By Henry Stokes
Finding work in the Netherlands through Agencies
In the first article I discussed finding work in the Netherlands by doing a resume drop and handing out CVsthroughout the city. The second article was about finding jobs by targeting bars and hostels directly. In this third article, and final of the trilogy, I discuss finding work by applying to work agencies.
Dutch Employment Agencies
Employment Agencies, or Uitzendbureau’s, are incredibly prevalent in the Netherlands. You can find one in each suburb. There are general employment agencies, and also agencies for specific professions such as industrial or design work.
When still new to the Netherlands, I spent a day handing out resumes to employment agencies as part of my ‘handing out CVs’ plan. I did not have much success with this, partly because I did not have a BSN. Many agencies said they could not enter me into their system without the number. This is true, and I could have saved some time if I had known what no one tells you about moving to the Netherlands.
However, the agencies also provided me with two useful pieces of information;
1) Email; Most employment related matters are done mostly by email. It is rarely done by paper copies. If you visit most agencies, they will usually tell you that it is easier if you send them an email, or if you register on their online database.
2) Industry specific; In addition, a lot of agencies only deal with employment in certain industries. For instance there are industries for aviation work, hospitality, teaching and so on. Thus, unless you have researched all the specific agencies, handing out resumes can be an inefficient method.
After finding out this information, I decided on a new approach …
The Shotgun Method!
Much like that episode where Homer tries to attract customers to the bowling alley by shooting into the air, sometimes the most effective thing to do is to use The Shotgun Method. Just a disclaimer; I am not actually suggesting using a weapon. What I mean is getting your resume to as many places as possible! The ‘Shotgun’ approach is to target as much as possible, as opposed to narrowing your focus. In the words of my friend who has been living in Amsterdam for years; “If you throw enough shit at the wall, sooner or later something is bound to stick”.
One day, I realised my search for work would be more effective if I had the assistance of a professional. However, I knew that many agencies deal exclusively in email. Also, every agency is different; some will be very interested in you and others will not have relevant work.
Basically, my brilliant idea was as follows;
1) Get the details of every employment agency in your area (which is difficult because there are over 100 of them! … However, yours truly found this database)
2) Send them an individual email with my resume
That is pretty much it. And to be honest, it was the most effective method. I had a much better response than anything else. By the time I was halfway through in the ‘L’s, I already had positive responses. I ended up getting several interviews from this method.
First let me clarify a few things about why this method is successful:
- Motivation is key: Something I have learnt about employment in Holland is that motivation is key; potential employers are arguably more interested in why someone wants a certain job, than what their education or experience may be. This makes sense, as someone who is passionate about pursuing a career in copywriting will arguably try harder and stay in the position longer than someone who has experience, but is passionate about becoming a DJ.
- Presentation: It is crucial that the email has an excellent cover letter! This could be in the message field of the email. It should say something to the effect that you are emailing to see if there are any suitable vacancies. It is also crucial that the cover letter clearly and honestly states what your skills and experience are. It should be less than one A4 page if printed.
- Finally, register online!: The big recruitment agencies all have online databases. They are unlikely to respond to an email, and will tell you to register in their system. Don’t fret! This is an excellent idea! Based on these databases, agencies will send out newsletters each day with new jobs that come up. You can also narrow your search terms, so that you will only be sent jobs that match with ‘native English’ and ‘sports mascot’ … If that is what you want to work as. Finally, when getting in contact with recruitment agencies, it makes more sense to spend more time applying for agencies if there are any that deal exclusively in your field.
Does it work? Well, as I write this I am celebrating my second week back at full time work! Most importantly, I am now a copywriter, and loving being able to work as a writer! Even better, I am with an amazing company and team. As I said earlier, the key is motivation! Be specific about what you want and what you are passionate about. Explain this in your cover letter and resume. Furthermore, register online so that new jobs are sent to you daily.
I hope you have found something informative out of these three articles! I hope my experiences have been of some educational value, but everyone is different and I am sure you will all have or have had have different experiences. Best of luck getting work in the low lands, and the most important thing; stay positive!