Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Application & Selection Process

This post is for those who wish to apply for a job in the Netherlands while living in a different country. How should you apply? What should you expect?
The process really isn't different from Italy or any other country in Europe, but I thought that it's always helpful to be prepared and know what's going to happen. This is my personal experience, and has all been live-tested for you by me :)

1. Looking for a job
Being part of the European Union, applying for a job in the Netherlands from one of the member countries is now very easy and common.
You will find a lot of job postings on major websites like linkedin.com or monster.com, and applying online is a standard procedure. Don't be scared by job descriptions written in Dutch: unless specified, recruiters are very likely to consider international candidates as well.
You can also apply on the corporate website of a specific company, although it is preferable to apply for an available posting: open applications are generally lost in cyberspace.

Your CV should be in English of course, unless you master Dutch!
Don't forget to include a cover letter explaining why you are applying for a job abroad, and specifically why you would like to work in the Netherlands. It's never a good idea to talk about personal matters at this stage, and bear in mind that Dutch people are generally quite reserved with strangers, so even if the reason for your relocation is joining a family member, don't say it! Tell why you appreciate their country (and hopefully you do, as you are willing to work there... :)).

2. Selection Process.
Dutch recruiters are very accurate and reliable: if they are not interested, they will always tell you. It's definitely remarkable, so you're not left in agony...
The selection process is usually divided in 2 to 3 steps: phone call, interview and test.
For some jobs, there may be more than 1 phone call, test or interview, but it depends on the seniority and nature of the role.

A) The Phone Call
If your profile is interesting to the recruiter, you can expect a first contact by email or - more likely - phone call.
WARNING: The phone call will be very long and detailed, and they will ask you a lot of things about your past and current jobs, your skills and expectations: so be prepared! It's always a good idea to study your career's strong points and set your professional goals, so that you are able to comfortably discuss all of this in English without notice.
The person calling will be an HR person, so they won't get too technical, but they will also ask you stuff like "what's your notice period" or "what's your salary expectation". Be sure you know the answer!*
The phone call is so important because it will give the recruiter a lot of information and will help form the first impression of you. If this is negative, then it's very hard to get an interview (shit). But if it's positive, then you will be on top of the applicants list! So be confident, and also try to build your PR skills (they never hurt).

*see next post for useful info ;)

B) The Interview
As you are living abroad, the first interview will probably be held via Skype, WebEx or or join.me to write off travel expenses in case you are not THE ONE.
First of all: install the tool they wish to use in advance, test it and know how to use it :)
Second: connect a little earlier than the agreed time (like, 15 minutes).
Third: make sure that you are in a quiet place where you can relax and talk freely for as long as it's needed (so definitely not the office!). Take a few hours off work if needed, as these interviews can get quite long. Also, look for a nice background: a white wall is always better than a pile of dirty clothes or a nude poster, but if you are looking for a work in the design / art / fashion field, a good looking and tastefully decorated room is desirable.

The interview will be usually divided in 2 parts: the first one is with the HR, the second one with your future boss and possibly someone else from the team. There may be a third part with the boss of your boss (Good sign! Means they already like you!).

C) The Test
Either because you are a foreigner, or because they are less trustful than Italian companies, Dutch employers are generally very likely to ask you to undergo a test. If you are a software developer, they will ask you to write some code; if you are a copywriter, you will have to write some sort of text; and so on.

You HAVE TO accept and take the test, unless you have a very serious reason not to do so (and I can't think of one, if you really want the job), or you will be automatically out of the games. If you have some urgent or unexpected commitment to attend, tell them as soon as possible and ask for the test to be postponed. The test is usually a written assignment to be taken at home.
If you have ANY doubts about the test and how you should do it, ask the HR guy as soon as possible. Do not try to contact your future manager or team unless you've been told so: the HR will contact them for you if needed.

Want to make a big impression? Search the web and their corporate website to find out what the style of the company is, and use it in your assignment: you can generally discover a lot just by reading the "About Us" section. Don't be informal if they are formal, don't be long if they are short, and try to reflect their brand identity.
Not sure if this applies to web developers as well though :)

Respect the deadline (of course) and possibly send the test back 1 to half a day before it. However do not be too early, it shows that you have taken your time to review your test and that you are a meticulous employee.

Always watch out for typos (run a spell-checker just in case) and ask someone you trust to read it and suggest possible improvements (it's not cheating, you would do that at work, too!). Make sure the layout is neat and clear.

When you send your test back, include some notes and explain your choices - we all think in a different ways and others may not be able to understand why you chose an option instead of another. Also, if you motivate your choices in a logical way, the company will be able to tell how you think and - very importantly - a mistake may be forgiven.

D) The On-site Interview
If your company is in a hurry, they may make you an offer even if they haven't met you in person (this happened to me). Generally, however, they will want to meet you before they take a final decision.

If they invite you for an interview, it is legitimate to ask them to pay for any travel expense. Of course if you are very junior, they might not be willing to pay, at least not for everything. Be confident and just ask them to take arrange your visit: there is nothing wrong in this. But don't be too strict - unless yours is a very rare profile, they are likely to find someone else in the Netherlands, so you may need to come to terms.
For example they can pay for the flight and you can pay for the accommodation or (if you are spending the weekend over) you can pay for the extra nights other than the interview's night. These costs may be refundable later, so don't worry about them too much.

Hope you find this useful! The next post will be about the negotiations and what you can expect from a Dutch contract in case you're hired ;)


No comments:

Post a Comment