Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in the Netherlands
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- Pascal Tremblay
With InterNations as my network, I have been able to make many friends learn the ins and outs about living in The Hague.
The hardest part of inserting yourself in the Netherlands’s job market, is figuring out how to find a job in the country. The Netherlands’s business landscape is saturated with professionals, so the competition can be tough. However, if you know how to present yourself and can speak a few languages (Dutch, German, or French are helpful, in addition to English), you have a good chance.
After you land a job in the country, you will know that all the searching was worth it. The average salaries here are decent while social security benefits are of high quality. The best thing about it though, is the working days. Here, work-life balance is very important, and people do not like to do overtime. In fact, many leave before five, especially the employees that have families.
However, that does not mean that the Dutch are lazy. They are very dedicated to their jobs and, when it comes to work, they put all their effort into it. A typical Dutch worker is focused, honest, and efficient, and that is what is expected from the expats entering the Netherlands’s workforce as well.
Does working as self-employed sound more attractive to you? Well, the Netherlands have a lot to offer in that sector as well. Here you can freelance, start a business, or opt for an innovative entrepreneurial visa for start-ups.
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How to Get a Job in the Netherlands as a Foreigner
Even though the Netherlands has many global corporations and an international business environment, it might take some time and effort to get a job here as a foreigner. With all the review and interview processes, the typical answer to “how long will my job hunt last?” is at least couple of months.
How to Apply for a Job in the Netherlands
There is no best way of getting a job in the Netherlands as foreigner. However, there are a few approaches you can take that should lead to you getting a position in the Dutch labor market.
As with many labor markets these days, the majority of job advertisements are online. Glassdoor, Indeed, or Nationale Vacature Bank offers a wide selection of opportunities, identifying what languages are necessary for you to take on the position.
The job description will also include what education level you need and whether or not your employer is willing to hire an international worker and sponsor your visa.
If you would rather leave the job search to the market professionals, you can opt for recruitment agency services. Once they identify your skills and goals, they will try to find the best match accordingly. Hays, Randstad, and Michael Page International, are a few of the available options. Note that each company might be specializing in a different category, for example, offering mostly management roles, international positions, or jobs in IT.
Other possible job-finding routes are newspaper classified sections, networking in person and online, and contacting the companies you would like to work for directly.
- Attend networking events. If you find yourself in one of the major Dutch cities, look into what job fairs are happening around. Members of InterNations, the largest online expat community, also host plenty of events, some specifically catered to professional networking.
- If you are not present in the country at the moment––use social media for networking. The same InterNations platform allows you to chat to people already residing in the country and possibly make professional connections.
- Go through your contact list and see your options. Maybe some of your old friends or co-workers have already moved to the Netherlands and have secured a job here. They might be able to help you by putting you in touch with the right person.
- Keep your CV short and to the point, two pages at most.
- Provide the CV in the the company’s language (Dutch, English, French, or German are the most common).
- Include your personal details, your educational achievements and qualifications, and language and other skills.
- List your work experience in reverse chronological order (describe your last position first) and elaborate on your tasks and responsibilities.
- Indicating your hobbies and what you do after work shows what type of person you are, so it is advisable to provide such information.
- Attaching references to your CV is not required. However, if you can provide your future employer with some, it is worth including them.
Cover Letter Tips
- Motivation is one of the most important aspects when it comes to hiring a candidate, so attaching a cover letter to your CV is highly recommended.
- The cover letter should also be written in the company’s language.
- In the letter, clarify why you are applying, why you believe you are the right candidate, and why you wish to work for this specific company.
- Dress appropriately to match the company’s culture. Try not to underdress or overdress for the occasion.
- The Dutch are infamous for their direct way of approaching every matter. That is why you should not be taken aback when an interviewer asks you a personal question, such as your age or relationship status. This is just common practice.
- Come prepared: research the company, read about its culture, and prepare some questions you can ask the interviewee about the job. These can be questions about the work environment, working pace, training period and processes, and similar matters.
The Interview Process
Note that whether or not you are a foreigner does not speed up the candidate selection process. It might take a few weeks after you submit your application for your potential employer to contact you. Keep in mind that most employers will not notify you if you do not meet their requirements.
