Here are several personal experiences of recent Olim who successfully found jobs in their fields in Israel. We hope that these stories will provide inspiration to all of you who are planning Aliyah and are worrying about the prospects of finding employment in Israel.
If you are planning Aliyah and need employment-related assistance, please be in touch with the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay Bragg, NBN Oleh
I just started my 2nd job in Israel. Finding my 2nd job was a full-time job, and required just as much dedication as working in an office somewhere. Throughout the process, I told myself: This is no time for a vacation! This was extremely difficult because I started looking at the end of the summer and before the Chagim (which generally is a time for vacation). And yes — the main response I received was, “Let’s talk after the Chagim.”
Here are a few ideas I told myself, or that I learned by going through the process — after being in Israel for almost 3 years.
- Surround yourself with positive people who can really give you good suggestions. Family (God bless them) can be a little biased when it comes to advice sometimes. I found that people who were not family, were really more objective when giving advice. Sometimes too many bad ideas from one direction can feel like cobwebs and can suck the enthusiasm right out of you. It’s always good to have a cheerleader around who can tell you, “Don’t worry, things always work out.” (NBN is great at this!)
- Tap into your network. As a sales person, I had met lots of contacts in a number of companies I had sold to, in the past. You’ll be surprised how helpful those contacts can be, to provide you with fresh ideas and help by forwarding your CV. In real estate, people say it’s “location, location, location” but in Israel it’s “connections, connections and connections.” Sometimes people you never really spoke to that often will be glad you called and will offer help.
- Besides the obvious things like LinkedIn and all the other available online resources… Every time I went to a Sheva Brachot or any Simcha I would mention to people that I was looking… (I only missed 1 Chupah in the process.)
- Study VC websites. I once got a brilliant tip from an experience networker, David Leichner who advised me to comb every VC site. Find portfolio companies that need your skills, identifying them by the type of product they sell. You will find the attitude in startups to be a very positive place to begin, because they are always looking ahead and want their companies to grow.
- Oddly enough, even though it sounds old fashioned, the Friday Jerusalem Post sometimes has really good jobs advertised. I found three jobs that I really wanted – and that paid well – that way.
- Set a daily goal of how many CV’s you want to send out. My goal was to email 100 CV’s per week — Yes, even to jobs that were not a perfect fit. And yes, it sounds crazy. Why do it? Two reasons: 1. You need to make the effort to keep your mind in the game, and 2. You never know when a CV that you send, can trigger activity around another position that a company may now need, after seeing your CV. (I saw this happen a number of times.)
- Texting: If I saw a cell phone number advertising a position, I would text: “Saw your ad for the X position… Let’s discuss. Thx, Jay 054-111-1111.
- Headhunters… All of sudden, your soon-to-be new best friends, will expect a call. I called headhunters regularly, just to let them know I hadn’t forgotten about them. On a weekly basis. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
- Forget your ideal job. I told myself over and over again, “Just find something close.” It’s everyone’s nature to think about how great this would be or maybe this or that, but in the end, the job will be what you make of it, anyway. So the idea is NOT to set expectations that no employer could ever meet. On the other hand, if a job is too much of a stretch, just start the conversation with, “Maybe I’m over-qualified, please tell me…” It’s almost a guarantee that the prospective employer will be paying more attention throughout the conversation.
- Don’t be afraid to talk in real numbers. I found that talking openly about salary numbers, when appropriate, always added weight and credibility. I would say somewhere after the usual pleasantries, “I’m told by other people that I should be looking for something in the range of X to Y.” Most people who I interviewed with felt relieved to know where I was at, rather than guessing or feeling uncomfortable by having to ask, “So how much do you want?” Employers want to know if you are being realistic and that you know your “market value”. This is often very hard for Olim. You can stand out if you’ve done your homework.
I found my new job by asking a friend, “Can I have your job?” It was his company and he was happy to pass over some of his responsibilities, so he could concentrate on bigger things. It worked. Sometimes a little Chutzpah goes a long way.
Jay Bragg is the Sales Director at RankAbove in Jerusalem, a hi-tech SEO software company.
Yossi Winston, NBN Oleh
Advice for getting a job in Israel (probably not that different than getting a job anywhere else in North America):
- Find as many resources as possible that will allow you to reach out to professionals in the field in which you desire to work. Nefesh B’Nefesh provides a great starting point, but also access your school alumni list, organizations that offer professional designations, friends, recent Olim, and anyone else you can think of. Olim are typically especially helpful because they have gone through the process of arriving in a country without a job and want to give back and help out. Sometimes people in periphery fields may even be of great assistance because Israel is all about who you know – so begin to build that network even if someone that is willing to meet with you does not seem relevant to your search.
