Netherlands - why work abroad?

Official languages: Dutch
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 16.8 million
Capital: Amsterdam
Currency: euro (EUR)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +31
Internet code: .nl

Why this country?

The Netherlands has a number of beautiful cities, a liberal outlook and well-organised and accessible natural areas.

The number of jobs declined in most sectors in 2012 compared to the previous year, most markedly in public administration, construction and the property rental and sales sectors. However, a few sectors expanded, including care/welfare, trade/transport/catering and information/communication. The largest number of unfilled vacancies is for technical and commercial sales representatives, and electrical mechanics and fitters. Agricultural and industrial machinery mechanics and fitters, and plumbers and pipe-fitters also have a good chance of finding work, due to demand outstripping supply. Be aware that knowledge of the Dutch language may be necessary, especially in commercial jobs.

Looking for work?

Job vacancies are announced on company websites or specialised job sites, in newspapers (in general the jobs supplement of a weekend edition), through an intermediate organisation or the public employment service (UWV). It is very common to hand in a spontaneous application to find out about job opportunities in a company.

Tips for job applications?

For low-paid or unskilled jobs (hotel and cater­ing industry, retail industry), it is common to apply by phone or, increasingly, by e-mail. For other jobs, it is standard to send a covering letter and CV by e-mail or post. Make sure to detail your personal data, work experience and education level truthfully.

Intermediate organisations, which may be employed by a company to fill its vacan­cies, often pre-select candidates and submit selected CVs to the employer.

If you want to apply spontaneously to a com­pany, contact the department or person who can tell you about vacancies. Explain your plans, the job you are looking for and what skills and experience you have. Ask if you can send a covering letter and a CV. If they confirm, you can send a targeted letter to the right person or department This approach can be very effec­tive in the Netherlands for getting you invited for an interview.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

No, but it is acceptable to include one..

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

No, handwritten applications are not recommended.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

If you have a Europass CV to prove your job experience, training courses, skills and competences, do not hesitate to use it.

Making contact by phone

If you contact the company by phone, ask for the contact person or department mentioned in the job advertisement. Make sure the timing of the call is convenient. Say briefly whether you are calling for more information or to apply for a job. If you are a foreign applicant and are calling from abroad, make this clear and ask if the call can be held in your own or in another foreign language. The first impression you make is decisive

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

No, the company will ask for copies of these, if they are required, at the job interview or on your first day at work. It is wise to have your diploma translated into Dutch or English and to have your qualifications validated.

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

References are not obligatory. It is up to you whether you name referees in your CV. Your new employer can only contact them after you have agreed to this. Personal matters or reasons for resigning are not to be discussed in references.

If proof of good conduct is needed, it should be mentioned in the job advertisement.

When you leave a company, the employer must always give you a certificate. This may simply contain neutral content but must never say anything negative about your personality or your work.

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

From 1 day to several months.

Preparing for the interview

Candidates may be invited for an exploratory interview, possibly with an intermediate organ­isation. This is more like an opportunity to get to know each other. The atmosphere is some­where between formal and informal, and based on equality among the discussion partners.

The employer will want you to show that you know about the job conditions, the company and its activities. You will have the opportu­nity to ask questions too. Use this opportunity to show your motivation and interest in the job, not to ask about the salary.

Questions are mainly related to your experi­ence and your skills. As a result of this inter­view, your application will either be rejected or you will be invited for a second interview.

A lack of basic information about the com­pany is often one of the main reasons Dutch employers do not invite candidates for a second inter-view or offer them the job. Consult the company's website, read its annual report and try to get a good idea of the sector the com­pany operates in, its latest news and likely changes. This will help to prove your motivation.

The follow-up interviews are in-depth inter­views about the context of the position, your problem-solving skills and your experience. Assessments may be used after the first or second interview.

In most cases, you will be informed whether or not you are hired very shortly after the interview.

Dutch employers are increasingly asking for competences together with diplomas or testimonials. Prepare for questions about your competences by practising the so-called STAR method (situation, task, action, result)

Dress-code tips

It is very much appreciated if you are dressed for the occasion and look neat. Try to choose clothing that fits the company culture rather than the latest fashion. In banking, men have to wear a suit and women are expected to wear a two-piece suit.

The modest use of jewellery is advised. It is accepted that men wear a ring, but bracelets are considered to be overkill. For women, one or more rings are acceptable or even favourable. Other jewellery should be adapted to your outfit.

Who will be there?

One or two people, typically.

Do we shake hands?

Yes, a firm handshake is a must in the Netherlands.

Is there a typical interview structure?

On average, the interview takes 1 to 1.5 hours.

The interviewer presents him- or herself and the company, before inviting you to tell him/her who you are. They will then tell you more about the job, before asking questions about your CV. They may also ask about your private life.

Questions about your qualities, skills and com­petences follow. After this, you can ask about topics that have not been addressed or for things to be clarified.

The interviewer closes the interview by explain­ing further steps in the procedure.

Tricky questions include: Do you have an idea of what the position involves? Compare this post with similar ones in other companies. Why should we choose you instead of some­one else? Can you explain this gap in your CV?

When is a question out of bounds?

There is legislation to protect against discrimi­nation. Questions about race or skin colour, reli­gion (although a question like 'Do the hours of work fit in with your religion?' is permissi­ble), nationality, birthplace, pregnancy, health or family plans are not permitted.

Many Dutch companies have adopted a code of good conduct in recruitment as laid down by the Dutch union for personnel manage­ment and organisation development (NVP). If you feel that a company that is signed up to the code did not treat you well, you can make a complaint. You can also apply to the commis­sion for equal treatment if you think your rights to equal treatment were violated.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

If the company offers you the job, you can negotiate your salary and probationary period. If you are hired through an intermediate organ­isation, they will probably negotiate your remu­neration request and other conditions and benefits. In the Netherlands, both salary and non-statutory benefits can be negotiated. Think twice about your salary request and make sure it is in accordance with your job.

Different kinds of jobs have different salary scales. These scales are divided into what are known as periodicities. Your experience is used to calculate the scale and periodicity you will be paid. All of this can be negotiated. Remember that voluntary work counts as work experience. For many professions and large companies, working conditions are agreed in collective labour agreements. There is a minimum wage for under-23s and for older people. Earning less than this level is prohibited. Remuneration is expressed on a monthly basis.

Holiday entitlement and the formula for calcu­lating holiday pay are fixed by law. Depending on labour agreements or your age, the amount of holiday entitlement may increase. Bonuses may be negotiated when you start the job and in your annual review. Some collective labour agreements include commitments about profit shares or dividends.

Besides remuneration and holiday pay, you can also negotiate other conditions, such as a com­pany car, travel costs, retirement insurance, training costs, etc. In many cases, the collective labour agreements fix these conditions.

Is a trial period likely?

Yes, this is likely.

How long is the standard probationary period?

The probationary period is 2 months on average.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

This is not automatic. However, asking for compensation is not considered impolite and is possible.

When will I hear the result?

Companies that apply the code of good behaviour in recruitment will inform unsuccessful candidates why they were not selected within a fortnight and in writing. It is still possible to ask for more information.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

If you are not selected, it is normal to con¬tact the interviewer to evaluate your application procedure. You can ask for the things you did well and what went wrong so that you can learn from these for other interviews.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Punctuality is necessary. Only for a very serious reason (e.g. illness or the death of a relative) can you ask for a new appointment.

last modification: 2014-09-03
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