The number of interview stages you need to go through depends on the type of position you are applying for. Jobs where high turnover rate is prominent, such as customer service, are faster to get which usually means your first interview is your final one. As long as your employer knows how you communicate and present yourself, they will know whether you are suitable for the position.
With a more senior role you can expect a higher degree of selectiveness. Two or three interviews will be conducted before you get an offer. These are the common interview stages:
- First interview – your CV suits the profile and now your employer tries to gauge whether your personality does as well. During the first meeting the employer will judge your communication abilities, your presentation, and will most likely inquire how the position you are applying for will benefit your career. These interviews are often conducted online.
- Second interview – if you are invited for a second interview, your prospective employer probably thinks you will fit into the company culture. By now they have fewer candidates and they are trying to compare you to others who also stood out. This could be the time that you will be asked to perform a task. This might be at home or you might be invited to perform it in-house, depending on the role and company’s approach.
- Third interview – by now, there is only a handful of candidates left in the process that have performed well during the first two meetings and completed the task well. This third meeting will help the company make a final decision on which of the candidates is the most suitable for the position.
In general, the hiring process takes a month or two.
Requirements for Working in the Netherlands as a Foreigner
Whether or not you need a work permit to work in the Netherlands depends on where you are from. For example, if you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national, a travel document is enough to allow you to work in the Netherlands. You also do not need a separate work permit if you are applying for a highly skilled migrant visa. If neither of these apply to your situation, you will need to get permission to work in the country. This is usually taken care of by your employer.
Job Opportunities in the Netherlands for Foreigners
As the Netherlands is home to many international companies, foreigners, especially English-speaking professionals that wish to work here, can find a number of opportunities. However, note that some employers will still require you to be fluent in English and Dutch. A common tip is to still apply for such positions and try to overcome your lack of language skills with superior professional competency.
Minimum Wage and Average Salary
The average annual salary in the Netherlands is around 36,000 EUR (39,400 USD) which is relatively high. However, as the residents of the country get taxed fairly highly as well.
The minimum wage in the Netherlands is one of the highest in Europe. It has been steadily growing and at the moment it is at 1,635 EUR (1,790 USD) per month for a full-time job. The government adjusts the minimum wage twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July.
Note that people younger that 21 years old are entitled to a lower minimum pay.
What is a Good Salary in the Netherlands?
Whether your salary is enough to live well depends on where in the Netherlands you live. The pay slip you can happily live off of in the more rural areas of the country might not be enough to cover the basic expenses if you live in a big city. In general, a yearly gross salary of 45,000–55,000 EUR (49,200–60,140 USD) should be enough no matter where you settle.
Average Annual Salary
When calculating average salaries there are quite a few variables involved. Typically, it depends on your field and the amount of experience you have, but other things might factor as well. These are some examples of median annual salaries:
Occupation Median Salary EUR Median Salary USD Nurse 20,000 21,870 Elementary Teacher 31,000 33,900 Architect 35,000 38,270 Software Engineer 47,000 51,400 UX Designer 54,000 59,050 Web Developer 59,000 64,520 Product Manager 60,000 65,610
The Most in Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay
At the moment, the Netherlands’s labor market is experiencing a replacement demand. That means that the working population is aging, and many professionals need to be replaced by new workers. The biggest demand is predicted to be in the following sectors:
- business and administration professionals (managers, business analysts, HR specialists);
- associate professionals (engineering technicians, office supervisors);
- legal, social, and cultural professionals (lawyers, economists, and journalists).
The mid-level positions in the sales sector will also experience growth in the upcoming years.
Occupation Median Salary EUR Median Salary USD Sales Associate 28,000 30,590 Journalist 40,000 43,700 HR Manager 50,000 54,630 Marketing Manager 51,000 55,770 Accountant 51,000 55,770 Lawyer 84,000 91,780
Expats that want to try self-employment will be pleased to know that the Netherlands is a great place for entrepreneurs. The country is welcoming of freelancers, individuals that wish to start a business, and those who wish to take specific start-up opportunities as well. Not sure which is the way for you? For those who want to feel it out first by dipping their toes into the self-employment waters, the Dutch also offer opportunities to be a part-time entrepreneur.
