10 things to know before finding work in the Netherlands as an international

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Finding work in the Netherlands as an international and expat: it’s not an easy task sometimes, we’re 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, let’s start with 10 major things you need to know.

Came here for the info? Let’s get to work, you future-Dutchie work-seeker! 🏃‍♂️

1. Finding a job in the Netherlands is hard

We’re going to be honest here first and foremost because we’ve all been there:

Is finding a job in the Netherlands hard for international folks?

Hell yes, often it is. 😬

Finding a job in the Netherlands as an international can be hard. It’s one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Combine that along with a chronic housing shortage and you’ve got a ton of people all frantically looking for homes and jobs.

Photo-of-woman-sitting-in-chair-in-front-of-table-with-interviewers-at-job-interview-in-the-Netherlands
Just getting to the interview stage is a challenge. Image: VitalikRadko/Depositphotos

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 of are even lucky to get a job 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.

Many international companies work only in English and some companies even ask for other languages such as French and German instead.

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.

photo-of-expat-talking-to-dutch-person-at-work
It’s not essential to speak Dutch in the Netherlands, even while working — but it will make your life easier! Image: Fauxels/Pexels

3. You don’t have to be living in the Netherlands to find work (but it’s much, much harder)

Sorry, let’s rephrase: you don’t have to be living in the Netherlands to get a job, however — if you’re here it’s a lot easier.

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

Some recruitment agencies are out there purely to seek out internationals to 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 to keep 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!

photo-of-couple-moving-into-apartment-renting-amsterdam
There’s a lot to do when moving to another country. Image: Milkos/Depositphotos

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 CV’s should be no longer than two pages. You also do not 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.

Photo-of-woman-in-wheelchair-shaking-hands-with-interviewer-at-job-interview-in-the-Netherlands
Most Dutch workplaces want you to interview in person. Image: IgorVetushko/Depositphotos

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 COVID-19.

Working from home can be common practice for some workplaces and don’t we 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.

Everyone needs to work from home sometimes — even if it’s just because the want to! Image: Anastasia Shuraeva/Pexels

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.

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!

READ MORE | 7 ways a Dutch job is different

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?

All people working in the Netherlands must pay at least 36.55% in income taxes (including national insurance contributions).

This will be deducted from your pay before it is paid out to you. You 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.

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Some workplaces will even help you buy a nice bike to ride to work with. Image: microgen/Depositphotos

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 general, 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 get at many Dutch workplaces.

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Borrelen will only sometimes be as fancy as this. Image: DGLimages/Depositphotos

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 its always good fun, not so good for that waistline though — but all that cycling will help. Proost! 😉🍻


Are you finding work in the Netherlands as an expat and international right now? Or do you have tips? Let us know in the comments!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 20 March 2019 but was updated for your reading pleasure on 15 January 2020. 

Feature Image: Tzido/Depositphotos

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi there,

    Good morning. Currently I am staying and working in India and want to migrate to Netherlands in 2020.

    I have 7+ years of substantial experience of working with dutch insurance portfolios (a.s.r., NN, Delta lloyd). Especially handling payouts that includes complex processes such as Afkoop, Exporatie etc.

    Because of sustain consistant performance over a long run I travelled to Netherlands (sponsored by my current working organisation) 3 times i.e. in 2015 (Utrecht); 2017 (Rotterdam) and in 2019 (Amstel) on work permit. And live almost for 6 months.

    Now I want to settle in this beautiful, peaceful and secured country. Therefore required your kind assistance in finding out a permanent job. My planning to migrate in Netherlands probably in next year. Please advise me about your procedure.

    Kind regards,
    Harshad Bhamare

  2. Really interested in working in Netherlands but seems I have no direction on where to start, what scares me that very job I look at ask for fluent in Dutch language which I don’t have, also having history working in the South African banking industry and know the positions available I still don’t qualify because each application comes back not suitable candidate. What can I do differently.

  3. Love this article. However i am actually hopeless already. I tried to send so much CV online. And i really really wanted to work there as a healthcare professional.

  4. Andy
    I am wanting to know more, I have been in the South African police for thirty years and have a lot of experience in different fields. I also completed a online TEFL course. What is my chances of finding a job in the Netherlands? I am in position of passport, not married which makes it easy to go and work and stay in the Netherlands if need be. Please can you give me guidance?

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  6. I would like to relocate to Netherlands. I have to start from bottom. I need a job and schools for my two children. I’m not married. To start the process and get information will be great. I would like also help with my CV so I can start to sent to recruiters or agencies. I think it will be much better leaving my country(Namibia) with a work permit. For more information do not hesitate to contact me. +264816702945

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