How to get a job in the Netherlands if you have a non-Dutch name

This might sound like a stupid question. I mean, after all, the Netherlands is THE MOST TOLERANT COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. So why would having a foreign name make any difference to your chances in the Dutch jobs market? Waarom? Zeg maar! Well, I’ll tell you why it’s because of the results of a detailed survey carried out over two years by the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht prove that discrimination in the Dutch jobs market is as common as the sight of men wearing brown shoes in the Zuidas area of Amsterdam.

Which brings me to the subjects of today’s post. How to get a job in the Netherlands if you’re from an immigrant background.

The things I do for my readers!

For those of you who can’t stand reading about discrimination in the most tolerant country in the world. Here’s a photo of some stroopwafels and a canal.




Yes, there’s discrimination in the Netherlands but what about the pretty canals?

Research into discrimination against job applicants from a foreign background

Over a two-year period, (2016-18) researchers from the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht sent out 4200 job applications. The jobs were real but they created false applicants with almost identical CV’s. The candidates were aged between 23-25 and had four years of work experience. All of the applicants had the Dutch nationality. What differed between them were their backgrounds. They specifically mentioned in the cv’s that, for example, some candidates spoke Turkish or Arabic or that their parents were from another country. The results of this detailed study were that applicants who were native Dutch have a 30 percent greater chance of being invited for an interview than non-natives.

The results also show that applicants from a western background have a 20 percent lower chance of receiving a positive response. But for applicants with a non-western immigrant background that rises to a staggering 40%. Applicants from an Antillean background had the lowest response rate to job applications. It appears that the blacker you are the more applications you’ll need to make before getting an interview.

discrimination in the dutch jobs market chart

Chart showing the number of applications required per nationality before receiving a positive response copyright RTL

Tip of the iceberg

Even if you have a Dutch passport, the country where your parents or even your grandparents came from puts a lot of people in the Netherlands at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. Clearly, attitudes in Dutch society towards people from a non-western background plays a big part in this. I’d also point to the increasing number of accommodation ads on social media that have hashtags such as #dutchonly or the ‘no internationals’ disclaimer. Clearly, if some people have such a negative attitude towards foreigners while they’re students, this doesn’t just disappear once they enter the workplace and later end up in a position to recruit people.

Dutch only

Casual discrimination by students probably continues into the workplace

Dutch recruiter diagram


How to get a job in the Netherlands if you’re not native Dutch?

I find it incredible that in 2015 Mark Rutte acknowledged that it was a problem for ‘newcomers’ to find jobs in the Netherlands. Yet four years later nothing has changed. Discrimination in the Dutch jobs market is lekker normaal! I’m 100% sure that many people will deny the results of the survey and will claim that I’m just hating on the Dutch and that it’s not a real problem at all. To that, I’ll simply say that the results of this survey have been widely reported in the Dutch media recently yet somehow I have the feeling that four years from now nothing will have changed.

If you’re not affected by this, then bravo! If you are, then my only advice is that you have to make multiple applications until you’re invited for an interview. But of course, you know that already. I mean you can change your name to Anouk de Jong or Jeroen van Rijke Ouders. Hide your heritage and get an interview but then when you turn up and they see that you’re not a native Dutch person that won’t help either.

black man at job interview

Yes, my name really is Jeroen van de Witte Dorp


No bigoted Dutch recruiters and HR people were hurt during the writing of this post

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