Working in The Netherlands



Working in the Netherlands is an attractive idea for many expats since this country boasts several leading sectors and a low unemployment rate. Though impressive academic and professional background is of utmost importance, speaking the native language, Dutch, is the most vital key to staying competitive in the fierce local job market.

The Dutch government has made employment contracts more flexible, and in 2006, the rules for admitting highly skilled migrants to the Netherlands were relaxed. Generally speaking, nationals from the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) have the right to live and work in the Netherlands without a work permit. EEA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For nationals of other countries, you need to apply for a residence permit (MVV). Though there are job vacancies in the Netherlands, expats should still be aware that Dutch companies do not recruit graduates for permanent positions. The vast majority of the first job offers to graduates are temporary one-year contracts.

"I hired an expensive American lawyer because he put the fear of God to me about the possibility of being rejected." Melissa Adams, Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch Job Market

Thriving industries include chemicals, natural gas and oil. The service sector accounts for over 70% of the total Dutch gross domestic product (GDP), with health and welfare the most important areas in this sector, followed by retail, property services, transport and communications. Some of the top job providers and major business key players in the Netherlands are ING Group, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, ABN-Amro Holding, Unilever, Fortis, Aegon Insurance Group, Philips, Heineken, Rabobank and Mittal Steel.

Currently, employment opportunities are in the retail, hospitality or flower industry or teaching foreign languages (particularly English). In addition, there is also a shortage of Dutch graduates in engineering and technical disciplines, so manpower is highly needed in these areas, along with the financial services sector.

"As a European citizen, this part was probably the easiest. I just had to make an appointment at the city hall, bring my passport and rental contract, and a few days later I received my personal identification number and was registered as a citizen in Amsterdam."- Camilla Riis, Expat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Average Salary and Working Hours

The minimum wage in the Netherlands is EUR 1,551 per month while the average monthly salary is at EUR 3,965. Compared to the rest of Europe, the Netherlands offers higher salaries than Spain and Italy, but lower than England and Germany. Salaries are paid at the end of the month. Twice a year, an employee receives an extra payment, one for Christmas (sometimes as a 13th month), and in summer (June or July), which is considered as vacation allowance.

The working week in the Netherlands is a standard 40 hours per week. There is a legal minimum of one day's rest a week, which is Sunday. Sunday opening hours in the retail industry remains a controversial topic in the Netherlands, but larger cities and tourist destinations do tend to offer shopping possibilities on a Sunday. Therefore, workers in this sector may be required to work varied hours. In addition, there are many protective laws for the employee with social benefits, job protection and a worker enjoys an average of 25 vacation days a year.

How to Find a Job

The Internet, classifieds section in printed media, personal contacts and employment agencies are the most effective ways of finding jobs in the Netherlands. The national newspapers' Saturday editions (Algemeen Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad, de Telegraaf, de Volkskrant) also provide listings of a variety of job vacancies. During the week, the free paper, Metro and Spits, found in bus and train stations, contain job ads. Special classifieds papers for sale with large job sections include Via Via, De Partikulier and Intermediair.

Also, there is a public employment service (Centre for Work and Income or CWI) that helps people find jobs. To get help from the CWI, you need a burgerservicenummer (BSN), which is a citizen service number that every Dutch citizen and official resident obtains from the government. To get a BSN, you need to register in the population register at your municipal authority (Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie Persoonsgegevens or GBA for short), usually at your local town hall. The BSN replaces what was formerly known as the sofi-nummer.


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Continue reading:

Working in Amsterdam

Work Guide

Expat Services in The Netherlands