount of vacancies, and unemployment rates are down. As of mid-2022, there are 133 vacancies per 100 unemployed, and the number of long-term unemployed people who have been looking for work for over a year decreased from 91,000 at the end of 2021 to 83,000 at the beginning of 2022.

As you can see, there are plenty of work opportunities. The pandemic had put many things to a grinding halt, which caused a large number of people to quit their jobs and turn to other work or become unemployed. But now that things have reopened, businesses are eager to get things back to how they were, so you'll find "hiring" signs in pretty much most shops!

Considering many Dutch companies have to prove they couldn't recruit any native Dutch people for their jobs before they recruit from outside of the country, this is good news for expats. There are plenty of opportunities abound, which means it shouldn't be challenging to find a company that'll sponsor and hire you.

How and where to look for work in the Netherlands?

The best way to look for a job in the Netherlands is through online venues, such as Monsterboard, Indeed, and LinkedIn. These are all job posting sites where you can perform searches for vacancies in your city or nearby.

You can also try joining expat groups on sites such as Facebook or Reddit. On these websites, there are huge expat networks where they look out for one another. Most will post about job vacancies at their companies, and you'll get an opportunity to be one of the first applicants.

Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is so popularly used that it deserves its own section. In fact, many headhunters reach out to promising candidates through this platform, so if you don't already have an account, then it's high time you made one. Otherwise, you're probably missing out on lots of opportunities.

While LinkedIn is considered a social media platform, it's a professional one, so make sure your profile is as pristine as possible. If you don't have a good photo to use, get dressed in nice clothing and take one against a clean background with good lighting. Don't just pick a random picture off of your Facebook account, as this can look unprofessional.

Make sure you fill out your profile completely as well; the more details you provide, the better. Put in your pronouns, work experience, and education. Describe the duties you were in charge of and the skills you've picked up from both work and school.

Add as many relevant connections as you can from your contact list. Then, if you feel comfortable, ask some of them to leave recommendations for you (you can do the same for them so you both benefit).

You also have the choice of uploading a resume, so you should do this to save some time in the future (our next section teaches you how to write a Dutch resume/CV). The beauty of LinkedIn is you can save your resume and attach them to job applications so that you don't have to type everything out again.

Speaking of job applications, you can be proactive and search for job openings yourself instead of waiting for a headhunter to contact you. The job search function will generate results for you based on the information you've filled out on your profile, but you can also tweak the parameters to narrow down both the positions and locations. You can then go through the results and start applying to the jobs you find interesting. You can also set up job alerts so you're one of the first to know when something of interest pops up.

Make sure to browse all the features of LinkedIn, as they can be invaluable in not only landing you a job but also ensuring you get paid what you're worth. For example, this platform has a skill assessments module, as well as interview prep information. You can also use their salary module to find out what you're "worth" in terms of your skills and experience; this can help ensure you don't get underpaid.

How to write your CV and cover letter in the Netherlands?

Dutch CVs don't differ too much from others in the Western world. It's pretty standard in that you list your name, contact information, relevant experience, and education. You can list your hobbies and interests as well if you've got room. It's not customary to attach a photo, but some employers may ask that you do. In that case, feel free to do so. If you're stuck on how to edit your CV, or if you've never written one before, you can find many templates online. Also, consider getting a free CV review at TopCV.

Make sure your resume is as succinct as possible; it should be no longer than two pages on A4 paper. The Dutch are known for being direct and to the point, so your CV should be like that as well. Don't exaggerate your skills; be honest and direct about them. Use bullet points and short sentences so it's easy for someone to scan.

If you don't have much work experience, you don't have to worry. You shouldn't lie, but instead, put the focus on your academic work. After all, your university experience should transfer over to a real-life job, so employers will be interested to see if you've got the necessary skills and savvy.

When you apply for a job, you'll also need to attach a cover letter in most cases. In the Netherlands, these are called “motivation letters” (motivatiebrief). These are also similar to traditional Western cover letters where you give the potential employer a glimpse into who you are. There are also templates for these online that you can use as inspiration, but in general, on top, you'll want to put your full name, address, phone number, and email address. Then, follow with the recipient's full name and address. And before you get into the meat of the letter, put down the date and a formal address to the recipient, such as "To whom it may concern".

For your cover letter, you should include why you're applying, as well as how you found the listing in the first place. Let the employer know why you'd be a good fit by showing them which relevant skills you have and what type of worker you are. It's also a great idea to show them the goals you want to achieve at that company, as it'll show the employer you're fully aligned with their ideals.

Your cover letter should also be on an A4 paper and should be no longer than one page. Try to keep a good balance, so you come off as enthusiastic but not overly so.

Generally, you'd write your CV and cover letters in whatever language the job posting's in. But in most cases, it's alright to write both in English, as most Dutch people and companies speak English. But if you want to get a leg up on your competition, it's best to use some Dutch, even if it's just a little bit. This shows the employer that you're dedicated to integrating with Dutch people and can be impressive.

The application process

You've sent off a job application and cover letter, so what now?

Typically, companies will acknowledge receiving your application within a week. Often, you'll receive a confirmation email right away after applying, especially if you've done so on LinkedIn.

Try to resist the urge to check up too often, as it can come off as you being over-eager, and it can be irritating to the employer, especially if they're inundated with requests. However, if you haven't even received confirmation after two weeks, then you should check in to see if your application's been successfully received.

Otherwise, it can take anywhere between a few days to even weeks to receive a call for an interview if you're a promising candidate. It all depends on how busy and organized the company is, so keep an eye out on your phone and email.

How to prepare for your interview in the Netherlands

If you've been lucky enough to land an interview, then you want to make sure you go in with the best chances possible.

Dress business casual for your interview and arrive on time, if not early. Bring copies of not just your resume but also any references or other documents that may help for the interview.

It may be helpful to practice interviewing beforehand so you don't get caught off-guard. There are plenty of online resources where you can find potential interview questions so you can prepare your answers. You should also prepare some questions for the employer, as they'll ask if you have any at the end of the interview. Having excellent ones for them will make a good impression.

If you have an online interview, make sure to still follow the above tips. This includes dressing up, being on time, and being prepared.

Wages in the Netherlands

If you're over 21 years of age, as of 1 July 2022, the minimum wage per month is €1,756.20; it's €405.30 per week and €81.06 per day.

If you're under 21, then you'll want to refer to the Government of the Netherlands' website to determine how much the minimum wage is for your age. There are separate ones for each age, starting at 15.

Working hours and benefits in the Netherlands

Part-time jobs are usually 20 to 32 hours a week, while full-time ones are 38 to 40 hours a week. Parents usually work part-time with one weekday off so they can spend more time with their family.

Employers are required by law to provide you with at least 8% of your gross yearly wage in holiday allowances. The only exception is if you earn three times the legal minimum wage, then you won't get a holiday allowance.

If you work full-time, your employer is legally required to give you at least 20 paid days off. Most companies offer more than that, such as 25.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.