Graduated in The Netherlands: improving yourself for the job market

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graduatedCredit: MD Duran from Unsplash

Have you recently graduated in the Netherlands? Then I am assuming you, similarly to me, are currently searching for a job. In this article, I would like to explore ways to improve yourself and your skillset while on this job hunt. Before reading this , however, you should first check out my previous article on taking your first steps after graduation during what I call the orientation period!

What sort of experience are you looking for?

A brief note before you begin the journey of improving yourself. You are on the job market as a graduate, so you should know your options. Apart from seeking a full-time job, you may also look for internships and traineeships. You may have already seen that most internships here require a student status. Alhough, this may be surpassed. A graduate can be hired if the internship’s purpose is learning new skills based on the theoretical knowledge gained at university. Of course, these sort of jobs are not for everyone due to their low pay. However, for others, who are privileged enough to afford this, an internship may be the best way to improve your skills and prepare for a future job.

Improve by volunteering for a cause you like

Credit: Anna Shvets from Pexels

There are a multitude of volunteering opportunities in the Netherlands depending on where your interests lay. Volunteering is quite revered by Dutch recruiters (per my careers adviser’s opinion) and can immensely improve your CV. Some volunteering experiences may even end up being directly related to your area/industry of interest for a full-time job. This and this website offer many short and long-term volunteering opportunities for English speakers in the Netherlands. For instance, if you pick volunteering with elderly people, this would be quite a beneficial experience for the pharmaceutical industry or a non-governmental socially-focused organization.

Improve by joining student associations

You may be a recent graduate, but student associations are still accepting members and volunteers. This opportunity can improve your skills, CV and social circle, as well as fill your job hunting days with tangible work. For example, experience at the UvA Green Office may be great if you are looking for sustainability-related job opportunities. It would show your commitment and passion for the field. Thus, get in touch with any student association which you think will best contribute to your own future career goals.

Improve by taking courses

Another way you can improve your CV while on the job market is to take online courses. You have probably heard of Coursera, EDX, Codeacademy, but there are many websites that provide a list of free courses such as this one. I would recommend courses that are exciting whether they are in your field of interest or a secret passion. As long as the course brings you joy, you would actually gain more and improve your current knowledge.  

And since we are in the Netherlands, I can’t miss mentioning learning Dutch. Many Gemeentes across the Netherlands offer such classes. For instance, if you are registered in Amsterdam, the Gemeente offers them for free. Though I have heard this is not the case in other cities. Despite this, investing in this way to improve yourself might be worth it, depending on your future plans about staying in the Netherlands.

Now that you have learned some ways to improve yourself (and your CV), it is important not to stress too much. The job hunting process may take some time, but never lose hope. Job searching is a full-time job in itself, but the more you fill your time with volunteering, courses, student associations, languages, the less you will feel like the process is going badly. On the opposite, you will be consistently improving yourself. Exactly that is what many employers are seeing – a proactive and ambitious individual. Good luck!

Let me know in the comments below what sort of free courses you would recommend for the rest of us!