How to find a great job in the Netherlands

5 career coaching tips for expats (with an EU work permit)

For a couple of years now, I’ve been coaching expats and really enjoying it. Partly because of my own background in international work and study.

You won’t hear me say it’s easy to find a job in the Netherlands as a foreign national with an EU work permit. In fact it can be quite a challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible and I have successfully helped numerous clients.

On this blog, I’d like to tell you about the most important factors for achieving success as an expat. I see many similarities between expat and Dutch clients in terms of qualities and pitfalls in making career choices and applying for positions. But there are also important differences. As you may already have experienced, Dutch culture requires a very specific approach to applying for jobs, which may not be intuitive for you.

Let me explain.

Job in the Netherlands (Zuiderkerk Amsterdam)

1) Check what the employer really needs

Reading a job ad and website doesn’t always give you a clear picture of the job or the employer. Theory and practice might be different. What are they really looking for? What problems do they need solved? What is it about you that would interest them so much, that they would want to talk to you? Get in touch with them and find out, use your connections, develop your network, etc..

2) Be honest with yourself

Ask yourself whether you really want this job and why. Is it because of a sincere intrinsic motivation or is it the money? It could be both, but if you’re only after the money, the recruiter or hiring manager will ‘smell’ this a mile off. They will always prefer a convincingly motivated candidate.

3) Be honest with employers

You might think you have to be perfect. That’s not true. So don’t overdo it. Or you might think you should be very modest. Wrong again. Tell the employer, based on your experience, how you think your background and accomplishments match their needs. Emphasize drives, talents and skills that genuinely match what they’re looking for.

4) Be clear to employers

Present your profile as clearly as possible. Use precise and active language. Communicate like a professional. Use bullets. Follow layout conventions. Use the information you acquired from the employer and from your network to answer their key questions as coherently as you can.

5) Combine professionalism with an informal attitude

You might be surprised by the personal approach of Dutch recruiters and hiring managers. They want to know who you are as a person. So, your profile needs to be professional but slightly informal too. For example, the headshot on your CV and on LinkedIn shouldn’t be a holiday snapshot, but it definitely needs to be relaxed and smiling.

These 5 tips are crucial for the next step in your expat career. They will help you avoid misunderstandings and speed up the process. Remember, it’s not the best professional who gets the job, it’s the best applicant.

Using Google translate, you might want to read my other blogs about successful career choices and job applications. If you think you might need my help, I would be delighted to hear from you. Email me at, or give me a call (or message) on: 06 – 471 639 42

Good luck!