How to land a developer job in Amsterdam

March 2, 2021
9
min read
How to land a developer job in Amsterdam
Thomas Limbüchler
by
Thomas Limbüchler

Ever considered jetting off to Amsterdam and joining the city’s booming tech scene? Perhaps you should! Amsterdam is a thriving tech hub and a superior choice for software developers and IT professionals. Over the past decade, Amsterdam has shown its strengths with a strong software culture and continued growth and innovation.

Amsterdam’s software development scene is incredibly vibrant, driven by established professionals and young coding talents. Whether you work for a major multinational in the Zuidas business district or a startup in the heart of the city center, software developers enjoy the quality of life, creative buzz, and flexibility in-office hours. The variety in software development opportunities is vast, from innovations in mobile apps, social media, and smart technology to digital security in finance and solutions for life sciences and logistics.

Major employers (with headquarters) in Amsterdam are Google, Facebook, Palo Alto Networks, Microsoft, Netflix, Red Hat Software, Blackboard, AppNexus, OracleMobiquity, Joyent, LinkedIn, Apple, Trion Networks, Criteo, SAP, TomTom, Jive Software, Akamai and Infosys. These big names are joined by new international companies in the region each year, covering the broad spectrum of cloud, data, mobile, and desktop software.

Being home to so many tech companies, the demand for tech candidates in Amsterdam is understandably high. Companies are engaging in different ways to attract and retain the talent they so desperately need. Workplace perks and training opportunities are usually part of the package, but Amsterdam-based companies also pride themselves on providing competitive salaries. According to Hubspot, tech candidates in Amsterdam earn a higher average net salary than those based in London, Dublin, Paris, or Berlin.

A h(e)aven for hardware professionals

By the way: About one-third of European data centers are based in the Amsterdam area, ensuring the region is one of the most exciting choices for networking and hardware specialists. Of course, it helps that the digital infrastructure is exceptional – home to major international hubs like the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) and the Netherlands Internet Exchange (NL-ix). The sector is expanding annually and increasingly using cutting-edge technology to be more environmentally friendly.

Skills you need to get a developer job in Amsterdam

Generally speaking, Amsterdam is chock a block with innovative companies and startups looking to hire their next developer. This is what you need to know about the skills you should have to get a developer job in Amsterdam.

Language skills: Do I need to know Dutch?

The first question we always get is: “Do I need to be able to speak fluent Dutch?” and the answer is: no, definitely not. Amsterdam is an extraordinarily open and international city, filled with young companies that consider English to be their primary language. The city is also filled to the brim with young people. 45 % of Amsterdam’s residents are between 18 and 45 years old, which tends to be more open toward English.

Programming skills

Amsterdam is a tech hub, bursting with tech companies and startups looking for new talent. So no matter if you are a junior developer or you’re more senior – we are sure you will find the right fit.

Work permit in the Netherlands for developers

Newcomers to the Netherlands are often surprised by the informal atmosphere and flexibility of the Dutch work environment. The standard workweek is 40 hours, but many companies are open to flexible work hours, such as a four-day week. Around 180 nationalities make up Amsterdam’s modern-day fabric, so internationals have no trouble feeling at home in the city. English is prevalent and is the primary business language in a growing number of companies. While it’s always recommended to learn Dutch, you can certainly get going in the city if you only speak English.

What permits you need depends on where you are from:

Developers from EU and EFTA member states

As an EU or EFTA member state citizen – you won’t need a visa, work, or residence permit, and bureaucracy is that little bit easier. You can quickly enter the country, look for jobs and start working right away. So taking a week-long trip to rattle off interviews might be a good idea. This will save time and allow you to feel the city and companies you have in mind.

Developers from Non-EU & Non-EFTA countries

If you’re a non-EU citizen, things are a little different. Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, or the United States of America can enter the Netherlands without a visa. Still, once you have arrived in Amsterdam, you will have to immediately apply for a residency permit.

All other third-country nationals need to apply for a visa before entering the country. This is why it’s probably a good idea to already have a job in place.

Luckily, nowadays, you can find jobs online and do interviews virtually. Search through online job platforms like WeAreDevelopers, arrange video call interviews, and negotiate for the company to fly you in for a personal interview. This way, you can get a feel for the work environment as well as the city.

