WORK IN THE NETHERLANDS
THE COMPLETE GUIDE

Whether you're looking to make a few extra bucks on the side or if working is the next logical step in your career plan, work in the Netherlands can be hard to come by and get a handle on. College Life is here to help you. All the info you need, in one place, so you can focus on getting that dream job.

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CHAPTER 1:

Work Eligibility

There are quite some restrictions on who can work in the Netherlands and under what conditions, and this might be a bit hard to figure out. Your eligibility is largely dependent on where you are from, the kind of Visa you have, and other relevant aspects pertaining to being eligible. Here are some simple steps to help you figure out what you are and aren't allowed to do when it comes to working in the Netherlands.

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EU Citizens

If you are an EU citizen, there are fewer requirements for what you need to work in the Netherlands.

  1. Insurance: if you want to work in the Netherlands, you need Dutch health insurance. Without working, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is sufficient.
  2. BSN (Burgerservicenummer): A BSN is a unique number provided to each citizen of the Netherlands. You needed to obtain one the moment you start studying in the Netherlands.

Non-EU Citizens

  1. Insurance: Non-EU citizens who come to study in the Netherlands are required to have Dutch health insurance already, so if you want to work, you are covered on the insurance front.
  2. BSN (Burgerservicenummer): A BSN is a unique number provided to each citizen of the Netherlands. You needed to obtain one the moment you start studying in the Netherlands.
  3. Time Restrictions: For part-time work in the Netherlands, non-EU students are allowed to work a maximum of 16 hours per week. However, if you are a freelancer (your own boss), you can work unlimited hours.
  4. Residence Permit with Authorization: After completing your studies, you need to switch the reason for your residence permit. This will be to a permit for highly skilled migrants, or get a residence permit to find a job (or Zoekjaar, see next point) if you do not yet have a job and would like some time to find one. For more information, visit here.
  5. Zoekjaar (Search Year): A "zoekjaar" is the period you are granted after completing your studies to look for work in the Netherlands or explore other educational opportunities. You need to apply for this and it costs 285 euros. You can only apply for the "zoekjaar" once per study, so if you complete multiple studies, you can apply for a "zoekjaar" after completing each one. Also, you must apply for a "zoekjaar" within three years of completing a Bachelor's or Master's degree in the Netherlands. Read our Zoekjaar Visa Guide for more information.
  6. How to apply for a working permit: To get a working permit, you need to be employed at a company that is recognized by the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Netherlands). This company will then apply for a working permit for you, as you cannot do it yourself. A list of companies that are registered can be found here.

CHAPTER 2:

Reasons to Work

Working in the Netherlands has its obvious benefits, and some other benefits you might not have considered before. The best way to find out whether working next to your studies or directly after your studies is for you is for you to talk to people who have done it, or give it a try yourself. Either way, there are plenty of options to help earn some extra money on the side. There are plenty of types of jobs, types of positions, and types of companies for you to explore your options.

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Extra Money

As a student, you can never have enough additional income. A job, whether part-time or full-time, can help you scrape together some extra funds to go see that DJ you've been dying to see live, or take that trip around Europe you've been dreaming about.

Meeting People

As an international student, it can be difficult to feel fully integrated in the Netherlands. Finding a job and working with locals together with other internationals can really help you feel more at home and get into the Dutch way of life.

Experience

Experience is perhaps one of the most important reasons you should want to look for a job. Jobs, whether part-time or full-time, can teach you a lot about yourself and your interests. If you think you might like something, doing a job for a period of time in that field can really help you understand whether you actually like it, how you approach a working environment, how you work with others, and how you solve problems. A job enhances both your work experience and personal development.

CV Building

You're probably tired of hearing about this at this point, but it's important to always keep this in the back of your mind. Having a CV with work experience is worth much more than one without. It shows you're exploring your interests and learning how to work in a professional environment.

There are several different job types entailing different time commitments and responsibilities; this means certain ones will be full-time, long term, etc. and others will not. In addition to job types, your work experience depends on a lot of things, but a major factor is the kind of company for which you decide to work. There are many different kinds of companies, which will define the kind of tasks you'll have, the work atmosphere, and the intensity of your work.

