Is It Easy for a Foreigner To Get a Job in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a great place to work, thanks to its strong economy and plenty of job opportunities. However, the Dutch labor market is quite competitive, and as such, it might be challenging for a foreigner to find a job in the Netherlands. So, is it easy to get a job in the Netherlands if you are not Dutch?

Getting a job as a foreigner in the Netherlands is possibly but certainly not easy. It’s all due to the small country size, large population, housing shortage, and the government’s tight rules on immigration. However, if you have the right skills sought by Dutch employers, you will likely find a job much easier.

The best way to increase your chances of finding a job in the Netherlands is by networking with people who live or work in the country. Ensure that you meet the requirements set by both the Dutch government and the company you are applying to.

 How do you find a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner?

The Dutch job market requires an extensive search and a lot of preparation. The current employment climate in the Netherlands is competitive, thanks to the low unemployment rate (3.7% as of Dec 2021). As such, you need to find ways of standing out from your competitors.

The chart below shows the unemployment rate in the Netherlands from Dec 2020 to Dec 2021:

Source: Economy.

The best way to get started is by finding out what the requirements are for the job you want. This information is available on various websites, including the website of the Netherlands ‘ embassy in your country or on websites of Dutch companies.

Prepare a good CV/resume and application letter, and make sure that you are familiar with the Dutch way of doing things. Get in touch with people who have worked or lived in the Netherlands, as they will be able to give you some great tips on how to find a job here.

If you have special skills in high demand, such as computer programming, engineering, or medicine/healthcare, you could easily get a job in the Netherlands. The Dutch labor market also has many opportunities for English teachers and translators.

That said, several factors will determine your success rate when finding a job in the Netherlands. These include:

Nationality

 Your nationality will significantly impact your chances of getting employed in the Netherlands. Dutch employers prefer to work with some nationalities more than others. For instance, it is easier for European Union citizens to find a job in the Netherlands than people outside the EU. This is because EU citizens have the right to work in any EU country without requiring a work permit.  

Language skills

There are over 100 languages spoken in the Netherlands, but Dutch takes the lion’s share at 98%. So naturally, the Dutch labor market mainly focuses on employees who can speak Dutch since it is the country’s official language of business and communication.

However, this doesn’t mean that foreigners who don’t speak Dutch are disadvantaged. Many multinational companies in the Netherlands operate in English, so it’s still possible to work for them if you don’t know how to speak Dutch.

Work permit

You will need a valid work permit to work legally in the Netherlands. The process of getting one can be pretty complicated, so it’s best to start the application process as soon as you have found a job offer.

Education

If you don’t have any special skills in high demand by Dutch employers, your chances of getting a job will be much lower. This is because many companies prefer to hire employees with at least some form of higher education.

Age

The average age of the Dutch population is one of the highest in Europe, so employers are often looking for younger employees. If you are over 40, it will be more challenging to find a job in the Netherlands.

What about Dutch salaries? Read this detailed guide on wages in the Netherlands.

Can you get a job in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch?

As a Dutch-speaking nation, it’s only natural that Dutch companies prefer to hire someone who speaks Dutch. Having even a basic understanding of the language is an advantage, as it will show your commitment to both the company and its local culture.

If you are a foreigner and don’t speak Dutch, we recommend first checking out the jobs in high demand right now.

However, English has become more widely used in business communication due to globalization. As such, you can still find work in the Netherlands if you don’t know how to speak Dutch, as long as you have the right skills and are willing to learn.

To improve your chances of landing a job in the Netherlands, you may need to apply the following strategies:

1. Focus on expat job websites and recruitment agencies – these are the best places to find jobs in the Netherlands. Common job websites include Expatica Jobs, Stepstone, and Top Language Jobs.

2. Go for international companies – luckily, many international companies are based in the Netherlands. Some examples are Shell, Phillips, Heineken, Unilever, KLM, ING, and many other medium-sized international companies. These organizations are more likely to hire people who don’t speak Dutch.

3. Apply for jobs that require English – this is a great way to find work in the Netherlands without knowing how to speak Dutch. These jobs include English teacher, translator, copywriter, and tour guide jobs.

4. Start learning Dutch – even if you don’t know how to speak the language yet, start by learning some basic phrases and vocabulary. The better your Dutch skills are, the easier it will be for you to find a job in the country.

6. Be flexible with your location – although you may be interested in living and working in the Netherlands, it is best to focus on cities with many international companies or a big expat community. These include Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Rotterdam.

Moving to the Netherlands? Here are top reasons why you shouldn’t.

Best jobs for foreigners in the Netherlands  

Some of the common jobs you can find in the Netherlands as a foreigner include:

Academic positions

Many of the universities in the Netherlands offer courses that are taught entirely in English. For example, Amsterdam University offers over 38 programs taught in English. These institutions often have vacancies for professors and other academic staff members who don’t speak Dutch but are fluent in English.

Engineering jobs

If you have an engineering background, the Netherlands will give you plenty of opportunities to work in your field. This is because most companies in the country are looking for engineers with a Master’s degree or higher. In fact, there is such a shortage of engineers that many Dutch universities offer free scholarships for foreign engineers.

Healthcare jobs

The Netherlands offers plenty of opportunities for nurses and doctors from abroad, particularly those fluent in Dutch or English. If you have any special skills needed by the healthcare sector, your chances of getting a job will be even higher.

However, keep in mind that many hospitals require their employees to be registered with the Dutch healthcare system, so you may have to go through a few bureaucratic procedures before starting work.

Sales and marketing jobs

The Netherlands is home to many multinational companies, so foreigners often have opportunities to work in sales and marketing positions. To qualify for these jobs, you will need to have excellent communication skills and work in a team.

The best way to find out about open positions is to check top Dutch companies’ websites regularly.

Before applying to any of these jobs, you may want to take your time to understand the Dutch job market in terms of taxes, salaries, work contracts, and the like. The following tips should help you better grasp the Dutch Job market.

Dutch tax system

For tax purposes, the Dutch government requires that you get a Citizen Service Number or a BSN. This is necessary to find work in the country and open an account with a Dutch bank. To get this number, register as an expat at your local municipal office (Gemeentehuis).

Income tax in the Netherlands is divided into three categories:

The first category of income tax is Box I. This includes all your wages, benefits, and allowances in kind. The second category of income tax is box II, and it consists of all capital gains such as shares or savings interest. Finally, the third category (box III) consists of investments like real estate properties and stocks that you hold outside of the Netherlands.

Source: Worldwide Tax Summaries

Box II and III are taxed at a flat rate of 26.9% and 31%, respectively.

Salaries

The current average salary in the Netherlands is around 4,880 EUR per month for full-time work. However, keep in mind that this amount may vary depending on your position and qualifications.

Work contracts

In the Netherlands, it’s common for employers to ask employees to sign a contract that specifies the terms of their employment. The most common type of contract is an indefinite contract, which means that you are hired for an indefinite period and can be fired by your employer with notice.

If you are not comfortable signing an indefinite contract, you may want to consider finding a job that offers a temporary contract instead.

Work Visa

Getting a work visa in the Netherlands can be a bureaucratic process, so it is best to start the application procedure as soon as you have found a job that you are interested in. The most common way to get a work visa is by getting an employment permit from your employer.

You must submit this document to the IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service) for approval. The process is a lot simpler for EU nationals, as they are allowed to work in the Netherlands without a permit.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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