5 Tips to Move Your Career to The Netherlands

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 | 1 comment

The Netherlands is officially called the Kingdom of the Netherlands and in English it often referred to as “Holland” and the people are often referred to as “Dutch.” According to the Dutch Foreign Ministry, the Dutch population is over 16 million, and nearly 20% are immigrants and/or belong to ethnic minorities. People with a foreign ethnic background tend to live in the larger cities, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. In these areas, they make up nearly one-third of the inhabitants.

The Netherlands’ economy is internationally-focused, as it is based on foreign trade. A large number of international companies have offices in The Netherlands, and English is widely used in business. An area known as The Randstad, which includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and to some extent Utrecht, has the highest concentration of international businesses. Traditionally over 80 percent of work in The Netherlands is heavily involved in the service industries, such as banking, finance, IT, sales & marketing, energy, and customer service.

The Netherlands’ workforce is internationally-oriented, highly educated and multi-lingual. However, there remains a demand for highly skilled workers, and there are incentives for international employees and a fast-track program for highly skilled migrants. If you are not a national of an EU, EEA country, or Switzerland, you will need to apply for a residence permit if you want to stay in the Netherlands for over three months. A residence permit can be obtained from the Immigration and Naturalization Service – IND.

For additional information on living and working in Netherlands, see the Dutch Government’s immigration website, called New to Holland.

Below are 5 tips for an expatriate’s job search in The Netherlands:

1.      Most expats find work in Netherlands through internet, media, networking or job agencies.


Job searching online is a quick and easy method when you are not yet residing in the country. You can find jobs that suit your skill set, and can be done wherever you are at the present time. It is easy to search for jobs by sector, role, and location, and many of the larger companies, and job agencies have sites where you can view current vacancies, upload your CV, and some will even reply to you if a job matching your criteria arises. If you don’t see a vacancy that suits you now, you can still upload your CV speculatively – it’s quite common to do this in The Netherlands. Spend some time searching on Hotfrog, the Reed Business press service. Although it is in Dutch, you can familiarize yourself with the basic terms for sectors (which are often very similar to the English words) and you can look up the businesses active in these sectors and click through to their web sites. Look for freelance opportunities on Craigslist Amsterdam or Freelance.  Advertise your services or any specific skills you have (under “diensten,” or services) on Marktplaats.


Get into the habit of looking for jobs in the daily Dutch newspapers, and look in the classified ads for jobs advertised in English. The Saturday papers are particularly useful as they have a special section on jobs (vacatures). Some of the main newspapers to look at are: NRC Handelsblad, De Telegraaf, Volkskrant, Intermediere, ViaVia, and De Particulier.


Many jobs in Hollandare filled through referrals. Never underestimate the value of contacts for job search, whether they are friends, colleagues, neighbors or acquaintances – they can be an invaluable resource to you as a job seeker. Become an active member of professional social media such as LinkedIn as it is a good source for finding employment throughoutHolland.

If you work in a specific profession, seek out the organizations that represent your field and attend seminars and conferences that deal with issues in your profession. This is always an excellent opportunity to network. You can contact, for example The Royal Institute of Engineers in the Netherlands, Bond NederlandseOntwerpers (Designers), Bond NederlandseArchitecten (Architects), Chemistry / Life sciences, Organization for Dutch Medical Students and many other organizations.

Another method is to ask other parents at your children’s school or local daycare centers about work, as moms who drop their kids off at daycare are often working mothers.

You could also contact The European Professional Women’s Network in Amsterdam a vibrant, growing pan-European federation of more than 15 women’s networks that combine a online networking platform, linking several thousand business women across Europe, with regular, offline events in many cities including Amsterdam.


There are dozens of job agencies, but job hunting in The Netherlands for expats is made easier by the fact that several recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) specialize in recruiting non-Dutch nationals.

There is a collective website that lists jobs and the various agencies that can usually be found grouped together in a central location in any city. See the Uitzendbureau website, where searches can be carried out on the basis of keyword (trefwoord) or city (plaatsnaam). If you’ve decided to go through placement agencies to find a job, it is important to persevere and follow through on opportunities. It is wise to be persistent, show your face, and keep in touch once you have made initial contact by periodically calling and building a rapport with an individual.

2.      Many expats start a business.

Starting up your own “eenmanszaak” (one-man business) is easy once you have your residence permit and “burger service nummer” (citizen service number). Go to the Chamber of Commerce for starter seminars and register your company for a fee. Follow the Chamber of Commerce link that describes the business start-up procedures in The Netherlands in English.

The IMK (InstituutvoorMidden-en Kleinbedrijf– Institute for Small and Medium-Sized Companies) also offers starter courses and a guidance manual. Additionally research the municipal websites for the main sectors active in your city and other basic facts and figures, which will help you make an informed decision on what kind of business there is room for. (By choosing English and/or Economic Affairs on the website, you’ll be taken to the area that deals with attracting business to the area or supportive services and advice.)

3.      Learn Dutch!

If you don’t succeed in finding a job right away, spend your time intensively learning Dutch– once you are hired, it is likely the focus will be on your ability to speak English or your native language, which means your opportunity to really learn Dutch will dissipate. The Dutch will not expect temporary expats to speak Dutch immediately, but increasingly they expect it if your plans are to stay longer.

For long-stay foreigners there are obligatory “inburgering” courses (familiarizing you with Dutch ways and language). Apart from that, your willingness to learn Dutch reflects well on you and is thought to be a reflection of your work ethic and professional/personal commitment.

4.      Take advantage of your current language skills.

Teaching English, German, or French is an option if you have a Masters-level education. In this case, a teaching certificate (called 1e graads or 2e graads) is not always necessary for a formal school. Look into adult education too, including language schools or centers that provide in-company training. Click on international schools to find information on the schools in Amsterdam region. Additionally, some companies look for proofreaders or correctors in various languages, so it may be worth contacting the large firms.

5.      Consider volunteering as a job search strategy.

Finally, think about volunteer options or offering your initial services for free as you may benefit from new contacts and paid freelance work as a result. Always be clear that anything free is a one-time offer, unless of course you just want to volunteer and give to the community.

Access has been a favorite place for volunteers looking to help or to launch into a job. They need volunteers for a variety of projects in both Amsterdam and The Hague offices. They also receive requests from other organizations that are looking for volunteers. Freeflex offers various volunteering opportunities. Idealist is another good place to look for volunteer opportunities. Search under The Netherlands listings which are frequently updated and also include expat-related listings.


Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity in the UK and other countries. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 75+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to: info@passportcareer.com) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.

Compiled by Lucia Kolaja Bordean, Program Specialist
Source: Passport Career password-protected content collected by in-country experts. Copyright 2012 by Passport Career, LLC. 

One Comment

  1. Hi!
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    Thank you!
    Best regards
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