Finding a first job can be hard if you don’t have any experience, whether or not you have pursued higher education. Having a practical, specialized skill can therefore be a great asset to your resume and wallet, no matter what stage of the job hunt you are at. Developing a marketable skill may involve taking a short-term course, or just honing and capitalizing on a skill you already have. For more information about where to find training courses with discounts for Olim, see the article Vocational & Retraining Courses for Olim on the Nefesh B’Nefesh website.
Keep in mind that if you work as a freelancer (writing, translation, opening a home business, etc.) you need to be registered as an independent company. For more information about the process of registering, please refer to the articles on the Nefesh B’Nefesh website about running your own business in Israel and Tium Mas (tax coordination).
Here are some suggestions for skills to develop while you are job seeking, in school, or just looking to supplement your cash flow:
• Digital Album Design – Wedding and other event photographers have switched almost entirely to digital albums, which makes digital album design a valuable skill to have. Learn it independently online or take a short-term local course, and offer your services either privately or to established photographers. Compuskills offers supplementary courses in English in Jerusalem for graphic designers, including digital album design, among others.
• Photography – This is a skill that’s great to develop, because it is so versatile. Whether you photograph events, products, fashion/makeup, or even technology for manuals, you can hone your skills just by walking around with a camera and practicing. There are free courses available online (http://photographycourse.net/, for example), or you can take a more established course if you are looking into making photography your career. To get more practice, offer your services to an established photographer – they will appreciate the extra hand, and you will learn a lot of valuable tips from a more experienced professional.
• Video and Slideshow Editing – Like photography, video editing can be learned online or in a course, and is very versatile. PowerPoint is also an invaluable tool to learn well, and you can become an expert just through YouTube tutorials. Market your skills to businesses and non-profits for promotional videos, training materials, or presentation building. Or, break into the events sector – those short clips that friends make for weddings, bar/bat mitzvah slideshows, etc. Get the word out to community email groups all over Israel – if you offer a lower price than established professionals, you’re sure to get a lot of business. Check out this list of Anglo community email groups in Israel, and post in your area.
Hi Tech/Internet Skills:
• Software Programming – There’s no escaping it: the most lucrative field in Israel today is hands-down hi-tech. Even if you do not see yourself becoming a full-time computers student or professional, it’s worth learning basic programming if you are at all computer-inclined. If you are the do-it-yourself type and are basically computer- and internet-savvy, check out www.webmonkey.com for tutorials and information about different types of computer programming. If you are interested in taking a professional course (in Hebrew), check out the variety of programs offered by the Israeli computers school, Hacker U: http://www.hackeru.co.il/. Having basic web programming skills also gives you a great advantage in the field of graphic design.
• SEO – SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a skill that virtually every company requires these days, and can be learned for free online. Check out this site, 12 Best Free Online Resources for Learning SEO, to get started.
• Social Media Marketer – The advantage and disadvantage of becoming a social media marketer is that there is no school that teaches it. You can find tips and tricks online from people who have “made it” in the business (like http://www.scottmonty.com/), or attend one of the many workshops that are cropping up all over the place on how to maximize your Social Media presence. If you find that you have created a following online, capitalize on it! Market yourself as a social media “guru” to businesses or entrepreneurs.
• Personal Trainer/Fitness Coach – The Wingate Institute offers training courses all over Israel for things like sports team coach, personal trainer, or fitness instructor. This will allow you to work at your local gym or Matnas, or even open your own small fitness class at home.
• Painting Houses – No training needed here. You just need to be neat, thorough, and willing to work hard, and you can make excellent cash painting private homes and offices, especially in the weeks before Passover.
• Basic Home Repairs – Learn how to fix “trisim,” unclog a clogged sink, change a lock, even spray for “jukim”, and other basic repairs that people are in constant need of, but dread paying the hefty fee that established professionals charge for their services. Put up flyers in your neighborhood, advertise on facebook, and spread the word amongst your apartment-dwelling friends whose Ba’alei Dira leave them high and dry when the metal casing of the light bulb gets stuck and you can’t change it!
• Hand Crafts/Alterations – if you have patience for hand crafts and great attention to detail, take a sewing course and market your services for alterations. Charge a few shekels less than the going rate at the local seamstress, and you’ll have lost of business – plus, the work is quick and easy, once you get used to it. Also, if you have an artistic flair, you can make and sell all kinds of hand-crafted clothes, winter wear, Mitpachot, headbands, or any other fashion accessory, and sell them online or at local fairs, even on campus.
• Beauty Care – Makeup and cosmetology can be learned at many courses in Israel. Makeup courses can be pricey, requiring you to buy expensive supplies; but if you see yourself building a career in makeup for events or fashion, it may be worth the cost. Cosmetology, on the other hand, may not require more than a piece of string, tweezers, and a little training. You can market your skills in the dorms, in your neighborhood, community lists, online – women are always looking for the least expensive, most convenient place to get their beauty needs taken care of; and the best part is, It pays cash.
• Catering – If you love baking or cooking and have a suitable kitchen, you can open a home business and advertise your catering services for small or medium-sized events. The well-known baked goods company Gili’s Goodies started as a home business. A similar up-and-coming baked goods business, Gingy Cookies, runs mostly out of a small apartment in Givat Shmuel.
• Tutoring – It is relatively easy to advertise yourself for tutoring in whatever subject you know best – English, math, science, history, Jewish studies, etc. Parents of high schoolers especially are always looking for extra help for their kids, and would often rather not pay top-dollar for a professional. If you want more consistent work, see if your local Matnas offers tutoring services to the community, and sign up there. Or, advertise yourself on campus to fellow students, either privately or through your campus’s Agudat HaStudentim.
• Translating/Editing – If you are bilingual and have good writing skills, private translation can be very lucrative. Advertise yourself on campus to translate or edit M.A. theses into English, or offer to help students read complex articles in English. On the flip side, if your Hebrew is stronger than some of your Anglo peers’, offer to translate their reading assignments into English for a small fee. If you want more consistent work, sign up for freelance translation sites such as www.onehourtranslation.com and www.proz.com. Join relevant groups on Linked In to connect with other freelance translators and find more job opportunities.
• Content Writing – There are many types of content writing – for blogs of all topics, hi-tech or gaming companies, company websites, news sites and/or blogs, flyers, etc. These jobs can generally be found on Linked In groups and email lists such as Digital Eve Israel and CIWI, or on freelance writing sites such as www.squidoo.com. (The rule about registering as an independent business or freelancer applies here, too.) The Jerusalem Post is often looking for freelance writers and bloggers, too. If you are looking to develop a career in writing, it is especially important that you publish at every opportunity – even if it means writing unpaid blog posts or ghost writing, just so you can build up a portfolio of writing samples to have on hand when applying for more serious jobs.