If you’re still unsure of what permits or visas you need, check out the Federal Government site or contact your national embassy in Amsterdam.

The EU Blue Card

If you are a third-country national, another option you have is the EU Blue Card. This card permits you to work and reside across all EU member countries (except Denmark and Ireland), which is particularly handy if you don’t intend on staying in Amsterdam forever and want to venture around Europe. With the EU Blue card, you can do so – for four years.

Who is eligible for the EU Blue Card?

According to the EU Blue Card Network, “You are eligible when you are a non-EU citizen, and you have completed tertiary education and/or you have three years or more professional experience in the profession related to your profile.”

The Dutch introduced the EU Blue Card, and it remains to be the most popular way of being able to work there. You can find more detailed information here.

Unique benefits of employment in Amsterdam 

For highly skilled migrants coming to the Netherlands to work, a significant fiscal benefit is the 30 % ruling tax advantage. Read more details about the 30 % facility for incoming employees. Then, organizations such as IN Amsterdam help lessen the administrative burden faced by highly skilled migrants, easing you into life in Amsterdam by providing information on housing, healthcare, education, and other official matters. IN Amsterdam also offers a full support service for partners of people coming to work in Amsterdam.

The job hiring process in Amsterdam

CV

More traditional companies and larger corporates still require a conventional CV format when applying for a job. This should include your basic personal details, educational background, skills, references, hobbies, and interests. In the Netherlands, you do not need to have a photo unless specifically asked.

Online applications

These are naturally becoming more and more popular and making the whole application process more efficient for everyone. We recommend keeping your LinkedIn profile up to scratch. Many companies allow you to apply simply by adding your profile link instead of your CV.

Cover letter

Companies also expect a cover letter outlining how you have applied your past skills, which roles you have taken on, and why you are interested in their company. This should be about a half/three-quarter of a written text page, tailored to every company and role. This is the piece of writing that will make or break whether you get the first interview or not, so be sure to make it count. Your cover letter does not necessarily need a separate document – you can also outline these points within your email to the HR department.

Interview

Once the company has reviewed your CV/profile and cover letter and thinks that you might be a good fit, they will arrange an interview. Depending on the role and company, some might even have several rounds of interviews.

Companies often arrange an initial video call interview to get a first impression. They will then ask you to come in for an interview. If you’re traveling from afar, the company will usually take responsibility for travel costs, etc.

References

It is not unusual for companies to call up or contact your previous employers. They do this to find out more about your work ethic, so be sure to adjust your CV accordingly.

Relocating to Amsterdam as a developer

Moving to a new city is always a big step, especially in a different country. But, settling into Amsterdam life can be relatively straightforward if you plan and arrange as much as possible before relocating. 

Amsterdam is a quite famous city, and finding a place to live can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re not in the country and don’t know anyone locally. Some companies offer temporary accommodation for new talent joining the team, so try and negotiate with your future employer. If not, we recommend renting out an Airbnb to tie you over. 

If you are moving to the Netherlands from abroad, you will receive a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN) when you register with your local municipality. A BSN is required to work, open a bank account, make use of a healthcare institution (a doctor or hospital), and apply for benefits or an allowance. 

If you want to increase your chances, you should get some paperwork done:

  • Work contracts: You will have a lot of difficulties finding a full apartment without a contract.
  • Dutch (or European) bank account and bank statements of the past 12 months: You will need to pay the deposit with a Dutch bank transfer. If you’re European, great. If you’re American, this is problematic. Set up your bank account (once you have your BSN) ASAP, as it usually takes 2-3 weeks. E.g., ING is very expat-friendly.
  • Pay-slips (past 12 months)
  • If non-EU, residence permits

Getting to know people as a developer in Amsterdam

This will make or break your relocation experience, so get yourself out there – start crushing your comfort zone and go to parties and events alone – because you will soon find that there are plenty of other expats in the same boat.

A great way to meet new (tech) people in Amsterdam is to:

Where to look for a developer job in Amsterdam

Now that you have got all of your ammunition on landing a job and relocating to Amsterdam as a developer – it’s time to get the ball rolling. Head on over to the WeAreDevelopers job board.

We’ve teamed up with top innovative companies and startups that will ensure your move to Amsterdam will be the best career decision you’ve made yet.

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