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Part-time

What is part-time work? Part-time work in the Netherlands is working shorter hours, for example, 10-15 hours per week. This makes a part-time job easily combinable with your studies and other potential extracurriculars.

There are many different kinds of part-time work that you can apply for which require varying levels of experience. For most of them, you don't particularly need to speak Dutch, however, speaking some basic Dutch is always a plus. Review the job description or double check by getting in touch with the employer beforehand to understand what language requirements you need to meet. On job boards, you can filter for non-Dutch jobs, or use platforms that only focus on non-Dutch jobs (e.g. College Life Work).

Check out our guide to part-time jobs for a more detailed overview of what you can expect from part-time jobs in the Netherlands.

Full-time

After your studies, you will likely want to look for a full-time job. Full-time jobs typically consist of  36-40 hours of work per week, though the standard is 38. If you're thinking about working full-time in the Netherlands, it is highly recommended to try to learn some Dutch. This will open the door to more jobs, and it will also help you integrate at work better. If everyone at work is speaking Dutch with each other, it might be hard for you to form relationships with your colleagues.

Networking is the key to professional success, especially when you're starting out. To find a full-time job that is at your level and in your field of interest, it is important to network. Your network is the best way to hear about jobs that are available, and get a company interested in you by having a common connection. This will widen your connections and bring you one step closer to your dream job.

What to expect

So what exactly can you expect from a full-time contract?

Vacation days

Under Dutch law, you are entitled to at least 4 times the number of hours of your work-week for vacation. For example, if you have a 10-hour workweek, you are entitled to 40 hours of vacation.

Sickness/Illness

If you are ill for a long period of time, you are entitled to 70% of your pay during the first 2 years of your being ill.

Working hours and overtime

Your contract will specify the different amount of hours you are expected to work and the compensation you can expect for hours worked beyond that (overtime).

Non-competition clause

Some contracts might stipulate that you are not allowed to work for competitors of your current employer in the future. Usually, this clause is only valid for a set number of years.

Temporary Contracts

If you're working as a temporary employee at a company, they are required to inform you a month before the end of the contract whether or not they wish to extend the contract.

There's also a difference between fixed and permanent contracts. Fixed periods are renewable periods of employment, however, these periods cannot be longer than 24 months. Additionally, the contract can be renewed a maximum of three times. After that, the contract becomes a permanent contract.

Check out our guide to entry-level jobs for more information!

Internship

At many universities in the Netherlands, you may need to complete a minor, exchange, or internship as a requirement to complete your studies. If you choose to do an internship, you should find one relevant to your studies. You can also do an internship outside of your study program as a means to explore your interests in a professional setting. Do note that internships can be paid or unpaid.

If you're an international (non-EU) student, when you are doing an internship in the Netherlands as part of a study program in the Netherlands, it is not necessary for your employer to apply for a work visa for you, as an internship is included in your student visa. If you're completing your education abroad and are coming to the Netherlands to do an internship, non-EU individuals need to apply for a residence permit if the internship exceeds 3 months, and get a work permit through their employer. EU and Swiss nationals do not.

Traineeship

A traineeship is designed to introduce a new employee to a job position. Usually, these are reserved for young graduates who are trained at a particular company for a period of time to work at that company in the near future. Traineeships can also be paid or unpaid.

There are two kinds of traineeships:

  1. Trainee: you are a current student and looking to gain some educational experience about what future work conditions will be like. Typically, you are completing your higher education in another country. Your employer must apply for a Single Permit for you, and you must have proof of exiting the Netherlands prior to the stipulated end date.
  2. Apprentice: you have recently completed your higher education, and are now looking to gain work experience for a company in your home country. You also need to get a Single Permit, as well have proof of your return to your home country. In this case, you must already be employed in your home country, and your apprenticeship cannot exceed 24 weeks.

Types of Companies

Start-Up

A start-up is a company that is small and up-and-coming. A start-up typically has around 10-15 employees. This means you'll be quite close with your colleagues and will be working closely with them often. Working at a start-up is also very dynamic since such a company lacks the bureaucratic systems of an established company. This means you'll likely be doing several different tasks, and thus learning a lot about how businesses, acquisitions, marketing, and customer relations work.

