Three tips on how to increase your chances of landing a leadership position in a Dutch scale-up
The Netherlands have become a prime destination for tech companies. Amsterdam is the headquarter of Booking.com, and Uber and Netflix have set up their European headquarters here, creating a pull for other tech companies and premier talent alike. The startup and scale-up scene is thriving and growing fast. Many fast growing scale-ups like Picnic, EclecticIQ, bloomon and Impraise have received great capital injections the last few years and the climate is still strong.
Most scale-ups headquartered in the Netherlands are international by nature. It is simply not possible to disrupt entire industries and conquer the world by focusing on this small market of Dutch people alone. They are outward looking from the outset, creating plenty of career opportunities for not only Dutch natives but also expats looking to settle in the Netherlands.
But while the benefits of working and living in the Netherlands are well-reported, how to break into the Dutch scale-up scene is less so. Here are three tips on how to approach the “job hunt” in the land of tulips, cheese and windmills.
1. Get a feel for the Dutch tech environment
The Netherlands is one of the most connected ecosystems in Europe, making it the perfect testing ground for new products and services. Home to a high number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies in many different tech verticals, it is clear that the Netherlands is a thriving entrepreneurship hub.
A first step should be to get a feel for the market and an overview of the scale-up scene. Which companies are making the big waves, which ones are on the most important ‘Who is Who’ and hottest startup lists in Europe, who received the latest rounds of funding, or who has been making international headlines for their products?
Furthermore, the Netherlands is home to several accelerators and incubators, for example Rockstart, Startupbootcamp Amsterdam, Utrecht Inc, YES!Delft, HightechXL.
2. Network, network, network... and get experts on board
If a scale-up is hiring at the more senior level, then things are moving in the right direction. They might have just received a new funding round or are scaling to new markets.
Often, this is part of a carefully guarded growth plan, and not something that founders would want shared widely until the ink is dry. That means, you won’t find the most intriguing positions, the ones that will be tasked with spurring the growth, advertised publicly.
If you are after those coveted jobs, your network will be your most valuable asset to connect you to those opportunities and get a foot in the door with the right people.
On the other hand, by the time a company has posted a role publicly, its own network has likely not yielded the right candidates. Considering a real crunch for talent in this fast growing market, this is when external applications and referrals are considered seriously. For your resume to not end up at the bottom of the pile, do whatever it takes to get your resume in front of a recruiter or someone in the company.
However, this is easier said than done when trying to break into a new market, one where you may not yet have an expansive network or experience in navigating the market.
This is where One. can help, as we are a specialised recruitment agency for scale-ups. We have our finger on the pulse of the scene, know exactly what opportunities are out there, have established relationships with founders and investors, and can advise which ones you may be a good fit for.
As vibrant as it is, the Dutch startup scene is still a very small world, and the right introductions will open the doors to this tight network.
3. Immerse yourself in the Dutch culture
Part of the appeal of living abroad is that you are able to immerse yourself in a new culture. That means hanging out with the locals, studying the language, trying the foods and learning about the cultural particularities that define a country. These efforts need to apply to your career search too.
Yes, Dutch scale-ups are international, and they operate globally but overwhelmingly, the admin and operational staff is still made up by locals, and also most founders hail from the Netherlands.
That’s why you have to think about how to best position yourself in a Dutch setting, which can be rather confusing sometimes. Let me illustrate.
Due to equal opportunity legislation, photographs and personal details are to be avoided in the UK and the U.S. but just like in Germany and France, they are still common for applications in the Netherlands.
The Dutch are famous for their directness, which is also reflected in how they write applications and CVs. Rather than overly flowery or pretentious language they prefer short, clear and concise descriptions of previous roles and responsibilities. But in a twist, they also prefer the use of passive forms - so much for a stereotype.
And as individualistic and straight-forward, they are also very humble people. Did you know that it is a Dutch convention never to begin a letter or email with “I”? Putting yourself front, right and centre is considered a “not done”. This is important to remember when you are writing an application for a Dutch company – even when you are writing in English!