Moving to the Netherlands? Make getting a job easier with our ultimate guide to finding a job in the Netherlands.
Finding jobs in the Netherlands takes more than just translating your CV. To work in the Netherlands, you need to know about the requirements for international workers (such as Dutch visa regulations and Dutch work permits), the current job market, and how and where to find Dutch jobs.
This guide covers all the main aspects of finding a job in the Netherlands, with sections on topics such as:
- Work in the Netherlands
- Requirements to work in the Netherlands
- How to find jobs in the Netherlands
- Finding a job with a recruitment agency in the Netherlands
- Finding a job online in the Netherlands
- Self-employment and freelancing in the Netherlands
- Traineeships, internships, and volunteering in the Netherlands
- Applying for a job in the Netherlands
- Support while looking for a job in the Netherlands
- Starting a job in the Netherlands
- Useful resources
If you’re looking for work in the Netherlands, check out &Work. You'll find a range of job vacancies on their site, from developers and designers to lawyers and notaries. See how &Work can help you find your next role in the Netherlands.
Work in the Netherlands
Job market in the Netherlands
There are lots of opportunities for expats to work in the Netherlands. The country is home to a wide range of international and multinational companies; Dutch internationals alone include ING Group, Royal Dutch Shell Group, Unilever, Philips, and Heineken. There are also plenty of recruitment agencies aimed at placing foreign workers in jobs in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has a relatively stable economy backed by plenty of foreign investment encouraged by advantageous tax conditions. The country also has a diverse, well-educated population, around 26% of whom have a migrant background.
Unemployment figures are among the lowest in the EU, standing at 3.5% in March 2023. In fact, this is well below the EU average of 6%. Youth unemployment stands at 8%, below the EU average of 14%.
There are a number of thriving and growing job sectors in the Netherlands. These include agriculture and food, creative industries, chemicals, energy, IT, health and life sciences, logistics, and the service industry.
Job vacancies in the Netherlands
There were 442,000 jobs available in the Netherlands at the end of 2022. This includes nearly 35,000 public sector jobs. Sectors with the highest number of vacancies include commercial services, wholesale and retail, business services, manufacturing and energy, and health and social work.
Highly-skilled workers in the Netherlands are in great demand, so much so that there’s a fast-track immigration process to get them in. There are also tax benefits (the 30% tax ruling) for some international employees. This group includes engineers, those with technical skills, IT specialists, those working in finance, as well as people with experience of working in sales, marketing, and customer service.
Job salaries in the Netherlands
According to the Central Bureau for Statistics (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek), the average job salary in the Netherlands is €47,930 for men and €31,290 for women (2022). The gender pay gap in the Netherlands stands at 14.2, above the EU average of 13 (figures from 2020). Sectors with the highest annual salaries (2023) are banking (€67,548), legal (€63,504), and chemistry, oil, and energy (€61,482). You can find out more information about salaries for different sectors on the National Professional Guide (Nationale Beroepen Gids).
In terms of average overall salaries, the Netherlands has the fifth-highest average hourly wage costs in the EU, with gross costs working out at €40.5/hour compared to the EU average of €30.5/hour.
The minimum wage in the Netherlands is dependent on age and reviewed bi-annually. The current monthly minimum wage for full-time work for those 21 and over is €1,756.20.
Work culture in the Netherlands
The Dutch usually work a 36–40-hour week, sometimes spread over just four days. In general, work in the Netherlands is very well-structured within organizations. Most work happens during normal working hours (between 09:00 and 17:00), although out-of-hours and shift work is also common. Unless at the managerial level, employees are not typically expected to work overtime.
Dutch society is relatively egalitarian and this translates into the workplace. In fact, Dutch companies often have a horizontal organizational structure and they usually follow step-by-step plans.
Labor laws and rights in the Netherlands
Dutch labor laws are quite extensive and offer protection to employees in terms of work hours, holidays, and rules around dismissal. Your contract should specify the full details of your employment including the length of the contract, employee rights, and work conditions.
A number of Dutch industries have collective labor agreements (collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO). Employees can benefit from these even if they do not belong to a union.
Requirements to work in the Netherlands
Work visas in the Netherlands
If you’re from the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), you are free to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a work visa or residence permit. However, you will need to register with the Dutch authorities.
If you’re from anywhere else, your employer will typically need a work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning or TWV) for you, and you must also hold a residence permit.
Most employees will qualify for the single work and residence permit in the Netherlands, although some categories of people, such as students in the Netherlands and seasonal workers in the Netherlands, still need separate work and residence permits. Others, such as highly-skilled workers in the Netherlands and holders of the EU Blue Card, only need residence permits, not work permits.
Language requirements to work in the Netherlands
You don’t have to speak Dutch to work in the Netherlands. In fact, the Netherlands is the top-ranked non-English speaking country for English proficiency worldwide and English is the main business language in many companies. However, it increases your chances if you do. You will probably end up working in the Netherlands for a large international company if you don’t speak Dutch.
