What kind of career will you pursue? Will it be in business? In non-profit? Do you want to start your own business? A career in research? Once you have found out what you want, go out and check your assumptions.
With a Bachelor or Master degree from Erasmus University Rotterdam, you will have many options when you start your career. Below you will find a selection of these options. Keep in mind that the options we discuss are relatively general, because there are big differences between countries and company cultures. Based on the option you choose, there will be different do's and don’ts for your CV and how you define your application strategy.
During your study, you may come into contact with many multinationals at various campus events. Think about recruitment days, the in-house days organised by many study associations and the network events at the companies.
More information on how to find a job in a multinational can be found on the following websites:
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs; MKB in Dutch) make up 99% of all enterprises in the Netherlands (source). It is therefore fairly likely that you will start your career at an SME.
More information on how to find a job in an SME can be found on the following websites:
Working for an NGO provides an opportunity to make a difference, support others and create positive change in communities all over the world. The NGO sector has grown significantly over the past two decades as organisations have become larger, more sophisticated and increasingly professionalised. More information on how to find a job in an NGO can be found on the following websites:
If you would like to serve the community or contribute to society, then you might consider working for the government: municipalities, ministries, semi-governmental organisations like universities and hospitals and many other institutions. When you want to work for the government in the Netherlands you often need to speak and write Dutch, although it is changing!
More information on how to find a job at the government can be found on the following website:
You may want to continue your career in research after graduating from university. Applying for a PhD position is an excellent way to achieve that goal and also pushes your career and experience to a higher level. A PhD programme usually means submitting a research proposal which has to be accepted and which will then be the foundation of your PhD research. In the Netherlands, a PhD student is employed by the university and therefore receives a salary. In other countries, you might still be registered as a student and receive an allowance from a study fund or scholarship. You should note that PhD positions are scarce and the competition is high.
If you would like to take on a PhD, make sure you discuss this with your professors and get their support. This could help you get a place at Erasmus University Rotterdam or another university around the world.
To find out whether doing a PhD is a good career choice you could opt to do a Research Master programme rather than a regular Master. You can check the possibilities for doing a research master at Erasmus University Rotterdam. We also advise you to get in touch with PhD students and ask them about their experiences and tips for you. You can find an overview of PhD students on the website of each academic department or you can search for them via LinkedIn.
More information on how to find a PhD position or a job after finishing the PhD programme can be found on the following websites:
If you value your freedom a lot and you love to take your own decisions, you might want to consider self-employment. As a freelancer you are free to accept work offers as you wish, and can execute tasks the way you like.
Or, if you have an idea to launch a product or service you can consider entrepreneurship.
Self-employment and entrepreneurship may sound the same, but there is a difference. Someone who is self-employed is a person who works as a freelancer and is usually hired by other companies/people to deliver specific work. The person himself is contracted whereas an entrepreneur is contracted for the product or idea.
Erasmus University Rotterdam provides numerous opportunities to expand your knowledge about entrepreneurship, as well as to widen your network. For example, you can contact Erasmus Centre for Entrepeneurship (ECE).
When starting a business in The Netherlands, make sure you are well informed. It is important to know all your rights and obligations. A very useful website is Hollandexpat.com:
To start a business in The Netherlands you must first ensure that you are actually allowed to live and work in the Netherlands.
Are you not from an EU or EEA country or are you not a Swiss citizen? Then you must apply for an MVV ("Authorization for Provisional Residence") and in some cases a work permit (TWV). When applying, bear in mind that your intended company must serve an essential Dutch interest. More info on the MVV in the site of the IND:
To start a business, read more on the site of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce:
- Spend some time looking at various companies. This will give you an idea of companies are in your industries and fields of choice.
- See what has been written about the company (e.g. in financial newspapers).
- Your research will help you gain knowledge about the specifics of the company; products, policies, culture, vision, mission statement etc.
- Be creative in how you contact a company or gather information about the position you are applying for .
- Looking for a job or orientating yourself is like having a radar continuously going around, looking for signals that might be of interest to you.
- You can get lots of interesting information about the company at such events. However, don’t visit these events unprepared. Read the company’s website first and formulate some good questions for the companies in which you are interested. Also practise your elevator/personal pitch several times before you leave for the event.
- Attending an event or fair is one of the easiest ways to get face to face in contact with companies.
- Ask around! Ask fellow students/alumni/teachers/professors tutors/mentors who may know the company/organisation of your interest.
- Try to get in touch with someone who knows someone, who…..knows someone in that company.
There are several strategies to search for a job.
