Strategy, Innovation & Leadership

Job seeking after graduation during the pandemic

May 20, 2021 | 3 min read

I came to the Netherlands in 2019 to join an MBA course at TIAS Business School and Society. This important foundation opened my mindset and equipped me with the knowledge, skills to be ready for a multicultural labor market in the Netherlands.

This blog post is written by Dang Chau | Full-time MBA 2019-2020.

2020 was indeed a strange year. This sudden situation has significantly increased the unemployment rate. Thus, both domestic and international students faced a tough challenge to land a stable job in a competitive market. And during this hardship, I learned that all luck or opportunity do not come by themselves. I had to work hard to earn it. I felt both proud of my effort and lucky to have continuous supports from TIAS career coach – Irene Kroon during my journey.


First – Networking is a rule of the game, knowing the rule, I played the game better!

Having a good network, who is willing to inform or do an internal reference for vacancies, can get you into the interview round directly. Born and raised in Vietnam, I wasn’t familiar with networking. But luckily, one of the core Personal Development Programs at TIAS is to train how to apply this skill in practical ways. I have grown myself to be more proactive and comfortable reaching out to new people asking for information, advice, and even job referral.

TIAS not only organized many events (online and offline) to connect students with its wide network of alumni, companies, and career partners but also proactively connected us to selective cohorts, who have a similar background to share their experience. Besides, I re-built my Linkedin profile to increase visibility and build up professional relationships, especially with TIAS alumni. My first 3 job interviews were referred by my networks and 2 of those were made by TIAS alumni.

The internship was a great opportunity to expand my network in the most authentical way. I took an internship at Eurail BV, and there were colleagues who I worked with, were willing to support me during the job seeking. I was very surprised how networking could be beneficial and led me to real opportunities.

Second – CV and Cover Letter customization!

Recruitment in the European market is advanced. Most companies use specialized applications for CV screening. Therefore, customizing the CV and Cover Letter to fit the job description is a MUST.

My experience was to make sure the vacancies have required skill sets that closely fit with my background. Next, I divided the vacancies into groups by job types and created different master CVs, which mostly covered key required skills. Later, I did a further step to be more customized them into the details of each job description. For a motivational letter, stating real motivations and relating them to job requirements helped my profiles standing out.

Most importantly, I always asked my coach Irene for her feedbacks to adjust my application. Having an outsider point of view, with rich understanding in the Dutch labor market, upgraded my profile to a higher level.

Third – Well preparation to boost your confidence and peace of mind

A successful interview is a process of complete preparation. During the pandemic, interviews were taken online. So, the first preparation was to ensure a smooth connection. It’s always helpful to ask the company about the discussion topics and who would join the interview.

By knowing this information, I studied the company’s culture/mission, what tasks my role would do from people working at that company ( eg: Linkedin), what interviewing questions could be ( eg: Glassdoor).  Learning about your interviewer is a great tip because I could find some common topics to exchange and made the conversation natural, rather than a cold Q&A session.

Finally, practicing! I always prepared a script with all the potential questions and the answers relating to the job requirements.  Then, we practiced mock-up interviews in which Irene played the role of employer and recommended key points I need to emphasize during the session.   

Lastly – Be patient, be positive and be yourself. Keep moving on!

Mental health was extremely important for me. I indulged myself in doing whatever needed to maintain my positivity, listening to motivational speakers, going out during the weekend, calling my families, taking exercise, etc.

Going deeper into the interview sessions, I found out that my energy brought out the interview vibe. To win an opportunity, it was not the competency, but the personality or cultural fit that decides if I got the ticket.

In short, it was the whole journey that put me out of my comfort zone and surprised me how resilient I could become.

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