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When looking for a job, it is important to know what impresses Dutch employers and what they are looking for in their international applicants. Make sure you know the company background. Verify what type of company it is, find out if they have had recent mergers or acquisitions or have been in the news lately. Know what services or products they offer, what their company goals are, and so on. The more you know about the business itself, the better you will present yourself in the application process and eventually, the interview.
Dutch application letters should be written in the Dutch language unless stated otherwise in the job posting. The style should be short, direct and professional. At the head of the application letter is the date and then the address of the company. After the address details, it is common to mention the position you are applying for (in Dutch: Betreft: Sollicitatie naar de functie van….). You start the letter with Geachte heer or Geachte mevrouw and then the surname of the person you are directing the letter to. Be careful to get the name and the gender right. The first paragraph should be rather short. Usually, you introduce yourself and describe the reasons you are applying for the job. The middle contains your motivation and reasons why you think the position suits you. This section is the most important part and one of the main deciding factors in the selection process. Keep in mind to express your affinity with your chosen field, etc., and explain specifically why you think the company should hire you.
You need to ‘sell yourself’ in a job application letter, but it should be done with modesty (much appreciated by the Dutch!), with a down-to-earth mentality and style. At the same time, make sure you don’t hold yourself back with false modesty! If you are direct and to the point, as well as truthful without stretching the truth at all, the application letter should present a good view of you and your capabilities.
Dutch recruiters place great importance on your leisure pursuits and membership in societies or organizations. Activities within a student organization or association are valued highly. They demonstrate your sense of civic responsibility and social skills. Make sure you highlight them in both your CV and cover letter, and not just during your job interview.
Your international experience is valuable! The fact that you studied abroad and are now willing to work abroad shows the recruiter that you are pro-active and not afraid of adventure. Remember to mention if you speak more than one language.
Personal motivation is highly valued. Beyond the need for a job, think about why you would want to work for that company, what you can contribute to it, what you hope to see developed, what you would like to learn, and so on. If you can explain clearly why you are the right person for the job, your credentials may be less important.
Dutch recruiters love work experience. It shows that you are able to put your learning into practice, plus that you already have worked in a company before. Remember to emphasize your internships and volunteer work! Be sure to also mention your part-time jobs. If you had a side job at a call center during your studies, this means that you might have developed strong commercial skills. If you worked in an Italian restaurant as a waiter or waitress, you may have developed good interpersonal skills, as well as organizational abilities.
For expert assistance: Talent & Career Center; Annette Rauh Coaching & Consult; Beljon + Westerterp