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Tips on how to get a job in the Netherlands

5th March 2017 - 11 min read

Disclaimer: The tips below are solely based on my own experience as a Netherlands bachelor graduate and an employee of 4 years in this country. 

Some people asked me about how I manage to get a job in the Netherlands. There is no such thing as lucky, but surely there is a mental preparation on when the time should eventually come. The thing that I suggest for all people to own, is to have their own ONE THING. I recently just listened to Book Audible (by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan – totally recommended). They both are entrepreneurs, hence the tendency to relate the ONE THING to career and business perspective. However it is so deep that it is actually applicable for so many other aspects in life. This ONE THING is a vision that we should have when we do something that will generate a shorter goals which will lead you to your ONE THING.

My ONE THING from a long time ago is to be a blessing for other people, and one of the things to get me there is to be a sociopreneur (Social entrepreneur – Urban dictionary: An enterprising individual that starts a venture not merely for profits but for inclusion of the communities that so far have been left out of the main stream). I know that in order to get myself to that point, I have to determine a few sets of short term goals. I decided to save up and collect knowledges from the actual business industry that has been established for a long time as well as with a start up. Why in Netherlands? Because the country has been developed which gives a result to a more modern, open-minded citizens. I intend to learn from the goodness and fruitful actions that most of the people have. A good business does not only necessarily need a good CEO or board of management, but also values from their chosen employees.

I have not been a sociopreneur, but that is ONE THING I want to aim.. And yet I wanted to have a career first elsewhere, to prove that not only western people can work for multinational company, Indonesian too can do it. I realized now, too many unreasonable admiration towards western world from Indonesian people. The sad thing is, this creates and under-estimation of their own self (yes yes of course I was not thinking this deep back then), but I do realize I took a good decision by being persistent and having my ONE THING on 2012-2103 to find a job in the Netherlands. I HAD TO. NO OTHER CHOICE, PERIOD. and plus I wanted to make my parents proud and save up in a bigger amount so I can realize my plan sooner!

THAT’S IT! HAVE VISION and YOUR ONE THING. PRIORITIZE IT! Think about the intention of why you want something as I believe, good whys lead you to good ways.

I read somewhere that achievers always work from a clear sense of priority. And have a vision will help us to guide to our set of priorities. Well actually, after you have picked your one thing, your number one priority should be protecting the time you use to work with your ONE thing. Extraordinary results are determined by how narrow we can make our focus.

Those above are more mental preparation, and below will be the practical extent (some of them are suitable not only to get a job in the Netherlands, but also everywhere)

  1. Get yourself a few internship before actually graduating.

In the Netherlands, if you study in Hogeschool like me (A Dutch polytechnic, college; a higher education institution of lower rank than a university, yet resulting in Bachelor degree no different than university) you will most likely are required to do a work placement in the professional field in the 3rd or 4th year of study. Use this wisely, as this will shape or determine where or how you will work after your graduation. I had a thing with fashion since I was a kid, I always wanted to study fashion and worked in the fashion industry. I did not make it to fashion school because of late enrollment, but I believe it happened for a reason that I needed to taste a broader study. I took International Business and Management instead. Yet, I wanted to work in the fashion industry nevertheless to have some flavors. It took me more than 10 applications until I get an acceptance at MEXX (Dutch brand) in buying/production team. I know, this will lead me to a similar area or position in the future. I actually liked it! I tried and helped several fields as well and told myself I had to get another internship in fashion industry in the similar year on my final year.

        2. NETWORK!

It’s not only in Indonesia you need a good network to get you somewhere, here is as well of course. Recommendation and reference is important everywhere. I actually got my internship at Calvin Klein in my final year through my former supervisor at MEXX. Surely as an intern, you would not know everything, yet that is the perfect timing to get as much knowledge by being curious and enthusiastic. Build a good relationship with your colleague especially your supervisor. The best things are to learn from someone older who has more experiences than you. You will take the best out of their experiences. And you’ll be surprised on how networking works out. Most of the people I know get their job now somehow through the chain of networking.

       3. Shape your CV well, concise and clear. Adjust your CV to the needs of the job you are applying.

You should only write the relevant points in your CV. Writing a lot is easy, writing concise yet informative at the same time is challenging. DO NOT make it 3 long pages experiences. No need to write your elementary school, junior high school or even high school. The recruiter would not care, they will only care about your MAJOR STUDY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY EXPERIENCES/ PROJECTS. Putting pictures are okay. Here are some of the CV layouts you can choose from.


Free Resume templates: 412 professional templates in Word

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       4. Surround yourself with Motivating people that will lift you up!

It is a self-explanatory

       5. Make 4-6 hours of your day to focus on looking for a job

You certainly are allowed to have a side job/ part time job (that is what I did, I considered this a must as I did not want to depend on my parents anymore. I graduated, gotta live my own life!). But one thing you still have to remember is your ONE THING! Create times every single day to complete this goal, send 5-20 CVs a day. Earning a little money for yourself feels good, but earning much more in the field you always want feels much better. Never settle for less. It will allow you to do things you are not able to do, it’s about persistence!! Forget about holiday, shopping, whatever, you’ll get this once you get a job!

        6. Don’t be too focus with interview lessons in the internet

Learn it, but do not learn it literally. Most of the interview lessons you can find in the internet is mostly American-adapted. We do not need this in the Netherlands, obviously except when you have an interview with American company. People here are quite straight forward, they will show what they expect from you. You do not need to show off yourself too much, Dutch does not really like that attitude. If they want you to show yourself, they will tell you so. Do not forget to ask back the interviewer, show that you are enthusiastic about the job and to know more about the company and what is going on. However, you have to develop elevator pitch. Your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ has to be powerful.

        7. Don’t send applications to any job

Focus your search on jobs that you’re qualified for. You’ll have a better chance of getting selected for an interview. Sending out random resumes and cover letters is just going to be a waste of time. Before you start job hunting, take the time to decide what type of job you’re seeking. Come up with a target list of companies you’d like to work for

        8.  Market yourself good out there

Shape all your social media profile especially Linkedin or even Facebook as these days the recruiter can access you anywhere and judge you based on that.

And most importantly, BE YOURSELF. Characteristic cannot be bought, skills/qualities can be learned. Do not try too much as it will put you into a terrible situation as they will judge you based on the vibe they get during the interview. And if you are significantly different than the impression you give, it will be difficult for both parties especially for you…. however if you know you have the potential, FAKE IT TILL YOU FEEL IT. But commit to yourself that you will actually do what you say you will do to yourself.

And when they say what is the purpose of your life, to be happy is not exactly right. As you will seek for more and more and more. Happiness happens on the way to fulfillment……..

Good luck!!

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