Whether you’ve moved for love or labour, finding a job in a foreign country is a challenge - but with the right help, it's very doable. The unemployment rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the EU. And Amsterdam is home to a growing community of internationals, some 50,000 of whom have already set up professional camp in the city and surrounding region.
This guide will walk you through the process of finding a job with employers in the Amsterdam Area. For information on other ways of working, head to our resources on freelancing, launching a business or Amsterdam’s thriving startup ecosystem.
Things to sort out before starting your job search
- Depending on your situation, you will need a separate work permit as well as a residence permit. In some cases, however, a residence permit is enough as it includes the right to work. The conditions can vary depending on your reason of residence. For example, recent graduates can enjoy an orientation year residence permit giving them a chance to find employment.
- If you are in the Netherlands on a partner residence permit, it will state whether you may work. Partners of Dutch citizens may work without restriction. In other cases, you usually have the same employment rights as the partner your permit is tied to. There can be exceptions to this. For example, the partners of those holding a combined residence and work permit might require a work permit from the employer in order to work.
- There is also a special option for highly skilled migrants. The highly skilled migrant procedure is a means to apply for a residence permit prior to arriving in the Netherlands. The application process is initiated by the employer. This sort of process is geared towards highly specialised professionals and you must be recruited while still abroad. IN Amsterdam helps individuals and companies organise the process and reduce the bureaucratic burden during your arrival.
How to find a job in Amsterdam
Online resources for job searching
Looking online is the most popular way to find a job. Browse Job Search for thousands of non-Dutch speaking positions spanning all the top industries in the Amsterdam Area and take your next career step in Amsterdam.
Most job agencies regularly post vacancies online, and if you are registered with them or sign up for their newsletters, they will contact you about new opportunities. Recruiters also look online for suitable applicants so keep your information up to date on different sites.
If you want to start looking for openings right away, job search engines such as the Nationale Vacature Bank (in Dutch), LinkedIn, Intermediair and Monsterboard are worth exploring. ICTerGezocht also has a comprehensive list of tech-related vacancies. Be sure to visit the websites of major international organisations that are headquartered in the Netherlands as well.
With that said, don’t discount the power of job searching through official publications and newspapers. A number of Dutch newspapers have English-language job advertisements on their vacancy pages, although most are recruiting for senior positions in international companies. The American Book Center stocks a comprehensive range of newspapers and the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam offers an equally excellent range free of charge, as does the University of Amsterdam.
Recruitment agencies in the Amsterdam Area
Recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) are located all around the region, including international organisations such as Kelly Services and Adecco. Agencies tend to specialise in either temporary jobs or permanent positions, so it’s always good to check if the agency matches your needs. Also, there are several agencies that recruit for vacancies that do not require Dutch, although learning the local lingo can definitely help your career. Check out this comprehensive list of recruitment agencies in Amsterdam.
EURES: helping EU citizens in the job market
IN Amsterdam’s partners such as EURES also offer a host of services for English-speaking job-seekers. EURES is an EU agency set up specifically to help jobseekers find work and employers to recruit across Europe. It aims to ensure career opportunities for European citizens aren’t held back by issues such as language barriers, bureaucratic challenges, and local employment laws. Browse a full list of all IN Amsterdam partners here.
UWV: Public Employment services
The public employment service, UWV WERKbedrijf, plays an important role in the Dutch labour market. There are branches located throughout the city with specialists on hand to offer advice and information to job seekers. Through an extensive network of partner sites and (temporary) employment agencies, most vacancies registered with these partners are also registered in the online job database of the UWV WERKbedrijf. Either drop by in person or search for vacancies online (shown in several languages depending on your keyword search). They also offer lots of English-language information on working in the Netherlands for EU citizens on their website.
Networking to find a job
For most people new to Amsterdam, places and faces will be unfamiliar. To overcome this, de-stranger your environment and join a few groups to strike up professional networks (and possibly make friends). It's always easier to find a job through close contacts or word-of-mouth. Amsterdam's international community is tight-knit, making for many likely encounters and acquaintances.
Take the initiative in job searching
To apply for work at a particular company that currently has no vacancies, send an unsolicited application. Employers often appreciate the initiative. First, find a contact person at the company of choice (e.g. in the human resources department), so the application is addressed to a particular person. When preparing to meet your new contact, have your CV and cover letter (motivatiebrief) tailored to the job. An extra pointer: employers in the Netherlands often like hearing about hobbies and additional interests, so don’t be afraid to include them.
Protect yourself from exploitation at the workplace
If you’re new to the Amsterdam Area, you may not be aware of the laws that are designed to keep you safe from workplace exploitation in the Netherlands. Start protecting yourself by researching your rights and obligations on our employment law pages.
Note that you can report any incidents of discrimination in the labour market by contacting Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam. Alternatively, make a complaint to the Inspectorate SZW (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment). Information is available in several languages.
Adjusting to a Dutch work environment
As someone used to working, moving to a new country without a job in place can feel like a daunting prospect. This is especially true if you have been enjoying a successful career in your own country and don't want to sacrifice your own goals or career prospects for the move. To get an idea of what to expect, watch our introduction video on the Dutch work environment.
Volunteering as a way into work
Taking up a voluntary role can be a great way into paid employment in the Netherlands, as well as providing you with some valuable experience. You'll make contacts and find out more about what Dutch employers are looking for. There are over 1,000 volunteering opportunities available for non-Dutch speakers through various initiatives such as the Amsterdam's Volunteer Centre, which hasfour different locations in Amsterdam. Find out more about volunteering in Amsterdam.