- E-mail is typically the easiest form of communication even if have been provided with a phone number as well (could be career specific). A short introduction is the best way to approach the professional you want to meet with, stating: how you were put in contact with the person, that you just made Aliyah (or are considering making Aliyah), that you want to learn more about the field you are trying to go into and possibly how the career differs between the home country and Israel, and very briefly the highlights of your background (work experience and education).
- You have successfully set up a meeting; now make sure to do your homework for this meeting. The Internet provides a wide array of information regarding companies you may be targeting and most websites are both in Hebrew and in English. If you can find a biography of the person you will be meeting with then it may be useful to determine if you have any common interests or if there are any interesting items you may wish to inquire about. It is also useful to study up on competitors and the general state of the industry which you are targeting.
- When you are finally going to meet with someone, know your story. The first question most people will ask you is: why did you come to Israel and often times they will ask you in a way that implies that they think you are crazy for deciding to come to Israel. I found it best to intertwine both personal and professional reasons for my decision and to make it clear that I am fully aware that salaries in Israel do not match those in North America. Make sure to also be able to tell compelling, interesting stories about your work experience and especially tailor the stories to the skills and the requirements that would be required of someone in the position which you desire. A good method of putting together your stories about your work experience is: Situation, Action, Result (SAR). When thinking about the result, it is always best to be able to quantify your results – and to quantify in the manner in which businesses evaluate themselves would be best – revenues and expenses. Maybe you created a new relationship with a customer and generated additional sales or you created an efficiency that was adopted by the company and reduced the amount of time required for a process thus decreasing expenses.
- Depending on the field you are pursuing the attire for meetings will differ, but in general I think it is always best to be over-dressed. I went to interviews (and sometimes meetings) in suits and sometimes people commented on this, but I think it showed how serious I was about the position. Regardless, make sure you are well put together (shoes are shined, belt matches your shoes, socks match your pants/slacks, ironed shirt, clothes that fit properly, finger nails cut, shaven, well groomed hair, etc), have a copy of your resume, and send a thank you afterwards (e-mail is sufficient).
Yossi works as an Equities Research Analyst in Tel Aviv.
Eden Sagman, Recent College Graduate, NBN Olah
A little bit about myself: I made Aliyah on the NBN charter flight on December 29, 2009 from New York. I’m from Toronto, and I graduated from McGill University (in Montreal) in 2009 with a Bachelor of Commerce, specializing in international business and political science.
Before Aliyah, my relevant work experience consisted of internships. In Toronto, I interned at the Speakers Action Group, working in not-for-profit business and in Jerusalem, I worked at PresenTense.
Before I made Aliyah, I did some employment planning: I joined job mailing groups such as NBN LinkedIn, Job Networking in Israel LinkedIn and Digital Eve Israel. I also attended several pre-Aliyah employment events that NBN held in Toronto and Montreal, and I spoke to a lot of people who had made Aliyah right after graduating from university about their experiences.
I learned that the job market in Israel was much better than in North America, so I was optimistic about my job search. However, when I arrived to Israel, I wanted to improve my Hebrew at an Ulpan first (Ulpan Etzion) before I worried too much about my future job. Then, in March (2 months after my Aliyah), I officially began my job search. I used several job sites to find job openings, such as Israemploy and Digital Eve.
I really made an effort to adapt my CV to the Israeli market – a CV in the Israeli market is very different from a CV in the North American market, so I consulted with other people and I read articles online. Then, I wrote several dozen cover letters. I was mostly looking for English-speaking jobs, since my Hebrew was only at level Gimmel (an intermediate level), and I wouldn’t have been qualified for a Hebrew-speaking job.
I waited about a month and a half without any responses. But then all of a sudden, I got calls from three companies in the span of two weeks! All three wanted to interview me. I ended up getting my current job in marketing communications at a company called AudioCodes (my favorite all along) and they wanted me to start in early June, a week before Ulpan Etzion would end.
Here’s what I learned from my job search:
- Before I started seriously looking, nearly everyone I spoke to told me that Protectzia (networking and taking advantage of connections) is the most important factor in Israel, and is the best way to get a job. While I do agree that it has the potential to open a lot of doors, I wanted to try to find something on my own, and in the end, I didn’t use any Protectzia. Nevertheless, I still recommend telling everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. Even if they can’t help you find one, they can give you job hunting and CV writing tips, and that can help immensely.
- Hebrew wasn’t necessary in my job search because I was looking for an English-speaking job. However, I made sure to let my potential employers know that I did speak a decent Hebrew, and I definitely think it helped. Now, in my job, I do use Hebrew occasionally and my fellow employees appreciate that I make an effort to speak Hebrew, even though everyone in Hi-Tech knows English, at least somewhat.