Many job vacancies (80% for high level jobs) are never advertised because of the expense and time involved. For these reasons, we advise you to start your job seeking process in your personal network. Start communicating your ambitions, your preferred career field or company to people you already know. Even if you have nobody in your personal network who can be directly helpful, they can always connect you to others who can be useful in your job search. Make sure that as many people as possible know that you are looking for a job and tell them exactly what you’re looking for (for more networking tips see also 'Research the employer'.
Vacancies are not advertised but are filled with the help of colleagues and recommendations from others. This is also the case with open applications. If you know what kind of job you are looking for, don’t wait for the company to post this vacancy! Show that you are motivated and proactive by sending the company an open application letter in which you offer yourself for a specific position. Alternatively, you can ask an employer for opportunities to volunteer, do an internship, shadow other employees or take on a summer job in their company.
Some well-known employment agencies in the Netherlands:
- You should always make sure that the tone of your application letter (for example: your motivation and interests) matches the company culture.
- Be very clear about your motivation regarding the company, and what you can do for them, how you can contribute to the company (your sales pitch: your skills, knowledge and personal characteristics). Do not make your interest field too narrow.
- Careful targeting is far more likely to lead to success than sending out numerous near-identical applications. Follow our advice for writing CVs and application letters.
- Make it clear what you have to offer them.
- Also, have a look at the speculative application letter example.
Whether you’re looking for a part time job during your studies or for a full time job after your graduation, an employment agency may be a good starting point.
Employers use recruitment agencies in order to recruit for a new position or new type of post for which they have no expertise, to minimise publicity when recruiting in one area of work while losing staff in another, conceal recruitment activities from competitors or get help with the recruitment process - e.g. if they don’t have enough staff to deal with it.
Many agencies specialise in certain types of work, within certain sectors or in particular geographical areas. The employer pays the agency to assist them in filling a particular job.
Well-known recruitment agencies:
During the academic year various activities are organised on campus to allow students to get in touch with future employers.
There are also campus recruiters – students who recruit successful fellow students on behalf of a campus recruitment agency. Campus recruiters may also recruit fellow students on behalf of large multinational companies, for example Unilever or Shell.
Well-known campus recruitment agencies:
Please also see campus events and schools/faculties for more information.
These online sites enable you to post your curriculum vitae on the site for employers to view. You need to check the security of the site, as you are supplying personal information.
Links to vacancy websites for non-Dutch speaking people or international vacancies:
Since 80% of all the vacancies are not published, networking can be a great way to gain access to this hidden job market.
Networking is one of the skills that can enhance your employability and ensure that you will be able to stay employable throughout your life. If you would like to enhance your networking skills, we offer you great workshops.
The reasons why you should network are very simple. Many jobs are never advertised on job vacancy sites or through other visible channels. To avoid long recruitment processes, companies often recruit internally or on the basis of recommendations of (previous) employees. They may also find suitable candidates in their own (personal or professional) networks or from open application letters they receive.
Networking not only has advantages, it is time consuming and it can be a lot of work. You need to schedule time to talk to people and invest energy in your preparation. Networking might not be the fastest way to find a job, but it is very often the most effective way.
Before you attend any networking event, look at the professional (and personal) contacts you already have. List the contacts you have and mark them as cold, tepid or warm contacts. This helps you to make a better estimate of the outcome of a conversation with a certain contact. If you approach a cold contact, you need to ask other questions than when you approach a warm contact.
It is very important to prepare yourself for a networking event. Networking is a skill you can develop and improve. It will get better the more you practise and the more experience you get. You will need to start by doing a lot of research on the companies that will be present at the event. Look at the websites of the Erasmus Recruitment Days, Job Fairs, Career fairs, for example, and decide in advance which companies you’d like to get in touch with. The next thing is to prepare: dress well for the event (casual business), adapt your CV, update your LinkedIn profile, edit your list of questions, practise your personal pitch several times and you might even consider taking business/networking cards with you.
If you have attended a networking event or conversation and you have handed out your business card or received one, you should try to stay in touch with that person. Don’t wait too long before contacting them, but you must have a good reason to contact this person again. It has to make sense, otherwise you are just wasting his precious time! And that’s not the impression you want to give.
- Never ask for a job when you are networking.
- After attending a network event or taking part in a network conversation, make a list of the people you have met, what they do, what you discussed and how they can help you. This ensures that you make the most of the gathered information.
- If you decide to contact the people you have met during such an event or conversation, don’t forget to thoroughly research the company, career field or the person’s background.
- Always take your CV, with your photo on it to a network event or conversation and make sure that it’s well written. It will make it easier for the person to remember you.
- Don’t ask superficial questions that can simply be answered by visiting the company’s website. Think about what questions you would really like the answers to.