As a young person who has just graduated, you may sometimes feel unsure about what to expect. Begin by choosing the direction you want to take your career; then consider a few things before you start.
There are two things you have to do when you graduate, and then there are some attractive optional steps you can take. We have made a list:
- Register as a jobseeker
- Register with a health insurance fund
- Hospital insurance
- Youth holidays
- Trade union
- Specialist help
What you have to do
Register with the VDAB as a jobseeker
If you have graduated but not yet found a job, you should register with the VDAB as a jobseeker. If you don’t, you may miss out on unemployment benefits.
Professional integration period
Your ‘professional integration period’ will start on the date of your registration. If you still haven’t found a job a year later, you are eligible for an integration allowance, which is a type of unemployment benefit. So the sooner you register with the VDAB, the sooner you will be eligible for this benefit. It may come in handy one day, and it would be a shame to miss out on it.
Growth package (child benefit)
If you register with the VDAB, you will also be entitled to a growth package (the former child benefit) after your studies. If you are over 18 and working part-time the first year after you graduate (i.e., no more than 80 hours per month), you will be entitled to this benefit for another year.
Register with a health insurance fund
Up to now, you had mandatory ‘insurance for medical care and benefits’ through your parents. You will have to register in your own name once:
- you start working (self-employed or otherwise)
- your professional integration period is over, and you are looking for work;
- you reach the age of 25 years.
This allows you to reclaim costs for doctor’s visits or dental check-ups, for example, and to receive benefits when you are ill or unable to work due to an accident or pregnancy.
Once you have registered with a health insurance fund, you automatically enjoy the benefits of compulsory insurance. The social security contributions that are used to finance this insurance are automatically deducted from your salary.
Which health insurance fund should I register with?
You can register with any health insurance fund for this compulsory insurance. The prices are all the same because the NIHDI sets the rates. A list of health insurance funds is available on the government website.
However, levels of supplementary insurance cover and costs differ between health insurance funds. That is why it might be a good idea to compare the different funds.
Once you have registered with a health insurance fund, you automatically benefit from supplementary insurance. This means you will be paying less for glasses, lenses, hearing aids, and so on.
If you don’t need that type of cover and only want the compulsory basic insurance, you can join the Auxiliary Fund for Sickness and Invalidity Insurance (HZIV). This public institution provides the same cover as a health insurance fund only without the supplementary cover. When you join HZIV, you won’t pay any contributions, but you won’t have the supplementary cover either.
Take out hospital insurance
As long as you’re living at home, you’ll probably also benefit from your parents’ hospital insurance. This insurance provides cover for when you unexpectedly end up in hospital.
When you start working, you can continue that insurance in your own name. This insurance isn’t compulsory, but you never know what might happen. Hospital insurance isn’t an unnecessary luxury.
Some employers offer hospital insurance as part of their salary package. While that’s fine, make sure to check whether that insurance offers sufficient cover. You may have a medical condition that puts you at a greater risk of unexpected hospitalisation.
Apply for a youth holiday
If you work for the government, you can only take a few paid holidays during your first year of work. If you work in the private sector, you won’t even be entitled to paid holidays, and these will be limited the following year as well. This is because your holiday entitlements are based on the number of days you worked in the previous year.
However, if are you younger than 25 years, registered with the VDAB, and started working in the year you graduated, you will be entitled to youth holiday the following year. For each day of your youth holiday, you will receive 65% of your basic salary (provided that you worked for at least 13 days during the year you graduated).
If you prefer, you can continue working at 100% of your salary, but as described earlier, you will then have fewer holidays.
Let a specialist help you find a great job right away
Finding a job that actually suits you on your first try is not easy. A recruitment agency can help. Here at Robert Half, we help talented candidates such as yourself find exciting jobs in finance & accounting, administration, management resources, IT and legal.