My advice for job hunting is as follows: It’s NEVER too early to start looking! You should also apply to EVERYTHING that looks even minutely interesting; if you’re too picky, you may remain unemployed for a long time. Also, spend a substantial amount of time tweaking your CV. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments regarding my employment experience or to discuss your own job search at email@example.com. Good luck!
Tova Schochet, NBN Olah
I left my previous job around 6 months ago.
I then took two or three months to relax, thinking that when I was ready to work again, there would be many opportunities available to me. Little did I know how difficult that would be! When I became aware of the real challenges of finding a job, I used every resource possible to help me, and after a few months of searching… I finally found a great job, where I am very happy.
In my experience, looking for a job was a full-time job in itself. It needed consistent devotion, effort, follow-up, reaching out for help, and also (sometimes) chasing people. To look for a job one needs to have a lot of patience, faith, hope, confidence, and courage. One needs to be able to face rejection, and build up the strength to walk confidently into the next interview.
Here are some of the methods I used in my job search:
- Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department: Here I received a lot of support and practical advice, including preparing my resume professionally and interviewing tips. A few of the employers who called me had received my resume from NBN.
- Job sites such as JobNet and Israemploy: I found that a lot of the time, there weren’t that many details mentioned about a position. It’s good to take down the number (if provided) and call up to find out more information. Also, there were companies who were looking to fill jobs that I wasn’t qualified to do, but I still contacted them to find out if they had other openings, or I would send in my resume in the event that a position would later open up.
- Janglo’s web site: I recommend posting your resume on Janglo and following the job advertisements on it. It is a great resource. It is specifically designed for the English speaking job seeker, so that’s an advantage for anyone with English as the mother tongue. Also, I believe that the working conditions are sometimes better with Anglo employers. Janglo is a great site to help find these types of workplaces.
- Word of mouth: It’s a small world out here, and everyone knows of someone who just left a job — and therefore, there is an opening — or of a friend who is looking to hire, etc. Enlist help from as many people as one can. Ask relatives, friends, neighbors etc. Israel is big on “Protektzia” so having a personal connection to a job is to one’s advantage.
- Human resources offices and recruitment agencies: There are so many. Whenever I saw an advertisement from a placement agency, I called them up and scheduled an interview. They sent out my resume for me. Sometimes they can be unpleasant, but anyway, it’s free, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, so be persistent. In Migdaley Ha’ir [in Jerusalem] on Rechov King George, right next to the Mashbir, is a tall building, and in that building are maybe 10 such offices. Take 10-15 copies of your resume and take a walk through the building! NOTE: I FOUND MY CURRENT JOB THROUGH ONE OF THESE OFFICES.
- Newspaper advertisements. I didn’t use this method, perhaps I should have.
A general comment in regards to replying to job advertisements, be it on the Internet or in the paper: One needs to respond ASAP as there are many job seekers, and after a certain amount of resumes received, the others are just not looked at. So be on the ball! Send your resume out quickly, and a follow up call to make sure the resume was received is a good idea as well. This is really #1. Prayer and belief that, as hard as it is, a good opportunity will eventually present itself. With this attitude I was able to face every new day and continue with the job hunt. And thank G-d, it worked!
Tova Schochet is the main receptionist at Mobileye, a hi-tech company in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim Industrial Park.
Elisha Olivestone, NBN Olah
I wanted to thank you for your help and encouragement along the way. Please use me as an example to others. It is simply a numbers game. In the three months that I was looking seriously for a job (including the Chagim so some of that doesn’t really count), I sent out hundreds of emails. Hundreds. From those, I created, what I would call, serious interest in 25-30 companies. These were companies that contacted me to see if it was appropriate to arrange an interview. On some occasions it was not for various reasons, but contact was made. I went on around 20 interviews.
From those, I received 4 job offers, the final one and best being Kayote.
Please continue to tell people to push and push and keep plugging away.
- I used Israemploy, the AACI website, various headhunters including Marksman and Kedumim, the Beit Shemesh list, and the famous “word of mouth.” None of these should be underestimated. They should all be checked as often as possible.
- Don’t wait to send out a resume. Send it as soon as you see an appropriate posting. Often I would get a call for an interview the same or next day as my resume was sent. If I had waiting a day or so to send my resume I would never have gotten an interview. Employers want to schedule as many interviews as possible as close together as possible as soon as possible.
- I had a system where I would send an initial email with my resume and cover letter and then send a follow-up email about a week later if I had not heard anything from them. Interestingly, I never once got an interview or any interest at all from these follow-up emails.
