If you did not move to the Netherlands with a job already set up, you may need to begin the practice dreaded by so many…Networking. This page is useful for any job hunter. It is, however, particularly applicable to expatriates who accompanied their significant other to the Netherlands, because they were offered work here. If you are an ‘expat partner’, you may well have left a steady job and a secure social circle in your home country. If you do not speak Dutch, and you are unfamiliar with the customs of the Netherlands, forging a working and a social life here can seem daunting! Networking is a fantastic solution to this predicament. This article will help you get started.

WHAT DRIVES EXPAT PARTNERS TO WORK?

There are numerous factors that drive the partners of working expats to carve out a new career for themselves. Here are a few examples: 

  • A desire to replace the job they had in their country of origin
  • The possession of fantastic skills and qualifications that they want to put to good use! According to an International Community Platform (ICP) report, 80% of expat partners are highly-educated, employable people
  • Financial reasons. Often the income of just one partner is insufficient to meet the needs of their family. Luckily, the Netherlands does have a unique attitude towards work and bosses 
  • To acquire new skills, share, learn, gain knowledge and grow as a person
  • The desire to have an independent circle of activities and friends, unrelated to those of their working partner or family
  • To seize a great opportunity! Michael Grothaus explains in his article: Top Jobs in Ten Years, that ‘flexibility’ is now a very desirable skill! If you can speak in an interview about how you moved to the Netherlands and forged a life for yourself, your interviewer may well be impressed. It demonstrates that you are adaptable, daring and independent

… modern female explorers… a euphemism for ‘trailing spouses’… tend to be flexible, independent and reliable. They are creative problem solvers, quick learners, adventurous and multi-culturally sensitive. Precisely the skills that today’s work opportunities require.”

Diane Lemieux, co-author of The Mobile Life, speaking in The Hague in 2014

How to start networking in the Netherlands

So, how do you begin to make contacts in a new country where you do not speak the language? Luckily, the Netherlands has a large international community. The number one way to become a part of said community, is networking! Here are our top tips on how to start:

  1. Keep it simple: Rather than worrying about finding official networking events in the beginning, simply view every opportunity to meet people as an opportunity to network. You can begin to build contacts this way, even if you do not know exactly what you want to do
  2. By ‘every opportunity’, we mean: a school yard interaction, a casual coffee morning or even an accidental conversation with a stranger on the train. They could all lead to a valuable connection
  3. Ask questions: Do not immediately try to sell yourself; you never know what you might learn from enquiring about another person’s experiences. You might even discover a career path or an opportunity you had never considered before
  4. Share your own experiences: However insignificant or irrelevant you think your background might be, sharing it is worthwhile. It is a way to practice conversing with others. Plus, it is a great means of connecting with someone, and forming a valuable contact. You are probably more interesting than you think!

This unofficial form of job hunting can be surprisingly fruitful. It is far more common than you might imagine for a nonchalant conversation on the bus to lead to a job interview. You just never know who might be looking for someone with exactly your experiences and interests, at the moment you introduce yourself. 

Once You are a Confident Networker

Once you have learnt the ropes, you will want to start networking a little more seriously. Events like The International City Podium are the way to go. This is a yearly coming together of people from all kinds of employment sectors. Here is what you need to know about it:

  • Employers and job-seekers are welcome alike
  • It will provide plenty of information on how to access employment opportunities and share networks outside of, and after, the event itself
  • Top international employers frequent the event. They will dedicate their day to enabling and inspiring you!
  • You must register for this event online

Volunteering in the Netherlands

Volunteering is another fantastic way to find a community of like minded people, and to make a difference in a way that is meaningful to you. Here are some tips on volunteering in the Netherlands:

  • By looking online you will find plenty of volunteering groups or organizations in your area
  • Many of the larger cities in the Netherlands now provide opportunities for their international community. For these, little to no Dutch is required. ACCESS is a fantastic resource
  • Volunteering is a form of networking as well. It is a means of meeting a lot of people, with whom you share a passion

Recommended reading
The Mobile Life: A book about the adventure of starting over in a new country.

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