This guide to finding work in Amsterdam will put things into perspective for you. Just be warned that it might not be what you want to hear! Get ready to face the cold reality of job hunting in Amsterdam (or in the Netherlands, for that matter).
What’s the job market in Amsterdam like in 2020?
When it comes to finding a job in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is probably your best chance. And yet it’s still so hard! While Amsterdam is booming with life and more international companies are establishing their headquarters here (thank you, Brexit!) it is still so damn hard to find a job.
If you’re looking for a vacancy in the field of hospitality, you have slightly better chances of finding a job. Amsterdam is overflowing with tourists, so hotels, shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants are constantly looking for extra people to work in customer service. However, if you have a degree and want to find a job within your field, chances are you’re going to struggle. It does not matter how qualified you are, and often expectations are unrealistic, but we’ll get into that later. (oh, the horror!) So now, without further ado, here is our guide to finding a job in Amsterdam.
Finding a low qualified job in Amsterdam
Can you get a low qualified job in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?
The short answer is yes. It is possible to find a low qualified job in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch. Amsterdam is so packed with tourists, that employers are willing to hire a non-Dutch speaker if they like you. But that does not mean it’s easy! If an employer had to choose between you, and a Dutchie they would go with the latter. That’s because the Dutch are just so damn good at speaking English! But if you want to have a better chance of finding a job in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch, then aim for the city center. That part of Amsterdam is so overrun by tourists that Dutch people seldom go near the place. This is where the odds may be in your favor!
Can you find student jobs in Amsterdam?
As I’ve mentioned time and time again, Amsterdam is busy-busy because of all the tourists. Therefore businesses within hospitality are constantly looking for workers, be it part-timers or full-timers. So if you’re a student looking for a way to make a few extra euros, there should be plenty of options. Just keep in mind that employers may not always care you have deadlines or classes, and schedule you in whenever is convenient for them.
Where can you find jobs in Amsterdam?
Everywhere! You probably have better chances at places that already have signs outside that they are looking for people. Other than that you can always hand in your CV at any shop, bar, or cafe that you think looks cool. However, from my personal experience, I’ve noticed that employers here get annoyed if you give them your resume when they haven’t posted anywhere that they are looking for people, keep this in mind.
Can I get a job at a coffee shop in Amsterdam?
This might sound like the wet dream of any American stoner kid. Other then that, it is possible for one to find a job at a coffee shop in Amsterdam. There is even that chain of coffee shops in Amsterdam called The Bulldog that is frequently hiring people. Now that is a supreme form of McDonalization!
Working in the Netherlands doesn’t mean you get to be stoned all the time! We got bills to pay Y’all, the pressure of renting and sorting utilities in the Netherlands demands that we remain sober! On top of all that you constantly have to deal with high-drunk tourists who don’t know how to smoke a joint without overdoing it and then panicking. Uncultured swines, with zero knowledge in the art of smoking weed! So yeah, I guess it’s no fun being the clear-headed one in these kind of situations.
Finding a highly qualified job in Amsterdam
Can you get a highly qualified job in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?
Now this is where our guide to finding a job in Amsterdam gets depressing. First of all, most companies in Amsterdam (and the Netherlands for that matter) require you to speak Dutch. Now, one would say that this makes sense for native Dutch companies, but no, this also applies to the majority of international companies. In fact, some international companies do not even have their job openings written in English. So finding a job with only English in companies is already pretty damn hard. But wait! It gets worse.
Can you find a highly qualified job in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch? Only Native English Speakers
That’s it! You’ve found it! You’ve found a job that only requires English! And then you scroll down to requirements to find the following 4 word: ONLY. NATIVE. ENGLISH. SPEAKERS. And sadly that is true. Most job openings that do not require Dutch, most of the time require native English speakers.
But I’ve spent years perfecting my English!
ONLY NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS!
But I’ve spent most of my life living in an English speaking country.
ONLY NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS!
But I know the difference between your, you’re, their, there, and they’re. Most native English speakers don’t even know that!
ONLY 🙂 NATIVE 🙂 ENGLISH 🙂 SPEAKERS 🙂
So yes, this is the sad reality of finding English speaking jobs in Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general. Unless you’re a native, most companies won’t even call you back to see how good your English actually is! So you’ve already lost the position before even getting to the interview stage where you can showcase your kick-ass English skills.
What about being a student looking for a job in Amsterdam?
If you have just graduated from a Dutch university and are super excited about entering your field, I have more bad news for you. Barely any companies offer positions for fresh university graduates. Furthermore, since it’s already so hard to find a job in Amsterdam, you compete with people who have a lot of experience, but are applying for positions way below their qualifications because they’re just as desperate.
On top of that, you also compete with Dutch students. So of course, the companies give preference to a student who at least knows both Dutch and English. Not to mention that it is also hard to find a job if you only have a Bachelor’s degree. While some companies may not require a Master’s, they will most probably go for the person with a higher degree.
What are the requirements for finding a job in Amsterdam? Years of experience for an entry level job
One thing that absolutely blows my mind about job hunting in Amsterdam is how entry-level positions require years of experience. Most times you are required to have more than two years of work experience in an international company.
Oh, that’s fine! I’ve done many internships at international companies.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but no! Most companies specify that internships do not qualify as working in the field, regardless of how long you’ve done it and at how many amazing companies you’ve worked.
But how am I supposed to get my foot in the door, if no one is willing to hire me in the first place?
Yeah, I wish a knew the answer to that too, buddy.
Can I find a job in the Netherlands if I’m not a European citizen?
