Career Webinar by Olfertjan Niemeijer, founder of Independent Recruiters
Crafting a good and effective Curriculum Vitae (CV) and cover letter is not easy, as some Wittenborg students realised during a Career Workshop held on 23rd September, 2020. The webinar, organised by Wittenborg’s External Relations Department, was conducted by Olfertjan Niemeijer, founder of Independent Recruiters Group.
Niemeijer, who has 28 years’ experience in the recruiting business, demonstrated to students what matters in a CV and cover letter in the context of the Netherlands. He also discussed what influences applicants' opportunities and how to market themselves to potential employers.
According to Niemeijer, the most important element in the eyes of the Dutch employers, that will help raise students’ chances of securing an internship or a permanent job, is work experience, especially in Dutch companies.
He advised students not just to list their job experience, but also to highlight those experiences that are most relevant to the vacancy they are applying for. For bachelor’s students who may not have been previously employed, Niemeijer said they should write down any activities (social, sports or educational) or voluntary work they have done before. They could also include the different project works they have completed in college or university, bringing attention to any parts which are relevant to the application.
IT, Engineering and Finance 'Hot' Industries for International Students
When asked which industries are most likely to take in international students, Niemeijer said that IT, Engineering and Finance are industries that prefer international workers, whereas Sales and Marketing industries opt more for Dutch residents or Dutch-speaking applicants. The reason being that these lines of career require a lot of communication with local businesses and residents.
Niemeijer also said students who already have work permits or graduates with the orientation year visa (zoekjaar) should highlight this at the beginning of their CVs, as most employers are put off whenever they see international names on the CV.
He stressed that it is not because Dutch people are discriminatory, but because for them it can be more complicated to employ an international worker.
A CV Is a Living Organism, Just like a Chameleon
During the session, Niemeijer showcased a few CVs and cover letters submitted by students a few days before the session. He pointed out their strong points, mistakes and areas which need improvement. He said that students should treat a CV as a living organism (just like a chameleon) which needs to adapt to different job opportunities.
Students need to adjust their CVs according to the job/internship they are applying for. He reminded them that there is no such thing as a perfect CV and its beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
Thus, students should tweak their CVs/cover letters according to the job requirements/companies and using the lingo/words in the advertisement itself. A CV or cover letter should not be lengthy and not a summary of the past, but rather a complete profile of applicants who are looking to the future.
Learn about Dutch Culture, Grow your Networks and Be Active
Before concluding the session, Niemeijer gave 3 reminders to students:
- Learn the Dutch language because it will help you to blend into the company and be immersed in the social circle of the Dutch people. Students should not cling to their own nationalities and instead befriend Dutch people and learn the Dutch culture, especially the unwritten rules.
- Grow your networks while studying, especially through LinkedIn. He said that 99.9% of employers check applicants’ LinkedIn pages to know more about them and to have a sense of their personalities. Students are advised to increase their visibilities in Social Media and be pro-active by enquiring for job opportunities from companies, instead of waiting for advertisements or recruitment drives.
- Be involved in activities around you – whether joining a sports team, a social group, a voluntary organisation or doing a part-time job. Experience in these will add value to a CV, since employers do not just want workers, they also want sociable, quality people to join their organisations.
On a final note, it was a very educational and informative session, as agreed by External Relations Coordinator Yanti Setiawan and the students and alumni who were present. For those who missed the session, you can view the uploaded video from the link here: Microsoft Stream.
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©Wittenborg University Press