5 steps to stay sane when looking for a job in the Netherlands

Looking for a job in the Netherlands? Here’s how not to go nuts

Looking for a job is tough no matter what. It’s a heartbreaking, soul-sucking experience where a bunch of strangers tell you you’re no good until somebody comes along, recognises your potential and drags you out of the black hole you’ve been in for a while. Unless you have a technical background, then none of the above apply to you and you probably have an unopened Linkedin message with a job offer you should go look at right now.

So I’ve thought about some steps you can take to make sure you stay sane and healthy as you push through this stage of your life ‘looking for a job in the Netherlands’. You got this!

#1 Set your objectives and expectations straight

Looking for a job in the Netherlands? Think about a weekly objective of how many jobs you want to apply to or maybe a number of people you’ll send your resume to. Think about how many jobs you’ll have applied to until the end of the month and work towards that every day. Know that around 50% of the companies will never get back to you and expect to hear “NO” on a daily basis. Give yourself time to understand the market, the jobs you’re applying to and keep up the work.

#2 Invest time in activating your network

Work your network, not your CV. This is not to say that your CV is not important, because it obviously is (in case you need some help on how to create a resume). But think about the fact that many jobs never get posted because they’re filled it internally or by recommendations. Reach out to people over coffee, Facebook messenger or Linkedin and tell them you’re available for new opportunities. List what kind of roles you’re interested in and your favorite industry. It’s always a nice surprise when people recommend you further on and I’ve personally found that most friends and acquaintances are more than happy to help where they can. Plus, a lot of companies offer bonuses to their employees when a job is filled in via recommendation so it’s a win-win situation.

#3 Go out with friends and work out

Think about getting a job as a full time job. So if you’re into to it 24/7, you’ll soon feel overwhelmed and unaccomplished. Make a routine that works for you, make it your crunch time to find the best opportunity out there that fits you and then try to detach from it at the end of the day. Make sure you keep your social life going on so you can get out of your head and share your struggles with people around you. A lot of the times you’ll get a bit of inspiration for extra things you can tweak to improve your search. If you can, work out just to lower your stress levels. Even if it’s just a long walk in the park or a bike ride around the city, let your brain breathe in and breathe out before you get back to work. Don’t underestimate the power of the endorphins.

#4 Learn how to be patient

This might have been my biggest learning curve of looking for a job in the Netherlands. Sadly, getting a job doesn’t happen overnight. Or better yet, finding the best opportunity for you doesn’t happen overnight. Ask others in your field how they found their job, get a vibe of how fast things move. I found out that anything between 3 and 6 months is normal for job seekers in Marketing/Communication. That sounds like an awfully long amount of time to me but it also allowed me to relax a little 2 weeks in my job search when it felt like it was the end of the world for not getting a job yet. If anything, it’s a great thing to be looking for a job in the Netherlands where most companies are not bureaucratic and a lot of hiring processes move fast enough.

#5 Looking for a job in the Netherlands: Don’t take it personal

When a company says no, it’s not saying no to all of you. Beyond skills and qualifications, it could be a million other things that are not a good fit. Whenever possible, try to get feedback but understand it’s not you versus the world. You’re not less of a good professional because 1 or 5 or 10 companies said no, it just means it’s not a match yet. Head up, eyes on the goal, you got this.

looking for a job in the Netherlands

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Madalina Buzdugan
Madalina is a curious mind who loves PR, lives to travel and thrives on sarcasm. A Romanian expat turning Dutchier by the minute, she blogs at www.lifewithmada.com and is always up for good wine, artsy events and cultural shizzle.


  1. It has nothing to do with one’s qualification and experience. They dont want to hire non-Dutch. It is as simple as that. Only if one is from IT background than there is a hope to find something suitable and this is because they dont have people with strong IT background. They can not get rid of people on transfer jobs (e.g. in MNC’s) or people working here for long but they dont want non-natives. See the first 200 job posts on Linkedin or any other job board. Networking, socializing etc nothing helps. HR department of MNC’s and recruitment consultants are kind of cartel here and they dont allow non-natives to penetrate so easily. Talking about the feedback following a rejection, one will be lucky to find a reason other than- being non-Dutch, being over qualified or not matching with the profile. No one will tell you exactly where your profiles does not match. Even if you are from the same industry and having cut-to-paste past experience as the job posting- dont feel over excited- they will find reasons to reject you. Try to go through the Linkedin profile of local candidates and you will find job hoppers, industry hoppers but still they are considered a good match for a good reason because they are locals. MNC’s can not hire any other nationality, despite not having any such agenda in their corporate policy because the local work force and local HR wont allow them or having a harmonized working culture. Basically there is mood of “non-acceptance” in locals, irrespective of their age, experience or qualifications. Should this be called an artificial barrier to entry? Dont know but this is a fact.

  2. I have a different experience in my team in a hotel. In total we are about 25 team members with at least 8 different nstionalities. It is so much fun!

  3. it’s tough for sure, I am in IT for 15 years and still it’s very tough.
    I have been doing almost everything I have been told in the last 6 months but still no luck. You say it’s not your skills or experience they say to and you should stay positive.
    After 6-7 months you start questioning everything your abilities as well as the local culture and practices.


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