However, start-ups might have some drawbacks. Usually, you'll have to learn on the job since there won't be extensive training programs in place for you prior to your employment. This means you'll have to do a lot of self-teaching. If this isn't something for you, working at a startup could be challenging for you.

Scale-Up

A scale-up is slightly larger than a start-up and has up to 500 employees. This also means that the company is a few years older, and thus will have some systems in place. A scale-up can be dynamic like a start-up because it might still be establishing certain techniques or relationships. It can also have some attributes of an existing corporation because it already has a few years of experience. Either way, a scale-up is also a great place to learn and develop yourself as an employee, especially when you're fresh out of university.

Full-sized Company (Corporate)

Expect the workforce in such a company to be 500 employees and higher. Such a company has established its hierarchy, systems, and positions, and therefore is very systematic. There will likely be clear-cut procedures in such a company, and your role will likely be very well defined. Working in an established company is great because it teaches you a lot about corporate life, professional relationships, and how companies operate in general. You will less likely be involved in various positions as is the case with start-ups and scale-ups, however, this can allow you to really delve into your position. You'll be an expert in no time.

CHAPTER 4:

Company Roles

Any time you search for work in the Netherlands, different roles will be split into categories. This depends on your field of expertise, namely what you have studied in your higher education and what kind of work experience you have. Sometimes, you might not find yourself fitting exactly into any of the categories or you might be unsure of what these categories entail, but no worries; most fields are incredibly flexible. Here we break them down for you.

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Accounting

Accounting is as it sounds. You're a fan of numbers and bookkeeping. This is important for any company. You're responsible for keeping track of and presenting the financial standings of a company. You've likely done a Bachelor in Economics or Business Administration and a Masters in Finance, Accounting, or International Business.

Customer Service

Customer service means you'll be working a lot with the clients and the customers of a company. This means a lot of contact with people and ensuring their satisfaction by helping solve their problems on behalf of the company.

Data Scientist

As a data scientist, you'll be working a lot with data, of course. When you analyze data, companies will use the conclusions you draw to make important decisions that will affect the future success of the company.

Design

If you are entering the field of design, then you likely have done a study in some kind of art. These include the art academies in Rotterdam. This field can include web design, clothing design, advertising design, among others.

Education

Education means you are entering the field of teaching. This can be at various levels, whether at the elementary school, high school, or university level.

Engineering

Engineering has many fields within it: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, geotechnical engineering, and many others. You likely studied in Delft or did a Masters in Groningen or Twente.

Finance

Finance may sound like a broad field. It includes anything that has to do with (individual) banking, investments, insurance, financial planning, and sometimes even real estate. This field corresponds to individuals who have done a Masters in Corporate Finance, Banking, International Business, Quantitative Finance, and many others.

Hospitality

Hospitality involves event planning, lodging, restaurant management and ownership, hotel management, and bar/club management. You've likely attended the Hotel School in the Netherlands.

Human Resources (HR)

Human Resources (HR) largely concerns the hiring of individuals for a company, the well-being of a company's employees, and the management of the relationship between a company and its employees. You can complete a range of studies for this field, from Psychology to Business Administration. This is also, of course, largely dependent on the Master's degree you complete.

IT and Development

IT is information technology. In an IT and development field, you will be involved in information systems and the creation of software to create efficient technological systems. In addition, you'll be involved in accumulating, organizing, and analyzing data.

Legal

The legal field has to do with the practicing of law. This can be as a legal analyst, lawyer, mediator, paralegal, or as litigation support. With years of experience, you can also move into the position of a judge. However, since law studies have to do with the laws of the Netherlands, it is unlikely you will study Dutch law as an international. However, it is possible to work in the Netherlands as an external consultant in the legal field for international law.

Logistics

Logistics is related to supply chain management of a company. Additionally, you are involved in how products and services are moved between suppliers and customers. This can be transportation logistics, stock managing, etc.

(Digital) Marketing

If you're entering the field of marketing, you likely have a background in communications or business. You'll be handling the advertising, content management, and market analysis for a company. Digital marketing is doing this through digital resources, such as the Internet.

