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In today’s tight job market, you cannot rely on luck in order to land your first job in Israel. With a few tricks and tips, you can jumpstart your employment search. Here are some guidelines that can help you succeed:

Create a network of professional contacts before you arrive It’s difficult to apply for jobs before you make Aliyah, as employers are not interested in applicants before they’ve made the big move. However, you can help yourself jump start the process by creating a network of professional contacts and speaking with them by email ahead of time. Do you know anyone in your field who lives in Israel, or do you have any friends in Israel who might have contacts of their own? Do you have any connections through your Jewish community in the U.S., Canada or the U.K.? When you plan your pilot trip, be sure to set up informational interviews with each of the professionals on your personal contact list. If you feel that you don’t have professional contacts, the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Office is happy to help you find people to speak with in your field. Write to employment@nbn.org.il.

Do market research Find out what the market is like in Israel for your field, and tailor your job hunt and your resume accordingly. Flexibility may be the rule to survival. In some cases, switching gears may help you land your first job, especially if you are looking at English-language employment. For example, several of our medical professionals are temporarily working in the medical documentation field while waiting for their licensing to come through; one of our English teachers needed to alter her resume to emphasize English as a Foreign Language, which is in demand in Israel. For more information about a wide variety of fields, see Employment Resources. Additionally, the NBN job index on LinkedIn is one of the primary tools for posting new job opportunities that are relevant to Olim.

Explore all avenues for maintaining foreign based income for the initial arrival period Speak to your current employer about the possibility of continuing work from abroad. This will give you some time to get settled and conduct a job hunt without feeling the combined pressures of acculturation and unemployment. Some jobs will allow you to telecommute and continue working on a very short-term basis even after you’ve moved here. (Some Olim maintain overseas phone numbers and addresses after moving to Israel, for this purpose.) A short-term project that you arrange prior to Aliyah, is a great asset when you first arrive. See Telecommuting.

Make Hebrew a priority Find time to improve your Hebrew while you are still comfortably employed and settled in your community abroad. After you get here, you will be struggling with the pressures of settling into a new environment and the sooner you can start working in your field, the better. While there are English language jobs in Israel, there aren’t many of them and you are much less likely to find suitable employment if you can’t speak Hebrew. For information about Ulpan options in North America and the U.K. and other educational resources, see Ulpan in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and Hebrew Language Resources.

Play to your strengths Employers are looking for directed resumes that point to strong experience in a narrow field, rather than broader resumes that describe a well-rounded person. If you have strong experience in something specific, make that blatantly clear in your resume. If you are a well-rounded person who could go in several directions, you should think about the types of jobs you are interested in and maintain separate resumes for each profession. For example, if you have background in both administration and teaching, create one resume that emphasizes the administrative experience and another resume that highlights the teaching experience. Most employers will give your resume no more than a quick glance, so it has to be obvious to the casual reader that you are qualified for the position at hand. For tips on adjusting your resume for the Israeli market, see Adapting Resumes.

Don’t plan a career change in conjunction with your Aliyah If you want to switch gears and move into a new field, don’t do it immediately after arrival. When you first get to Israel, it’ll be easier to land a job in something you already have experience working in. Two years down the line, when you have the luxury of feeling more settled, you can start hunting for a new job in a completely new field without the pressure of looming unemployment and the stresses of acculturation. For example, a translator who wants to move into gardening, could immediately start working in translation; an executive secretary interested in moving in a new direction could start out in an administrative job and, later, move into something different.

Think about employment when considering a community Job opportunities differ in each region of the country. Before you decide where to settle, check out which region is best for your field. If you are looking for employment in hi-tech, for example, you will find more and better opportunities if you live in easy commuting distance to the Tel Aviv area. For more information about communities, see our online Communities Guide.

Keep expectations realistic Our experience with NBN professionals indicates that you should expect, on average, a 6 to 9 month job hunt. This can be a big financial strain, and it is something you should be aware of before you arrive. To minimize your time out of work, start your job hunt as soon as you get here; if you are lucky enough to find a job more quickly than expected, you can always switch to a part-time Ulpan (twice a week in the evening or late afternoon). Don’t wait to start the job hunt until Ulpan is over.

Learn about licensing procedures The following professions require licensing procedures in order to work in your field in Israel: accountants, lawyers, chemists, dentists, physicians, paramedical professionals, pharmacists, psychologists, optometrists, veterinarians, lab technicians, x-ray technicians, electricians, car mechanics, gas installers, insurance agents, lifeguards, mohels, nurses, public transportation and heavy vehicle drivers, real estate agents, teachers, tour guides and travel agents. For more information, see our Professions Index.