Job hunting in Amsterdam – we need to talk about this…
Every expat who has moved to Amsterdam has something to complain about. If it’s not the endless struggle of finding a room – sometimes involving those Hunger Games-style “fight to the death” group interviews – it’s the bureaucratic process of registration, or having to adjust to the variances in Dutch hospitality. Or quite simply the weather, a favourite complaint of both expats AND locals alike!
I’ve done my fair amount of complaining since I arrived in the Netherlands. Heck, the Gemeente even made me cry when I first tried to register. Yet for me nothing has been harder, or more discouraging, than trying to find a job in the field that I am both qualified and experienced in. I knew that job hunting in Amsterdam would be tough… but I had no idea it would be THIS tough.
I’ve been doing the whole job hunting in Amsterdam cliche for over two months now and only just secured my first interview – for a job completely unrelated to what I want to do. I have a solid work history of over five years with the same internationally renowned company, and hold both a bachelor’s degree and diploma. I’m also a native English speaker which I’ve been told if often seen as an advantage, although I’m really not sure.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have now applied for over one hundred jobs. I’ve poured my heart and soul into writing (what I believe to be) impressive and witty cover letters.. and still, nothing.
I’m sure that many of you reading this article have had a similar experience – a support group for people who have accidentally found themselves to be job hunting experts in the Dutch market would be pretty popular on Meetup. To be honest, there have been times where I’ve wondered if such thing exists.
Does anyone feel the same particular frustration as I do?
The frustration when you find a job description that looks absolutely perfect for you.
Only to then read the application, in English.
Mentally tick off all those requirement boxes (heck YES I’m a team player!).
Get REALLY excited about the prospect of finally finding “the one”…
And then have their heart brutally broken by one of the following sentences;
“Must be fluent in both English and Dutch”
“Native Dutch speaker and fluent in English”
“Must speak and write fluently in Dutch”
Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for preservation of Dutch culture and traditions. Okay, maybe not the whole Zwarte Piet thing, but everything else. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be having an influx of expats that make barely any effort to speak Dutch. I hate that I force people to speak a different language in their own country. So, I sincerely understand how infuriating this must be at times.
If Dutch is a hard requirement for a job… then why is the description not posted in Dutch?
We’re in the Netherlands after all, aren’t we?
I feel like recruiters are constantly teasing me. Daily, during my long hours of job hunting in Amsterdam, I come across a job description that sounds perfect, only to get disappointed time and time again. Sure, I’ve applied for a few roles here and there that have called out Dutch as a requirement, and addressed this in the cover letter. But as always, nothing. It’s extremely frustrating, and honestly gets me down time and time again.
Many people back home have asked why I’m still trying to build a life here, if it’s so difficult. And I’m sure that those of you in the same position as I am probably feel the same way; because the light at the end of the tunnel is that you get to live in AMSTERDAM! You get to live in a wonderfully progressive city where there’s always something interesting to do. You get to cycle past beautiful old houses and canals every day, despite the horribly unpredictable weather. Not to mention, you get to connect with people from all over the world. And you get to know the Dutch way of life, filled with hilariously honest, but genuinely good people.
So to those Newbies out there who are job hunting in Amsterdam,
You might be feeling a bit down and frustrated, know that you’re not alone and it will be worth it in the end. I’m not quite there yet myself… But I’m still loving every moment of being here while I figure it out.