Applying, how does it work?

Know what you want

You have (nearly) graduated, or are looking for an internship or sideline and want to start applying. One of the secrets of successful applications is careful preparation. Before you start applying, therefore, you must check to what extent you agree with the following statements:

  • Do I know who I am, what I can do and what I want in my career?
  • Do I have a picture of the labor market situation in the area in which I am looking for an internship or job?

If you feel that you do not agree with (either of) these statements, then please contact Student Career Services. The study-choice and career advisors will be happy to help you find answers to your questions.

Plan of action when applying for a job

What does the job application procedure in the Netherlands entail? It consists of a number of different steps:

Step 1: Collect information about yourself

Collect information about yourself in order to put together what is referred to in the Netherlands as a personal profile. By doing this you are making clear that you are aware of your positive and negative characteristics and skills (competences), your professional interests, your values at the workplace, and your motivation.

Points of attention for internationals:

  • In the Netherlands there is generally speaking a considerable focus on you as a person when applying for a job, maybe more than you are used to in your home country.
  • Look beyond your studies and work experience when collecting information about yourself for a personal profile. Think about hobbies, sports, volunteer work, etc.
  • On the whole, prizes and awards you have won are less important in the Netherlands than in Asia.
  • If you find it difficult to compile a personal profile, please contact the Student Desk to make an appointment with a Career Counselor.

Step 2: Collect information about the labor market

Information about your possibilities on the labor market, availability of different vacancies and positions, labor market orientation.

Find out more about the Dutch labor market in general.

Points of attention for internationals:

  • Find out more about the Dutch labor market by networking with your teachers and Dutch students. You can achieve this by becoming an (active) member of a student or study organization, joining specific programs like the Outreaching program or SIFE, becoming a student assistant at your University, or by doing volunteer work
  • Talk to people who work at companies you may be interested in, e.g. while attending company in-house days, business days/games and going to on- or off- campus career events like the EBT.
  • Make use of the social network LinkedIn; join groups which are targeted towards the sector and professionals you are interested in.
  • Check out websites with jobs and internships for non-Dutch speakers in the Netherlands.

Step 3: Make a connection

Make a connection between the information from your personal profile and the labor market. Subsequently, you can determine which job opening suits you the best, and to which vacancies you wish to respond.

Points of attention for internationals:

  • Matching your personal profile with a job and organization goes beyond checking whether you did the Master’s degree program required by the prospective employer. It is about your personal competencies, skills, interests and personal/ work values.

Step 4: Approach the labor market

Actually approaching the labor market; writing a letter of application and CV; and interviewing for a job. Networking is an alternative method of approaching the labor market.

Find out more on writing letters of application, CV and job interview in general. You can go to the drop-in consultation for job applications for feedback and advice on your CV and letter and for quick questions regarding job applications.

Points of attention for internationals:

CV and letter of application

  • Before applying for a job, phone the employer to ask relevant questions about the vacancy and organization. You will have more information; you can use this to write a better letter. Also, be sure to make a personal connection with the person you talk to; this might be the difference between getting an invitation to a job interview and a rejection.
  • Tailor your CV and letter to the vacancy and organization each time you apply for a job. Dutch employers hate standard letters and CVs, your chances of getting rejected for the job increase greatly if you use a standard letter and CV.
  • Answer the following question in your letter: why do you want to work there?
  • Do not only mention knowledge and experience, but put also a good deal of emphasis on your personal skills and competences. Dutch employers value this greatly!
  • Put less emphasis on prizes and awards, these are not so important in the Netherlands.
  • Mention hobbies and volunteer work in your CV.
  • Your letter should be a maximum of one page in length, your CV a maximum of two pages.
  • Mention tasks and responsibilities in the work experience section of your CV.

Job interview

  • Many international students do not really have an expressed interest in a particular firm or organization for which they want to work; they are satisfied with most opportunities they can get. But Dutch companies, however, expect candidates to clearly motivate why they want to work at their specific company. Mentioning that you like the international atmosphere of the organization is not good enough: make it more specific. Think about the mission statement, strategy, products or services, clients, etc.
  • Be prepared for questions about you as a person, like: Tell us something about yourself.
  • Be prepared for behavioral questions according to the STARR method. This means that you can explain in detail what skills and competencies you possess on the basis of an example.
  • In the Netherlands, it is customary to give a firm handshake and to look the other person in the eye while talking to them.
  • Prepare questions about the company and job that you can ask during the job interview. If you don’t do this, you might come across as not very interested in the job and company.
  • If you want more information on job interviews, then come to the information session Job interviews in the Netherlands, organized by the Student Career Center.

Steps to get from vacancy to interview

During the application process you go through a number of steps:

  1. Looking for vacancies
  2. Drawing up a curriculum vitae
  3. Writing an application letter
  4. Going for an interview