There are many ways in which you can apply for a job in the Netherlands. Depending on your experience, your language skills and your personality, some methods will suit you better than others. You are most likely to succeed by pursuing work it in a variety of ways. We will take you through each technique, and it’s pros and cons, on this page. You can also find advice on how to construct your CV and cover letter. If you really want to impress a potential employer in NL, your written application must be of good quality. Read on to learn how to show Dutch companies what you’re made of, and get yourself hired!

How to Job Hunt in NL

Using a combination of techniques to find work in NL is most likely to get you the results you want. Here’s why:

  • In the Netherlands, only half of all job vacancies are advertised in the media, on the internet or through employment agencies
  • This means that more than 50% of vacancies are within what we call the ‘hidden job market’
  • For this reason, it is very important that you do not only apply for ‘officially’ listed jobs
  • Make sure you approach employers directly with open applications, and start building up your own network as well

Job-Hunting Resources

We recommend that you use a few of the following resources to pursue jobs in NL:

  1. The internet
  2. The printed press
  3. Employment and recruitment agencies
  4. Open applications
  5. Networking

We will explain each of these job hunting techniques in more detail, below.


Try to Be Flexible

It is important to know what you want, and to strive for it. Having said this, try to be realistic about the fact that you may not get there right away. Keep an open mind in the beginning; remain flexible with the type work you apply for and the jobs you accept. We give you this advice because:

  • You will be missing opportunities if your search is too narrow
  • Many expats ideally want to work in the creative sector or in consumer goods. The ‘consumer goods’ sector encompasses personal care products, advertising and fashion
  • Expats who are exclusively focused on this tend to overlook the business-to-business sectors. These comprise sectors like chemicals, engineering and energy
  • Competition is great in the creative and consumer goods industries in NL 
  • Consequently, the number of job openings is limited
  • These companies are not expanding quickly, especially compared to certain business-to-business sectors

Boss Over Employer

Another useful tip for ‘green’ jobseekers is to choose your boss, and not your employer. If you land a job in your dream sector, but you cannot stand your manager, you might find yourself at a disadvantage:

  • You are likely to be unhappy in your place of work
  • It might be difficult to get a good reference and move on, or to grow within the company
  • A good boss can open doors for you, regardless of the company you work for

Finding a Job via the Internet in NL

Roughly 95% of jobs that are visible to the public in the Netherlands are listed on the internet. Nowadays, only 5% are advertised in the printed media. There are both pros and cons to this new age of job hunting:

The Pros of Online Ads

  • Job seekers can apply for work all over the world
  • There is no need to go through the laborious task of getting your hands on a local newspaper from a country located hundreds of miles away
  • If you live in Brussels and are looking for a job in Hong Kong, the internet is definitely on your side
  • Once you have found a company that interests you, all you have to do is visit its website to learn more about it

The Cons of the Online Job Hunt

  • It is so easy to send your CV to a potential employer via the internet, that employers receive shiploads of them
  • This makes it hard for the employer to see how serious or competent a jobseeker you are
  • Lots of CV’s they receive will be extremely similar to one another. This does not make the task of sifting through candidates very stimulating. Hence, your CV may not be opened with much hope or enthusiasm
  • Being able to google an employer is a plus. However, they can google you right back! If they do not like what they see, this could be reason enough not to hire you

Get Yourself Noticed

How can you counteract this, and stand out from the crowd?

  • It is a good idea to make an initial, and a follow-up, phone call to your prospective employer. This way, they will be able to put a voice to your name. You will no longer be just a number in a pile of identical CVs
  • Make sure that your online persona is not too ‘unprofessional’


Speaking English in NL

  • The Dutch economy is very internationally-oriented
  • Hence, the ability to speak fluent English is an important requirement when looking for a good job in Holland
  • Commercial companies in particular will look for candidates with good English language skills
  • Other sectors, such as the health sector, non-profit organizations, NGOs, and governmental organizations are not so strict about hiring English-speakers
  • Remember that it is not easy for anyone to find a part-time job of fewer than 30 hours a week in the Netherlands
  • If you do not speak Dutch, it will be even harder

Employment and Recruitment Agencies in NL

Employment and Recruitment agencies often attract job-seeking expats who do not have much job-specific work experience. However, they may not be the best option for inexperienced job-seekers in NL. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Employment, or ‘temp’, agencies are called ‘uitzendbureaus in Dutch 
  • At the moment, in certain industries, there are a lot of job seekers
  • This means that employment agencies are getting a lot of calls from a lot of candidates
  • Consequently, these agencies are only interested in candidates who fit the profiles for the vacancies they have
  • Agencies will normally not be interested in candidates who require a work permit to be employed in the Netherlands

