Are you actively looking for a job in the Netherlands at the moment? And if so, do you have a defined job search strategy? 

As many of us expats know, looking for a job in a new country can be a disheartening process. The more you know how the market and the job-hunting process works, however, the easier it will get.

Job searching strategiesThere are three major avenues you can focus on in your job search strategy when looking for a new position. How much effort you will put into each one depends on your level of seniority, your own local network and your desirable next step.

The three main avenues are:

Applying and connecting through recruitment agencies Applying through job boards and company career pages Networking your way into the company without having done the first two steps In this article, I want to dive into the world of recruitment agencies in the Netherlands, so that you can make a well-informed decision for yourself.

Understanding recruitment agencies in the NetherlandsRecruitment agencies, in the Netherlands as well as in the rest of the world, serve as a bridge between candidates and companies.

Below I present a list of the various types of recruitment agencies in the Netherlands:

1. Generalist recruitment agenciesThese agencies offer various positions across multiple industries. They focus on a spectrum of seniority levels, from entry-level to highly-experienced positions.

2. Specific or niche recruitment agenciesAs indicated by the name, these types of agencies focus on specific industries or roles, such as: engineering, finance, creative industry, IT and pharmaceuticals. If you have a specific skill set or experience in a particular industry, this type of agency could be a good fit for you. They have insights into the market trends, salaries, positions and more. Partnering with this type of agency could be a great step for you.

3. International recruitment agenciesThese agencies focus purely on job openings for internationals and expats in the Netherlands. For most of the jobs advertised on their websites, Dutch is not needed.

4. Executive search firms (headhunters)Executive search firms (also known as headhunters) focus on recruiting top-level executives. In the Netherlands, they can focus on both local and international roles. If you are a C-suite leader, working with one of these firms may be the best option. They actively search for the best talent for their clients and often approach candidates who are not actively looking for a job, hence the name “headhunter”.

5. Employment agenciesEmployment agencies (also known as temp agencies) focus on temporary, contract and ad-interim positions. If you are interested in short-term and / or project-based work, these could be a good match for you.

Pros of working with recruitersLet’s now look deeper if you should consider working with recruiters:

Access to a hidden job marketMany companies work mainly through recruiters and their jobs are often not posted on job boards unless the agency is having trouble finding the right talent. When looking for the right match for a job, most recruiting agencies have their own databases that they will look to first before moving onto LinkedIn or a job listing. So if you are not on this list, you could be missing a lot of great opportunities.

Expert guidanceIf a recruiter has a long-lasting relationship with a particular client, they will help you prepare for the interview with the client’s hiring manager. If you are considered a good candidate, the recruiter will be invested in your success too and will provide important information on what to pay attention to during the interview.

Market knowledge and current trendsRecruitment agencies possess deep knowledge in their areas of expertise about different industries, roles, the current market and salary trends. They work with various clients across sectors, so they truly know what is going on in the employment market (in their niche).

Long-term relationshipsEven if you are not in need of a job now, you might be in the future. I always advise my clients not to throw away relationship building for that potential future. It may then be too late to build a long-lasting relationship. Recruiters remember talented people and might contact you with the right opportunity at just the right moment.

Cons of working with recruitersThere are a few potential downsides to working with a recruiter:

Limited opportunitiesThere are many recruiting agencies in the Netherlands, so of course each of them will have a share of the market. However, they usually don’t have a share of the total market, therefore the opportunities they have may be limited.

Loyalty to the clientKeep in mind that recruitment agencies are still companies and are paid by their clients. Therefore, their loyalty lies predominantly with the clients. So, what does it mean? Recruiters will try to deliver the best-fitting candidate for a given role, which might not always match your next step. It is very often the case for people who are transitioning in their careers that they may struggle with finding a job through an agency.

CompetitionDepending on the industry that you are in, your desired role and your seniority level, the competition may be fierce. Of course, you need to keep in mind that these agencies work with many different candidates at a time.

Making the right decision: Yay or nay?Because of the points above, I (almost) always advise my clients to include going through recruitment agencies as part of the job hunting process.

Extra job-searching tipsKeep the following points in mind for yourself:

Be clear about your goals: The clearer you are about what you want and what you have to offer, the easier it will be to select the right strategy and to communicate well to others. Clarity gives confidence and confidence is attractive. Select a good match for yourself: Based on all of the above, select an agency that can best help you achieve your professional goals. Network: Irrespective of the job-searching strategy, be mindful of your network and keep on nourishing it. Recruitment agenciesHere are a few recruitment agencies which can help you look for your dream job in the Netherlands:

Blue Lynx Page Personnel Randstad Multilingual Recruitment Undutchables Unique Multilingual To close off, I would like to leave you with this thought: Whether you approach recruiters, hiring managers or HR professionals, always remember to build real human relations. For all of us (especially expats), career success is based not on WHAT you know but WHO you know. Good luck!


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