Since 2003, the unemployment rate in Holland averaged 5.80% before jumping to a record of over 8% in 2014. Amsterdam has the highest unemployment rate of any major city in the country.
Currently, there is also an extremely high number of occupationally disabled people (individuals who medically cannot work and receive benefits). Government policy is now aiming to reduce this by applying stricter criteria for claiming benefits. Increasing labour market participation from this group means there will be even more people out there hunting for the same jobs.
Being a foreigner can make things even more difficult. Many jobs require you to speak Dutch. Also, there are restrictive regulations regarding employing foreigners (non EU/EEA citizens). If you are looking for work in retail, restaurants/bars or teaching foreign languages (particularly English), things are a bit easier.
Work permits and application procedures
EU/EEA nationals have the right to live and work in the Netherlands without a work permit. EEA stands for European Economic Area, which in addition to the EU, includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Within 8 days of arrival go and register at the local Foreign Police ( Vreemdelingenpolitie) registration office. They will tell you exactly what you need to do.
For nationals of all other countries: You should apply for a residence permit (MVV) at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence before a work permit application is made. You are then prohibited from travelling to any Schengen state until a decision is made on the application. A Dutch work permit is employer specific. The company must demonstrate that you have a certain set of skills necessary for the position and that they were not able to fill the position with an EU/EEA candidate. If you have a permit to work for one company and then want to switch jobs, you will need a new work permit.