How to have a successful career in the Netherlands

How to have a successful career in the Netherlands

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U Diverse, established in 2014 by Magali Toussaint in the Netherlands, is a global career and executive coaching for highly-skilled migrants and expats. Magali is certified as an international career, executive and cross-cultural coach. She works with a network of highly qualified coaches and trainers who can also assist in making the right professional choices.

Living and working in the Netherlands is already difficult for expats, as they have to navigate through several barriers. Even then, integrating into a different culture, no matter how willing they are to adapt, is not easy. Here are some useful tips to help you have a successful career when moving to the Netherlands.

1. Define your career goals

The first step is to define career goals – and remember that they should not be unrealistic. It would not be realistic to find a job within a month of your arrival to the Netherlands. By defining a clear and realistic career objective, you can develop an effective plan to increase your chances of getting your dream job in the Netherlands.

For instance, start with your long-term vision – where do you see yourself in five, ten or fifteen years? Do you plan to stay in the Netherlands? Do you plan on moving to another country? How do you see your career developing?

If you do not intend to stay in the Netherlands, how can you maximise your career in the Netherlands for your next step? When you are defining your long and short-term goals, use the ‘SMART’ technique – Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and with Timelines.

2. Find a new career in the Netherlands

The second step in finding a new career is performing a 'SWOT' analysis to discover your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You could focus on simply finding a job, however this will not provide you with a long-term perspective and you may end up jumping from one opportunity to another with no clear direction. By focusing on your long-term career, you can find new career paths, opportunities and options.

In the Netherlands,  a Dutch employer will expect you to show your personal strengths, be direct and display confidence.


Begin by identifying your strengths. By listing all your strengths, you become more confident during your interviews! This is particularly relevant in the Netherlands, where a Dutch employer will expect you to show your personal strengths, be direct and display confidence.

Write down the professional qualifications and certifications that make you stand out, as well as the projects and campaigns you have successfully completed. You also need to see if the company can use your expertise in other areas.


Next, you need to list your weaknesses, so that you can improve on them. If they come up during your interview, you'll then be able to counter them with ease and provide concrete examples.

If you want to progress in your current job or find another one, you need to know if you have the desired skills and qualifications for it. You need to see if you have any competencies you can improve on, such as poor communication skills, getting to work late or poor management skills.

You need to re-evaluate your competencies as well, to see whether there is a trait you can improve, to perform better. You also need to ask other people to identify your weaknesses and provide concrete examples.


Once you have listed your strengths and weaknesses, you need to consider the opportunities you have with your particular profile. If an opportunity comes up which does not match your skill set, you should still consider it by weighing its pros and cons.

You need to do your research on the significant changes or advancements in your industry that you can benefit from, as well as any up-and-coming technology or trends in your industry which you can use in the future. If you want to surpass your competitors, you need to obtain skills that will work in your favour and help you advance.

If you do not want to switch to another company, look for a job that matches your skill set within your current company. If you want to advance your career, you could become part of a new project in your current company or volunteer in a specific area.

Once you have answered these questions, you can take action to ensure you get the job. In this instance, an opportunity to learn Dutch may help you get a better job in the Netherlands.


Lastly, you need to identify the threats. Think of yourself as a business, product or service and then analyse yourself against others.

  • If one of your colleagues is performing better than you and you have not worked on improving your skills and confidence, this may become a threat to you.
  • If both of you are eyeing the same position, that too is a threat.
  • If your personal traits are hurting your chances of advancing in your career, that is a threat.
  • If obstacles at work and outside work are holding you back from achieving your targets, then those are threats.
  • Not improving your skills now could also be a threat.

3. Find your purpose 

You need to find out what you are meant to do to focus on opportunities that will match your purpose. Here are some tips you can use to find out your career purpose:

  • Find out what gives you energy and identify what you are good at.
  • Take a reliable assessment or look online.
  • Go for an internship or volunteer, if you can.
  • Find a coach or mentor.
  • Explore unconventional career opportunities.
  • Ask successful people for advice.
  • Create a career plan.
  • View your career as a marathon, not a sprint – meaning it has twists and turns, which weave together to form a promising career.

Another way to find out your purpose is to figure out your career motivations and values. If you know what your values are beforehand, you will know if a specific job is a good fit for you or not.

View your career as a marathon, not a sprint!

You should also find the underlying motivation behind the career you are focusing on. In doing so, you will know if you are the right person for that career. You can use both values and motivations to make adjustments to your career to ensure happiness and job satisfaction. Once you know what is important to you, you will have a better idea of what your career path should be.

4. Explore career options

Once you find your purpose, take the time to look at concrete career options that match your strengths, values and goals. Take the time to explore the following:

  • Brainstorm by identifying promising alternatives.
  • Determine your skill set and your added values.
  • Explore your options by researching different jobs that interest you.
  • Interview people who are doing similar jobs or who are hiring such professionals.
  • List the jobs you like in order of importance.
  • Narrow down the jobs and list the pros and cons of particular jobs to help you decide.

The next step, once you have explored the aforementioned points, is to define a clear job search strategy and work with a career coach specialised in job search who can help you perfect your interviewing skills and find employment in the Netherlands.  

Magali Toussaint's vast experience in coaching, recruitment, job search strategies, HR and diversity has been the motivation behind her business, U Diverse. She strives to help both expats and highly-skilled migrants adjust to new cultures and find a new exciting career abroad. Contact her for more information via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or phone +31655832442.

Magali Toussaint


Magali Toussaint

I am the founder of U Diverse, a career and cross-cultural coaching service. I have international experience in coaching, recruitment and diversity. After years of adapting to unfit professional environments...

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Leave a comment

niranjansm 09:32 | 3 January 2019

Thank you for that wonderfully written and informative article.

Udiverse 10:39 | 3 January 2019

Thank you for your message and I am glad you liked it. I am curious to know what part of the article you will implement?