Finding work in the Netherlands as an international and expat: it’s not an easy task sometimes, I’m not going to lie to you. However, preparing well in advance will help you massively when it comes to sealing your perfect job in the Netherlands.
So, how do you prepare yourself for finding work in the Netherlands as an expat? Well, as someone who has been there, here are 10 major things you need to know. 🏃♂️
1. Finding a job in the Netherlands is hard
I’m going to be honest here first and foremost:
Is finding a job in the Netherlands hard for international folks?
Hell yes, it is. 😬
Finding a job in the Netherlands as an international can be hard. Combine this with the fact that it’s one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, and you’ve got a ton of people all frantically looking for jobs.
Talk to any international in the Netherlands and they’ll all tell you the same — the struggle is real.
However, that’s certainly not to say all hope is lost and you’ll never find a job in the Netherlands.
There are plenty of Dutch companies who hire internationals. Expats become employed every single day, and some are even lucky enough to score a job the first time around.
It’s important to understand that finding a job in the Netherlands is difficult but certainly not impossible.
2. You don’t always have to speak Dutch when working in the Netherlands
Struggling with Dutch and think you have no chance? No worries.
Naturally, being fluent in Dutch opens up many opportunities, but if you’re new to the Netherlands, you can still get a job.
So before you start breaking down in tears over that failed Duolingo attempt, get googling for those international jobs here in the Netherlands.
There are websites that have a search option where you can input the type of work, the preferred language and the location, and it will then show you all of the jobs in your language and location.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief (in English)!
Want to find jobs in the Netherlands in English, German, French, or another language? On Undutchables, you can search by your preferred language to find your dream Dutch job.
3. You don’t have to be living in the Netherlands to find a job (but it’s easier if you’re here!)
It’s not unheard of for an international to secure a Dutch job from overseas, particularly for sectors that are in high demand, like engineers, tech, and health professions.
After all, interviews can be done online, or some companies will even fly you over on their own dime if they think that you’re a great fit.
If you’re not in an in-demand field, you may have a much harder time (or have to shell out for some plane tickets and a hotel to attend your interviews).
4. Some recruitment agencies in the Netherlands actively seek out internationals
What really surprised me during my search for work was that some recruitment agencies are out there purely to seek out internationals and employ them.
You become employed by these agencies, which will then place you in the workforce until your contract ends. Then you can be directly employed by the company if you’re the perfect fit.
You don’t have to pay a fee for these recruitment services either, which makes it even better!
It all just makes sense — with online recruitment, you can do it from the comfort of your own home and have access to many different jobs at your fingertips.
When applying through Undutchables Recruitment Agency, the same applies. If there isn’t a job out there for you, you can arrange for them to notify you when something relevant pops up, and then you can apply. A colleague’s partner got his current job when first arriving in the Netherlands through Undutchables and is still in the job years later!
5. You need to prepare well in advance
Preparing in advance is key if you’re planning on working and living in the Netherlands. Sorting out that work visa should be at the top of the list (if you’re an EU national, you can skip this step, you’re all good).
This, along with booking an appointment to register at your local municipality keeps everything legal.
Opening a bank account should be one of the next steps, and you have a couple of options when it comes to choosing a Dutch bank and opening a Dutch bank account so you can collect your new Dutch salary.
You can even open a bank account before you arrive in the Netherlands!
Also, be aware, if you are working and living in the Netherlands, you must take out Dutch health insurance — this is compulsory!
We know what you’re thinking: there’s so much to organise.
We understand, but it’s worth it, and let’s help you set up! Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- Sort your visa/work permit
- Find a place to live AND find a job (that’s easy, right?)
- Register at your local municipality
- Open a bank account
- Sort your Dutch health insurance
6. The CV and interview process in the Netherlands may be different from what you’re used to
Scoring a job in the Netherlands by perfecting that CV/resume and attending that dreaded interview may be different from what you’re used to, depending on where you’re from.
In the Netherlands, I learned that CVs should be no longer than two pages. You also don’t have to include your picture on your CV; however, many people still do this (insert awful passport-style photo here).
The interviews are just as nerve-wracking as in other countries, but all follow a similar structure.
Dressing for your interview all depends on what job you’re going for, and dressing for interviews in the Netherlands is certainly lax in comparison to other countries.
For example, in the UK, you are generally expected to go full suit and tie with polished shoes. Whereas in the Netherlands, it’s important to look smart, but you don’t have to go overboard.
7. Working from home is common in the Netherlands
This article was brought to you by me, sat in my bed with a cup of hot chocolate, and that’s not unusual — even before the pandemic years.
Working from home can be common practice for some workplaces, and I personally love it.
The Dutch workplace is known for being less rigid when it comes to working, and generally, if you need to be at home, depending on your job, you can spend that one less day at the office and work from the confines of your own home instead.
The Dutch value their hard work, but also their spare time too. Working doesn’t have to be at the office and living doesn’t have to just involve work.
READ MORE | 7 ways a Dutch job is different
Many people (especially women) work part-time in the Netherlands and/or work mainly or solely from home. So, if you’re liking the idea of a home-office situation, then you may have just got lucky. Gezellig!
It’s worth noting that while you may, of course, request to work remotely or hybrid in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has not passed this right into law. This means your employer is not legally required to say yes to your request.
8. You need to get your head around the tax system
The Netherlands is known for its notoriously high tax on almost everything.
Before you start working in the Netherlands, you need to be aware of what contributions you need to make, how much you’ll actually get paid, and what rights you have when working in the Netherlands.
❓ How much income tax will I pay in the Netherlands?
In 2024, all people working in the Netherlands must pay at least 36.97% in income taxes (including national insurance contributions) if you earn under €75,518.
If you earn above this amount, you must pay €49.50% of your salary in income tax.
This will be deducted from your pay before it is paid out to you. You will also have to pay additional taxes if you are particularly wealthy and/or have a large amount of savings.
9. Your travel costs are covered most of the time
The majority of companies will reimburse your full travel costs to you monthly, so you don’t have to worry about a long commute eating up half of your wages.
Many other companies offer other reimbursements, such as paying a percentage of your gym or club memberships, to encourage their employees to stay healthy physically and mentally outside of the workplace.
Other companies offer bonus money if you don’t call in sick (not always great when you’re forcing yourself to go in and infecting everyone), but it encourages the workforce not to be tempted to call in sick for silly reasons.
In my experience, companies in the Netherlands treat their workforce very well, and you will be rewarded for your hard work. If not, it’s time to change that job of yours.
10. Borrelen makes everything worth it
Who doesn’t love a free beer and some bitterballen after all that “finding a job and starting a new job” stress? Well, this is something you’ll enjoy at many Dutch workplaces.
Usually, towards the end of the week, either once per week or per month, you and your colleagues will go borrelen.
This is where you’ll have an opportunity to stop working (always nice) and engage in awkward conversations with your coworkers over a beer and some bitterballen.
Great for reducing that work stress as, in general, it’s always good fun — not so good for that waistline, but at least all that cycling will help. Proost! 😉🍻
Are you looking for work in the Netherlands as an international? Or do you have tips? Share in the comments below!