Olim who are close to retirement age often face special challenges when arriving in Israel and beginning their job search. Many employers are reluctant to hire older candidates, even those who arrive with the relevant qualifications. As a result, a mature job seeker can find it challenging to integrate into the Israeli job market.
The refusal to hire an older person solely because of age is not only unfair – it is illegal. There is a law in Israel that protects seniors against ageism: the Equality of Opportunity in Employment Law, which bans employment discrimination on any basis. For details, please see the Ministry of Trade and Labor website.
However, in practice, job-searching seniors must be flexible and realistic about their employment opportunities. Regardless of labor laws, many Israeli employers are reluctant to take on a senior-aged new hire due to existing stereotypes of the abilities of senior-aged workers. It may be more fruitful to approach the job search from an out-of-the-box perspective and use your experience to your advantage by becoming your own employer and doing freelance work, for example.
As with job-searchers of all ages, a strong command of Hebrew is an asset that serves to widen your employment opportunities and appeal. For example, those with secretarial or administrative experience who also have strong Hebrew skills are often able to land positions in Israel. Olim who don’t speak Hebrew would be better suited to a job in consulting or customer service, where language does not constitute as much of an obstacle.
If your prior experience lends itself to freelancing, you may want to consider that as an option. This allows you to carry over your pre-Aliyah professional experience and define your own work environment, with a setting, schedule, and language that make you comfortable. Many mature Olim have found success in freelance tutoring or writing.
Telecommuting is another promising option – working remotely for a former employer or a new client abroad. If you have a strong professional background, you should contact former employers to see if there is a possibility that you could work for them in some capacity. You may want to propose starting out part time or project based in order to establish that the arrangement works for both parties. For more information, see our article on Telecommuting.
If you are making Aliyah from the U.S. and are eligible for Social Security payments, you can usually continue to receive your payments in Israel. However, if you are between the ages of 62 and your full retirement age (65, 66, etc., depending on the year that you were born), and you are receiving Social Security payments while living in Israel, you are not entitled to work more than 45 hours a month. If you do work, Social Security (generally) will stop paying your benefits, until you either stop working or reach full retirement age. For more information, please click here.
Tips for the Older Job Seeker
- Emphasize your experience and skills, not your age: Because you have more experience than your competitors, use your experience to your advantage. Instead of listing the years you’ve worked in a certain field or job, emphasize your accomplishments – you likely have more achievements than others applying for the same position.
- Highlight your reliability: Without the responsibility of small children at home, your schedule can be more flexible. You won’t be missing work to stay home with a sick child, and you can more easily make yourself available to work later or come in earlier.
- Keep current: Make sure your computer skills are up-to-date, especially if you’re applying for jobs where this is a requirement. You should also establish yourself on social networking sites, where you can reconnect with people who may be able to offer you job leads, ideas, and advice. Some municipalities, such as Jerusalem, offer free computer classes to help you update your computer knowledge. (See the Jerusalem Municipality website here.)
- Be flexible: Apply for a variety of job openings and be flexible in the type of position you’d consider.
- Update your resume: Make sure your resume is updated with current industry terminology and adheres to the current expectations for resumes. To make it more relevant, you may want to include only those positions you’ve held in the last 15 years or so.
Job Board, Information, and Forums for job-seeking seniors (Hebrew)
An article about finding jobs past the age of 50 (Hebrew)