How to Be Self Employed in the Netherlands
The Netherlands’s government allows a few different self-employment routes for foreigners. Here, one can go freelance, set up a business, or create a start-up. Depending on which route you choose to take, you might need different documentation to settle in the country.
If you are not planning on having any employees in your business endeavor, freelancing is the way to go. In this case, you need to set up a zelfstandige zonder personeel or ZZP. This will require you to have a permanent address and a work and/or residence permit. After you choose your company’s name and the official address of your workplace (sometimes this could be your home), you can register your company at the local Chamber of Commerce. Freelancers need to have at least three different clients per year.
Starting a business is another option that is best suitable if you want to employ other people. Just like with ZZP, you will need proof of address and the necessary permits to legally establish your company. Additionally, you might need to conduct market research, have a business plan prepared, and prove your idea is innovative in order to be able to stay in the Netherlands as an entrepreneur.
If you have an idea for a start-up and a trusted partner that can guide you through the Dutch market, applying for a start-up visa is the most beneficial for your situation. This way you can avoid mountains of paperwork required for starting a business here.
Again, arranging self-employment in the Netherlands is easier if you are from an EU/EEA country. US, Japanese, and Turkish citizens also have a few exceptions when setting up a business.
Operating entrepreneurial endeavors does not only require legal knowledge but also a thorough understanding of bookkeeping and the tax system. Additionally, there is also a language barrier that might make matters more complex. However, you do not have to go through this all on your own. Start your business the right way by contacting our team of local professionals that can help you with making your company shine.
Top Self-Employed Jobs in the Netherlands
While there are no strict guidelines about which markets entrepreneurs should focus on, there are a few sectors where self-employed individuals can really flourish. IT and Mobile App specialists can delve into the vast Dutch high-tech industry.
The Netherlands’s agriculture sector is also worth entrepreneurial attention. Creative industries are booming in the country, so talented expats should be able to find their niche. Childcare might be attractive for part-time self-employed individuals.
Dutch Self-Employment Benefits
Self-employment does not guarantee financial security. There is no minimum wage, paid holidays, severance pay, nor any real job security. However, the benefits of being your own boss and doing what you love might outweigh the disadvantages. You can choose your own clients and make your own schedule.
The government also provides financial benefits and tax allowances for self-employed people, such as tax relief for new companies, private business allowance, as well as disability, prenatal, and childbirth allowances.
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People in the Netherlands are known to be very direct, not excluding the business culture. They like to approach problems head-on as that is considered to be the most efficient way to achieve results. Do not take offense if your boss is blunt about your work or performance––this type of feedback is very common. Being honest and voicing your opinion freely looks good on employees as well, so do not be afraid to speak your mind and be direct yourself.
Note that sometimes cultural hurdles are the most difficult ones to overcome. Cultural training will not only make your transition easier but also help you stand out from the corporate crowd as an understanding, dedicated, and well-adapted employee. Find out more about our cultural training program and other ways we can help you on our services page.
The Netherlands Working Culture
- In the Netherlands, everyone is on time. Respect everyone’s schedule and do not be late for meetings or any other appointments.
- Employees tend to keep to set working hours. The typical working day starts around 08:00 or 09:00 and finishes at 17:00 or 18:00. It is not uncommon to leave work early.
- Efficiency is the key. People might leave early or do home office often, however, it is never to the expense of work results.
- Lunch at the workplace is considered to be a quick break. It is not common to conduct business over lunch or go on very long outings.
- Company structures are typically flat and non-hierarchical.
- The Dutch often draw a strict line between professional and private lives. Spending time with your colleagues during weekends or in other non-professional circumstances is rather uncommon.
The Netherlands Workplace Culture: Dress Code
Most companies in the Netherlands are laid back when it comes to dress code. That especially applies for start-ups and many IT-oriented companies. However, more traditional corporations, where suit and tie are more appropriate, are also present. The best practice is always to follow examples set by your colleagues or boss. If you want to start on the right foot immediately, you can always inquire with the HR department about the common work dress code.
