Although it's always a good idea to start by looking at current vacancies, if you find a company that you are very interested in working for, you don't necessarily have to wait for them to post a suitable job vacancy before you apply. Many companies are also happy to accept open applications. If you would like to send an open application to a company, you can include both your CV and a motivation letter. Make sure that you highlight in your application why you are interested in working for the company, and what kind of roles you would like to work in.
Even if they do not have a suitable vacancy at the time of your application, they may keep your application in mind for future vacancies. Showing initiative and interest in their company is also beneficial to any future applications you may send to their organisation.
Your CV should be between 1-2 pages, and should highlight your name, contact information, education, and relevant work experience. It can be helpful to highlight your address, or, at the very least, the city you live in, so that employers know whether you are nearby or not. Different industries, and different companies, will also look for other additional information. For instance, if you are applying for a job in a creative industry, it may be useful (or necessary) to add skills such as video or photo editing, whereas many administrative jobs may require candidates who have proficiency in Google Workspace, Microsoft Office Suite, or other software.
You may also want to add in different languages that you speak, and the level of fluency you have in each one (if you are a native speaker of a language, then you can make a note of that too). In the Netherlands, although it is not always a requirement to speak Dutch, speaking Dutch at an A2 or B1 level can be useful to add to your CV for many jobs.
Lastly, including hobbies or certificates (even if not relevant directly to the job) can be helpful to make your CV more rounded. However, only include these if you have enough space to do so, and don't centre your CV around them unless they are directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
Many jobs require not just a CV but also a motivation letter from potential candidates. Similarly to CVs, motivation letters should not be any longer than 1-2 pages (unless otherwise specified by the job listing itself). The motivation letter can be seen as you introducing yourself to the company, explaining why you would like to work there, what about the job itself you like, and why you would be a good fit for the role. Explaining why you are a good fit for the role can include drawing upon past work experiences, education, volunteer work, general skills that you may have, and more.
They will already have your CV, so make sure that your motivation letter does not follow your CV point by point, but instead use it to highlight different areas of your CV and past experiences. You don't have much space in your motivation letter, so make sure to use the space wisely. For instance, if your CV lists all the relevant jobs and experiences you have had in the past, you don't need to mention them all again in the motivation letter. Instead, use examples from a few of them to provide more detail about why these experiences are relevant for this job. Importantly, proof-read your motivation letter, because it could also serve as a way to identify your attention to detail.
When you are invited for a job interview, it is important to make sure that you are well-prepared. It's always a good idea to re-read both the job listing and your own application, because questions will inevitably be asked about what you have written in the application and about why you applied for this job in particular. Doing some research on the organisation before the interview can also help you to prepare for any questions that you yourself might have. It's common for interviewers to ask, usually at the end of the interview, whether candidates have any questions they would like to ask. Asking a few questions shows initiative and interest in the job and the organisation, so it's a good idea to have 2 or 3 questions prepared in advance.
After the Interview
Some jobs will require multiple rounds of interviews, and may also test you on your knowledge about key parts of the job itself (depending upon the kind of job you apply for). It should be made clear to you, though, after the interview(s), when you can expect to hear about whether they will offer you the job.
Even if you are informed that your job application wasn't successful after the interview stage, it's a good idea to send a follow-up email to the organisation thanking them for their time, and asking if they have any feedback they can give about how you could have improved your interview or your application itself. Although not all companies will respond to this, those that do may provide valuable information that you can use to improve your future application chances.
Workshops, Courses, & Networking
For internationals in the Netherlands, there are many different courses, workshops, and networking events that you can take part in to help you navigate the Dutch job market. Some of these include cultural awareness and cultural development trainings and programmes. Organisations such as JobOn, for example, offer English-speaking e-learnings and a Talent programme. Leiden International Centre also organises regular social networking events, Meet&Mingles, that can help you meet others in the Leiden region, which offers a great opportunity to not only get to know others socially but also to learn more about living and working in the Leiden region. Visit our Event Calendar to learn more!Event Calendar