Home to many large multinational companies and a strong export-led economy, the Netherlands is certainly worth considering if you want to work abroad
You won't be alone in choosing this destination as it's an increasingly multicultural society and the capital city, Amsterdam, is a magnet for tourists with its nightlife, museums, galleries and canals. It's relatively easy to settle as a newcomer because most Dutch people speak fluent English.
A cyclist's paradise that conjures images of windmills, tulips and clogs, the Netherlands is also known as a liberal country. It was the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage and is famous for its relaxed café culture.
It's one of the richest countries in the world and offers a variety of job opportunities as well as a high standard of living for those who choose to call it home.
Jobs in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has one of the European Union's (EU) lowest rates of unemployment, reflecting the strength and stability of its economy. Its most prominent industries are food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electronic machinery, while agriculture is also a key sector. Rotterdam is the busiest port in Europe.
Some of Europe's biggest and recognisable companies - including Aegon, Amstel, Heineken, ING Group, Philips, Rabobank, Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever - have their headquarters in the country, and many foreign workers are employed by multinational firms.
Although you can find jobs across all sectors of the economy, there are particular shortages in IT, engineering, healthcare and the creative industries. You can search for jobs at:
How to get a job in the Netherlands
Applying for a job in the Netherlands usually involves sending the company your CV and cover letter along with evidence of your academic qualifications, although recruitment agencies are widely used to help fill vacancies.
Work experience is particularly highly valued by Dutch employers, so emphasise this in your applications.
If you are shortlisted for a job you may have to attend a series of interviews with different people at the firm. Larger employers sometimes use psychometric tests and assessment centres to filter candidates.
It is advisable to apply initially from your home country and move to the Netherlands once you have secured a job.
Casual seasonal work is available primarily in the Dutch hospitality sector (hotels, bars and restaurants), tourism (on camp sites) and in agriculture (for example fruit picking). For those with some childcare experience, it is possible to find work as an au pair.
If you want to improve your CV and language skills, you may be interested in volunteering. The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission, is a programme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 that offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of European and non-European countries.
You can also find voluntary and paid placements through:
Make sure that you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.
As English lessons are compulsory in Dutch schools from an early age, there are limited opportunities to teach English as a foreign language. However, you may find positions available to work in one of the country's language schools, for example teaching business English. Read i-to-i Teach English in the Netherlands for more information.
To teach in a regular Dutch school you will need to have your qualifications recognised by the Dutch Ministry of Education as well as proving your proficiency in the language, as teaching is a regulated profession.
Opportunities are available for internships, although employers are not legally obliged to pay you for this work. They are generally offered by the many multinational companies headquartered in the country, as well as in fields such as construction, healthcare and tourism.
Internships are typically part of a study programme while at university and cannot be undertaken after you have been awarded your degree. Search for internships at:
Find out more about internships in the Netherlands at Access.nl, an extensive resource for the country's international community.
You do not require a residence or work permit to live and work in the Netherlands if you are an EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national (unless you are from Croatia, in which case additional restrictions apply).
However, for stays longer than four months you'll need to register with the personal records database (BRP) within five days of your arrival, in order to be issued with a citizen service number. This number allows you to work, open a bank account and use health services. You'll also have to take out health insurance.
If you are from a country outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, you will need to obtain a residence and work permit. The process differs depending on whether you are an employee, self-employed or highly skilled. In most cases your employer will have to prove that they couldn't fill the job vacancy with a Dutch or EU candidate. Full details can be found at the Ministry of Security and Justice - Immigration and Naturalisation Service.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes occur.
Knowledge of Dutch isn't a necessity if you work for one of the many multinational companies based in the Netherlands, as English is often used as the language of business.
However, to work for smaller firms and to integrate more fully into society it's advisable to learn Dutch - there are many language schools in the Netherlands where you can do this, and online courses are also available. A list of options is available at Undutchables.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
UK qualifications are directly comparable to those in the Netherlands, so employers should have no problems recognising them. To learn more about how the Dutch education system compares to other international systems visit EP-Nuffic.
What it's like to work in the Netherlands
The legal maximum that you can work each week is 45 hours, although the average is 36-40 hours. An increasingly common option is to do a four-day week where you work nine or ten hours a day. You'll be eligible for a minimum of four weeks' annual leave. Part-time work is also very popular.
If you are recruited from abroad, have specialist skills that are not available in the Dutch employment market and face significant costs to relocate, you may be eligible for a special allowance worth 30% of your salary. However, there are strict conditions on this - see the Dutch tax office for details and other useful tax information.
Salaries are typically higher than in Spain and Italy but lower than the UK and Germany. The cost of living is generally similar to the UK - with Amsterdam the most expensive place to reside.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in the Netherlands.