Social Security and Benefits
In order to qualify for social security benefits in the Netherlands, you need to get yourself a citizen service number (BSN). This allows you to be covered by the social security system that is funded by taxpayer’s money.
What is the Equivalent of Social Security Number in the Netherlands?
A citizen service number, or BSN, can be seen as the equivalent of a social security number. This identification number is necessary for many things when operating around the Netherlands, including banking, taxes, and social benefits.
How to Get a BSN in the Netherlands
In order to get your BSN, you need to register at your local municipality. You do not need to apply for a BSN separately—it will be granted to you once you are registered.
You need to book a registration appointment at a local City Office within five days of arriving in the Netherlands.
When registering at the municipality, you need to have the following documents prepared:
- passport or EU/EEA ID card
- original birth certificate
- rental contract or proof of house purchase
- marriage or divorce certificate (if applicable)
Depending on where you are from, additional documents might be required.
Can a Foreigner get a BSN?
Yes, if you are staying in the Netherlands for longer than four months, you should get yourself a citizen service number. Otherwise, many daily tasks, such as banking, will be impossible to you. In fact, if you do not book your registration appointment on time, you will be fined.
If you are staying in the Netherlands for less than four months, registering is not mandatory.
Social Security Benefits in the Netherlands
Social security is calculated out of every employee’s paycheck. As a working resident in the Netherlands, you will be contributing to social services and social insurance (comprised of national and employee insurance).
Social services cover:
- IOAW – income service for the elderly (born before 1965) who have become unemployed.
- IOAZ – helps older single households with insufficient income because of disability or unemployment.
- TW – supplementary benefits to those not earning enough from their disability, unemployment, or long-term illness benefits.
- AKW – childcare benefits for parents that attend school, are unemployed, or unfit for work.
National insurance covers:
- Wlz – financial support for people with a chronic disease, disability, and vulnerable elderly people.
- AOW – pensions for the elderly.
- Anw – survivors benefit after a partner passes away.
Employee insurance covers:
- WIA – allowance for people who became partially or fully unfit to work (WAO for people who became unfit before 2004).
- WW – unemployment insurance.
- ZW – employee sick pay.
While maternity leave in the Netherlands is not as generous as, for example, in the UK, it is still above the EU average (14 weeks of paid leave).
Maternity Leave in the Netherlands
Both employees and self-employed people are entitled to maternity leave in the Netherlands. In case of employment, it will be your employer taking care of your maternity benefit application. If you are a self-employed professional, you will need to apply for it yourself. Self-employed mothers are entitled to be paid the national minimum wage if they worked 1,225 hours the preceding year.
How Long is Maternity Leave in the Netherlands?
Legally, maternity leave in the Netherlands has to comprise of at least 16 weeks of paid time off. It has to start at least four weeks before the baby is due and still allow for at least ten weeks after the birth. If the baby is born after the due date, the mother is allowed to take more than 16 weeks off.
If the mother is expecting more than one baby, she is entitled to 20 weeks of absence.
Maternity Benefits in the Netherlands
The money received during the paid leave is equal to the mother’s salary. However, there is a cap to the daily maternity allowance (around 200 EUR (220 USD) per day) that is adjusted every year by the government. If your pay exceeds that sum, your employer is not entitled to cover it.
Paternity Leave and Benefits
New fathers that want to take some time off to be with their newborn are also entitled to paid time off. The paid leave is one week and can be taken any time during the first four weeks after the birth. The days do not need to be taken all in one go. The parent receives 100% of their pay during their leave.
If more time is needed, starting from 1 July 2020, partners can also apply for additional unpaid leave. This comprises of five weeks of paternity leave that are only available after the paid leave is taken. It has to be taken in one continuous period (unless it is negotiated otherwise with the employer) within the first six months after the baby is born. The parent can apply for paternity/partner benefit that constitutes up to 70% of their pay.
The Netherlands also allows for additional unpaid parental leave for parents with children under eight years old. The time you are allowed to get is calculated according to how many hours you work per week and can be distributed across the eight years, depending on what the parent and their employer agrees. And while it can be taken in one go, most parents distribute their leave to shorten their work week by one day for a few years.
Each parent is allowed to take their extra parental leave for each child they have.
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