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Working in Netherlands - Advice & Tips

Netherlands

Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in one of Europe’s more liberal markets. The Netherlands has an open internationally oriented economy, with a booming job market offering many opportunities also to foreign job seekers.

Job hunting in Netherlands

One of the most successful ways of finding work in The Netherlands is through speculative applications. Even if the company has no vacancies at the moment of writing, they still might keep your CV in file, in case a suitable vacancy arises at a later stage. Making a telephone call in advance is common for speculative as well as regular applications. Remember Dutch people are known for their openness and directness! The objective of a call is to make yourself known, however, keep it brief, and do demonstrate your initiative. Make sure you have specific points or questions to raise. You could, for example, telephone to find out more about the structure of the company or to whom to address the application. The telephone is very important when job hunting in The Netherlands. It is direct, brief and efficient, and very much in favour with Dutch managers. Use it! Useful information for speculative applications can be found in Directories such as ‘Nobiles’, ''ON Jaargids'' and ''Intermediair Jaarboek''.

The Application Letter

In general a letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application in more detail and hopefully invite you for an interview. Your application letter, however, should not provide too much information about experience and qualifications; this will be provided in your CV.

Although the Dutch are in general good at languages, you have to send your application in Dutch unless otherwise requested (writing your application in the language of the country concerned also applies to all the other countries, because not knowing the language will put you at real disadvantage from the local job seekers). The style is short, direct and professional.

Usually the letter opens with the reason for applying. The middle part explains why you consider yourself the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company. In ending the letter, it is common to say that you are willing to explain your application in more detail during a personal interview. Keep in mind, when writing your application letter, that the candidate''s motivation is one of the main selection criteria.

It is not necessary to include copies of diplomas, employer testimonials or other official documents. They will probably be checked at a later stage.

Although there is always a need ‘to sell’ yourself, it should be done with a touch of modesty. Your cover letter and CV should represent who you are, what you have done, and what you want to do in a neutral, down-to-earth way.

The Curriculum Vitae

A Dutch CV uses a direct factual style. It is in reversed chronological order on preferably one to two pages max. The CV gives only the facts and figures. Your motivation and qualities for the job have to be mentioned in the letter, not in your CV. A CV has to be typed and written in the third person singular. Include personal details, education (including courses, no results given), work experience (including dates) and leisure activities. Dutch recruiting officers attach great importance to leisure activities and civic responsibilities. These should, therefore, be mentioned in your CV. Make them look as relevant as possible for the job (e.g. playing team sports points to team spirit, etc.). Maybe superfluous, but adapt your CV for each specific job!

The Application Procedure

During the interview expect questions about your motivation, your education and about the company itself. Inform yourself thoroughly on the company in advance. Furthermore, expect questions about your character, your strengths and weaknesses, extra-curricular activities, as well as questions on membership of societies and organisations may be expected. As mentioned before Dutch recruiters attach great importance to leisure activities and civic responsibilities. Be prepared! You are not obliged to answer questions regarding your personal situation (e.g. "Are you planning to have children?"). This does not mean that those questions will not get asked, but if you do not want to answer them, find a polite way around it! At the end of the interview it is common to ask some questions yourself. Give some thought to it in advance.

Take copies of your curriculum vitae, diplomas, employer testimonials and any other documents you consider useful. They may not be asked, but it is better to have them with you, just in case.

On-line applications are nowadays common. In fact, a lot of job agencies, but also employers who publish their vacancies on-line provide the opportunity to complete the job application form on-line.

If we got you started on the Netherlands – order the guide ''Looking for work in the Netherlands'' for further info.

About the author

Looking for work in NetherlandsNannette Ripmeester is the expatriate affairs consultant to several multinational companies, which she advises regarding the strategy of international assignments and the practical implementation around expat issues.  Ripmeester started her international career at the European Commission, has worked on a project basis in 17 countries and is founder and Managing Director of Expertise in Labour Mobility (www.labourmobility.com).
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in Netherlands", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-058-0) is part of that series of guides. To order this guide or other guides that will help you to secure the international job you want, visit our website: www.labourmobility.com.  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.