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Writing Your Israeli Resume: The Do’s and Don’ts Melissa Lousky Bienenfeld
When writing your first Israeli resume (or CV – they are the same thing and the words can be used interchangeably), it is important to keep in mind some basic social and cultural differences between Israel and your home country.
For many North Americans, a resume is a general history of their job experience, their marketable skills, and a brief glimpse into their personalities. In contrast, I often remind Olim that the sole purpose of an Israeli resume is to land the interview. Therefore, it is essential that an Israeli CV is geared specifically toward the job being applied for – leaving out extraneous information. The key is to show the hiring manager that the person is capable, has the skills to succeed in the position and is interested in the field. In that vein, it is important to assess one’s cumulative experience and express the most skills-based and relevant points only.
Over the years I have collected a number of tips for North Americans writing their first resume in Israel and below you can find my list of general do’s and don’ts.
Think creatively about your experience. Very often, working in an office or organization will give you the opportunity to work on tasks and projects that aren’t directly related to your position, but that give you additional skills. Think creatively and critically about these experiences and include only the most relevant parts on your resume.
Vary your verbs; be consistent with your tenses. Begin each bullet point with a verb that expresses a skill. If you are stuck for appropriate words do an online search and ensure the verbs are varied, e.g. don’t use “managed” or “responsible for” repeatedly. As well, make sure your tenses are consistent. You can write a resume in either present or past tense, but pick one.
Have a few people read over your CV for clarity and accuracy. Your skills and experience should be apparent to any outsider who reads your resume. Ask friends or family to read it over to make sure there are no typos and the language is clear. It should go without saying that typos are a huge red flag and yet most of the resumes I see have at least one.
Aim for brevity. Remember, not every hiring manager in Israel is a native English speaker. It is important to both make sure you are not repeating the same thing in different words and to not be verbose. This also helps keep your resume brief, not intimidating to read, and one page.
Be truthful. This is a no-brainer, but it is important to state anyway.
Use bullet points, not paragraphs. In general, bullet points are simpler to read and ascertain skills. Paragraphs force the hiring manager to read carefully in order to find the relevant information, while bullet points enable the reader to skim and process with ease.
Write your resume specifically for the job you are applying for. Every job application should be tailored to the specific requirements and geared toward the job you want. That means that as a job seeker, you should have different resumes on file for different types of work. As well, you should alter each one before you send it out to speak directly to the job description. I often recommend pulling terminology out of the publicized job description and putting it into your resume (where truthful) to include the field-specific buzzwords.
Be specific and include details. Where possible, quantify your accomplishments with real numbers and include specific detail about the tools you used and the accomplishments you made.
Include typos. Yes, this seems obvious, but there are many spelling errors that spellcheck will not catch, like “summery” versus “summary.” On most CVs I read, I catch at least one typo but usually more. It is essential to have your resume proofread as many times as possible.
Switch tenses between bullet points or change fonts. A good general rule is to keep things uniform and neat. Both switching tenses and changing fonts can make a resume sound and look messy.
List your address or other personal details. Many Israelis believe that commuting more than 30 minutes each morning is not possible and, therefore, will discriminate against you based on where you live (which is illegal) and choose not to call you in for an interview. Additionally, your address can give the reader information about you which may be cause for discrimination such as political views, religious affiliation, or family status.
Include a lengthy cover letter as an attachment. Your cover letter should be in the body of the email with your resume attached and it should be no more than 4-5 lines. It should be targeted and skills-based, focusing on why you are a fit for the job.
Include high school, yeshiva or seminary in your education – list only your university. University, college, or additional relevant coursework should be included in your CV. If you want to list your GPA (not necessary) make sure to give it in context, e.g. 3.5/4.0.
Include a picture. It is important that you appear professional, both online and offline. However, pictures on resumes are not appropriate – keep them for LinkedIn only.
Melissa Lousky Bienenfeld grew up in Los Angeles and attended Stern College. She made Aliyah in 2012 to Jerusalem, completed an MA at Hebrew University and loves her current work as a Nefesh B’Nefesh employment advisor helping Olim find jobs. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Modiin.