8 ways to market yourself as an expat

I have never had trouble finding a job. That is until I started looking in the Netherlands.

Of course, there are multiple reasons why finding a job right now may be tough:
 The global economic recession has impacted industries across the Netherlands
 Cuts by the Dutch government to the development sector have resulted in significant layoffs
 There are the immediate language and social barriers that prevent some expats from finding employment easily

How to market yourself & find a job as an expat in the Netherlands

But for me perhaps the hardest part of finding work in a new environment has been trying to understand which networks to tap into and how to effectively market my professional skills.

Here are 8 conventional and unconventional ways to market yourself and find work as an expat:

 Job Sites

Job site may be the most obvious and simplest route to finding job opportunities. It is also one of the most ineffective. Postings on job sites are designed to attract as many applicants as possible.

They are easy to find, easy to share and easy to apply to. But this means that mathematically your chances of finding both gainful and interesting employment are pretty minimal.


Internship opportunities are literally everywhere in Europe. Though the idea of an intern often conjures up images of a young go-getter performing menial office tasks, interns in the Netherlands are granted a much higher status.

You may have to pay your dues, but when vacancies arise many employers turn to their well-trained intern pool first. Remember to negotiate your internship terms just like you would a full time job.


Heard of it? No? Me neither. That is until someone told me that Hyves is the largest Dutch social network with over 9 million members. That is a lot of people.

I am not on Hyves (see my previous post on why I haven’t learned Dutch), but it is a valuable networking resource for anyone looking to connect with potential Dutch employers. Do not wait for them to find you, go to their neighbourhood and knock on doors!


Behind Hyves and Facebook respectively, LinkedIn is the third most active social network in the Netherlands. But unlike the other two, LinkedIn focuses on professional rather than social connections. Its value for expats is in being able to network with employers who might otherwise be difficult to engage with or even find.

Build a compelling profile, join groups, cultivate relationships and use this platform as a way to schedule meetings in person.


After years of avoiding Twitter I have recently joined the revolution (@davidjvenn) and already it is paying dividends. Part of marketing yourself is also listening to the conversations that are happening around you.

Twitter allows you to follow the latest news and trends relevant to your area of business and by simply following other Twtter users, you will be able to access great content, discussions and people that might otherwise be unavailable.

Start by tweeting interesting ideas and sharing content, then use it to build relationships with the long-term goal of asking for work. 

Linking with professionals, telling organisations you "like" them and retweeting news items are all very well, but another part of marketing yourself means having something to say. 140 characters is hardly enough space to convey who you are, what you do and what you know. 

 Blog & Write

Starting your own expat blog or writing for online communities such as this one, are fantastic ways to share your knowledge and position yourself as a leader within your industry.

 Pro Bono Work

Of all the tactics I have used to market my business, offering my services pro bono on a short-term basis has been the most effective approach to securing long-term work.

If you are just starting out, often employers want to see your value before they invest in you. By offering to complete a small project for free you can demonstrate your skills, show your enthusiasm and potentially turn that small project into a profitable employment opportunity.


In the economic downturn, organisations and companies may be reluctant to hire full-time employees. Offering your services on a freelance or contract basis can help alleviate social security and medical expenses making employers more willing to invest in you.

Freelancing in the Netherlands also allows you to supplement part-time income and to be location-independent should you decide to move. Find your niche, create a portfolio or website and begin to market your services using some of the above techniques and social tools.



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