Adjusting Your Resume for the Israeli Market

See Also: Translating Resumes and Sample Resume

One of the biggest challenges for a first time job seeker can be structuring a resume despite minimal or no experience in a particular field. Below, we listed some key points to consider when writing your resume.

Does your resume meet the expectations of Israeli employers? When adjusting your resume for the Israeli market, here are several dos and don’ts.

If you’re looking for general resume writing guidelines (not Israel-specific), there is a tremendous amount of information online to guide you through the process. For example, see http://resume.monster.com/ .

For sample resumes and templates in Word format, go to your Microsoft Office program files directory, and select the Templates subdirectory.

Note for medical professionals: For licensing purposes, medical professionals are meant to create a resume that has the oldest information first, in other words, chronologically backwards from how we usually put the resume together.

Your Content Goes HereWe have listed below some key points to consider when composing an entry-level resume.

  1. Consider your fields of professional interest: Prior to writing your resume, consider the type of work and jobs that interest you. Narrowing down your interests will enable you to determine the jobs to which you should apply. This will help structure and focus your resume.
  2. Highlight your marketable skills: Make a list of skills which might interest a potential employer. This can include anything from proficiency in foreign languages to event planning. Creating this list will also help you to narrow your fields of interest to match the needs in the job market
  3. Create a resume that highlights those skills that are relevant to a particular job: As you begin to send your resume to potential employers, it is important to tailor your resume so that it presents you as an appropriate candidate for that specific position. Create a “Skills” section on your resume which highlights, in particular, those skills which are relevant to a particular job. For example, if you are applying for a position in the field of internet marketing, your social media skills can be an asset. This will likely require that you have a few versions of your resume. This section should be bulleted and brief.
  4. Objective statement: Place an “Objective” statement at the top of your resume that lets the employer know the type of job that you are seeking. A good example would be: “To secure a position in the field of investment banking which allow me to draw upon my business degree and finance background”.
  5. Experience: In addition to your employment history of part-time jobs or internships, if you have relevant experience in a particular field as a volunteer or a student, you should include this on your resume under the title of “Experience.”
  6. Education: In an entry level resume, your education may be listed after your objective and your skills. If you have a degree from an institution of higher education, it is not necessary to list your high school or secondary school diploma.
  7. Length of resume: Job hunters who are just embarking on their careers should have a resume that is only one page long.

Additional resources regarding entry level resumes are available at these sites:
http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/careerdev/resources/resume/
http://www.collegegrad.com/jobsearch/Best-College-Resumes/

Israeli employers are looking for short, focused resumes pointing to strong experience in a narrow field, as opposed to more well rounded resumes. If you ARE a well rounded person with multiple skills, here are a few tips to maintaining a resume that will interest Israeli employers:

  • Create different versions of your resume. For example, if you have experience both in administration and education, create two different versions of your resume, each focused on a different skill set.
  • Relevant details should be at the top. Don’t expect employers to scroll down. If your relevant work experience is hidden on the bottom of the resume, create a new, detailed section near the top called “Relevant Experience”. For example, if you worked in non-profits for the last 5 years but also have a background in programming, create a resume for hi-tech job opportunities that highlights your programming experience.
  • Minimize unrelated work experience. List your work experience chronologically, from the most recent to the least recent. This section, which you can title “Details of Work Experience”, includes the name of each company or organization, your position, and how long you worked there. When a position is NOT relevant to the job you’re applying for, eliminate any additional details.
  • Keep your target audience in mind. Your resume may be reviewed by someone who is not a native English speaker, so don’t allow it to be verbose. Short, succinct bullets are best.
  • List your computer skills. Most job opportunities require some level of computer knowledge. Even if you’re not a techie, create a Computer Skills section where you can list the software packages that you know.

Does your resume unwittingly turn away Israeli employers? Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Contact details: If you are applying for jobs that are relatively far from home, avoid mentioning your mailing address. For example, if you live in Jerusalem and are applying for jobs in Tel Aviv, list your cell number and email address only. Similarly, if you live in a politically sensitive area, avoid listing where you live – unless you are sending the resume to someone with similar political views.
  • Job Title: While senior sounding titles at previous places of employment can be impressive to a prospective employer, it is important to be aware that they can also be off-putting as they may imply high salary and managerial expectations. There are also cultural implications inherent in titles. For example, in Israel, the title “Vice President” implies that the individual manages many dozens of employees. Also, some titles are potentially ambiguous, such as “Account Manager”. Try to classify a vague job title more exactly based on the type of job that you’re applying for, e.g., “Sales Account Manager”.
  • Language skills: Language skills are important in the Israeli job market. List your language skills in a separate section, and describe your knowledge level with care. Write “Native speaker” for languages that are your first language. Use terms like “Fluent,” “Conversational” or “Basic” for languages that are secondary. Many employers are looking for individuals to interact with clients overseas and are only interested in people with native language skills.
  • Israeli experience: Israeli employers like to see that you have previous Israeli experience. However, if your current Israeli experience is less senior than your previous North American experience, you can list it in a separate section near the bottom of the page, allowing employers to notice your North American accomplishments first. If you have not worked in Israel but volunteered here prior to your Aliyah, it is worth mentioning this as well, as it shows that you have experience functioning in a Hebrew-language environment.
  • Personal information: Traditional Israeli resumes list age, marital status and number of children. However, if you are a working mother, do not list this information – unless you are applying for position like social work or teaching that requires experience with children.
  • Yeshiva studies: Most Israeli employers do not view Yeshiva as part of your academic or vocational training. Avoid listing your Yeshiva or Midrasha experience unless you are applying for a job in Jewish education – or unless this leaves a big gap chronologically. In some places in Israel, Yeshiva study is interpreted as indicating a whole socio-religious package, which you don’t necessarily want to raise.
  • Hobbies: Don’t mention your hobbies unless they are exceptionally unique.

How you send your resume can be almost as important as what the resume actually says. When you submit a resume correctly, you maximize the chances of being interviewed for the job. So before you press the Send button, here are a few last minute suggestions:

Check for typos: This obvious rule is not well observed; most of the resumes received by Nefesh B’Nefesh have at least one typo. Before emailing your resume, run a final Spell Check. In addition, ask a friend to look for possible errors in grammar, formatting or content.

Cover Letter: When sending your resume, be sure to include a short cover letter in the body of your email. The cover letter should be 3 – 5 sentences describing succinctly why you are an appropriate candidate for the job. Olim have found that sending their cover letter in Hebrew results in receiving a greater number of follow up phone calls. Keep in mind that the vast majority of HR personnel are Hebrew speakers and are more likely to read a cover letter in Hebrew than in English and, as a result, to open your resume. Send the resume file as an attachment (in Word or PDF format).

Translate it into Hebrew: In certain professions, it is critical to send a Hebrew language resume; for other professions, such as hi-tech, it’s less important though you may receive a greater number of follow up phone calls if you send your resume in Hebrew. As a general rule, if you are sending your resume to an Israeli employer, it’s better to send a Hebrew language resume. The translation should be high quality, on par with the quality of your English version. Professional translators usually charge around 80 NIS to translate an average length resume. Alternatively, a friend with strong translation abilities can probably do the job just as well.

Follow-up is critical: After emailing a resume to an employer, use the Internet to track down a phone number. Speak to the employer directly. Most employers receive dozens of resumes, and may ignore many of the emails they receive. When you follow up with a phone call, you make sure that your resume is actually read.

Please remember to save the file under your name.