Information about working in the Netherlands, including Dutch work permit requirements, where to find job listings, how to apply for a position and CV/resume tips…
Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not need to have a visa, residence permit or work permit to be employed in the Netherlands.
However, family members of EEA and Swiss nationals, who are not EEA or Swiss nationals themselves, will need a residence and work permit in order to be employed in the Netherlands.
All other nationalities require both a residence permit and work permit to be employed in the Netherlands.
One exception is a student who graduates from a Dutch research university or a university of applied sciences (HBO). If an international student from outside the EU/EEA has successfully completed a degree in the Netherlands, they can remain in the Netherlands for one additional year to seek permanent employment as a highly-skilled worker. During the search year, they are not required to have a work permit.
Only an employer can apply for a work permit (TWV), individuals cannot. More about work permits in the Netherlands.
English is the working language of many of the larger commercial institutions in the Netherlands, including international and multi-national companies and organizations. This means it is possible to speak only English when seeking employment with those organisations, although most companies will prefer an applicant to speak at least conversational Dutch.
For native English speakers (and other languages) seeking lower-level positions, there are employment opportunities with international call centres located in Holland, especially in the Randstad (the geographic region connected by Amsterdam in the north, Rotterdam in the south, Utrecht in the east and The Hague in the west).
There are various ways to find employment in the Netherlands:
- Job listings in national or regional newspapers
- Online job boards
- Directly applying to companies
- Recruitment firms
- Employment agencies
- Network contacts
Dutch newspapers often list English-speaking job openings within specific industries. For example, NRC Handelsblad tends to be focused on management-level jobs, De Telegraaf and Algemeen Dagblad list administrative and technical jobs, and Het Financieele Dagblad advertises vacancies primarily in the financial sector. The website Intermediair also has job vacancies.
There are many online job boards which advertise vacancies (vacature) in the Netherlands, and most allow jobseekers to post their own CVs/resumes for perusal by prospective employers.
Online sources of job openings include:
- Together Abroad: multi-lingual job board in the Netherlands
- EURES: the European job mobility portal
- Monsterboard NL: job postings for the Netherlands (only in Dutch)
Companies typically post vacancies on their own website or sub-domain. The listings can usually be filtered by skill level, location and sometimes language requirements. Applications are submitted directly through the platform. See Largest Expat Employers in the Netherlands.
Employment & Recruitment Agencies
In the Netherlands, employment agencies generally deal with vacancies for non-specialised jobs, higher-level specialists and senior-level positions.
It is illegal for any company in the Netherlands to hire a non-EU/EEA national without a work permit. A major issue facing internationals is that most employment agencies advertise jobs which require a command of the Dutch language.
Approximately 4% of the Dutch workforce are employed by employment agencies, which assign them (on a temporary basis) to businesses or organisations. If an applicant’s situation allows employment in the Netherlands without a work permit (EU/EEA, Switzerland nationals), temporary work can be found through agencies such as USG, Undutchables, Adams Recruitment, Unique Multilinqual Services, Madison Parker, Randstadt, Manpower and Start.
Over 60% of all job vacancies in the Netherlands are filled in less formal ways, thus building a large network of contacts in a specific area of expertise may prove beneficial when looking for a job. LinkedIn has become a leader in business networking, including here in the Netherlands; the website allows you to find people employed in a specific industry at city, region or national level.
APPLYING FOR A JOB
When applying for jobs in the Netherlands, a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or résumé should be sent, along with a cover letter. Unless applying to a large multinational organisation, the cover letter should preferably be in Dutch and should not be longer than one page. The CV should be tailored to the post being applied for, and should not exceed two pages. It should include details of work experience, followed by education, arranged in chronological order. Online application forms are often used by larger organisations.
To be eligible for employment in the Netherlands, applicants must have the following:
- Valid identification document
- Proof of health insurance
- Valid work permit (if required)
- Valid residence permit (if required)