Netherlands: An Interview with International Recruitment Expert and Startup Adviser Marnix de Groot

Marnix de Groot is an entrepreneur, startup adviser, and executive with extensive experience in international recruiting. He is currently living and working in Amsterdam. I had a chance to chat with him about how international recruiting works, what the current startup environment is like in Amsterdam, and how welcoming the Dutch are of international professionals and expats. Our conversation can be found below.  

Can you briefly explain what you currently do in Amsterdam?

I previously worked for a startup, starting with four people and when I left the company we ended with almost 80. The company was a HR tech startup and so the employees were mostly in sales and IT development . The clients that we were working with were mainly international companies and HR departments, so I know about that industry from my experience working with them.

Currently, I work for a large company in energy supplies, so a completely different sector and also studying innovation and new business models, which also connects a bit with the topic of your blog. And then I am also an adviser to a tech startup and that company is also hiring international candidates as well.

I have been researching international recruiting agencies but I would love to hear from you how the international recruitment process works, how companies are finding talent, and how talent can help increase its chances of being found.

Well, I think that what is very important at the moment that you build the right relationships through social media. So, LinkedIn, Facebook but also specific communities like Stack Overflow may help both the employee and potential candidates to connect to each other all over the world. So it is very important that you are building the right personal brand online. It is also important for both parties to be proactive in their search.

The company that I worked for, we had 10 nationalities across 80 employees, which is a lot. Our employees came largely from Germany, Latvia, Russia and Greece. And the people coming from those locations have been very active in applying for the jobs that we are advertising on social media platforms. And there are sourcers who are actively looking for candidates that have the correct background and experience for a company.

It is very important that you are building the right personal brand online.

We also have online resources in the Netherlands, such as, that are dedicated to international startups and that is another place where employees and candidates can meet.

And how can I increase my chances of being aware of opportunities and increasing my chances of finding positions abroad?

For millennials, it goes back to being proactive. Start following the companies that you are interested in on social media, and even the people who work at those companies that you might want to work for. That way, you have an idea of what your first boss might be like and you also know more about the company, and that knowledge can give you an important advantage when it comes time to reaching out or even interviewing.

For managers, they try to build up a pool of candidates and build up interest in difficult jobs so that they know potential candidates before they work for the company, and then when a position is open, they try and attract them to their company.

How much international recruiting is the Netherlands doing at the moment?

It is quite common in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is the main city here in the Netherlands and it is a fairly multicultural city.

It is very interesting for companies here to have expat employees because they pay less tax on those employees. Amsterdam is really booming for expats and I think it is going to be one of the top 3 international startup cities in Europe , Berlin and London being the other two. It is really booming at the moment.

We also have the IAmAmsterdam office which helps people relocate to Amsterdam, and they also do promotional work around the world to promote Amsterdam as a top expat city and they do a great job. They are traveling to London and Germany just to promote Amsterdam as the next big startup hub in Europe. They also assist companies and individuals with the legal process of working in Amsterdam, and that is just another great resource that makes the process of working in Amsterdam much easier.

What is life like working in the Netherlands?

There is the benefit of everyone speaking English, which makes it a little easier to transition into living here. It is also a very international environment, good universities, startup events, and startup accelerators like StartupDelta or YesDelft. For young professionals you have a lot of meet ups which allows you to grow your international network and learn new knowledge from other professionals. For us, also work life balance is important and I think the expats here really appreciate it as well.

What advice do you have for millennials who are getting ready to enter the job market?

I think you need to have an idea of the specific companies that you want to work for, then start following their blog or social media accounts, and make connections with people working there. Just like how you and I met. I saw you were watching my profile, so I connected with you, and a few days later, we are Skyping and we get to chat. And it is more or less the same with how you get a job. And when you make connections with the right people, you can find your way into a position at the company you want to work for.

Your personal brand is so much more important now. My dad, your dad, they got a job and stayed there all their life, and they were more or less reactive. So if they get a promotion, it was always from the top down. With the new generation, they are creating their own opportunities and they don’t have much patience. So if your boss doesn’t give you a promotion within a year, you start to work for another company, and probably get a raise from your last job!

Your personal brand is so much more important now.

So employers need to look at work more in terms of projects, you know? They need to build a team, execute the project and then everyone is headed on to another project either inside or outside the company. It is just a shift in thinking that the millennial generation has brought on.

What questions do you have for international professionals or recruiters? Who do you want to hear from? Let me know on Twitter @12hrdifference.  


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Aaron Horwath Written by:

Since graduating from the University of Portland in 2014, I have worked abroad. Currently, I live and work in Da Nang, Vietnam as the Head of Global Training at an international technology company. Through my blog, I share my experiences of working abroad to give others a glimpse into international life and help them decide if working internationally is right for them.