Succeeding with Dutch Agencies

How to succeed at finding work through a recruitment agency in NL:

  • If you have more than three years of work experience in a specific field, then we advise you to approach a specialized recruitment agency. They are more likely to be able to find you an appropriate position
  • If you have job-specific work experience, make this clear when you are preparing your CV to send to the agency
  • Be clear about the types of job you would and would not like
  • They will probably not agree to meet you in person, until they have seen your CV
  • They will want to see evidence that you are qualified
  • If you need a work permit in order to work in Holland, it is unlikely that job agencies will be able to help you. You might have more luck contacting companies directly
  • If you do not possess strong Dutch language skills be sure to ask the agency whether or not a command of the Dutch language is a requirement, before sending them your CV. If it is, signing up with them is a waste of time

Open Applications in NL

Open applications are another good way of finding a job in the Netherlands. Compared to finding work through a recruitment agency, however, this method may take longer to yield results. Here are our tips on making a successful open application in NL:

  • Target small and medium-sized organizations. They particularly appreciate jobseekers who have the willingness and initiative to reach out to them
  • Orient yourself with the organizational structure of the company, before you get in touch
  • Learn about the department you would like to work in within the company
  • Do not be vague about what you want, or what you have to offer the business
  • Address a specific person in your application
  • The manager of the department for which you wish to work is a good point of contact
  • If you cannot find their details, try the human resources manager who is responsible for recruitment

Networking in NL

We have a page all about ‘Networking in the Netherlands. Take a look for more detailed advice!

Many people feel comfortable applying for jobs in the conventional and methodical ways. However, in this tough employment market, jobseekers often find work through networking! Networking is partly to do with wooing the right people to get your foot in the door. Still, don’t leave it all down to cocktails, flattery and being in the right place at the right time. You need to follow a strategy when networking in NL:

Networking in Holland: Step by Step

  • Begin by making an overview of your current network, on paper
  • Next, set about expanding upon it
  • Find out whether there is an organization of professionals, within your line of work, in the Netherlands. Unless your vocation is very niche, it is likely that you will be able to find at least one
  • Try to get in touch with them through social media. LinkedIn and Facebook are great platforms through which you can establish initial contact
  • These days, LinkedIn is an especially big part of Dutch culture. It is used by many Dutch professionals, recruiters and employers
  • Reach out to people and expand your network
  • When speaking to a new contact, either face to face or online, be clear and concise about what you are looking for, and what you have to offer
  • Good networkers know how to make small talk. More importantly, however, they know when and how to get to the point!

Writing your CV in NL

Whichever type of job-hunting you choose to focus on it is highly likely that, at some point, you will have to send a potential employer your CV. The quality of your resume can be a real deal-breaker. It is also your opportunity to sell your best self, so make sure yours is up to scratch!

  • Throughout Europe, a resume is called a ‘curriculum vitae’, or a ‘CV’  for short
  • In the Netherlands, employers prefer a concise CV
  • This means it should only be one or two pages long, and include a clear portrait photo
  • It should have been tailor-made for the position to which you are applying
  • Your CV should start with your work experience, unless you have just graduated and have yet to get any
  • If you are still inexperienced, list your achievements
  • Arrange your pieces of experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent one
  • Pay special attention to the job titles of your past positions: will a former job title be the same in the Netherlands as in the country you are from?
  • Have your diplomas evaluated by the IDW. The IDW is the centre for ‘International Credential Evaluation’ in the Netherlands. State that the evaluation has been carried out, on your CV. This way, your potential employer knows what the equivalent Dutch diploma is, to your qualification
  • If you have lived, worked or studied in more than one country, say so on your CV. Today’s employers are often specifically looking for employees who have international experience
  • Clearly specify your language abilities. Do not be too generous with the truth when you do this. If you are invited to interview, and are tested on your Dutch when all you can say is kroketten, it will not go down well
  • As we said before, remember that employers will google you. Your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles should make you look hireable

Writing a Cover Letter for a Dutch Employer

Always send a cover letter to a potential employer, along with your CV. Here are our best cover-letter writing tips:

  • Clearly state why you are applying for a position
  • Learn about the organization to which you are applying, and display this knowledge in your cover letter
  • Include one or two sentences on what you expect to contribute to the company
  • Employers appreciate it when you try to place yourself in the shoes of their clientele. Show that you understand their wishes and needs in your letter
  • Use the same type of language and vocabulary that you see on the company’s website, and in the job description. This will show your future employer that you are observant, on their wavelength and a good fit for the role
  • Check your spelling and grammar, and then check it again!

Don’t like the idea of working for someone else? Read about being your own boss on our page about Starting your own Company in the Netherlands.

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