If you work for a smaller company then you will generally need to be able to speak Dutch in order to participate in a meeting or make a presentation.
Expats who speak French, German, Dutch, or a Scandinavian language are always in demand. To learn Dutch, you can find many Dutch language courses in the Netherlands.
Qualifications to work in the Netherlands
Your chance of finding work in the Netherlands is greater if you hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. To find out whether your qualification is recognized or your profession regulated in the Netherlands, visit Nuffic (the organization for international co-operation in education).
If you get an interview for a job, you’ll need to show original testimonials or references from former employers. Because of this, make sure you bring diplomas, degree certificates, and employer testimonials when you move to the Netherlands.
Tax and social security numbers in the Netherlands
You will also need a Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN) before you start work in the Netherlands. Everyone moving to the Netherlands needs this personal tax and social security number. You should apply for this at your local city hall shortly after you arrive in the country.
How to find jobs in the Netherlands
On Expatica jobs, you can find a constantly changing selection of jobs, both English-speaking and multi-language, in sales, IT and other industries in Amsterdam, other major Dutch cities and elsewhere across the Netherlands.
If you’re from the EU/EFTA, you can search for jobs in the Netherlands on the EURES (European Employment Services) website. EURES is a job portal network maintained by the European Commission which is designed to facilitate free movement within the European Economic Area (EEA).
As well as searching for work, you can post CVs and get advice on the legal and administrative issues involved in working in the Netherlands (or any other country in the EU/EFTA).
The UVW Werkzoekenden site is the public employment service and has a network of partner sites and employment agencies. You can visit one of their branches to get advice and information as well as look for jobs in the Netherlands.
Many companies list vacancies directly with recruitment agencies (see below), where you can find extensive lists of job websites in the Netherlands. However, some jobs can also be found on online employment databases, such as:
- Expatica Jobs – English-language and multilingual jobs
- Good Company
- Indeed – in Dutch
- Intermediair – mostly Dutch
- Jouw ICT Vacature – ICT vacancies (in Dutch)
- LinkedIn also has a job database.
- Monsterboard – in Dutch only
- National Vacature Bank – in Dutch only
- Top Language Jobs – English-language and multilingual jobs
- &Work – ICT, tech, and finance jobs
Many Dutch companies rely on recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) to find employees, and it is a common way to find work in the Netherlands. You can visit agencies in person but there are also lots of online recruitment agencies too.
Job websites of agencies for speakers of English and other languages:
Websites of specialist job agencies:
- Aquent – web design, strategy, and content
- Darwin recruitment – IT and telecoms
- Ravecruitment – ICT recruitment
Job websites of general employment agencies:
Company job websites and speculative applications
If there are no vacancies in the companies in which you’d like to work, consider writing to them directly on spec with an unsolicited application. In fact, Dutch companies are often happy for prospective employees to use this approach to find work in the Netherlands.
It’s important to contact the right person, though, so check recruitment sections of company websites or contact the company directly.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) also posts a list of recognized employers/sponsors (companies and organizations) who have permission to bring highly-skilled workers to the Netherlands with preferential immigration conditions, including not needing a work permit.
Contact the individual companies on the list to find what jobs in the Netherlands might be available.
Jobs in Dutch newspapers
There are vacancies (vacatures) advertised in Dutch print newspapers although these are generally senior positions within international companies. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can check the following newspapers in print version or see their affiliate job websites:
Finding work through both personal contacts and social media is acceptable in the Netherlands. There are many expats in the Netherlands, and by linking into this network you might find a job through word-of-mouth or personal contact. See a list of business networking groups and business clubs for expats in the Netherlands.
Also, think about joining a business club, professional association or networking group, such as the Amsterdam American Business Club, Kea (for New Zealanders), Connecting Women and Women’s Business Initiative (networking for women), or SENSE (a professional network for English language professionals).
Meet-up will put you in touch with hundreds of groups of like-minded people in cities all over the Netherlands. The meet-up groups can be work- or interest-related and if you don’t see a group that suits your interests or job, you can always create your own group to see who joins.
International Job Fair: Expat jobs in the Netherlands
The annual Job Fair for Internationals allows you to meet prospective employers from a wide range of industries face-to-face, make contact with multilingual recruiters, take part in workshops to improve your job-hunting efforts, and apply for jobs in the Netherlands.
The 2023 job fair will take place on Sunday 1 October at the Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam.
Finding a job with a recruitment agency in the Netherlands
There are many recruitment agencies in the Netherlands, including many English-speaking agents, who make it easier for expats to find work. These agencies not only support people into employment but also screen potential recruits on behalf of employers. With some agencies, your employment contract will be with the agent rather than your place of work if you get a job and the agency will pay your wages directly. You should check this situation before starting any job.
