Culturally speaking, the Dutch are not only known for their egalitarian society, but also for the directness with which they usually treat people. Although, in essence, they are friendly people when it comes to business they like to talk straight about the risks and consequences of a certain decision focusing only on what’s relevant.
Before applying for a job in the Netherlands it is important to be aware of these cultural perceptions as they are also echoed in the work environment. It basically means that your CV and cover letter must consist of information that is strictly relevant to the job application without too much self-acclamation. Compared to Belgium, a Dutch CV is short, straightforward and goes directly to the point. Try to make it as simple as possible by using bullet points and a professional letter font. Depending on the language of the job description you can be asked to write your CV in either English or Dutch.
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The first part of a Dutch CV must include your personal information:
- Place and date of birth
- Contact details
- Marital status
- Military obligations (if any)
This section is pretty fundamental and it doesn’t require too much personal info compared to Belgium where extra details about the family may also have to be included.
The next few sections aim to present an overview of how you could structure your CV. This doesn’t necessarily entail that you should follow this structure to the letter. You should portray your CV as the essence of your personality, starting with the information that will ultimately benefit you the most. For instance, if you lack work experience, consider starting with your educational background instead. On the other hand, if you already have had a few jobs, put your work experience first as the education won’t have the same impact. If you have acquired skills (thanks to several courses or certifications) that are relevant to the job description then you can rather start with those. If you need some guidance on how to structure your CV, you might want to check out our general CV guide.
To highlight your education make sure you include:
- The name of the university
- The years you attended
- What have you majored in
- Relevant academic projects
When writing the educational background start with the most recent studies and work your way back, but do not go further back than high school. One more thing, in a Dutch CV it’s not necessary to include diplomas, references or other official documents unless you are asked to, so keep them safe in your drawer and wait for the employer’s instructions.
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Prior work experience
This section will primarily cover:
- Name of the companies
- Employment periods
- Main tasks
It is important to provide accurate data when creating this section. Remember to be concise when describing your main tasks and only highlight the responsibilities that make you a good candidate for the job.
Skills and key qualifications
In this section, you have the chance to show your true colors so the more you include, the merrier (as long as you genuinely possess these skills):
- Skills (communication, leadership, computer)
- Military service (optional)
- Extracurricular activities and hobbies
Dutch employers highly appreciate leisure activities, so don’t hold back from stating your hobbies and extracurriculars. If you lack relevant experience here is the place where you can include voluntary work, training courses or summer jobs in order to support the acquired skills. Pay attention to letter fonts and use bullet points instead of densely written paragraphs, especially because this is the section where everybody tends to go off topic in the quest of impressing the employers.
Overall, when applying for a job in the Netherlands, a one page CV should do the trick. Considering the bullet point structure, two pages is also fine, but not more. Once you have finished the CV, creating your cover letter for a Dutch employer should be the next step.