- I learned something else from my experiences that might be helpful to you. On my interviews I always made a point of dressing professionally and presenting myself in the most professional manner I could. I didn’t wear a suit and tie but I dressed, what Americans would call, “business casual”. Many times I would cross paths with other interviewees and they, including Americans, would be dressed to a much lesser level of professionalism. Don’t make this mistake. Especially since many people come dressed less respectfully, be sure to dress appropriately. It makes a huge statement and is certainly noticed by the interviewer.
- Be on time. Get the exact address and directions. Take a phone number, including cell, of the person you will be interviewing with. Make sure you know their name. These rules seem obvious but they aren’t always followed.
- Headhunters, and networking, were a huge help. They know about positions that aren’t advertised. Advertised positions are out there. Headhunters find you the ones that are not. I got 2 interviews and one offer via a headhunter and two serious leads and an almost potential offer from networking. That can be incredibly effective. A resume and cover letter can’t be nearly as helpful as a resume, cover letter, and personal conversation and description from a friend or headhunter.
- Salary can be tricky. You have to know what the job is and what, in general, it pays in the market. If they approached the topic, I would tell them what I was making at my previous job and tell them it had to be within that range. Depending on their reaction I would ask them if that was an appropriate range and if it was something they could handle. I think that if they want you they will work something out to the best of their ability based on your needs. The same goes for benefits. While some things are standard (like transportation), I would generally tell them what I was getting at my previous position and leave it that I was expecting it to be matched.
- Again, you have to know what the market dictates and not ask or demand something that is unreasonable for the position. I was always uncomfortable discussing money but the side that is more comfortable and forward (but not too aggressive) about the issue is the side that usually wins. Here’s a great trick I learned. They might say, “Well we were thinking of paying in the range of (for example) 5-6 thousand sheqel a month.” You immediately say, “Well, 6 thousand, hmm, I guess that could work but…” See, always go to their high. I learned that trick when it was done to me on the opposite end.
Other than that, you need Hatzlacha. You never know what will lead to what. Go on every single interview. Follow-up on every single lead, as quickly as possible. The longer you wait the more of an opportunity you are giving other people to get in ahead of you. Once an interviewer decides he has found the right candidate for the job, all the other interviews are a total waste of everyone’s time. I could tell when the interview was a waste of time and that the right person had already been found. It was obvious on two occasions. Get in fast and first. Don’t be afraid to push a bit and follow-up on things. Job postings are never exactly what the job really is.
Make sure to look intelligent and interested during the interview. To an extent, an interview should be as much for the interviewee as the interviewer. Ask about the company. Ask about the position. Ask about the co-workers and the office environment. It makes you sound confident and interested and leaves a good impression. Know what they will want to ask you and have answers ready. Not rehearsed, but know the points in your head that you want to hit. Also, try to work in answers to other unasked questions at the same time. It will impress them that you were able to answer a question they hadn’t yet asked and allow you the opportunity to make a point about yourself that may not have otherwise been raised.
Anyway, I am thrilled to have gotten this job. Thanks again for the help and Chizuk and keep up the great work!
Elisha Olivestone is Customer Service Manager at Kayote Networks in Jerusalem.
Judi Srebro, NBN Olah
The woman who eventually hired me imparted this wisdom to me: “There’s a difference between being aggressive and being assertive. It’s good that you’re assertive.” While we talk about Chutzpah and the need to push ourselves forward (and possibly in several directions), we must be careful not to border on rudeness. Make an impression, but not a bad one.
Upon arrival in Israel, I arranged an informational interview with a senior staff member at the organization at which I wanted to work. No positions were available at the time, but in this meeting I was able to glean information, (ideas, resources, contacts) get to know the staff member, and get my name “out there.” When I noticed an ad for a position in that department 2 months later, I contacted her, reminded her about our meeting, and requested an opportunity to learn more about the position, since it seemed like a “perfect fit.” I ended up getting a job. Not the job, but another one within the same department. This taught me that while we need to strive to reach our goals, we must maintain a level of flexibility; perhaps this is a foot-in-the-door, or perhaps my goals need to be re-examined, compared to the realities of the job market. We have to be able to be resourceful and flexible in seeking employment in the current employment climate in Israel.
No matter how hard it may be, practice persistence. There are jobs. And while we strive to acquire gainful employment, based solely on our own ingratiating skills, contacts make all the difference. In the end, you will ultimately be hired because of your merit, skills, or approach, but until you get there, talk to as many people as you can, network, and follow leads. Let everyone know you are on the market, and that you are marketable. Good Luck!