If you’re not an EU citizen, then you might have an even harder time finding a job. People from outside of the European Union are required to have a work permit before they start a job in the Netherlands. If you are undocumented, you are not allowed to work in Holland. This applies for both low qualified and highly qualified jobs in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, most companies do not want to request a work permit for a non-EU citizen, which makes it even harder to find a job in Amsterdam.
Do you at least receive feedback on why you aren’t hired?
Another bummer about applying for jobs in Amsterdam is that you rarely receive feedback on why the company decided not to hire you, or invite you over for an interview. And if you do receive feedback, it is often very trivial. This is unfortunate, since such comments are important, in order for you to improve professionally. Alas, it is all in vain when applying for jobs in the Netherlands. So if you’re sending out a ton of CV’s each week, just keep in mind that you might never hear back from the companies.
The struggle of finding a job in the Netherlands: Your CV might not even be read because of your name
Now I know that this guide to finding a job in Amsterdam so far hasn’t been most cheerful and uplifting, but here is the last piece of bad news. According to recent new research, Dutch companies also discriminate based on the applicant’s name. This experiment consisted of sending the same job applications to 120 companies, but with different names. The research concluded, that the applicant who had a ‘Dutch sounding’ name, got his CV opened 100% of the time and frequently got called over for an interview. On the other hand, the applicants with ‘foreign sounding’ names got their CV’s viewed a lot less, and received little to no callbacks. So, finding a job in Amsterdam may be even harder for you if you don’t have a Dutch-sounding name.
Finding employment in different fields in the Netherlands
Can I find a job in Amsterdam within the sphere of engineering?
So let me just put this out there from the very beginning! According to legends, engineers have it the easiest! If you’re an engineer and you’re looking for a job in the Netherlands, chances are you won’t struggle as much. Since Holland is the land of innovation, engineers allegedly have an array of choices in the job market. Working in the Netherlands can indeed be a piece of cake for some people! The rest of us peasants are unfortunately doomed to struggle.
Can I find an IT job in Amsterdam?
Well, if you know your way with anything remotely related to IT your prospects of finding a job are pretty good to damn near perfect. Heck, after a while you will be digitally slapping the recruiters of your Linkdin-profile.
Even during the crisis, IT skilled people were in high-demand and nowadays the main reasons why IT-companies in Amsterdam aren’t growing faster is that they just can’t the people for the job. A short google search and you’ll find tons of companies and job agencies on the lookout to employ foreigners in the digital sector of the Dutch capital, have your pick!
Can I find a job in Amsterdam within the creative industry?
The Netherlands could also be a very creative place. I mean, this is the homeland of Rembrandt and Van Gogh! So there are quite a few possibilities of finding employment within the creative field. Just be warned, that there are not as many, as in the engineering and IT field. While Amsterdam certainly boasts with a ton of creative hubs, working spaces, and international marketing brands, finding a job within field of media, advertising, design, or art is still pretty tough (at least in my humble opinion). But if you do find a creative job in Amsterdam, at least there are plenty of museums and exhibitions to get inspired by.
Can I work as a freelancer in Amsterdam?
Yes you can, here’s our guide to working as a freelancer in the Netherlands (it’s called ‘ZZP’). And once you’re ready for actual work then we also have this sweet guide to co-working spaces in Amsterdam to work at as a freelancer for you here at DutchReview. Be warned though, it’s not only hip and trendy coffee-drinking as a freelancer in Amsterdam – many food-delivery companies and such are now just hiring people on a freelance basis (for low fee’s) to bike-deliver their food.
Extra tips on finding a job in Amsterdam
First thing’s first, finding a job is hard enough in a new country without the added difficulty of knowing only your native language. Get rid of this barrier by harnessing the power of the Dutch language in your interview.
Job hunting in Amsterdam might take awhile, but you should never give up! Here are some extra tips on finding a job in Amsterdam provided to us by Monica Nemcova:
- Go beyond Indeed and Linkedin. Check out websites of companies you like and you might find vacancies that are not listed elsewhere. For example, a lot of startups list their vacancies on Angel List.
- Set your preferences well on Linkedin. Then there is more chance that you will receive relevant vacancies straight into your inbox.
- Get referrals. Maybe a friend of a friend works in that company that you are interested in. Try to get them to refer you to the job.
- Look at what your non-Dutch friends are doing. Maybe their company is hiring! Exploit your network. If you don’t have one, start building one.
- Take your time answering questions. A lot of companies like to ask questions to their applicants. Open the application form, look at the questions and think for a bit about what you’d answer. And then answer.
- Look closely at the requirements for the position and highlight those skills/competencies in your resume and cover letter.
- Make sure your CV stands out. Employers in Amsterdam have to look at hundreds of CV’s each time their company has a job opening. So go beyond the black and white CV. Make it colorful, weird, and eye catching. This will make your CV stand out above all the other applicants.
More tips on finding work in Amsterdam
Wow, that was one long guide to finding a job in Amsterdam! But if you still want to know more about finding employment in the Dutch capital, we have a lot more on that! We can tell you the things expats complain about when job hunting in Amsterdam. Or even why finding an English speaking job in Amsterdam is so hard in the first place. Maybe you want to know what are your chances of finding a job with English as a student. Or just some general suggestions about handing out resumes, working in hospitality, or finding a job through an agency in Amsterdam. Many have gone through this struggle, so you are not alone!
So this was your guide to finding a job in Amsterdam! What is your experience with job hunting in Amsterdam? Do you have any helpful tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 31 July 2018, but was updated for your reading pleasure on 16 January 2020.
Feature image: Tim Gouw/Pexels.