As a newly arrived expat to the Netherlands there are various options available to you when seeking a new job. The Dutch employment market is mature and sophisticated and boasts an impressive array of both local and international companies spread across the Randstad region and beyond for those seeking a new career challenge. It also has a vast network of specialist and generalist recruitment firms. Many newcomers chose to go down the recruitment agency route for reasons of speed, convenience and for the valuable contacts that established agencies can tap in to. But how do you find an agency that is both tuned in to the local market and to your personal needs?
Working with Agencies
Specialist and generalist agencies openly advertise their services on expat internet sites and are frequent advertisers on job boards and leading publications. Trade directories also carry agency listings and search engines like google will help you navigate your way to various websites. So how do you ensure that your partner agency will serve your needs positively? Here are some golden rules:
- Makes sure you have an up-to-date CV in English which fully reflects your skills, education, work experience and personal profile. And try to keep it as succinct as possible (maximum 3 pages).
- Always support any application with a clear overview or motivation letter setting out your primary work requirements and career objectives.
- Follow up any application if you hear nothing back within 3 to 5 days.
- Always try to meet your agent in person as this can build rapport and trust.
- Make sure that your CV does not get sent anywhere without your permission.
- Be clear about your work preferences and present yourself in a positive and personable light.
- Stay flexible and be ready to attend interviews as opportunities emerge but remain patient whilst your agent scours the market for the right opportunity.
- Keep your agent informed of any personal developments which might affect the work they are doing on your behalf.
The Interview Process
So, you’ve set yourself up with your preferred agencies and the enquiries are starting to flow in – how do you prepare yourself for interviews? As an expat, one of your primary concerns may be about language. Fortunately, many HR personnel and other hiring managers in the Netherlands speak English to a high level but this should not stop you from speaking clearly, slowly and avoid using jargon or colloquial expressions. Just like in your home country, prospective employers expect interviewees to be well presented, enthusiastic and well informed. You should research the company in advance using the internet and most good agencies will prepare you in the best possible way based on their intimate knowledge of the company. But self-preparation is equally important.
When you finally receive a job offer which fully matches your expectations your agent will help you to assess the various aspects of the offer including salary level, benefits, role progression and career development. Unless you are fully convinced it is the right job for you allow yourself 2 or 3 days to consider all of the aspects.
Starting a new job in a foreign country might be a daunting prospect for many people but the Dutch are very tuned in to working with foreign nationals and you can be reassured that your new co-workers will be both supportive and respectful to their new ‘international’ colleague.
And finally, try to learn some Dutch as it will surely pay dividends in the long run!