15 surprising facts about getting a job in the Netherlands

15 surprising facts about getting a job in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a country with a thriving job market, making it an attractive destination for job seekers from around the world. However, navigating the Dutch job market can be tricky, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the local customs and practices.

As someone who has 18 years of experience working in the Netherlands - both in the corporate sector and from running my own company - I want to share with you 15 surprising facts about getting a job in the Netherlands that will help you land your dream job.

1. You do not need to speak Dutch to get a great job but a high level of English proficiency is a must

99% of my clients are NOT required to speak Dutch at work (at all different corporate levels). The Dutch are known for their proficiency in English, which makes it an essential requirement for most jobs. Of course, it is a great plus if you can speak Dutch, but if your English level is beginner and not quite there yet, I would advise focusing on mastering your English rather than your Dutch.

2. The Dutch value a work-life balance

Work-life balance is an essential aspect of Dutch culture. Employers are typically accommodating and provide flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or part-time hours, to help employees achieve a good work-life balance. Especially now that we are moving past the COVID pandemic, the flexibility is higher than it was before. Dutch people work to live, they don’t live to work.

3. The Dutch job market is highly competitive

The Netherlands has a relatively small job market, making it highly competitive. To increase your chances of landing a job, you need to make sure that you have a well-written resume and cover letter. You should also make sure that you are adequately prepared for interviews.

4. Professional networks are critical for job search success

Building professional networks is essential for job seekers in the Netherlands. Lots of jobs are being “arranged” through referrals and networking. If you are an expat with a limited personal or professional network, you should build one ASAP. You can meet people by joining industry associations or professional groups, who can provide leads for job openings or introduce you to potential employers.

5. Job interviews can be casual

Dutch job interviews can be informal and relaxed. Be prepared to answer questions about your experience and qualifications, but also be prepared for some small talk about your interests or hobbies. Dutch recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate you also talking about your experience outside of your work, such as volunteering or membership of various networks.

6. Dutch companies strive for diversity and inclusion

Dutch companies value diversity and inclusion, and actively seek to create an inclusive workplace environment. Highlighting your experience working in diverse environments could help you stand out as a candidate.

7. Start-ups are on the rise

The Netherlands has a thriving start-up scene, with many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) emerging. Most people want to work for well-known brands, but the competition for a position at one of these companies can be high. Instead, you can consider joining a start-up or SME to gain experience and make valuable connections in a certain industry.

8. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for job searches

LinkedIn is the preferred platform for job searching in the Netherlands. Ensure that your profile is up-to-date and complete. You should also actively engage with industry professionals to increase your visibility. When it comes to job searches, I always say that you should embrace LinkedIn as if your life depended on it. I see lots of professionals losing great opportunities by not being active on LinkedIn. If there is only one piece of advice you will follow from this article, let it be this one.

9. The Dutch are direct communicators

Dutch people are known for their direct communication style, so be prepared for frank and honest feedback during interviews. However, you should also make sure that you are clear and direct in your communication too. Do not treat their way of speaking as an attack, as this is usually not the case.

10. The Dutch have a flat hierarchy

The Dutch value a flat hierarchy, which means that there are typically fewer levels of management in their companies than in other countries. This means that there is more opportunity for employees to take on responsibility and contribute to the company's success. Showing initiative is highly valued, so do not wait to be told what to do.

11. Personal branding is essential

Personal branding is becoming increasingly important in the Dutch job market. Ensure that you have a strong personal brand and that your online presence is consistent.

12. The Dutch value teamwork

Dutch culture emphasises the importance of teamwork, and this is reflected in the workplace. Employers look for candidates who can work well with others and contribute positively to team dynamics. During the interview, make sure to highlight examples of when you contributed to a team or group.

13.Salary negotiations are common

It is common to negotiate salaries in the Netherlands, so it is wise to research industry standards beforehand. Be prepared to negotiate your salary and benefits during the hiring process and do not fear to counter the first offer you get.

14. Referrals are highly valued

This goes along with the fourth point. Referrals from current employees are highly valued in the Dutch job market and some employees even get paid if they introduce a candidate to a hiring manager. If you have connections within a company, ask them to refer you for job openings.

15. The Dutch prioritise work experience

In some countries, education is considered an important credential for companies. Dutch employers, on the other hand, value relevant work experience, and it can be challenging to land a job without any. Consider gaining experience through internships, part-time work, or volunteering to increase your chances of landing a job.

To close off, getting a job in the Netherlands requires careful preparation and an understanding of the current market. I am sure that by following these 15 facts, you will increase your chances of landing your dream job in the Netherlands. Good luck with your job search!

Which tip surprised you the most? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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