Jan Roelof Hamersma and Elin Spoelstra

Unknown Talent offers us a fantastic opportunity

Jan Roelof Hamersma and Elin Spoelstra have been working at Document & Content Services in Leeuwarden since September. They joined ING as part of the Unknown Talent programme, through which ING – in partnership with recruitment agency Randstad Participatie – employs people with a work limitation. Here, Elin, Jan Roelof and their manager Maarten talk about how things are going.

The Document & Content Services department plays a crucial role now that the vast majority of ING employees are working from home. All incoming documents are labelled, scanned and made available digitally to colleagues working remotely. Elin and Jan Roelof handle the customer letters that have been returned to sender.

Elin is 37 years old. She has a degree in English language and culture from the University of Groningen, and has travelled and worked as a translator, among other things. Elin: “A cycling accident in 2017 left me with concussion, but it initially went undiagnosed. As a result, my rehabilitation started very late and I suffered lengthy and intense aftereffects of the accident. Returning to my old line of work was out of the question.”

Jan Roelof is 21 years old and has PDD-NOS, a disorder that is on the autism spectrum, but he completed regular secondary school education. Jan Roelof: “I even worked at a call centre while I was still at school, and after passing my exams I had several jobs, including at a potato processing company and a printing company.”


They both joined ING through Randstad, initially with a limited number of hours. They are now increasing their hours in line with the possibilities. “And that’s going well,” they both agree. Elin works three days a week, and Jan Roelof will soon go to four. “We start very early, at 7 o’clock. That took a bit of getting used to,” says Jan Roelof. “But actually that’s the only slight downside. I didn’t really know what to expect beforehand, but the meeting with Maarten and the introductory day were a big help. My job coach attended the meeting too, which was nice. The only thing that really surprised me was that Maarten was wearing a suit. I had expected a slightly formal style, but not suits. But it’s fine, he’s a snappy dresser, ha ha!”

Soon settled in

Elin: “I had some idea of what it would be like thanks to my former job at the local council’s care and welfare customer contact centre in Súdwest-Fryslân. The whole process at ING was new to me, of course, but I soon settled in – not least thanks to my colleagues. Everyone is open, friendly and helpful. The team knew a bit about our background already, but we both told them more about it.”

Jan Roelof: “We don’t look different on the outside, so people often think ‘Oh there’s not much of a problem, things aren’t that bad’. That can be frustrating.” Elin adds: “Fortunately, my limitations are taken into account as much as possible. I can’t lift certain things, for example, and the screens are sometimes too bright and the light can be annoying. But things are adjusted immediately if you ask.”

Step by step

“And the same holds true for the work itself,” continues Jan Roelof. “I concentrate on the things I can do well, and other colleagues take care of the rest.” Maarten adds: “We have a variety of activities in the team, and for the Unknown Talent employees we’ve selected specific tasks that give them a clear picture of what we do here. After starting with that, we’re expanding their activities step by step.”

Elin: “That works fine for me. I’m pleased to see that I pick up new things quickly. My role is getting broader and I’m working with more software packages. I was worried that I might not be able to handle working so many days, but so far it’s going very well. It’s really nice to be back in a routine and be part of a really friendly team within a big, stable company.”

Jan Roelof: “My day is good if it starts well and has structure – and if my work adds value for my colleagues and/or for society as a whole.”

Fresh perspective

Maarten: “I love the fact that Jan Roelof and Elin bring a new, fresh perspective to the team. Jan Roelof is extremely meticulous and definitely has a very original way of thinking. Elin has tons of intrinsic motivation, which is very infectious. I strive to be a facilitator, helping them – and the rest of the team – to get the best out of themselves and continue to develop and evolve.”

About Elin

After leaving secondary school in Sneek, Elin did a degree at the University of Groningen. She had two part-time jobs during her studies and became a translator after graduating. Elin lived and worked in Amsterdam for a few years before moving back to Sneek in 2015. She does volunteer work teaching adult literacy and Dutch as a second language. She loves crocheting, reading, playing video games and watching movies.

About Jan Roelof

Jan Roelof lives with his parents in Driesum near Dokkum and has three sisters. He is very interested in politics and followed the US election very closely. He enjoys watching movies and TV series, and would like to do more reading – about history and culture, for example, but also to work his way through the numerous grammar books he owns.

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