You can check the recruitment agencies listed in the above section as well as checking with your local employment office for information on local agents. Many recruitment agencies in the Netherlands will ask you to register with them if you want them to help you find work. Tips for dealing with agents are:
- Provide an up-to-date CV reflecting your education, skills, and work experience as this will help the agent to find you suitable positions
- Meet with agency staff in person to build up a rapport and also to more clearly explain the kind of roles you are looking for
- Treat any face-to-face meetings with staff like you would a job interview, including dressing smartly
- Keep yourself flexible, as roles can emerge suddenly and you may find yourself with an interview opportunity at any time
In addition to helping you find work, some agencies also provide other support such as help with improving CVs or preparing for interviews. Recruitment agencies in the Netherlands can also help sort out any problems that arise after your job starts, so it’s worth maintaining a good relationship with them.
Finding a job online in the Netherlands
Beyond using online job search resources and recruitment websites, there are other techniques you can use to find a job online in the Netherlands. For a start, it’s worth building up a strong online profile. LinkedIn is a good place to start but there are a number of other things you can do. If you are a professional with a good education and experience, you could create an online portfolio, website, blog, or even video channel. This is a great way of showcasing your abilities so that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself to potential employers.
Another thing you can do is network among local groups. Social media sites such as Facebook have plenty of useful pages that you can tap into, for example Amsterdam Expat and Expats in The Hague, where you can seek advice.
You can also utilize online resources to get feedback on prospective employers from current and past employees. Glassdoor is one of the best-known employee review sites. If you’re looking for information on a particular company, you can Google the company name alongside the words “employee reviews” or “employee feedback”.
Self-employment and freelancing in the Netherlands
Approximately 15.8% of the Dutch population are self-employed, including many foreign residents. Anyone can start up their own business in the Netherlands if they have a residence permit and the right to seek employment.
You can choose from various different business structures in the Netherlands, including sole trader (eenmanszaak) or private limited company (besloten vennootschap – BV). You can also work as a freelancer (zelfstandige zonder personeel – ZZP). However you set yourself up, you will need to register at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and follow the correct administration procedures around issues such as taxation and accounting.
Traineeships, internships, and volunteering in the Netherlands
University graduates in the Netherlands can find traineeships and internships through many places such as:
- the European Commission Traineeships Office (Bureau de Stages) for EU traineeships
- AIESEC for internships and summer placements for recent graduates
- IAESTE for students in science, engineering, and applied arts
If you are between 17 and 30 years old, you can apply for volunteer programs with the European Voluntary Service (EVS). You can work abroad for up to 12 months in exchange for board, food, insurance and a small allowance. For more volunteer opportunities, also check Concordia.
A volunteer in Dutch is a vrijwilliger and there are many opportunities depending on your skills. Expat advice center ACCESS is always on the lookout for volunteers in its offices in Den Haag.
Applying for a job in the Netherlands
Job application processes in the Netherlands are fairly similar to those in many other countries. You generally need to send or CV or fill in an application form. For more skilled positions, these will usually need to be accompanied by a cover letter.
If you are successful at this initial stage, you will then typically be invited to an interview. This may also be accompanied by a skills test, depending on the role you have applied for.
Your prospective employer may request references from previous employers or educational establishments to vouch for your credentials. This doesn’t always happen and is more common among big international companies, but you should be prepared to have one or two good references to hand.
To find out how to adapt your CV and cover letter to work in the Netherlands, as well as how to conduct yourself in a Dutch job interview, read our article on Dutch CVs and interview tips.
Support while looking for a job in the Netherlands
The Netherlands Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen – UWV) provides information and support for those looking for a job in the Netherlands.
The UVW also administrates unemployment benefit in the Netherlands. However, benefits are insurance-based and determined by the amount of time you have spent working in the country.
Foreign residents usually can’t access social security benefits when the first move to the Netherlands. Even EU/EFTA residents have to wait three months before they can make a claim.
There is continuing vocational and educational training (CVET) for those unemployed and looking for work in the Netherlands. This is mostly through private sector providers, although some government funding is available to access courses. This is usually restricted to those who are eligible for unemployment benefits.
Starting a job in the Netherlands
Once you have been fortunate enough to find a job in the Netherlands, there are a few things that you might want to consider and sort out. These include:
- Checking if your employer has enrolled you in insurance schemes such as accident insurance. If not, it might be worth taking out any work-based insurance you’re not covered for.
- Looking into what the pension arrangements are with your employer, and whether you might want to top up with private pension arrangements.
- Making the necessary income tax arrangements, for example, checking if you are eligible for the 30% ruling allowance.
- Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen – UWV) – government website with information and resources on employment and looking for work (in Dutch)
- Werkzoekenden – UVW employment portal with information on job vacancies, support and Dutch unemployment benefit (in Dutch)
- EURES – EU job search portal