Work in the Netherlands

Job market in the Netherlands

There are lots of opportunities for expats to work in the Netherlands. The country is home to a wide range of international and multinational companies; Dutch internationals alone include ING Group, Royal Dutch Shell Group, Unilever, Philips, and Heineken. There’s also plenty of recruitment agencies aimed at placing foreign workers in jobs in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has a relatively stable economy backed by plenty of foreign investment encouraged by advantageous tax conditions. The country also has a diverse, well-educated population, almost 24% of whom are foreign or ethnic minorities.

looking for a job in the netherlands

There are a number of thriving and growing job sectors in the Netherlands. These include agriculture and food, creative industries, chemicals, energy, IT, health and life sciences, logistics and the service industry.

Job vacancies in the Netherlands

This group includes engineers, those with technical skills, IT specialists, those working in finance, as well as people with experience of working in sales, marketing, and customer service.

Job salaries in the Netherlands

Highest monthly starting salaries are for dentistry (€4,000) and pharmacy (€3,300). Lowest starting salaries for skilled positions are dance and music (€1,200) and visual art and design (€1,300).

In terms of average salaries, the Netherlands scores quite highly out of EU countries. According to 2018 figures, labor costs in the Netherlands were the 5th highest in Europe and over 25% above the EU average.

Work culture in the Netherlands

The Dutch usually work a 36-40-hour week, sometimes spread over just four days. In general, work in the Netherlands is very well-structured within organizations. Most work happens during normal working hours (i.e., between 9am and 5pm), although out of hours and shift-work is also common. Unless at managerial level, employees are not typically expected to work overtime.

Dutch society is relatively egalitarian and this translates into the workplace. In fact, Dutch companies often have a horizontal organizational structure and they usually follow step-by-step plans.

Labor laws and rights in the Netherlands

Dutch labor laws are quite extensive and tend to favor the employee, especially when it comes to dismissal. Your contract should specify the full details of your contract including the length of the contract, employee rights, and work conditions.

Labor agreements in several Dutch industries have been drawn up as a result of collective labor agreements (collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO). Employees can benefit from these even if they do not belong to a union.

Requirements to work in the Netherlands

Work visas in the Netherlands

If you’re from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), or Switzerland, you are free to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a work or residence permit.

Most employees will qualify for the single work and residence permit in the Netherlands, although some categories of people, such as students in the Netherlands and seasonal workers in the Netherlands, still need separate work and residence permits. Others, such as highly-skilled workers in the Netherlands and holders of the EU Blue Card, only need residence permits, not work permits.

Language requirements to work in the Netherlands

You don’t have to speak Dutch to work in the Netherlands – in fact, English is the main business language in many companies. However, it increases your chances if you do. You will probably end up working in the Netherlands for a large international company if you don’t speak Dutch.

Qualifications to work in the Netherlands

Your chance of finding work in the Netherlands is greater if you hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. To find out whether your qualification is recognized or your profession regulated in the Netherlands, visit Nuffic (the organization for international co-operation in education).

If you get an interview for a job, you’ll need to show original testimonials or references from former employers. Because of this, make sure you bring diplomas, degree certificates, and employer testimonials when you move to the Netherlands.

Tax and social security numbers in the Netherlands

You will also need a Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN) before you start work in the Netherlands. Everyone needs this personal tax and social security number, and you get it when you register at the city hall on your arrival.

Be proactive during the interview.

Rather than allow for the recruiter or hiring manager to ask you all of the questions, be confident and proactive during your time together. You’ve researched the company’s culture and mission on Glassdoor, and you’re looking for a job that fits your life. Therefore it’s important to dig deeper. If you ask questions about management style, professional development, performances measurements and team collaboration, you’ll show a potential employer you’re both an informed candidate and serious about the job.

Hopefully, you know by now that Facebook statuses that describe wild nights with friends can a turnoff to potential employers. But did you know that you can use social media to build a personal brand , making you more attractive to a hiring manager? One easy way to do just that is to expand from what’s on your resume—you can post pictures or summaries of projects you’ve worked on, include a short bio about your skills, or share articles that show you’re an expert in your industry.

Seal the deal by negotiating.

The final stage of getting a job is negotiating the package. While compensation often comes to mind first, remember that there are far more facets of the job that you can customize than you think. From benefits to work-from-home options, stock options to a travel stipend, there’s a lot on the table. Make a list of the things that are most important to you and that you’ll need to execute your job well. Be sure to check Know Your Worth to make sure their base salary offer is competitive with the market. Then, speak to your hiring manager and the recruiter about whether those needs can be fulfilled. These days, negotiating is an expected part of the job search process. Ask as many questions as you need and get the answers you need to make the best job decision for you.

Learn More!

Getting a job can feel like winning the lotto. However, with a few tips and tricks, getting job will have much better odds. Here are additional resources to help you on your path to finding a job that fits your life:

Related Career Guides

How to Decline a Job Offer

How to Evaluate a Job Offer

Read next: Part 12: The most powerful way to improve your career: Join a community.

Notes and references

*Focus on the right ways to source candidates.
Basically, this boils down to “use your personal networks more”. By at least a 10x margin, the best candidate sources I’ve ever seen are friends and friends of friends. Even if you don’t think you can get these people, go after the best ones relentlessly. If it works out 5% of the time, it’s still well worth it.
When you hire someone, as soon as you’re sure she’s a star you should sit her down and wring out of her the names of everyone that you should try to hire. You may have to work pretty hard at this.

We think this advice is reflective of best practice, at least in the technology industry, which is widely seen as a leader of best practices more generally. This article in the New York Times also describes how referrals are becoming more widely adopted as a key method of hiring across the business world:

His research is based on surveys of 35,000 salespeople, and draws from the existing literature, making it one of the most thorough reviews we know. Moreover, most advice is about low value sales, which turn out to be quite different.

Rackham not only found the techniques that the best salespeople use, he then trained people in these techniques and showed they made them more effective compared to a control group who received normal sales training.↩


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