Recruitment Expert Shares Insights on How to Impress a Dutch Employer with CV
International students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences got some sage advice from Dutch recruitment expert Olfertjan Niemeijer on how to impress potential employers when they apply for a job. This is the second time in six months Niemeijer, who has almost 30 years of experience in the recruitment business, shared his insight with Wittenborg students competing for internships and jobs in the pandemic economy.
The value of a good CV
Niemeijer emphasised two main points: Having a good CV (still very important when looking for a job), and learning the art of networking. He also urged job seekers to prepare themselves properly when they apply for a job or land an interview. "Every day we speak to people who apply for jobs, but they don't research the company or the person who is doing the interview. Some don't even know what the company they are applying for does.
"Recruiters like me have to work at a very fast pace and we get hundreds of applications. Most recruiters will go to the CV first. It is more important than the letter, so pay a lot of attention to your CV.
"At the same time, there is no such thing as a perfect CV, meaning you have to amend it with each and every application so that it emphasises your added value to the specific position you are applying for. Some people use their CV as a summarisation of their past, while it is far more than that. Use your CV as a sales tool to market yourself."
Niemeijer said he does not believe in one-page CVs, but that the first page should contain the most important points – deal the knock-out blow. "I see a lot of international students' CVs where they have work experience in their home country and name the company, but do not explain what the company actually does – say, banking or whatever. Dutch employers are not necessarily going to know what business a company is in just from looking at a name."
He also offered some common-sense advice that applicants sometimes forget. "Smile – on your profile photo, in interviews, on your CV. People like people who smile. Also, if your experience is based in a different country, make it clear that you are actually based in the Netherlands and have a permit to work here. Otherwise they move on to the next person."
"If you are Chinese, don't just frequent other Chinese students"
Niemeijer also had lots of advice on networking. "I recently spoke to Chinese students studying in Tilburg and what struck me was that the only thing they did was frequent other Chinese students. They kept themselves apart from Dutch and international students, whether in the classroom or socially, and that hurts their job opportunities in the Netherlands.
"Even if you are still studying, build your network. It might not seem valuable now, but if you start early you will benefit later. Use social media for that purpose. When I was young, it was important to have a network of between 100 – 500 people. Now it is possible to have an international network of tens of thousands of people through social media. When you meet someone, look them up on LinkedIn – I would say 80% to 90% of things happen through networking."
Niemeijer is the founder of Independent Recruiters Group. It counts local and global brands like ING, Rabobank, ABN Amro, AON, Western Digital, Novell, Xerox, ECCO and KPN among its clients.
by James Wittenborg