Rotterdam is an exciting, cosmopolitan city undergoing constant development – however, expats looking for work here often find that the search is tougher than expected.

Compared to the national average, Rotterdam's rate of unemployment is high, so competition for jobs can be tight. This goes double for non-EU citizens as their hiring company would need to prove to authorities that no EU citizen could fill the vacancy.

Job market in Rotterdam

Known as the gateway to Europe, Rotterdam is home to the continent's largest seaport. Needless to say, the city's most prominent industries are shipping, logistics and trade. Energy, chemicals and business services are other major sectors. Unlike in Amsterdam, tourism is only a small part of Rotterdam's economy.

Expats working in the retail sector usually find securing work in Rotterdam to be fairly easy, and healthcare and welfare industries are also prominent in the city. Academia and teaching are also potential career paths to pursue thanks to the number of top colleges and universities in the city, such as Erasmus University Rotterdam and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Expats who can offer specialised skills and speak Dutch have a better chance of finding work. However, given Rotterdam's cosmopolitan and diverse population, fluency in Dutch is not always a requirement.

Finding a job in Rotterdam

Expats looking for work can make use of online job portals or join a recruitment agency. Job platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor advertise the latest job vacancies and can give job seekers an idea of expected salaries, company culture and working environments. 

It helps to have contacts in Rotterdam as word-of-mouth will often yield better results than responding to job postings. We also advise expats interested in a specific company to check their relevant website for available job listings. A worthwhile strategy may be to contact the HR or recruitment consultant at one's desired workplace regardless of whether a position has been advertised. This rather forward approach shows initiative, a quality valued by Dutch employers.

Job fairs and careers workshops in the city are also a good way to start networking and find work – anyone from recent graduates to entrepreneurs with start-up ideas can benefit from these events.

Work culture in Rotterdam

Although many international companies can be found in Rotterdam and company culture varies between organisations and fields of work, there is a general perception of business culture in the city. Punctuality is critical when working in the Netherlands, and honesty and directness is appreciated.

Doing business in Rotterdam may entail a communication style that expats are unfamiliar with. Meetings tend to skip the small talk and dive right into the agenda in a very direct and straightforward manner. This way of communicating may seem efficient if a little blunt at first, but given the emphasis on collaboration, teamwork and valuing every member's opinion, decision-making can nevertheless be a slow process.

Expats working in Rotterdam are entitled at least 20 days of paid annual leave, and some companies offer more. Expat employees could also benefit from a decent employment package covering transport costs and, in some cases, partial school fees for employees with children attending a private school.

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