Aliyah: Helping New Israelis Find Jobs

By Samantha Hulkower

There are many things one has to get used to when they move to Israel: instant coffee is an option on restaurant menus, it's normal to have vegetables for breakfast, strangers ask you to hold their baby for a minute, and so on. Most of these things are oddly charming and add to the quality of life, at least as far as most people I know are concerned. One thing that is different, is the job search. While in the U.S. we write nice cover letters stating how we find the job, why we think we are qualified for it, and other information, Israelis often skip the cover letter all together. There is also the matter of keeping your CV to just one page, and ensuring that every job listed doesn't explain everything you did at that position, but rather how all the things you did at that position make you qualified for the position you are applying for.

These aren't things that you necessarily find out about while making aliyah. Nefesh B'Nefesh and The Jewish Agency are great for helping people move here, but aren't as involved with the job search.That's where Gvahim comes in. It is a non-profit organization designed to help olim understand how to navigate the Israeli job market. Started by Mickael Bensadoun to help his fellow ex-pats from France acclimate to the culture here, it eventually grew to olim of all backgrounds. The program also has an incubator for start-ups and an internship program for young people looking to get their foot in the door.

Local municipalities also are making efforts to help new immigrants find jobs. After all, the more likely a highly-skilled immigrant is to find a job that meets their qualifications, the more money they are likely to make, and the more they'll pay in taxes! Everyone wins. Jerusalem has a whole website in English explaining the benefits olim are entitled to, job opportunities in the capital city, and where to learn Hebrew, among many other important pieces of information. They even have a separate website just for academics and those in the life-sciences fields, since so many universities and bio-tech companies are in or around the city. Tel Aviv is also making an effort to help olim find jobs fast (in order to afford staying in this pricey town?) and has their own facebook page in English for 'Olim in Tel Aviv' with information about jobs, upcoming events, and other ways to acclimate to the city.

Last, but not least, everyone who comes to Israel learns very quickly to update their LinkedIn account. My friends in the U.S. used to joke that it was just facebook for the white-collar crowd, LinkedIn is a very real resource for Israelis looking for jobs or just to network. Due to the small size of the country, many companies chose to outsource their recruitment to HR firms. It's very easy for headhunters to plug in a few key words and handily have a list of potential candidates. So, if you are in Israel, and haven't yet, it's well worth the time to polish your profile. Not to mention organizations like Nefesh B'Nefesh, which help Anglos move to Israel, also post jobs to their LinkedIn page every day.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between looking for work here as opposed to elsewhere, is the fact that high up people in companies are very accessible. It's not unheard of to find the email for the CEO of a small company and be in touch with him or her directly if you are looking for work. A rule of thumb told to me is to try and find the contact info of the most senior person in an organization and be in touch with them directly, rather than looking for the HR person. It might be uncomfortable at first, but one of the really special things about Israel is that there isn't the same hierarchy that is standard in other parts of the world. Also, because the country is so small, it's very likely that you have people in your network already that know people who you want to be in touch with, and they are practically always happy to help. While in Hollywood they have 'six degrees of separation' in Israel it's more like two. At the end of the day, if you are assertive, motivated, and spread the word far and wide, you're likely to land a position that you're happy with.

Samantha Hulkower is an Olah Chadasha, living in Jerusalem. She enjoys trying to speak Hebrew, finding the humor in every situation (especially dating), and is looking forward to the day she can successfully argue b'Ivrit. You can also view her blogs ToBuildAndToKeep on environmental issues in Israel and Shomer Tel Aviv, a your source for all things kosher in the White City. 

1 comment:

Shara Shetrit said...

Re: "Nefesh B'Nefesh and The Jewish Agency are great for helping people move here, but aren't as involved with the job search."- Nefesh B'Nefesh ABSOLUTELY helps Olim with the job search. There is a staff of 5 dedicated to helping Olim find a job. In addition to running job-search- related workshops, they post over 200 jobs a week on our Faebook jobs and LinkedIn groups, and have dedicated employees who do career counseling and someone who works full time developing relationships with employers and sending resumes of our Olim out for appropriate positions. Gvahim is great, too, and we partner on many projects.

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Nefesh B'Nefesh