Have you heard bad things about job agencies? We’re here to tell you what’s true and what’s not!

If you are looking to get a job in the Netherlands sooner or later, you’ll stumble upon job agencies! Working with job agencies, in the Netherlands, is far more common as it is in other countries (in Europe). Both for employers and employees. Job agencies can prove useful for your job hunt but can also leave you disappointed. Therefore it’s good to know the ins and out before you sign up. Luckily you’ve found this page. Here we go:

What are job agencies, and what do they do?

Job agencies or better recruitment and employment agencies are intermediaries between employers and employees and aim to find the perfect employee for an employer and the ideal vacancy for a candidate. Talent is a valuable good, and some companies can’t attract sufficient capable resources. Hence, the recruitment business is booming. A good job agency adds value for both: the company and the candidate.

Usually, employers either post a job opening on the job agencies’ website or hire a recruiter to fill the vacancy for them. Or both. The potential employee, on the other hand, regularly checks the vacancies on the job agencies website and/or introduces her- or himself at the job agency, where they open a portfolio for the candidate.

Are there difference job agencies?

Generally we can distinguish two types of job agencies: A recruitment agency (recruitmentbureau or werving-en-selectiebureau in Dutch) is mainly responsible for suggesting fitting candidates and leaves the decision to hire to the employer. An employment agency (uitzendbureau) usually takes on the whole recruitment process from choosing the right fit to hiring the candidate. Generally, the latter specializes in starting professionals and temporary employment, whereas recruitment agencies target higher educated candidates who are further in their career. However, this is not set in stone and job agencies usually have different specializations. Also, there are hybrid forms as well.

What is a recruiter?

A recruiter selects suitable candidates intending to fill an open vacancy. There are different types of recruiters: 

An in-house or corporate recruiter is hired by and responsible for the recruitment process of one single company. Depending on the size of the company, the recruiter can be a specialized employee and part of the human resources department. In smaller companies, where the HR team is not very big, the recruitment is usually part of the general job description of the human resource manager.

Then there is the recruiter who works for a job agency. If they are working for a recruitment agency, they are often called recruitment consultants. The responsibilities of a recruiter in a job agency differ and can reach quite far. Usually, the recruiter is the main point of contact for the candidate during the entire application procedure. As the recruiter is intermediary between the employer and the candidate, the recruiter usually also helps candidates preparing for the interview and with salary negotiations etc.

Last but not least, freelance recruiters are working independently from an agency or company. Usually, their clients are companies in need of an interim recruiter or reinforcement of their existing team.

How do job agencies work and who earns money?

Generally, there is a difference between the earning model of recruitment and an employment agency. Recruitment agencies are headhunters in the broader sense. Their primary client is the employer. The recruiters (or the recruitment agency) got paid by the employer if they succeed in finding talent and filling in the vacancy. Usually, the amount is a share of the yearly salary of the placed candidate (up to 30% incl. bonuses and holiday allowance). The more challenging to find (e.g. in tech or IT), the higher the price. 

It’s good to know that there are different agreements between the recruiter and the employer. Sometime the recruiter collects the whole amount as soon as the candidate signs the contract. More often, however, the recruiter gets a certain percentage when the contract is signed and another amount if the candidate has proven to be a fit over a certain period. This model is more beneficial for you as the recruiter has the best interest to suggest a fitting candidate who sticks around for a while. The recruiter will negotiate a fair salary for you as the amount of the commission depends on the height of your salary.

What’s the downside?

If you are placed in a company by an employment agency, usually the conditions are worse (no sick leave, lower salary, no bonuses and benefits) than directly signing a contract with an employer. Besides worse working conditions it’s unlikely you’ll ever get a permanent contract; By Dutch law, it’s allowed to offer a maximum of three temporary employment contracts within a maximum of two years. Meaning that as soon as you’ve worked at the same company for two years, they have to offer you a permanent contract. Generally, this is beneficial for the employee, as the employer can’t keep you on a temporary contract forever. However, on the downside, they sometimes won’t extend a temporary employment contract to avoid having to offer a permanent one.

Why should I work with a job agency when I am looking for a job? 

Finding a job as an international in the Netherlands is not always easy, especially if you look for something other than a temporary position in a bar or hotel. (Don’t get us wrong, there is no harm in that for the time being!) As job agencies usually are pro’s in conveying jobs and talents, you might as well profit from their expertise. Furthermore, recruiters are often wildly connected and generally find out about open vacancies before they even got published. If you got introduced by a job agency chances are that your resume gets reviewed before disappearing under a pile of other applications. Also keep in mind, that a recruiter has seen thousands of resumes already and will be able to give you valuable tips for pimping your resume.

However, it’s not the goal to stay employed by an agency forever, as the working conditions are usually much better if you are directly employed by a company. Consider a job agency as a stepping stone to gain work experience in the Netherlands and move on to permanent employment directly with a company after a while.

What should I consider working with a job agency in the Netherlands?

If you are looking for a job through a job agency in the Netherlands, don’t leave it at uploading your resume online and then wait and see. Give the job agency a call or make an appointment for a personal meet up. Find out whether this agency and recruiter suits you and make sure you ask questions to understand the conditions explained above. Make sure you know who you will be signing the contract with and how far the support from the recruiter goes.

There are many different job agencies and recruiters out there, make sure you feel comfortable with the recruiter you choose. Don’t settle with the first you meet, but let them pitch their ideas as well. In the end, they will be earning money with you and should do their best just like you do. Working with someone who is genuinely interested in you and your story and understands your needs and wishes is more likely to bring you the desired result. Those are the ones that will be able to sell you best to your future employer.

Keep in mind that a good recruiter is someone you turn to again if you want to switch careers or jobs, so it’s worth investing some time in finding your perfect match.

Which job agencies are there in the Netherlands?

There are thousands of agencies in the Netherlands. There are a couple of prominent brands which cover all sorts of jobs. Check for example:

  • Randstad is one of the biggest employment agencies (internationally). Website is only available in Dutch.
  • The same goes for Manpower.
  • Unique one of the bigger Dutch employment agencies. The website is available in English.
  • Hays as one of the biggest recruitment specialists in the world. The website is also available in English.

There are also recruitment agencies specialized in internationals:

  • The Undutchables are the most popular recruitment agency for internationals.
  • Another one is Adams Multilingual Recruitment which specializes in matching internationals with jobs in multinational companies in the Netherlands.

Last but not least there are many job agencies in the Netherlands which specialize in industries, cities etc. They vary a lot in quality! Make sure you find a smaller agency or recruiter you trust and which suits you. Large agencies undoubtedly do have an extensive network and recruiters with many connections. However, if you work with a large job agency, you still experience the problems of a submerged job marked and might end up as one of many in their database.

Spread your chances and subscribe for a big job agency but also try the smaller office around the corner with more capacity for personal attention.

What else?

Test what and who – literally – works for you! Don’t focus on one job agency or approach and be brave enough to skip what doesn’t bring you the desired results. Don’t be afraid of refusing to work with a job agency or recruiter when it doesn’t feel right, just because you are scared of throwing away your chances. You are not! You might object that this is a luxury attitude you can’t afford right now, but finding a job always works two-sided. If you can’t see yourself working somewhere, then they won’t see you working there either. And if a company or a recruiter offers you a job you’re not feeling, be assured that it probably won’t last long.

Good Luck!

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