What they don’t tell you about finding a job in The Netherlands

13 September 2023

Picture this: after an amazing several years of studying in Groningen, you finally got to the finish line of your university journey, graduating! As you celebrate the end of your student life, you might find yourself preparing to enter the workforce. Finding a job, especially as an international student, can be challenging. Nevertheless, the country offers great opportunities with its open economy, international outlook, and high quality of life. In this article, I am going to uncover some tips and strategies to successfully navigate yourself through the dynamic landscape of the Dutch workforce.

Zoekjaar visa: A golden opportunity

If you happen to graduate from a Dutch educational institution that is within the top 200 of at least two rankings (this includes UG and Hanze!), you are entitled to a one-year window to search for employment in the country, better known as the ‘Zoekjaar visa’ or the ‘Searching year visa’. During this year, you are allowed to stay in the country to explore various industries and secure a job that aligns with your skills and aspirations. You are allowed to apply within three years of graduating, which gives you more flexibility to plan your future accordingly. You can get more information based on your nationality from the IND website.

LinkedIn: Your ultimate job search companion

Using LinkedIn allows you to network professionally with key players in the industry, hiring managers, and your friends, to showcase your experiences, skills, and achievements. Nowadays, recruiters like to see the candidates’ LinkedIn profiles as it immediately gives them a more comprehensive overview of their qualifications. The majority of companies in the Netherlands also frequently update their job openings through LinkedIn.

Strategic location: Living near your future employers

Another tip I find useful is to know the locations of your future employers or dream industries. The majority, of course, lies in the heart of the Netherlands’ economic activity: the Randstad region. Based on my experience, recruiters tend to prefer candidates who are located not too far from their office. This is sometimes due to the housing situations in the country; hence they want you to secure a place in the area before proceeding with the recruitment process.

Don’t worry, this does not automatically mean that you should leave Groningen. Depending on your study, this city might be the perfect place for you. The main sectors in the Groningen region are agriculture and agribusiness, health and life sciences, and chemistry (green chemistry and advanced materials). It is also the home to some companies you might have heard of, such as Philips in Drachten, B&S in Delfzijl, and IBM in the center of Groningen. Make sure to do your research for your intended industry!

Tailoring your Cover Letter

We all know how important a CV is, but don’t forget about the cover letter. Within your letter, try to demonstrate a clear alignment between the job requirements the company posted and the skills and experiences you have.

Try some of these tips: mention relevant courses from your university years and mention any relevant non-academic activities. Showcase your best skills and critically mention how you acquire them. Highlight your cultural fit within the company. A cover letter should be the showcase of the most relevant parts of your CV! Instead of merely listing down your past experiences, you should choose the most relevant or recent ones and give a thorough explanation of them. A tailor-made cover letter will allow you to stand out to the recruiters as a person who is eager to learn and grow.

Other things to consider

Throughout your job application journey, there are also some things to keep in mind. If you see a long-term future in the Netherlands, you should consider learning the Dutch language! There are so many opportunities to take online courses or in-person ones, and it is guaranteed to help along the way with advancing your career in the country. And lastly, apply consistently! Try to always set a daily goal to apply to an x amount of companies daily or weekly, and try to be consistent. Remember, applying for a job is a number game! The more job openings you apply to, the more exposure you’ll get from hiring managers, and the bigger chance you’ll have of securing your next job. Good luck!