Finding employment in the Netherlands may require considerable time, effort, and perseverance. While this may be true, the reality is that there is a skills deficit in the Netherlands, and your perseverance will be rewarded if you possess the appropriate education, experience, and skills.
A solid curriculum vitae (CV) is an indispensable arrow in your quiver that can help you kickstart your career. The process of composing a CV is typically portrayed as an impossible and time-consuming endeavour. Nonetheless, do not be discouraged! Although we are not recruiters, we have compiled advice from industry experts to help you achieve your objectives.
A CV is a summary of past accomplishments and skills – a “sales” brochure of yourself. Before we examine the various sections that this essential marketing tool should include, let us review some fundamental Do’s and Don’ts:
- Keep your CV comprehensive, yet concise (no more than two to three pages).
- Employ bulleted lists.
- Use the first-person pronoun.
- Highlight your most relevant experience – the recruiter must be able to quickly examine your CV and identify your applicable work experience (in reverse chronological order).
- Clarify any voids in your CV.
- Describe your previous responsibilities accurately and honestly.
- Include volunteer experience and internships that are relevant to the job description to strengthen your position as a potential candidate.
- Include links to your portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and other sources of information about yourself (if you believe this will strengthen your application).
- Provide your present location (address/city) and nationality.
- Include your language proficiency, such as English (native speaker) and Dutch (conversational).
- Maintain consistency in font type and size.
- Conduct a comprehensive grammar and spelling error check.
- Ensure your CV is saved in PDF format prior to submitting it.
- It is advised not to include a photograph of yourself. However, if you prefer to do so, it must be professional-looking.
- Do not include confidential information such as your passport or ID number.
- Do not include the reason you left your previous employer.
- Do not state any salary expectations (this is important – in the Netherlands, this topic is not discussed until much later in the recruitment process).
- Do not provide false information!
A standard CV that conforms to contemporary recruiting standards must include the following basic sections:
1. Contact information
- Name and surname
- Date of birth (this is important, as your age plays a role in terms of salary requirements for a work permit)
- Contact details (telephone number, with international dialling code / email address / LinkedIn profile)
- Location – not your full address, but only current city and country
- Nationality (mention all if you have more than one)
- Mention it if you have eligibility to work in the Netherlands (e.g., as the spouse of a Highly Skilled Migrant / as the spouse of an EU citizen etc.).
2. Personal Statement
This is extremely important, as it is your first opportunity to capture the recruiter’s attention and convey who you are and what you can offer the company. Focus on your professional experience and qualifications. Recruiters only have a few minutes to evaluate your CV, so be concise and direct.
4. Work Experience
Concentrate on the last ten years; any preceding information should be kept to a minimum. Start with your most recent experience and work your way back. Organise the information in chronological order. Keep it short and to the point.
Include relevant degrees and/or diplomas, if possible, adapted to the Dutch system. Here is a comparison between international and Dutch diplomas: http://www.nuffic.nl/en/subjects/diploma/education-systems.
Type the full name of the relevant educational institution (e.g., Massachusetts Institute of Technology as opposed to MIT).
Align your skills with those listed in the job posting.
Motivation (Cover) Letter
The motivation letter is as essential as the resume, particularly in the Netherlands. Ensure that your standard letter of motivation is tailored to each job for which you apply. This is your chance to tell the recruiter more about your demeanour and why you are applying for this particular position.
A cover letter should include information about your experiences and personality that cannot be conveyed in your CV. Connect your skills and qualifications to the job’s prerequisites, e.g. “This position requires open-minded individuals, and my background demonstrates…”
Explain why you chose to apply and what you find appealing about the position. In addition, describe the value you will be able to contribute. However, recall that boasting, or anything that sounds like it, is frowned upon in the Netherlands.
Let your resume testify for your accomplishments; don not include them in your cover letter!
Here are examples of cover letters and letters of motivation:
However, only use these as a guideline. Your motivation letter should be written in your own voice and attached to your resume.
Should Hobbies and Interests Be Listed on a CV?
If you have more than a year of professional experience and are writing a CV, the hobbies section is unnecessary – they take up valuable space and waste the few seconds a recruiter spends reviewing your career achievements.
However, some hobbies may be applicable to specific occupations. When written effectively, it can indicate that you are a good cultural match for the organisation. Participating in endurance sports such as marathons, for instance, demonstrates determination, tenacity, and dedication; these characteristics are desirable for account management and sales roles, among other positions, and may enhance your candidature in the eyes of the hiring manager.
You should not, however, include a section on your CV with generic hobbies.
To cut a long story short:
“Reading, Sports, Films,” is a no-no.
“Haiku and free-verse poetry, mountain biking, Martin Scorsese films” – that is more accurate!
Should you put references on a CV?
Unless specifically requested, do not include references on your CV. You can include a “References Available Upon Request” clause at the bottom of your resume, but doing so is not recommended because HR managers are already aware that they can request references. In addition, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prohibits including references’ names, emails, and phone numbers.
We wish you the best of luck in your job search and future professional endeavours!