The trials and tribulations of finding a job in Amsterdam

Finding a job in a new city or a new country is a challenge. Especially if you don’t speak the local language or have left your whole network behind on the other side of the globe. American expat Audrey did exactly that when she moved to the Netherlands looking for a job in Amsterdam. In this article she shares her insights and tips of moving to, living- and working in the Netherlands.

Learning Dutch and struggling in the winter weather

January 2022 marked one full year since I moved to the Netherlands. One full year since I arrived at Schiphol airport with no intention of going back. Though I must say, the moment I got out of the plane and was greeted by a dark moody sky, cold wind and rain, I wouldn’t have minded returning to the California sun. A lot has happened since then, and I can even say that I have come to accept the cold Dutch winters.

When I first arrived, everything was new to me. Things are still new to me, but I've come a long way already. Moving to another country is not a simple task. The practical problems aside, like not being able to use the self check-out at grocery stores because I didn’t have a Dutch bank account or debit card. It also took me a while to get used to- and fully understand the Dutch culture.

My first month in the Netherlands was spent looking for a place to live and enrolling myself into a Dutch course. I hoped this would give me the push I needed to become more comfortable having conversations with Dutchies as well as furthering my understanding of my surroundings. Besides, I thought this would be an easy way to have some built in social interactions and get to know other expats.

Soon enough I had a small group of friends made up of both expats and locals. I had found a lovely couple who were letting me sublet their apartment for a full year as they traveled around the world and I was finally starting to grasp the Dutch culture and making it my own. That left me with one final hurdle: finding a job in Amsterdam.

Hard work and being hard headed

When I first told my family back in California that I wanted to move to the Netherlands, one of the first things they asked me about was what the job search was going to be like for me. That’s right, I decided to move without knowing if I would successfully be able to find work. And at the time I simply shrugged my shoulders and said: “I’m a capable person, I’ll probably find something”. And I did, but it was much more difficult than I anticipated.

During my first month in the Netherlands I had already managed to find a job in Amsterdam. But before you start cheering you should know that it was a job working in a cafe making coffee and sandwiches. Nothing wrong with that but it wasn’t the job I moved half across the world for. However, what this experience should tell you is that even if you don’t immediately find a job in Amsterdam within your working field, there are loads of jobs you can get to tide you over. Especially within hospitality, tourism or even by applying your English language skills as a teacher.

Between the sandwiches and coffee however, I started applying for jobs, but with no luck. I had a hard time just finding jobs to apply for. Most jobs I saw needed me to speak fluent Dutch, and even though I was doing well in my Dutch course, I was nowhere near as good as a local. Luckily there are a lot of ways to find English speaking job opportunities in the Netherlands. There are many international businesses looking for highly skilled migrants who speak English or any other language. There are also a lot of recruitment agencies focussing on English speaking workers and of course there is your network. I have to say that I got lucky. A friend of a friend of mine was leaving their job in Amsterdam and it fitted my skill set perfectly! So after 5 months in the city, with her recommendation and 3 brutal rounds of interviews I finally landed my dream job in Amsterdam.

*Do you recognize yourself in this story and are you like Audrey, looking for a job in Amsterdam? We at Undutchables can help you! We are the international business recruitment pioneer in the Netherlands with a proven track record in international job matching and placement.

Check out our vacancies here and sign up!

Go out there and go try!

Finding a job in Amsterdam might have been hard, but now that I managed to land one it has exceeded all my expectations. Once you hit the Dutch workfloor you truly start feeling like a Dutchie. And the language barrier is nothing to worry about! Everyone is practically fluent in English and many of my colleagues have been happy to help me with my Dutch as well. Which has led to many silly conversations in which I struggle to talk about my weekend and they redirect me to the right words with kind smiles.

So even though finding a job in Amsterdam might seem daunting, know that it is worth every hour of job searching and every sandwich you might have to make!

Want to know more about working in the Netherlands? Check out our guide. Or read all about the facts and fiction of living in the Netherlands here.

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