Leiden University Career Zone

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LU Career Zone Labour Market

Working in the Netherlands

If you're thinking about starting a career in the Netherlands, this is where you will find all you need to know.

Research shows that international students in the Netherlands are quite keen on staying after their studies. That's not a surprise, considering the many job opportunities, the good work-life balance, the high living standards and the excellent public facilities.

Building your future in the Netherlands
Even though the Dutch labour market has a fairly international orientation, as a non-Dutch speaker you could be confronted with certain challenges when entering the Dutch labour market. It’s time to face these challenges!

The challenge of finding a job in a country that is not your own lies in getting a grip on the unknown subtleties of the application process. First of all, the Holland Alumni career portal (by NUFFIC) will help you unravel some of those mysteries and get started! On their website you find information about:

  • Key sectors in the Netherlands
  • Orientation / search year
  • Dutch business culture
  • How to start your job search
  • Your salary
  • Starting your own company
  • Rules and regulations (tax, insurance, residence and work permits)

Facts and figures
Did you know:

  • 5 years after graduation, around 42% of international students are still in the Netherlands.
  • Around 25% of international students stay in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives.
  • International alumni who stay in the Netherlands for more than 5 years work just as often and earn as much as Dutch nationals.
  • Students from non-EU countries stay more often than EU students.

The Dutch working culture
Prepare yourself for the Dutch working culture. Some examples:

  • You are expected to speak your mind, even to higher-ups. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and voice it, especially in meetings. A typical Dutch meeting can take a long time because everyone is invited to share their opinions;
  • The office culture is often informal, it is common to address each other as ‘je/jij’ regardless of position and talk about your private life (though this does vary);
  • Hierarchies are often not directly visible but don’t think they are non-existent. Your boss may act informal but he/she will still evaluate your performance so act accordingly;
  • Prepare yourself for the infamous Dutch directness. Not only are you expected to have an opinion, you should also be able to take direct feedback from your colleagues and superiors and it may not always come sugar-coated.