How to Land a Job In A Foreign Country Even if You Don’t Speak the Local Language Yet

Taken by Amatsooni Photography - Anna Salminen

How to Land a Job In A Foreign Country Even if You Don’t Speak the Local Language Yet

One of the first things many people think about before moving abroad is how to land a job even though they don’t speak the local language yet. Before my boss agreed to let me work remotely from the Netherlands, I wondered the same thing. I’m glad that I could work remotely then and now have become a business owner myself. But not everyone already has a job when moving to a new country. As a freelance writer and editor, I get asked countless times if getting a job in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch is possible. Here’s the long answer to that question.

What Languages Do You Speak

Getting a job in the Netherlands or many other countries as a non-local language speaker is complicated. The first question you must ask yourself is if you speak any of the other widely spoken languages in the area. For the Netherlands, that’s English, German, and even French. If the answer is yes, your chance of working here increases. There are lots of English, German, and French-speaking jobs in the Netherlands. There are even job openings in other languages, but not as many.

Manage Your Expectations

Unfortunately, certain jobs require you to speak the local language. For example, if you want to work as a doctor or nurse at a Dutch hospital, you typically need to speak Dutch. You may even need to get your license or certificates legalized. Or even worse, you may have to redo some of your education. In the meantime, you’ll probably have to work in jobs that don’t require Dutch or require minimal Dutch, like stocking shelves at a supermarket or something like that. Once your Dutch is good enough and your education requirements are in order, you can pursue the career you used to work in.

Big Companies vs Small Companies

Let’s say your education is recognized here, and you want to work in tech, engineering, or something like that. Luckily for you, there are many jobs available in those fields that don’t require you to speak Dutch. But your options will still be a tad bit limited. You should try finding jobs with big companies such as Philips, ASML, Heineken, etc. You can find many jobs on LinkedIn and other websites. Just make sure to tailor your CV and cover letter to fit into the Dutch standards and tailored to the job you’re applying for. If you need any help with your CV and cover letter, feel free to send me an email.

Even if your certificates and qualifications are recognized, and you have experience in your field of work, you may not be able to get a job at a smaller company without speaking Dutch. For example, my Dutch partner works for a small Dutch company that gets contracted by the Dutch government. So, all of the paperwork, instructions, onboarding, and everything else is conducted in Dutch. So people who don’t speak Dutch wouldn’t be able to work at that type of company.

The featured photo was taken by Amatsooni Photography. Check out Anna’s beautiful work. The dress is from Selkie. Use my code SCRIBBLE for a 10% discount on a $100 order. They also ship abroad. I will earn a small commission if you purchase something.

It Never Hurts To Try

Even if the vacancy says that being bilingual in Dutch and English is preferred or Dutch is required, but your Dutch isn’t the best, I’d still shoot my shot. Most people think their Dutch is worse than it is, in my experience. And even if they prefer that you also speak Dutch, they may be desperate to hire, especially during these times. So they might not really care that much if you fulfill their hiring requirements besides the language part. I have even learned Dutch well enough now that people hire me to translate texts from Dutch to English. Is my Dutch perfect? Not all all. But it’s good enough to translate basic blog posts, website texts, and more.

So What’s the Verdict?

So, can you get a job without speaking Dutch in the Netherlands? The answer is yes. Will it be your dream job or the job of your choosing? Maybe not. It all depends on what field you work in, what other languages you speak, your qualifications, and perhaps even how desperate the company is for new employees. There is no shortage of English-speaking jobs in the Netherlands in many different fields. So do your research and use job searching websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monsterboard, and even recruitment agencies.

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What languages do you speak?

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