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Working at DIFFER


DIFFER is the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, one of the nine research institutes of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The institute focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to energy research, combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. DIFFER's research takes place in two main themes: Solar Fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy, and Fusion Energy as a clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER develops and supports a national network on fundamental energy research and collaborates closely with the academic community and with industrial partners. Since 2015, DIFFER is housed in a new laboratory situated on the campus of the Eindhoven University of Technology. DIFFER regulary has vacancies for scientific, technical and support staff. Students from university (WO), higher professional education (HBO) and intermediate vocational training (MBO) have the opportunity to do an internship or a thesis project at DIFFER.

Diversity, inclusion and multidisciplinary teams

DIFFER believes that a work force diverse in gender, age and cultural background is key to performing excellent research. We consider it important that all our employees, interns and guests feel valued, regardless of their background, sex, age, sexual orientation or (physical) ability. We want to create an environment where everyone feels at home and can bring out the best in themselves. At DIFFER a broad spectrum of knowledge and expertise is represented: physicists, chemists, engineers and other specialists work together in multidisciplinary teams inspired to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society. Approximately 90 scientists and 60 guests and interns work together on the science at DIFFER, supported by 40 technicians and 30 support staff members. The global nature of the energy challenge is apparent from the international representation of our employees, who originate from over 30 different countries.

In January 2018 DIFFER formed a diversity taskforce to monitor our diversity policy and the implementation of the gender equality plan.

Work-life balance

DIFFER’s employment conditions contribute to a positive work-life balance. We allow for paid and unpaid parental leave and the possibility of part-time employment, as well as regulations for care and calamity leave. A specific regulation provides the possibility of compensating for childcare costs during business trips. A temporary contract of a researcher can be extended under certain conditions related to private matters, for example due to pregnancy, parental leave or part-time working. In addition, there are regulations for teleworking, the possibility to purchase and sell holiday leave, and flexible work times. All are stimuli for both women and men to combine their private and working lives as well as possible.

General information on working at DIFFER and NWO can also be found at the NWO-I website.

Benefits & Rewards

We offer a stimulating work environment in the area of fundamental energy research with excellent employment conditions. DIFFER's employment regulations are codified in the collective labour agreement for the research institutions (CAO-OI). Your salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of year bonus of 8.33%. You will participate in the pension scheme run by the Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds (ABP). With a fulltime contract you will be working 40 hours per week with a formal working week of 38 hours, and you have the right to 338 hours of leave per year.

Our application process

DIFFER applies a recruitment code that is derived from the recruitment code of the Dutch Association for Personnel Management & Organisational Development. For more information see, the NWO implementing regulations IR 15 (pdf). You can read more about our privacy policy in the DIFFER declaration on privacy.

You can apply for a position by submitting a motivation letter and full resume. For PhD positions we also request a gradelist and 2 references. For postdoc positions we ask for 3 references. The application documents may be sent electronically as single PDF-files, to vacancies [28] differ [368] nl (vacancies[at]differ[dot]nl), with reference to the vacancy number in the subject of the e-mail. Please use the format: lastname_motivation.pdf, lastname_CV.pdf, lastname_gradelist.pdf. You will receive an email to confirm the receipt of your job application. Applications for scientific positions will be examined by several scientific group leaders. When you are invited for an interview for a scientific position, you will give a presentation (maximum 10 minutes) about your recent work or final dissertation.

Coming to DIFFER from abroad?

We will help you with visa and other relevant procedures, and do this in close collaboration with The Holland Expat Center.

  • Find some practical information for foreigners, about visa requirements and checklist to make a smooth start at the NWO-I website.
  • Get an impression of the kind of leisure activities typical for the Netherlands.
  • Learn about working and living in the Eindhoven area here.
  • Learn about the system of Dutch science here.
  • Download the Welcome2NLResearch app to get a running start (App Store | Google Play).

What is it like to work in energy science at DIFFER?

Read the story of one of our PhD students in Solar Fuels research. 

Career after DIFFER for PhD students

Job opportunities for PhD students at DIFFER are excellent, thanks to the courses offered in soft skills and other topics relevant for jobs, including those outside academia. In recent years 34% of our PhD students found a position in (inter)national research or university, 42% in (inter)national industry, 5% in the service sector and 18% in another sector. In addition to the informal coaching by their supervisor and mentor, and network opportunities as part of their regular work, PhD students can participate in organised courses to scan their future career path such as interview training and a multi-day workshop. In the Eindhoven area many companies are interested in highly educated researchers. See also: