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The Netherlands (Holland) - Finding Employment

The job market in the Netherlands is reasonably good, especially in comparison to other European countries. This is thanks to a stable economy with plenty of foreign investment, advantageous tax conditions, and a diverse, well-educated population. As a consequence, the country has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU (approximately 7.8%) and it remains constantly below the EU average.

As a general rule, the Dutch usually start working from an early age, taking on internships or a part-time job. Many companies also offer internships and graduate programmes that do not require any professional experience. More often than not, individuals that perform well in these roles are then offered full-time employment with the company.

Dutch law states that employees should not work any more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week – no one is allowed to work more than 2,080 hours in any one year. After each 4.5 hours of work, employees are entitled to a 30-minute break. Employees are not expected to work overtime, with the exception of those at management level.

Every employee is also entitled to take leave with full pay. The number of days they are entitled to take is built up over the course of a year. So, for example, after one year, employees are entitled to four times the agreed number of days they work each week in fully paid leave. Employees are also entitled to a minimum leave allowance, which is paid at least once a year.

The working environment in the Netherlands is very open and takes an egalitarian approach. For example, before any major decision is made, all possible options will be discussed at every level of the organisation. Dutch meetings also tend to be very informal, but be aware that they can go on for a very long time!

The Netherlands has a minimal wage legislation, which all employers must adhere to. As of July 2015, the minimum wage for a full-time employee aged 23 or older is 1, 507.80 Euros per month, or 69.59 Euros per day. Based on a 40-hour working week, this equates to 8.70 Euros per hour.

With plenty of job opportunities in the Netherlands, highly skilled workers such as engineers, IT specialists, and finance specialists are in particular demand.

The Netherlands offers plenty of opportunities for expats. There is a relatively large number of international and multinational companies in the Netherlands, many of whom look to recruit English-speaking expats (although it’s important to remember that, even if an employer is looking for an English speaker, speaking Dutch is also considered a bonus and will no doubt come in useful). Expats with a strong grasp of French, German, Flemish, or one of the Scandinavian languages are also always in high demand.

International companies with their headquarters in the Netherlands include Shell, Philips, Heineken, Unilever, KLM, ING, Tom Tom, and BAAN.

There is also an extensive range of recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) in the Netherlands, many of which are English-speaking or specialise in finding work for expats. The main expat-friendly recruitment agencies in the Netherlands are as follows.

Phone: +31(0)20-5738383

Adams’ Multilingual

Octagon Professionals Website:
Phone: +31 (0)70 3249300

Madison Parker
Phone: + 31 (0) 70 387 5911

Top Language Jobs
Phone: +31 (0) 207132724

Expats from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can use the EURES website to search for jobs in the Netherlands. This is a European job portal, which is maintained and updated by the European Commission, in order to facilitate free movement across the EEA.

The Dutch Public Employment Service is known as the UWV WERKbedrijf. Consisting of a network of partner sites and employment agencies, the service has branches across the country. Available positions can also be found online.

When looking for work in the Netherlands, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with Dutch expectations and standards when it comes to CVs and interviews. This will increase your chances of successfully securing a role.

Once you have submitted an application, Dutch companies will usually acknowledge it within one week. If you haven’t heard back from a company within two weeks, it’s worth contacting them to check they have received it.

Dutch companies are more than happy for hopeful applicants to approach them with unsolicited applications if they do not have any vacancies advertised. Make sure you use the company's website, or even phone the company directly, to ensure that you are sending your unsolicited application to the right person.

If you manage to secure a temporary position, it is a legal requirement that your contract has a start date and an end date. Although verbal agreements are binding in the Netherlands, it is common practice to get a written copy of your temporary contract and employees are strongly advised to do so for their own benefit.

Whether your contract is permanent or temporary, there are strict regulations about when your employer is allowed to dismiss you. You can only be dismissed if your employer has a dismissal permit from the UWV Werkbedrijf, if they go to court to dissolve your contract, in the case of summary termination, during your trial period, or with your consent. Once you have been dismissed, your employer must also provide a set period of notice, which will depend upon your contract and your length of service.

Unemployment benefit in the Netherlands is known as WW. If you qualify for WW, the amount you are paid and the duration of your payments will depend upon your employment history. For the first two months you are claiming the benefit, you will receive 75% of the last salary you earned. After the initial two months, you will be paid 70%. There is, however, a maximum monthly rate of EUR 2,939. In order to claim WW, you must have worked 26 out of the previous 36 weeks before the first day of unemployment. If you are in receipt of any other benefits, WW can be restricted.

Useful contact details can be found below.

CV writing guide

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

UWV WERKbedrijf

Read more about this country

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