When looking for a job in the Netherlands, it is important to know what impresses Dutch employers. What are they looking for from their international applicants?

Extracurricular activities

Dutch recruiters place great importance on extracurricular activities, such as leisure activities and memberships of societies or organisations. Activities within a student organisation or association are also valued highly by Dutch recruiters. These activities may seem rather normal to you, but they demonstrate your sense of civic responsibility and social skills. Make sure you highlight these extracurricular activities in both your CV and cover letter, and not just during your job interview.

International experience

Do not underestimate the value of your international experience! The fact that you went abroad to study and that you are now willing to work abroad, shows the recruiter that your are pro-active and not afraid of adventure. Also don’t forget to mention that you speak more than one language.

Personal motivation and specialist skills

Personal motivation is highly valued in the Netherlands. If you’re able to explain clearly why you are the right person for the job, your specialist skills are less important. For example, with good personal motivation you might be able to pursue a job at ABN AMRO Bank, even with a master’s degree in communication.

Be positive

During the job interview, make sure you are able to reflect upon your own behaviour and personality in a positive manner. Be prepared for questions about your strengths, but also about your weaknesses. It is important that you know your weaknesses, but that you are able to turn them into strengths. For example: “Regarding my weaknesses, in a project, I tend to do a lot of the work myself. This is because I find it important that my work is done well, and doing it myself gives me the chance to focus without distractions. In my last job, I developed my skills in delegating tasks to others to help the overall goal.”

Work experience

Dutch recruiters love work experience. It shows that you are able to put your learning into practice, plus that you already have worked in a company before. Don’t forget to emphasise your internships!

Also be sure to mention any part-time jobs which you have had. If you had a side job at a call centre during your studies, this means that you might have developed strong commercial skills. If you worked in an Italian restaurant as a waitress, you may have developed good interpersonal skills.


What are your personal goals and drivers?

Self-assessment test: What do I really want from life? (243 kB)
Self-assessment test: Questions to ask yourself(196 kB)

There are several options to take into consideration when looking for a job.

Speculative applications

One of the best ways to find work in the Netherlands is through speculative applications. You can use this approach if you’re interested in a specific company, and there are no advertised vacancies at the moment you want to apply. If you do apply this way, then it’s very important to focus more on your motivation – why do you want to work for this company, what makes you fit in there? Do some research on the company that you can mention when you apply.

Advertised positions

Applying for a vacancy is a common way to look for a job. You can do this using both print media as well as online media. Recruitment agencies may also be of use here. Read more about how recruitment works in the Netherlands.


Traineeship programmes have become more common for recent graduates. With these programmes, you are employed by a company, but at the same time you’ll still be learning.


Temporary work is considered useful for young people to gain work experience and can be a first step into the world of work. Internships are also an example of temporary work.


Utilising your personal network of contacts is always a good way to look for a job. Although the Dutch are pretty direct, it works best if you ask them their advice on vacancy related information. Keep in mind that the Dutch don’t like to have the feeling that they’re being forced to help!

Sources of information

The Dutch public employment service (UWV) can be useful for certain sectors, since they play an active role on the Dutch labour market. There are a number of regional offices which you can visit and ask for help, information and advice when looking for a job.

Furthermore, job fairs and career events are held throughout the Netherlands. The student organisation AIESEC is very active in this field and organises events with universities. Most universities also have their own events, which are open to international students too.

Source: Expertise in Labour Mobility