Neil Shore, a software engineer from Philadelphia, made Aliyah in summer 2017 with his wife at the age of 62. Aware of the profound ageism in Israel, Neil realized that it would take tenacity and confidence to find a job. I spoke to Neil to find out how at the age of 63 he managed to find a job in the hi-tech sector just ten months after arriving in Israel.
Please contact us at [email protected] to help you find a job in Israel. Check out the NBN Job Board which features hundreds of jobs for English-speaking Olim from over 4000 companies.
By Sorelle Weinstein
From where and when did you make Aliyah?
My wife and I made Aliyah to Haifa from Philadelphia a year ago – on August 22-23 2017. We met in Israel in 1979 but moved back to the US to get married and despite our desire to live in Israel, life got in the way. We never wanted to stop living here, though, and when our kids grew up, we decided now was the time. Our youngest son made Aliyah five years ago, and two weeks ago graduated from the Technion.
What was your professional background in the US?
My background was in hardware and I worked as a software engineer my entire professional career.
Once you made the decision to make Aliyah, what were your professional plans?
I knew that there were great opportunities in hi-tech in Israel, and my skills were easily transferrable, but that my age would be a challenge. Most hi-tech companies that I approached from the US told me to be in touch with them when I arrived, but because our move was dependent on the sale of our house, there was no Aliyah arrival date. Nefesh B’Nefesh helped me make my resume more Israel-centric.
Describe your job search once you arrived in Israel.
As soon as I arrived, I jumped into the job search. I networked with friends, and within two weeks, I had my first interview with a company in Jerusalem. I went far in the interviewing process but the company was undergoing a change in structure – and the job disappeared. This happened four more times. I got to the final stages of interviewing only to be told that the job no longer existed. I would have to undergo tests which resembled college finals and for one job I was required to take the psychometric.
What was the hardest aspect of your job search?
Definitely the attitude I encountered about my age. One particular phone interview sticks in my mind. During the course of the conversation, the person interviewing me got to the part of my resume about my year of graduation – 1979 – and did the math to figure out my age. He said – “You must be over 50 then.” When I replied in the affirmative, he said abruptly that he would have to consult with the company’s HR person, and hung up. In another interview I was told, when struggling to understand a question, that I should have more knowledge given my years of experience – and again the interviewer hung up on me. These experiences and knocks were demoralizing. But I knew the only option was to persevere – no matter how many knocks I received.
What turned things around for you?
I received a lot of support and was open to receiving help from anyone willing to assist. I found out through a job fair in Haifa that there was an organization “Fifty Plus or Minus” whose mission it is to assist Israelis from age 50+ with their job searches. Nefesh B’Nefesh also provided me with a social worker who gave me invaluable interview coaching and gave me advice about the Israeli mentality. I discovered that while in the US there are two tracks to being a software engineer – either you become a manager or continue to be a software engineer and build your expertise – in Israel the only advancement in the field is to become a manager. Companies looking at my resume saw my decades of experience and concluded that I couldn’t be that skilled or capable if I hadn’t become a manager. Once I realized this difference, I was able to preempt and explain in interviews the career track I had chosen in the US.
Describe how you found your current job at Tefen – and the journey to get to that point.
Finding a job is a full-time job. I spent hours each day scouring jobnet, IsraelEmploy, Glassdoors. I posted my resume wherever I could. I recall walking into a local bookstore one day with my wife. I was talking to her about my resume and my job search, and a person there overheard me and offered to connect me to his wife who was a head hunter. That is how I found my job at Tefen. I have been working there now for two months.
What is your experience like working at a young dynamic hi-tech company in Israel?
My experience at Tefen is like no other professional job I have encountered. The team is young, energetic and dynamic – and there is constant pandemonium as my coworkers talk loudly over each other’s heads and are constantly engaging in conversation. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, my coworkers are intelligent and dedicated, but it is a challenge to concentrate with the background noise. In my job, English is more of a requirement than Hebrew, but it is still important to have the language to be able to understand my coworkers. We’re a diverse staff from all over the world, and you can easily hear in the hallway Arabic, Russian, English, and Hebrew. Because I am a native English speaker, I am frequently asked to edit documentation written in English. It is an advantage to be a native English speaker in the hi-tech world.
What would you advise fellow Olim who are searching for jobs?
Regardless of your profession, age, background, the most important piece of advice is: don’t give up. Keep persevering. Finding a job is always stressful and difficult, and finding one in a foreign country is doubly hard. But if you are tenacious and persistent, you WILL succeed. Failure isn’t an option. If you are not receiving interview requests, get help with your resume. If you find interviews challenging, enlist help from an interview coach. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. At so many points in my job search, I could have given up. I am too old. My skills are not transferrable here. But I didn’t. Shlomit Ben-Michael, my Nefesh employment advisor, kept telling me – “don’t give up – you’re doing all the right things.” And she was right. It was that tenacity of spirit that landed me my job at Tefen at age 63. Dogged determination.