5 steps to stay sane when looking for a job in the Netherlands

Looking for a job is tough no matter what — but when you’re an international looking for work in the Netherlands, the challenge can feel even more, well, infuriating.

Unless you have a technical background, then you probably have an unopened Linkedin message with a job offer you should go look at right now. 😉

Nevertheless, we’ve thought about some steps you can take to make sure you stay sane and healthy as you push through this stage of your life. You got this!

1. Set your objectives and expectations straight

Set realistic goals for yourself when looking for a job in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

Looking for a job in the Netherlands? Think about a weekly objective of how many jobs you want to apply to or maybe the number of people you’ll send your resume to.

Think about how many jobs you’ll have applied to by the end of the month and work towards that every day. Know that around 50% of the companies will never get back to you and expect to hear “NO” on a daily basis.

Give yourself time to understand the market, the jobs you’re applying to, and keep up the work.

2. Invest time in activating your network

Networking is an essential but tedious aspect of job hunting. Image: Unsplash

Work your network, not your CV. This is not to say that your CV is not important, because it obviously is (in case you need some help on how to create a resume).

But think about the fact that many jobs never get posted because they’ve filled it internally or by finding someone through recommendations.

Reach out to people over coffee, Facebook messenger or LinkedIn and tell them you’re available for new opportunities. List what kind of roles you’re interested in and your favourite industry.

It’s always a nice surprise when people recommend you further on, and, personally, I’ve found that most friends and acquaintances are more than happy to help where they can.

Good to know: a lot of companies offer bonuses to their employees when a job is filled in via recommendation so it’s a win-win situation.

3. Go out with friends and work out

Don’t forget to take a break from the job hunt. Image: Depositphotos

Think about getting a job as a full-time job. So if you’re into to it 24/7, you’ll soon feel overwhelmed and unaccomplished.

Make a routine that works for you, make it your crunch time to find the best opportunity out there that fits you and then try to detach from it at the end of the day.

Make sure you keep your social life alive so you can get out of your head and share your struggles with people around you. A lot of the time, you’ll get a bit of inspiration for extra things you can tweak to improve your search.

If you can, work out just to lower your stress levels. Even if it’s just a long walk in the park or a bike ride around the city, let your brain breathe in and breathe out before you get back to work. Don’t underestimate the power of endorphins.

4. Learn how to be patient

Patience is a virtue when job-seeking. Image: Freepik

This might have been my biggest learning curve in looking for a job in the Netherlands. Sadly, getting a job doesn’t happen overnight. Or better yet, finding the best opportunity for you doesn’t happen overnight.

Ask others in your field how they found their job, and get a vibe of how fast things move. I found out that anything between three and six months is normal for job seekers in Marketing/Communication.

That sounds like an awfully long amount of time to me but it also allowed me to relax a little two weeks into my job search when it felt like it was the end of the world for not getting a job yet.

If anything, it’s a great thing to be looking for a job in the Netherlands, where most companies are not bureaucratic and a lot of hiring processes move fast enough.

5. Looking for a job in the Netherlands: don’t take it personal

Most people face a number of rejections before they finally score the job — and that’s completely normal. Image: Depositphotos

When a company says no, it’s not saying no to all of you. Beyond skills and qualifications, it could be a million other things that are not a good fit.

Whenever possible, try to get feedback but understand it’s not you versus the world. You’re not less of a good professional because one or five or 20 companies said no, it just means it’s not a match yet. Chin up, eyes on the prize, you got this.

How have you found the job hunt in the Netherlands? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

This article was originally published in January 2020 and updated in October 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Madalina Buzdugan
Madalina Buzdugan
Madalina is a curious mind who loves PR, lives to travel and thrives on sarcasm. A Romanian expat turning Dutchier by the minute, she blogs at www.lifewithmada.com and is always up for good wine, artsy events and cultural shizzle.

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  1. It has nothing to do with one’s qualification and experience. They dont want to hire non-Dutch. It is as simple as that. Only if one is from IT background than there is a hope to find something suitable and this is because they dont have people with strong IT background. They can not get rid of people on transfer jobs (e.g. in MNC’s) or people working here for long but they dont want non-natives. See the first 200 job posts on Linkedin or any other job board. Networking, socializing etc nothing helps. HR department of MNC’s and recruitment consultants are kind of cartel here and they dont allow non-natives to penetrate so easily. Talking about the feedback following a rejection, one will be lucky to find a reason other than- being non-Dutch, being over qualified or not matching with the profile. No one will tell you exactly where your profiles does not match. Even if you are from the same industry and having cut-to-paste past experience as the job posting- dont feel over excited- they will find reasons to reject you. Try to go through the Linkedin profile of local candidates and you will find job hoppers, industry hoppers but still they are considered a good match for a good reason because they are locals. MNC’s can not hire any other nationality, despite not having any such agenda in their corporate policy because the local work force and local HR wont allow them or having a harmonized working culture. Basically there is mood of “non-acceptance” in locals, irrespective of their age, experience or qualifications. Should this be called an artificial barrier to entry? Dont know but this is a fact.

  2. I have a different experience in my team in a hotel. In total we are about 25 team members with at least 8 different nstionalities. It is so much fun!

  3. it’s tough for sure, I am in IT for 15 years and still it’s very tough.
    I have been doing almost everything I have been told in the last 6 months but still no luck. You say it’s not your skills or experience they say to and you should stay positive.
    After 6-7 months you start questioning everything your abilities as well as the local culture and practices.


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