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? Here is our guide to finding work in the Netherlands as an expat and international in 2020.
We’ve teamed up with Undutchables – a top-of-the-line international recruiter in the Netherlands – to bring you 10 things to know before finding work in the Netherlands as an international.
Undutchables? Tell me more DutchReview!?
Undutchables is a recruitment agency that specialises in matching jobs with the perfect international candidate in the Netherlands. Whether you’re after a starter job or something more specialised, they can help find the job most suited to you and the company that you’ll be working for. In short, they really know their stuff when it comes to finding work in the Netherlands as an international and that’s why they’re helping us out with this one. So, if you’re just arriving here and are committed to finding work in the Netherlands as an international, you’ve come to the right place.
Welcoming you right away when you land at Schiphol 🙂
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 – that along with the housing shortage and you’ve got a ton of people all frantically looking for homes and jobs. Join any expat group 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 companies out there who are seeking people just like you. Many of us get employed every single day and some of us are even lucky to get a job first time around.
Understanding that finding a job in the Netherlands is hard, but certainly not impossible is really important! This is why recruitment agencies such as Undutchables exist – to make that “finding work in the Netherlands as an international” struggle a lot less of a struggle.
You don’t always have to speak Dutch
Struggling with Dutch and think you have no chance? No worries. Of course, 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 accept English only and some companies even ask for other languages such as French and German instead, as you will be working within that market. So before you start breaking down in tears over that failed Duolingo attempt, get Googling for those international jobs here in the Netherlands.
Sites such as ‘Undutchables’ have a search option where you can input the type of work, the preferred language and the location, it will then show you all of the jobs in your language and location. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief – not all jobs in the Netherlands require Dutch.
You don’t have to be living in the Netherlands to find work (but it’s much, much harder)
You do not have to be living in the Netherlands to get a job, however, it is so much more difficult to do so. If you live far away, you will have to travel for a physical interview, which is costly and time consuming on your end. It’s not impossible though and many people do this before they arrive in the Netherlands. However, as I said before, even getting a house is hard in the Netherlands, so be prepared for this!
Brexit and moving to the Netherlands: What then?
This is the reality and we’ve got to drop it here for any of you worrying out there. Depending on what happens on the 29th of March, you may want to consider finding somewhere to live ASAP. In the result of a no-deal, you will lose your rights (without a permit) to live and work in the Netherlands. As it currently stands the Dutch government is protecting the rights of those of us already here. It’s worth thinking about, but don’t freak out! You can still decide to wait and find a job in the Netherlands beforehand – you’d just have to get a permit (we’ll talk about that later).
The two important things to know is that in almost all cases you will be expected to physically attend and once you’ve sorted a job you then must sort everything else out ASAP ( refer to point 5 😉 ).
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 will be employed by these agencies, who will then place you in the workforce until your contract ends. Then you will then be directly employed by the company if you’re the perfect fit. You do not 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 the Undutchables, 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. My partner actually got his current job when first arriving in the Netherlands through Undutchables and is still in the job years later!
You need to well prepare 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 the gemeente to keep everything legal. Opening a bank account should be one of the next steps and you have a couple of options of opening a Dutch bank account or an online bank. Psssst, online banks are generally better if you’re a traveller.
Also, be aware, if you are working and living in the Netherlands you must take out Dutch health insurance – this is compulsory! I know what you’re thinking – jeez, 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
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 2 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). And use common sense, if you’re applying for a job where representation is important then they probably will appreciate a picture in your CV.
Having an interview in the Netherlands
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. Check out these tips if you are unsure.
When you arrive at the interview, expect some weird as hell questions such as: “Can you spell/say Scheveningen?” – true story.
Don’t panic though, it’s more to break the ice more than anything, and don’t forget to take the Dutch directness into account.
It’s important to know that when you arrive and leave the interview to go home, your costs will not be covered. However, if you’re employed, the commuting cost will be reimbursed to you monthly most of the time.
Working from home / “thuiswerken” 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. 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 bedroom 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. 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.
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 (tax), how much you’ll actually get paid (minus that tax) and what rights you have when working in the Netherlands (i.e. wages). We have an extensive guide on this, just to get an idea of how much money you should be legally taking home.
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) if they have a proper job. 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.
Expect to pay high tax rates on fuel (one of the most expensive in Europe in fact) and buying/insuring and paying road tax on your car in the Netherlands won’t be cheap either. Hey, we’re really selling the Netherlands to you, huh? But no, it will all be worth it in the end, beer in hand on your balcony after a day at your fabulous new Dutch job.
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 commuting time 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 over 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.
If you still got some questions about working in the Netherlands by now, it might be a good idea to check out the FAQ about these finding-a-job-in-the-Netherlands related matters by Undutchables.
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.
But what is borrelen?
Usually, towards the end of the week either once per week or per month, there will be a thing happening called 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, time to cycle it off I guess (oh, and you’ll have to buy that bicycle once you get here too, add that to the checklist). Proost!
Still need to know more about finding work in the Netherlands as an international?
As you can see, there are plenty of things to get sorted before finding work in the Netherlands as an international. Thankfully companies like Undutchables exist to make this adult life just that little bit easier. They are the pioneers in international recruiting, so they have a lot of expertise in this field. This is also shown through their core values: Personal, Partner, Entrepreneurial and Expertise. Check out their website for more info about finding work in the Netherlands as an international (they also have living and working guides too).
Undutchables has got years of experience with helping internationals like you find the perfect job in the Netherlands, so why not check out their vacancies?
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: Pixabay.