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.
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.
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.
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)
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?
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.
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.