Public Relations

Public relations involves managing the way a person or company is perceived by the public. This will involve making strategic publicity decisions for the firm or individual and advising on follow-up actions to protect your client's reputation.

Sales

In sales, you are involved in communicating the value of the product of your company to the customers or to other companies. This usually involved a lot of presenting and meeting face-to-face with potential buyers. This can also be analyzing sales trends and recognizing gaps in potential sales areas.

CHAPTER 5:

Top Cities to Work In

The Netherlands may be a relatively small nation, but that doesn't mean that each of its cities isn't unique. Some cities have more opportunities for work, especially for international students, and some are more fun to work in. Your work opportunities will differ based on which city you decide to live in, so it is important to check your job options somewhere before you move somewhere.

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Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a very international city, and it's often joked that there are more internationals living there than Dutch people. This works really well in your favor if you're looking for a job there because it's becoming increasingly international-friendly. This means more english speaking jobs, more internationally oriented careers, and thus more openness toward international employees.

Den Haag

Den Haag (The Hague) is the international hub of the Netherlands. This is the capital of politics and international relations for the Netherlands, and therefore it is very international in itself. Many expats and internationals live in Den Haag, and therefore it's a great place to find work.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam is becoming an increasingly popular city. It is unlike other Dutch cities in that it is very modern, with skyscrapers and a clear business district. This also means that Rotterdam is attracting international business and therefore a more international culture, and therefore is also a great city to find work in.

Eindhoven

Eindhoven was voted as the best city to live in as an Expat, largely because their main language for business is English. Additionally, it's a very accommodating and cozy city, and therefore very adaptable as an international employee.

CHAPTER 6:

Finding Work

There are several different job types entailing different time commitments and responsibilities; this means certain ones will be full-time, long term, etc. and others will not. In addition to job types, your work experience depends on a lot of things, but a major factor is the kind of company for which you decide to work. There are many different kinds of companies, which will define the kind of tasks you'll have, the work atmosphere, and the intensity of your work.

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Part-time work in the Netherlands

There are many places where you can find part-time work in the Netherlands. Here are some of the best ways:

  1. College Life Work: find part-time jobs looking for international students in a concise and organized manner.
  2. The University: sign up for the "vacatures" or "vacancies" channel via your university email account to receive updates about part-time job vacancies.
  3. Via friends or acquaintances: your network is very important when looking for a job as they can put in a good word for you or know when a job will fit your interests.

Full-time work in the Netherlands

Full-time jobs are somewhat trickier to come by than part-time jobs because they are more long-term and typically involve more responsibilities. This means strict recruitment processes and competition with other applicants. Nevertheless, these are some good resources to find

  1. College Life Work: find full-time jobs specifically for recent international graduates. This makes it easier to find work in the Netherlands.
  2. LinkedIn/Networking: one of the most important resources for finding a job is your social and professional network. Knowing someone who knows someone can get you very far when looking for a job. Sometimes it sets you apart from other candidates or gets you a foot in the door.
  3. University Alumni Network: Dutch universities are working on making their alumni networks more organized and accessible. These networks are extremely valuable and these alumni can teach you a lot about potential jobs and their work experiences.
  4. Open days at companies: study associations per faculty, as well as university-wide committees, organize open days for students. These days teach you about the environment of the company, the work atmosphere, what is expected from employees, and brings you into direct contact with the employees working there. This is a great way to establish a personal relationship with a company and thus open the door to a job opportunity.

Internship

  1. College Life Work: if you decide to do an internship during or after your studies, you can find openings for international students here.
  2. Company websites: many companies publish openings under the "Careers" section of their website. This is so that they get applications from individuals who had a specific interest in the company. If a company interests you, be sure to check out their website for potential internships.
  3. LinkedIn/Networking: again, your network is one of your most valuable resources. Don't be afraid to use it.

Traineeship

  1. College Life Work: in addition to information about part-time work, internships, and full-time jobs, College Life also has a database for traineeships.
  2. Company websites: like internships, company websites often have traineeships. This is because traineeships prepare you for work specific to that company, so they'd like to attract traineeship candidates who are interested in that company specifically.