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
- 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
Undutchables is an expat-focused international recruitment agency operating in the Netherlands. They specialize in the internationals job market, helping highly-qualified non-Dutch speaking professionals get ahead in their career. So, find your new dream job with the professionals at Undutchables.
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’s 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, almost 24% of whom are foreign or ethnic minorities.
Unemployment figures are among the lowest in the EU, standing at 3.2% in December 2019. In fact, this is well below the EU average of 6.2%.
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
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.
Other in-demand jobs in the Netherlands include professionals and graduates working in health care, tax, interim managers and education.
Job salaries in the Netherlands
Highest monthly starting salaries are for dentistry (€4,000) and pharmacy (€3,300). Lowest starting salaries for skilled positions are dance and music (€1,200) and visual art and design (€1,300).
In terms of average salaries, the Netherlands scores quite highly out of EU countries. According to 2018 figures, labor costs in the Netherlands were the 5th highest in Europe and over 25% above the EU average.
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 €1,653.60.
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 (i.e., between 9am and 5pm), although out of hours and shift-work is also common. Unless at 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 tend to favor the employee, especially when it comes to dismissal. Your contract should specify the full details of your contract including the length of the contract, employee rights, and work conditions.
Labor agreements in several Dutch industries have been drawn up as a result of collective labor agreements (collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO). Employees can benefit from these even if they do not belong to a union.
Read even more in our guide to Dutch labor law.
Requirements to work in the Netherlands
Work visas in the Netherlands
If you’re from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland, you are free to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a work or residence permit.
However, you will need to register with the Dutch authorities. Read about the process for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to the Netherlands.
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, 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 needs this personal tax and social security number, and you get it when you register at the city hall on your arrival.
Find out more about the Dutch social security system.
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, EEA or Switzerland, 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 EEA.
As well as searching for work, you can post CV’s and get advice on the legal and administrative issues involved in working in the Netherlands (or any other country in the EU/EEA or Switzerland).
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
- Monsterboard – in Dutch only
- National Vacature Bank – in Dutch only
- Top Language Jobs – English-language and multilingual jobs
- Intermediair – mostly Dutch
- LinkedIn also has a job database.
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:
Job websites of specialist job agencies:
- Aquent – web design, strategy, and content
- Ardekay – IT vacancies
- Darwin recruitment – IT and telecoms
- Rave recruitment – 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 companies’ job 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 editors, writers, copywriters, translators, interpreters and teachers of English.
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
Our annual International Job Fair 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 2020 Expatica International Fair will be held on 4 October at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam.
Self-employment and freelancing in the Netherlands
Approximately 16.7% 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.
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
- Intern Abroad
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 insurances you’re not covered for. See our guide to insurance in the Netherlands for even more information;
- looking into what the pension arrangements are with your employer, and whether you might want to top up with private pension arrangements. See Expatica’s guide to pensions in the Netherlands for further details;
- making the necessary income tax arrangements, for example, checking if you are eligible for the 30% ruling allowance. Read even more in our guide to income tax in the Netherlands
- Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen – UWV) – government website with information and resources on employment and looking for work
- Werkzoekenden – UVW employment portal with information on job vacancies, support and Dutch unemployment benefit
- EURES – EU job search portal